awkwardly

Saturday

A Catalog of Idiocies in Prometheus

I thought I would be inoculated against the dumbth after seeing it once in the theater, but it still hurts on this second viewing.

1. Is the Engineer at the start committing suicide, or intentionally releasing some bio-weapon into the wild by drinking that stuff, or was the result unexpected? Was he marooned by the ship that's leaving, or did he intentionally stay behind? What is this scene supposed to establish or add to the rest of the movie?

2. Why would you hire people, spend quintillions of dollars to send them 2 x 10^14 km away from Earth, then brief them on their mission when they near their destination, instead of briefing them on Earth? Given a future where space travel is not quite as novel as it is now, how desperate would you have to be to sign up for a job that puts you in stasis for a few years without knowing the full final mission?

3. In the briefing, Holloway explains that this grouping of stars from a handful of different separate cultures on Earth lines up with some galaxy that's too far away for any of those earthbound human cultures to view it. Sounds impressive but it's not. You could take any cluster of random points, spit on a piece of paper for example, and compare that shape with a detailed star map. If you're willing to look far enough out at more and more stars, it becomes more and more likely that you'll find some matching constellation, because there are so many stars available to try matching it to.

If you made a Rorschach blot and walked along a beach, you could eventually see a shape in the sand that matches the blot, because there are so many different shapes available in the sand. A reasonable person wouldn't conclude the creator of the ink blot had a psychic vision of the sand, or that cave paintings with eight or ten dots from 35000 BC had accurately transcribed a distant constellation.

4. The android shows us Shaw's dream or memory of her father explaining that he "chooses to believe" Heaven is nice. She repeats the phrase later. Are we supposed to follow her as a brilliant example, because most of the movie revolves around her POV and that's how Hollywood works, or an example of someone steered wrong by wishful thinking?

5. Parallels with the plot of Aliens:
   - Helmet cams being tracked from remote headquarters, making the audience feel that much further removed from events.
   - "Game over, man!" Dude with the most attitude is the first one to punk out when things get slightly scary. Yells at our hero so the audience can appreciate how scary the situation is supposed to be, and by contrast how heroic the hero is for pushing forward. See also Scooby Doo and Shaggy.

Somehow those seem more interesting than the parallels with Alien: Careless corporate operatives vs. heroic humanist. Ragtag crew of space laborers. Android programmed for evil. Several minutes of the camera exploring empty halls of the ship before the crew is brought out of stasis, although in this iteration we follow the android on his day-to-day activities.

6. "Miss Vickers, is there an agenda that you're not telling us about?" Shaw and Holloway interact with corporate overseer Vickers as if they don't understand how corporations or capitalism work.

7. From what Holloway says, part of their plan before launching Prometheus involved David the android spending some time en route researching ancient human languages in order to extrapolate the language of the Engineers. Why not figure that out on some computers before you leave Earth, and have it done and ready? Why assume this prototype android will be able to figure it out during the two and a half years it takes to travel there?

8. Holloway gets depressed and goes on a bender because he hadn't prepared himself for the possibility that aliens might not still be alive on this planet, tens of thousands of years after leaving their marks on Earth.

9. Why does the android dose Holloway with black goop? I suppose any experiments with the alien tech and bio-materials and alien knowledge need to be performed quickly if one of his goals is to prolong Weyland's life.

10. The revelation that Vickers is daughter of old man Weyland adds little to the story.

11. I assumed that the briefing showed the entire crew of Prometheus. Weyland comes out of hiding, buy later it seems like there are more lab techs and guards around. Are there 20 or 50 or 100 people on board? That might help us understand the stakes. When five people die, is that a quarter of the crew or one twentieth?

12. Captain Janek reaches the conclusion that the structure they've explored was a military site, that it held a stockpile of biological weapons, and that the black goop in vases was a bio-weapon. Neither the captain nor the audience has enough information to reach those conclusions at this point. Maybe some scenes that would have made it clear were deleted?

13. Shaw takes about thirty seconds to convince the Captain and two pilots that an alien will attack Earth and wipe out humanity if they don't stop it. They're persuaded to ram the alien ship kamikaze-style and sacrifice their lives. And again, her wobbly conclusion relies on cryptic comments from an android that she should have stopped trusting long before.

14. The only purpose of the lighting in those bubble helmets is to make their faces clear to viewers. Lights shining in their faces would make it harder for them to see, but easier to be seen by cameras.

15. Does it make more sense if you read Alien: Engineers, the first draft script by John Spaihts? I'll get back to you on that.

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