Prometheus: loved this movie for all the reasons the critics hated it
Sci-Fi’s closest genre, for me, is the Western. Both take huge landscapes that are largely empty and fill them with big moral and sometimes philosophical themes. Sci-Fi, in this sense is superior to the Western because it can more easily cope with bigger, philosophical themes. That’s why it’s my favourite genre.
I have also learned to ignore Sci-Fi film reviews, as they’re written by people who love movies, all movies. They love movies more than ideas. I love ideas more than movies. Movies are a means to and end for me, for reviewers they are too often an end in themselves. So it is with Prometheus – a movie that can be said to have disappointed the reviewers.
I loved this movie and loved it for all the reasons the critics hated it. First, it breaks the rules. The good looking hero is killed off pronto, it doesn’t pander to the traditional horror genre tricks (make you jump - regularly) and it doesn’t have an ending. For me these are surprises, not weaknesses. Movies don’t have a template which have to be slavishly followed. Good movies break the rules.
Prometheus, as the title suggests takes us into a Hesiodic world, a pantheon of lifeforms. Man is not the measure of all things. In fact, these other Titans see us as relatively insignificant and have their own battles to fight. This is a challenge to monotheism, even Darwinism. Why not?
It fits nicely into the Alien box set with its heroic woman, hapless men, the shift from landscape to claustrophobic ship, the robot and the terrifying lifeforms. The mapping sphere’s were great, the deep throat stuff brutal and self medication scary. And the planet itself was beautifully imagined, like a horrific, Hobbesian Earth, with its Google map inspired views and huge sandstorms, exactly as we know them from planets in our own solar system. The sandstorm scene is breathtaking. In the end it's carnage - only two survive.
If I have one criticism it’s the homage to Lawrence of Arabia (another Western by the way). It was obvious but of no significance, so why do it? Sometimes writers and directors can’t help but show off. One other quibble is the cave in Skye scene near the start where they rip off the Chauvet cave horses and relocate them in a cave in Skye! Haven’t they seen Cave of Forgotten Dreams? Didn’t the budget stretch to a few new cave paintings? And why was the main weapon in the human’s ship a crap flamethrower? This is set a couple of centuries into the future so for God’s sake get your guns right. What this needed was a couple of young games designers. When Scifi remains earthbound it loses its potency.