Prometheus ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A good science fiction story needs to have at least one of two things: an interesting idea grounded in real scientific concepts, or very solid, engaging characters and plot. Prometheus doesn't have either.

What Prometheus seems to be aiming for is a sort of middlebrow intellectualism. Less horror/slasher, more drama/intrigue. But there's nothing here, just egregious misunderstandings of science and completely vacuous, largely interchangeable characters. The closest this film ever gets to being the philosophical character drama it clearly aspires to be is in a brief scene where the android character talks to a human character about what it's like to know you were artificially created by another being. It's a nice little moment that suggests the potential this film had to be something genuinely good.

What made Alien and Aliens good was that they both revolved around characters who seemed like they were genuinely intelligent, and who were doing the best they could against overwhelming odds. This film is the exact opposite. It starts out with low stakes, and every time things become more dire it's because one of the characters did something stupid. I have never seen a film that relied so heavily on the "idiot plot" as a narrative device. Hardly a moment goes by without one of these noodles doing the exact worst thing they could do. Safely underground when a big giant storm is approaching? Leave the cave and try to run back to the ship! Alone in the dark and you see a creepy snake thing? Try to poke its face! Investigating an area that's been established to be dangerous? Take off your helmet anyway! Running away from a giant wheel that's going to crush you? Continue running directly in front of it, even though you could turn left and be out of danger instantly! More than anything else, this film reminded me of Star Trek: Enterprise, which was likewise a "nearer-future" prequel whose characters seemed determined to do themselves in by their own stupidity.

The science is utter nonsense too, much of it hinging on an misunderstanding of genetics that rivals even Resurrection. But far more obvious mistakes abound too, such as the comically silly idea that a 2000-year-old corpse could come back to life instantly if its nervous system was stimulated. Or when the characters say the temperature is "-12", which is pretty damn cold to be walking around with your head bare, regardless of whether you meant Celsius or Fahrenheit. Look, I'm not a scientist. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and even I can see how ridiculous your "science" is. Don't pretend you know how things work if you don't. Either go read the Wikipedia article or make up something about midi-chlorians.

Also, this film is rife with the hallmarks of the 2010s that I discussed in my Rise of Skywalker review. It's filled with cameos by Things You Remember From Previous Films. It has set pieces involving Giant CGI Things. It "answers questions" from the series by retconning things in a way that only serves to create more confusion than before. Its characters don't make "witty banter", thank god, but other than that this is a 2010s film to the core.

Finally, for a series that has consistently had women protagonists, this series still persists in treating the female reproductive tract as something inherently horrifying. This film is full of monsters with mouths that look like vulvas, and in one case a (male) character even calls attention to it directly. Where in previous films any hapless dodo could end up hosting an alien parasite, in this film they need to be sexually implanted into a real live girl so that she can have a traumatic pregnancy. We get it, guys. You're scared of girls. Can we please move on?

This whole project is becoming demoralizing, and at this point I'm starting to dislike the first two films by association, which is really unfortunate. I'm glad there's only one left, because I don't think I could keep this up much longer. Next time, Alien: Covenant, and the blissful end.