So this is odd: apparently some people think Prometheus is a great film I am struggling to understand how this can be.
I’ve always had a lot of fun taking movies seriously. It’s one of the things I do. Occasionally someone gets on my case about taking them too seriously, but they are missing the “fun” part. Obviously, movies are a pretty absurd thing to have strong disagreements about. The worst case scenario is disagreeing about the best way to tell stories.1
I enthusiastically defend a few movies that I know many smart people hate, like Avatar, District 9, I’m even one of those rare people who defend Alien 3.2 I have argued that science fiction fans should lighten up and lower their standards. But — for fun, really — I am also very hard on movies that many smart people love, like The Dark Knight and Inception.
And I have long-standing and entertaining disagreements about some of these.
No matter how seriously I take a position on a film, though, I always, always, always try to acknowledge the clearly redeeming features of films I hate, and the glaring flaws in films I love. I love Avatar … but I certainly know why other people don’t, and they aren’t wrong. There are good reasons to not-love Avatar! And I hated Inception … but I’d have to be an idiot not to see why so many people liked it.
This film though ... Prometheus … I’m having trouble with this one …
When I left Prometheus, I had a list of complaints so long it literally took about two hours of ranting with three different friends to get anywhere close to exhausting it. I took it for granted that it would be almost universally panned and loathed, like the Matrix sequels (“What Matrix sequels?”) or, shudder, The Phantom Menace.
Then I was stunned by Ebert’s glowing review, even though he’s often more forgiving than I am. I thought it was a sarcastic joke at first, it seemed so improbable. And then I was gobsmacked again when some fellow science fiction fans started telling me that they “couldn’t disagree more” with my review … though not yet with any detail. I have heard no actual reasons for liking the film, and no actual responses to any of my specific criticisms (or the many others that are out there, like Henry Rothwell’s wonderful Prometheus snark-a-thon).
For instance, how do these Prometheus defenders plead for the film when it is accused of truly staggering “don’t go in there” ridiculousness? How how how? How can you overlook inanities that inane?3 I just don’t know how anyone excuses them. How can anyone actually like this film? What are its redeeming features? (Other than, yes yes, Fassbender’s lovely performance.4)
So far I’m still drawing a blank. And so Prometheus is definitely shaping up to be one of the most polarizing films the genre has ever seen.
Unless you disagree about something the film is about of course, i.e. religion. But then you’re disagreeing about that. Not the film. Different problem. ↩
It was a great, arty little horror movie — even if the plot did go in a hopelessly wrong direction. Obviously it should have been Alien 3: Earth War. I mean, duh. ↩
“Hey, some really exotically horrible things have just happened to us, and I saw something outside the ship!”
“Sure thing, boss, I’ll just open the door and look!”
Fail. Death by super-powered zombie guy. Which makes no sense either. ↩
…of an android who poisons the lead scientist of the expedition for absolutely no reason, and does it exactly as if he knows exactly what’s going going to happen, even though they are all encountering this technology for the first time. ↩