Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This film has split people. Either you love it or hate it. I'm firmly in the "love it" camp. What they could have done is this: "Bunch of characters unwittingly awaken an alien, which then kills them one by by one until the last character kills the alien in some final battle." In other words, they could have made it exactly the same as all the other Alien films.

Thankfully, they did something different. I don't want to drop any spoilers here, but the real horror in this film is not something bursting out of a chest, but rather the moment in the film when you realise why these alien giants created us and why the human race is going to have to die. Great concepts. I also loved Cthulhu and the frantic surgery the black supermutator catalyst gloop. And I loved the look of the film. So creepy. It's eerily similar to a place I've written about in my latest book. Also, Michael Fassbender was excellent. And so was Noomi thingy. And I love the irony in the final scenes and that the title works on multiple levels.

Some people over on IMDB have complained about certain flaws in the story. Notably - our protagonists just happen to stumble upon the alien base very quickly, and that as scientists they shouldn't have removed their helmets even if the air was safe. Well, yeah. But this is a story. The helmets come off so you can see the actors' faces, which allows them to act. Even these new see through plastic bubbles still create a barrier between you and the actor. And finding the base so quickly? As opposed to what? Flying round the surface for several days, mapping and taking readings? I don't want to spend four days in the cinema watching that. It's like the point William Goldman makes about unrealistic things that always happen in films - one of which is that a character can always park outside of a building he is visiting. In real life, Mel Gibson would drive around for 45 mins trying and failing to find a goddamn space for his Ferrari. But who wants to watch that? So - he gets there, parks, on we go. They get the planet, here's the base, on we go. If dreary realism is more important than story then turn off your TV and watch a blank screen for two hours. That's as real as it gets.

I did wonder why Michael Fassbender's character wears a helmet outside. Maybe they'd filmed him without a helmet initially, discovered that it spoiled the fantasy of a poisonous atmosphere, then rescripted it to give him a reason to wear it? And I smiled when, near the start of the film, they point out that one whole section is a self contained lifeboat. Whenever someone says something like that, you know the main ship is going to be destroyed. Was that a spoiler? Not really.

So the story's not perfect. Which story is? I think it's damn fine, an order of magnitude better than the previous Alien films, which is what it needed to be. Alien one and two were both great, but there comes a time when you have to move on. And that black gloop has opened up a whole new Pandora's box of possibilities.


Caitlin Kight said...

It is interesting to read your thoughts on Prometheus after having had many heated debates about it with friends and family. I've spent quite a bit of time contemplating it and reading about it online; if nothing else, this film gets two thumbs up for being thought-provoking! The most recent issue of Empire magazine has a spread addressing (what they think are) the biggest questions associated with the film; in some cases the writer and I had converged on the same answer but in other places we had not. So I guess the movie also gets two thumbs up in terms of being open to interpretation. The bottom line is that I agree with you--there are some places where you have to suspend your disbelief a little or tolerate some unrealistically smooth plot developments, but on the whole it's a great-looking film that addresses some seriously deep topics in a novel way.

Am I imagining things, or is there a part of the film where David and Dr. Holloway are discussing the helmet issue that you mentioned? I seem to recall that David says he wears the helmet in order to make the humans feel more comfortable, since to do otherwise would emphasize his non-humanity. I think that happens just as they are all suiting up to head off the ship for the first time.

Alan Campbell said...

You're right Caitlin, there is a conversation between David and Dr Holloway about the helmet issue. I just don't think he wears the helmet for the benefit of the crew, but for the benefit of the cinema audience.