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So I saw Prometheus
msauvage purple
@cleolinda: TODAY \;;;/

@cleolinda: #leavingthehouseomg on the Good Ship Nobody Dies in ten minutes; have not figured out a Cthulhu Doing the Cabbage Patch emoticon

@cleolinda: IT HAS BEEN SEEN. FIVE TENTACLES UP. \;;;\ /;;;/ ~;;;~ \;;;\ /;;;/ #prometheus

@cleolinda: I have a few distinct thoughts about wtf the movie was trying to do, and as soon as I get home, I will explain. WOOOOOOOO

@cleolinda: We will go into the spoiler linkspam I have been saving sight unseen and my feels, as the kids say, about the overall series later.

I want to be as vague as possible with the spoilers, but--responses to this movie seem so violently mixed that, when I had a sudden epiphany as the movie ended, I felt like people might go into it with different expectations if they approached it a particular way. For one thing, none of the Alien movies are anything like the others, if you think about it. I always thought Alien itself was kind of slow until I read that Ridley Scott thought of it as "a haunted house movie," and then I got it. Whereas Aliens is kind of a war movie, by contrast. (I think I've only seen #3 and #4 once each, when they originally came out; I can't really say what "secret" genre they might be.) I like that they're all different. I didn't want this to be a remake of Alien; I wanted to see the filmmakers think of yet another take on the story. In fact, there is a movie I really love, in a wildly different genre, that Prometheus reminded me of:


Picnic at Hanging Rock.

I have argued before that Picnic is a movie about people coping with the inability to know. And, as mentioned in that discussion, I found both a really good theory on what happened to the girls (a frustratingly good one), and also the reveal the author had originally intended... which made zero motherfucking sense. Sometimes, you don't want to know. Sometimes the answer is infinitely less interesting than the question; I suspect that the ways the characters you've been living with deal with that question will almost always be more interesting than the answer they do or do not get, and if they do get it, it'll be almost beside the point. Prometheus is almost entirely about people asking, where did we come from, who made us, why did they make us? In retrospect, there's a particularly telling exchange where David the android (OH MY GOD, THAT FUCKING ANDROID) has a pivotal conversation where Holloway the scientist is ribbing him. You think the actual point of the scene is what David does at the end of it, but thematically, I think it's more important that Holloway says that David was made "because we could," and David replies, how would you feel if these alien makers you're looking for told you the same thing? How would you cope with an answer you didn't like? Is it worth it to ask a question and regret the answer--but at least you got the answer and no longer have to wonder? And honestly, it's true, a large percentage of these characters redefine "too stupid to live"--when I see the movie again tomorrow, I'll look for it, but I wonder how many stupid-ass impulsive decisions they make are based in "I want to know."

Someone once said (as always, I forget who), in the context of writing advice, that a major aspect of a story's plot should be that the character makes a choice. It might be a choice they were not capable of making at the beginning, or the opposite of what they would have chosen then; that might be the arc of their development. On the other hand, it might be a choice they were committed to making and then faltered along the way, began to doubt themselves or their faith, and then, at the end, they reaffirm that original intention to act. In fact, just flashing through the first stories that come to mind, I think sacrifice is a choice that protagonists often end up making, or at least a duty that has a high risk of death, and that's why they have to work up to choosing that.

If you want to stop reading Mild Spoilers here, I'll just say--look at the movie from the perspective of 1) the act of questioning being what it's about, and the reason we don't get answers is to underline that theme, and 2) what do Shaw and David, in particular, choose to do throughout the movie? What are their final choices?  



I think that's why Prometheus supposedly leaves so many questions hanging, and that's what has frustrated a lot of people--I don't recall having any unanswered questions, honestly; maybe I was already expecting that the point of whichever question was the asking of it. (I rolled with the punches pretty easily with Lost, if that tells you anything, and this movie was co-written by Damon Lindelof as well.) I think the very last scene of the movie is Shaw making her choice, reaffirming her desire to know. It doesn't matter what she finds out. My guess is that it would have been the usual "we gave you our alien technology and all these opportunities and you wasted it on war and landfills" Judgy Environmentalist spiel you get in so many of these alien encounter movies. Seriously, we've got the DVD of the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still around here; I could just watch that again if I needed an answer that badly. I don't really care why the Engineers changed their minds, particularly since they're not real, and it's not like I would be getting a factual answer to any questions I have about the universe in real life. I care that Shaw cares, because I've spent the last two hours with her, and I want to know how she's going to cope with a question she really, really, in light of the last ten or so minutes, may not like the answer to. I care because the act of questioning is the human experience I identify with, not the fictional answer she might or might not get.


Actually, you know why I was really open to whatever was going to happen in this movie, most likely? Because I had read THIS, this COMPLETELY WACKADOO alleged plot rundown, several months ago. These are, like, Alternate Universe Reverse Spoilers, in the sense that none of this happens at all:

Mudow, Logan, Chance, Aldrich, Yuri, and Janek end up being destroyed by the Protoforms. In a strange, erotic ceremony, the Protoforms seemingly mate with the Bio-Brain and each other to create thousands of EGGS, the first of a new generation of the monsters. Meredith Vickers is revealed to be a sleeper CONSTRUCT of the Engineers, who are still active in their far future and Shaw’s present due to the time-travelling abilities of the wormhole. Vickers was grown in an Engineer lab but escaped, fleeing to Earth while always wanting to her find creators and take their power. The Engineers activate Vickers’ secondary GENE PROGRAMMING, and she transforms into an ALPHA PROTOFORM: the STAR BEAST.

At last, the two remaining crew members, Elizabeth Shaw and David, seek to confront the Engineers in the Temple. The Godlike entities prove to be utterly evil, and David sacrifices himself as he’s dissolved in the LIFE SEED BIOFORMER which is the basic genetic recipe for MAN: the former android David, it turns out, is the basis for all Mankind. Shaw is captured by Holloway, but he regains enough of his humanity to remotely activate an Engineer vessel for Shaw’s escape, then holds the other Protoforms and Engineers at bay. As Shaw escapes, she finds herself in the midst of the initial Engineer terraforming of Earth which we had witnessed in the opening montage, chased by the former Meredith Vickers who is now the gigantic, horrific Star Beast.

In a strange, erotic ceremony, you guys. THE STAR BEAST, YOU GUYS.


>> The 3D is really good--I didn't come out with a headache at all, whereas the converted-from-2D previews were actually kind of uncomfortable to watch. By the time my eyes adjusted, the movie was definitely 3D for a reason, but it felt incredibly natural. I spring for 3D very, very rarely, but I think this one's worth it for the visuals, particularly the star map globe: 3D is Roger Ebert's archnemesis, and he liked it (MILD SPOILERS).

>> Maybe I was just prepared by (vague) early reviews and responses, but I really didn't think it was slow at all, and the score didn't feel intrusive to me. I mean, granted, it's not the taut silence of Alien, and it might have even benefitted from something more like that, but it's not like whichever movie it was where I spent the whole thing wanting to just TURN THE MUSIC OFF.

>> Oh my God, David, what the fuck. My only explanation here is that, to be fair, he's apparently got the ethical development of a three-year-old. I kept waiting for him to stick his finger into light sockets or put alien goo into his mouth like a toddler eating anything he finds on the floor. I mean, he's a fantastic character, the way Ben on Lost was a fantastic character, which sometimes involves wanting to slap the everloving shit out of them. I legit do not know how Shaw was able to restrain herself from punting him across the room. "How did your father die? Was it ebola?" What is wrong with you.

>> Speaking of Shaw--the Noomi Rapace character--who I want to give many hugs: I actually liked that she was sort of sweet and idealistic, maybe even an anti-Ripley at first, because that made it all the more impressive that she kept going. Again, I liked that it was a different, unique character who wasn't just a Ripley do-over. Although yeah, she was sort of ridiculously naive about how totes awesome it was going to be to chat up some aliens she didn't know anything about; I'm guessing she doesn't watch a whole lot of movies. Maybe she and David needed to hang out in the movie room while everyone else was hyper-sleeping. He could do her nails while he was highlighting his hair (LOL FOREVER) and they could watch horrible, useful, gory alien attack movies and maybe the crew would have lasted a little longer. Maybe? Probably not.

>> Seriously, though, most of these characters were too stupid to live. ("This alien penis cobra on a planet we don't know shit about, it's beautiful! LET ME PET IT." I sincerely do not know how that guy remembered to breathe.) Of course, I just rubbed my hands gleefully, because my purposes are my own. In fact, I have other thoughts, but I suspect I ought to save them. Cough. I'm still struggling with a half-finished thing, though, so it could be a while.

BE WARNED THAT THE COMMENTS WILL BE A WILD FRONTIER OF SPOILERS, although I kind of hope people try to stay vague enough that others will still want to go see the movie so we have even more people to talk about it with. I'll post the spoiler linkspam on, I don't know, Monday? We can get into it then.

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Oh my gosh oh my gosh, THE WE DO NOT SPEAK OF IT TAG. My day is made.

I can't ever promise anything with certainty, but some things happen more easily than others. I wouldn't post anything I did manage until next week at the earliest, to give people time to see it, not to mention, me to write it. I've been wrestling with the Avengers for two weeks now.

Edited at 2012-06-08 08:02 pm (UTC)

I love Picnic at Hanging Rock. The first time I watched it was during high school exam leave and my mum joined in about a quarter of the way through. By the end of it, the tension and mood of the film had gotten to the point where we were a tad jumpy.

I like Prometheus. I didn't love it but it was a good night out, especially when you have friends who insist on poking you and saying "Look at the vagina chair!" "Fassbender's looking happy." "Of course he is, he's sitting in the vagina chair!" The vaginal-phallic imagery was never very subtle in the Alien franchise but here it was enough to have Freud tell you off for laying it on a bit thick (that's what she said?)

The film looked stunning and Fassbender as an android impersonating Peter O'Toole in Laurence of Arabia was nothing short of fantastic. It's worth remembering that David was never fully in charge of his actions since he's not programmed to be. The ensemble I had mixed feelings about (yay for some non stereotypical gender equality in the characters though) but I did love Rapace's idealism as well as her being religious without it descending into cross-waving nut-job territory as film is so often guilty of doing. Hats off to Idris Elba for just being ace in everything.

My issues with the film came from the frankly tension-less and weak script. I get that smart people doing stupid things to further the plot is practically a necessity in genre story-telling, but it just wore so thin here in such a short amount of time. I was disappointed by the lack of mood and tension to the film too. Alien is famed for its terrifying encapsulation of isolation and paranoia. Here it felt like it had been forgotten about. I did cringe at the emergency caesarean scene, which was very well done and reminded me why I should never have children. But overall, too many questions went unanswered and there was too much stupid. The sequel bait is just one big WTF too. Why the hell would you go off looking for the aliens who want to kill your entire species?

A friend who I saw the film with is a church leader and we've told him if he doesn't write a bunch of Alien references into his next sermon, we won't be held responsible for our actions.

Also, Fassbender head in a bag. Admit it, you want one.

I'm sorry, I just kept choking down hysterical laughter at the head-in-a-bag bit. He was just so understanding. I just could not find him attractive at all, or maybe 98% of the time, because he was so goddamn creepy. Which is a compliment, I guess.

Regarding Ebert... I don't think that his "inevitable sequel" is quite so inevitable. I mean, you do this movie, you purposefully leave unanswered the unanswered questions... what do you follow that with? Were I Scott (which, obviously, I'm not) I'd let this go and move on to another let's-come-at-this-universe-yet-another-way project. Because really, that seems to be working out rather well.

I think a sequel will happen, but it's heavily dependent on box office (Prometheus is up against Madagascar 3, which shouldn't be looked at lightly, those films make cash). Not sure Scott would direct it either, unless he really wanted to.

I think Alien 3 is more drama and Alien: Resurrection is more of an action film. I'm basing these genre deductions on the Charles S. Dutton/Ron Perlman factors in the movies because I couldn't genre my way out of a paper bag with a genre GPS.

IMO 'Alien 3' was a prison flick in a 'Lord of the Flies' or 'Papillion' sort of way. It is the 'Ripley had a really bad dream and none of it was real' movie to me.

'Alien Resurrection' was the 'corporation gets hold of the survivors of 'Aliens' and makes the evidence 'go away' so they can try to bioengineer an alienesque Ripley. It's a fantasy with the 'genetic memory' ... but if the aliens can do it, I'm glad Ripley can, as well. Plot holes you can drive a freighter through, but I still liked it.

Given the basic silliness, I even like 'Alien v Predator' in its attempt to 'explain' what sort of race would voluntarily transport aliens.

SPOILERS to follow:

I loved it a lot. Everything with Fassbender of course. Picturing the very end, with Shaw piloting an alien ship with David's Head propped up on a seat next to her, is some hilarious stuff. They were really the only two characters I cared anything about. "Sorry I didn't help you abort your monstrous space beast baby." "Sorry I have to put your head in a duffel bag." Comedy. (No, but seriously, since the Weylands didn't really go anywhere, those two were the most compelling.)

Special memorial note: the spectacularly un-self-preserving pair of scientists were played by Rafe Spall (who I enjoyed thoroughly as William Shakespeare in my guilty pleasure Anonymous) and Sean Harris (who is one of the best parts of The Borgias).

My son flies into O'Hare tonight and we're waiting for him to see it. OMGSOEXCITED!

Alien was released in 1979 when I was 9 (yes, dating myself here, but what the hell) and my friend's father took us. I was terrified, mystified and a fan for life. I have such high hopes for this film. I mean, I even read the novels and graphic novels of Aliens and Predator stuff. Yes, I do. In fact, here's a pic of Command Central. Note the large Predator on top of desk. My Queen Alien is on top of significant other's desk atm.


I'm also not ashamed to say I have tons more action figures placed about the house. Nope, no shame here!

I would have been scarred for life if I'd seen Alien when I was 9! I barely handled the Nazi's faces melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Where they lost me was when Shaw, um, had that surgery and then was just up and running around like nothing happened. That's when the movie just completely went nuts and it actually felt like a B-movie team came in and wrote it from there on. I LOVED it up until that point though. The opening sequence in particular was breathtaking.

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And, as mentioned in that discussion, I found both a really good theory on what happened to the girls (a frustratingly good one), and also the reveal the author had originally intended... which made zero motherfucking sense.Sometimes, you don't want to know. Sometimes the answer is infinitely less interesting than the question

Damon Lindelof was on...something on NPR yesterday (whatever plays at 4:00. Afternoon Edition?) and he made that exact same point when discussing Lost. He said that sometimes the theory a viewer comes up with is so dear to them that it becomes impossible to accept the "real" one presented by the creator. He didn't seem pissed about that either, which I think is a good view for a writer to have, especially having worked on Lost and doing the Alien movies with all their complicated mythology. I think that allows him to get more into what you were talking about with the choices the characters make instead of a Big Defined Ending.

Yeah. And the tough part is, I understand that it's something of a cop-out to just turn everything into a Choose Your Own Adventure. Like, no, YOU come up with something, it's YOUR STORY. But at the same time--logically, what could the Engineers' reason for changing their minds possibly be? Something about human civilization has displeased them or pissed them off or something? Usually, in this genre, it ends up being, "You're destroying your planet and the rest of the galaxy can't let you do that." Granted, I felt like Janek was kind of making a leap when he was like, "This is a military installation and these are weapons of mass destruction!" Like, I don't even think he'd been off the ship at that point to see a whole lot of it for himself; I felt like we were kind of being informed of that because we as an audience needed to be. But what if that was just an unsupported conclusion he leapt to? What if the Engineers were going back to earth for some kind of Stage Two terraforming/evolution that had always been part of their plan? Or what if Janek was right, but it wasn't because they had "changed their minds"--rather, they'd thought of something better to start over with? In the sense that there was nothing wrong with humanity; they'd just come up with an even "better" species and wanted to reboot?

Maybe the real question is, would you like whatever answer they committed to? I tend to think "there's no answer" works here because it's built into the actual themes of the story, but also because there is just nothing they could have come up with that would have been enough. I mean, the secret of the universe is... secret. You know? The unfathomable is, by definition, unfathomable. And after the Lost experience--people spent however many years demanding answers and then yelling about the ones they got. I mean, maybe the solution there was "think of something better," but I can see how you might also come away from that with, "People think they want to know the secret of the island, but they hate having the mystery stripped away when you do."

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That is all.

(Well, I still have to ses the movie, but I've seen enough of the trailers to go... huh?)

Idris Elba IN GENERAL.

(Heimdall is a badass)

... You know, I'd actually kind of like to see that bizarro Reverse Spoilers movie. I mean, how can a STAR BEAST and strange, erotic ceremonies fail to be hilarious?

Honestly, I was to a point where I was like, either that spoiler isn't real, thank God, or it is, and--Star Beast. Really, this is a win/win situation.

Why didn't anyone ever wonder if our drive to know where we came from was engineered into us?

And if the Engineers liked building weapons, and they built us...?

Maybe we're a really long-running ultimate nuke, or something.

Question before seeing it (please no spoilers)


But I have a question: I've never seen any of the Alien movies. Will I be able to follow the movie?

Re: Question before seeing it (please no spoilers)

I think so. I'd seen the movies, but this seems to stand alone. However, I believe it will seem a lot nuttier to someone not familiar with the franchise. Be prepared for some crazy.

There were so many "too stupid to live" moments where I was gesturing at the screen. "Put your helmets on!" "Use some damn tongs!" "Hasn't anyone every heard of a glove box!?"

Yeahhhh. I kept just wanting to be like, you are supposed to be scientists, DO YOU EVEN GO HERE? Yeah, let's totally electrify the head with live cells gooing around on it in the open air, I feel like that is a good life choice.

"You're three months pregnant" - out of which orifice did David pull the "three months" figure? She's not pregnant with a human baby, so what's his basis for this timeline? In hindsight, one of the dumbest lines in the movie, I think. There's also that line that Neil Degrasse Tyson ripped apart on Twitter, where Vickers says they're X billion kilomers away from home and apparently that distance wouldn't even take you out of the solar system.

I got jerked out of the movie at the very beginning, when they did the "all these ancient civilizations had the same symbols" speech and I realized it was Alien Versus Spacejockey.

I want to like the movie more, but I keep on finding things to laugh at. Like how the zombie guy was pretending to be a rock outside of the hatch.

Ultimately, I'm still trying to piece it together in my head. I'm not sure how the opening scene fits in. At first I thought the spacejockeys "created" humans accidentally, when the dead guys DNA got into Earth's water, but then there wouldn't have been human civilizations coexisting with the SJs and creating those cave paintings. Now I'm just using the Stargate explanation: the humans rose up and drove the SJs out. Why that one guy decided to commit ritual suicide by tea ceremony, I don't know...

The visuals were really great, though. SJs especially, they looked exactly like how I would imagine a near-human, but awe-inspiring, bigger, uber being to look like.

Okay, since you bring it up, I am really confused by that opening scene, because I am seeing more and more people describe it as a suicide, and I don't know why I thought this, but I had this idea that the spaceship dropped this guy off and it was his job to bring life to the planet, by drinking the life goo and donating his DNA. That is to say, I thought he was there on purpose to do that. And then people were like, "What, he missed his ride so he killed himself? They dumped him? He was exiled?" And suddenly I'm like, I don't know where they're getting that from and yet I don't know why I didn't see that myself.

Throwing this out there: Vickers is a Cylon, yes or no?

Also, the theme of this movie is Creepy Robot Learns to Love.

And the biggest question of all, why bother casting Patrick Wilson if we don't even get a high-res picture of his beautiful face?

OH SHIT! THAT'S WHO THAT WAS! I knew her father looked familiar but I could not for the life of me place him.