This was originally going to be a Top 10 Reasons of Why Prometheus Sucked, but I couldn’t stop at just 10. My disappointment at this movie explored new ground that I didn’t think existed in my disappointment-space. It sucked on so many levels.
IMPORTANT: *** Contains Spoilers ***
IMPORTANT: If you have not seen Prometheus yet, go and watch it for yourself and make up your own mind about it. Don’t be led blindly into feeling one way or another about Prometeus by reviewers or this article. Many people enjoyed the film for what it was.
Prometheus (2012) directed by Ridley Scott was billed as a standalone film that occurred in the same universe as the Alien franchise, and although it was set prior to the events in those films the official line was that it was not meant to be a prequel as such.
Perhaps this is where a lot of the disappointment comes from, although there are many, many things wrong with this film apart from that.
The producers did finally reveal that Prometheus was a prequel to the events in Alien – but perhaps hope can be taken from the fact that it was only ‘a’ prequel and not ‘the’ prequel.
Story plot holes and Science failures of Why Prometheus Sucked
The Engineer at the start of the movie dissolves after drinking some of the black liquid and we are led to believe that his DNA seeds life into the planet. I can just imagine how biology professors answer questions from their students about that one!
Noomi Rapace is cast as Elizabeth Shaw, a scientist with a religious background. Shaw is not meant to be the new Ripley (from the original Alien films) but the comparison is easily made just the same. For instance, she’s the only human to survive to the end of the film. The last scenes show her taking off in an Alien ship with David the android to get to another alien world. So her character most likely appears in any sequel to Prometheus.
A group of scientists stumble across similar-looking ancient cave paintings in various places on Earth. They interpret these paintings as an invitation to a certain planet in a certain far away star system. Nobody seems to question this. And the next thing we know, a multi-trillionaire (Weyland) has financed a scientific research trip in the Prometheus, in the belief that the creators of life on Earth are waiting for them at the other end. I know this cave painting part of the story is just the excuse to get the crew into space, instead of just starting the movie in space, but why not spend an extra minute of the film developing this into a more reasoned argument.
And while we’re talking about the cave paintings, we are presuming that they are made by the ancient humans. So why are the ancient humans drawing a starmap pointing to the location of the Engineer’s manufacturing or storage site for the black goo that is intended to be used to destroy all life on Earth?
Guy Pearce was cast as Peter Weyland, CEO of Weyland Industries. This is the character that funded the mission to the alien world and travelled along with them on the Prometheus in cryo-stasis, seemingly unbeknownst to most of the crew. His life is spent and he is an old withered man. He wants to meet the Engineers and ask them to remake him or give him eternal life. But the question is, why Guy Pearce? Why not cast an old guy as the old guy? Instead of a young guy in old man prosthetics and make up who is practically unrecognisable as Guy Pearce. Casting a younger man led the audience to believe that somewhere in this storyline maybe Weyland got his wish and there would be some kind of transformation into a younger man. Instead, all that happens is the Engineer smacks him on the head and he dies. Perhaps it’s my age, but Guy Pearce will always be Mike from Neighbours, regardless of whatever other successes he has had in his career or will have in the future. It’s not his fault they made him practically unrecognisable in this film.
When the crew are brought out of cryo-stasis on the Prometheus, it seems that practically none of them know why they are there. Even though this is supposed to be a science research mission and some of the crew are supposed to be scientists. So several ‘smart’ scientists signed up for a 4 year round trip mission without doing any preparation, background research, making sure the equipment they would need for their specialism was on board, doing simulations. Doesn’t sound like any scientists I know.
And when we’re on the subject, it’s funny how multidisciplinary all these scientists are. I wonder how many archaeologists have an advanced knowledge of surgery.
The android on the mission, David, is the surrogate son of Weyland and treated better than his own daughter, Vickers, who is also along for the ride. David has studied ancient writings in the hope that it will enable him to speak with the Engineers when they get to the alien world. Funny how you could possibly learn how to ‘speak’ a language by interpreting ‘written’ symbols. In the same way, we cannot speak ancient Egyptian from knowing what words or phrases their hieroglyphs represent. Any relationship between pictorial representations and sounds are going to be guesswork at best.
LV-223 is 30 light years away and yet it only takes two years to get there, so the Prometheus employs some kind of faster than light drive. Despite being impossible as we currently understand physics, we can probably let this one slide given that the other Alien films also made use of faster than light technology to reach distant destinations in short periods of time.
The ship Prometheus arrives at the planet and picks an apparently random location to fly towards. ‘Luckily’ they notice straight lines on the ground, like a road, which takes them right to a place of interest. Boy that was lucky. Out of a whole planet they found that on their first fly past!
The ‘scientists’ seem happy enough to take their helmets off. Even if the atmosphere is a suitable match for breatheable Earth-like air, what about the possibility of airborne toxins or infectious organisms? Come on guys, play half-serious at being science dudes.
Meredith Vickers, played by Charlize Theron, is the ice cold, corporate bitch of the film. Except, when she inexpicably slips out of character to have a one-nighter with Janek, the salty sea-dog captain of the Prometheus played by Idris Elba. All this happens while part of the crew are trapped inside the alien building.
They bring an ancient Engineer head on board the Prometheus and carbon date it. How can they do that with no carbon dating reference for this planet. Carbon dating on Earth is inaccurate enough but at least we have reference material. They would at least require a carbon 14 reference point to make any reasonable approximation to age.
Shaw proclaims that a DNA sample from the Engineer is a 100% match with human DNA. On the face of it, this seems like nonsense, and it is. Only identical twins have a 100% DNA match. After all, in genetic terms we share nearly 99% of our DNA with chimps, so that 1% makes an awful lot of difference. But perhaps the analysis was looking at key genetic markers that differentiate humans from any other species, but that’s just an assumption. And then of course, humans are not 8 foot tall. Humans can grow to varying heights, as can be seen from looking at average heights of population groups in different countries today. It’s also true to say that human beings living in the developed world today are, on average, a few inches taller than their ancestors from a couple of hundred years ago. So under the right circumstances and given the right nutrition and genetic selections, could humans develop to 8 foot tall – Maybe. After all, we can compare that potential to different offshoots such as Homo Floresiensis which developed in the opposite direction. But again, that’s exactly the point. If you compared the DNA of modern humans with that species, you wouldn’t get a 100% match. Which also means the 8 foot tall variety could not be 100% match either.
The biologist seems to have no fear whatsoever of the alien cobra-like face hugger creature and reaches out towards it like it’s a stray dog he’s trying to befriend. So it’s a snake-like creature on an alien planet, rising up like a cobra, and you don’t back away?
Then we have Shaw’s caesarian section to remove the rapidly growing alien from her womb using the medi-pod on the Prometheus. Having disposed of the beast, the only repairs she apparently needs are painkilling injections and a few staples across the external abdominal opening. So, no sewing up on her internals, which are probably in tatters? Although a laser does fire into her, possible sealing her womb? Even though the machine is not set-up for females so it doesn’t know what a womb is… And later the same day she is running, jumping, dragging and carrying heavy androids, climbing ropes, etc. Activities which will all require some use of abdominal muscles. Even if the external wound was closed and sealed, and painkillers numbed any feeling, the abdominal muscles are cut in two and will not have had time to stitch themselves back together again. Some, if not all, of the aforementioned activities performed shortly after the surgery are physically and biologically impossible.
The Alien Xenomorph at the end of the film is born out of the Engineer. If I understand the Alien franchise theory that the xenomorphs incorporate the DNA of the host, and if we believe Shaw, the Engineers are supposed to be a DNA match with humans, so how come this xenomorph looks nothing like the xenomorphs from the other Alien films. Also, how come it is born full size? Where is the larvae-like stage that burst out of John Hurt in the original Alien?
Is it just me, or is there just too much ramming things down people’s throats in this film? Literally. It was kind of implied in other Alien films with the face-huggers, or the end results were seen on computer scanner screens. But I lost count of how many times we got to see someone, including an Engineer, getting large alien parts rammed into their mouths and down their throats. Enough to make you barf.
Summary of Why Prometheus Sucked
While many facets of this film, disappointed people, perhaps the main reason Alien fans seem to have for why Prometheus sucked is that it just wasn’t the movie the fans were hoping for. Sure it was set in a universe inhabited by the other Alien films, but despite the hints and nods towards connections between this film and the original quadrilogy, the disconnect was just too much.
The wishy washy search for the meaning of life on Earth by a rag tag bunch of so-called scientists just didn’t resonate with the fans. The glaring plotholes and science failures could have been brushed under the carpet if there was a strong underlying story to Prometheus and feeling that you knew where this film fitted in. But it just didn’t work out that way.
Sure, it’s a special effects marvel. The sound track is haunting and on a grand scale. But we need more!
I’ve only seen Prometheus once, like a lot of other people. Maybe it’s one of those movies that you need to see several times to work out what’s going on. That’s OK if that’s the case, but most people are only ever going to watch this once, at least until it gets to TV. So do you really think it’s a good idea to leave so many people wondering if they just wasted their evening watching this film?
There have been a number of films that I’ve seen twice this year, and a couple that I would gladly go and see again if they hadn’t finished their run, but Prometheus? No, sorry.
Rumours are that there’s a sequel to Prometheus on the way. In many ways this is to be welcomed. It may in it’s own way allow the storyteller to bring several loose ends together. I hope that those involved take time to watch the original Alien films, delve deep into the Alien lore and spend hours trawling the internet to see how people reacted to Prometheus. A sequel will offer them a chance to fix what went wrong last time. Will people watch it – of course they will. Even if it’s as bad as this? Probably. But it will only really come to the rescue if they take on board the positives criticisms that fans have made about Prometheus.