Tag Archives: 2001

‘Alien’ meets ‘Tree of Life’ in Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’

Film review

Earthlings from the ship Prometheus visit the ship of humanoid aliens in Ridley Scott’s epic “Prometheus,” in which Scott unfortunately bit off far more than he actually could chew. 

Warning: Contains spoilers (if you really could call them that…).

I’m pretty sure that my companion and I weren’t supposed to laugh at the final visual of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” but we did, and that very apparently unintended laughter from the audience member, I think, underscores what’s wrong with the film.

Before I saw “Prometheus” yesterday — in 3-D at an IMAX, the biggest and loudest way to see it, at least here in Sacramento — I had read another reviewer compare “Prometheus” to Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” and while at that time I couldn’t see how that comparison could be apt, I see it now.

I wrote of “The Tree of Life” at the time of its release:

I get the impression with “The Tree of Life” that the 67-year-old Malick [he now is 68] had two films inside of him trying to claw their way out of his chest cavity like identical twin aliens a la “Alien,” but that he was concerned that if he didn’t put them into one film, he might not live long enough to get both films made, so he put both of the films into a blender.

Again, either of these two films probably would have been or at least could have been great, Malick’s ode to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001” (and to “Jurassic Park”) or Malick’s very personal (perhaps too personal) recap of his own childhood as an American baby boomer having grown up in Texas.

I also noted of “The Tree of Life” that “the story of the humans in ‘The Tree of Life’ probably would have made a much better stand-alone film, stripped of the ‘2001’-like surrealism of cosmic vomiting and universal diarrhea, in which creation often rather violently explodes all over the place.”

It’s kind of weird, in retrospect, that I mentioned “Alien” in my review of “The Tree of Life,” because now we have Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” which is like “‘Alien’ Meets ‘The Tree of Life,'” and the same criticism that I leveled of “The Tree of Life” is true of “Prometheus”: that “the story of the humans in [‘Prometheus’] probably would have made a much better stand-alone film, stripped of the ‘2001’-like surrealism of cosmic vomiting and universal diarrhea, in which creation often rather violently explodes all over the place.”

In the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” — and it’s a grand, origin-of-man opening scene that makes us think way too much of the grand, origin-of-man opening scenes of Kubrick’s “2001” and Malick’s “Tree of Life” – we have what appears to be literal cosmic vomiting, as a proto-human, humanoid alien apparently vomits his (its?) DNA onto planet Earth as its body disintegrates into a waterfall, further seeding planet Earth with its DNA, eventually leading to us human beings, which doesn’t make much more sense, scientifically, than the myth that Eve sprang fully formed from Adam’s rib. But if I understand “Prometheus” correctly (and can anyone?), Scott presents this as more or less scientifically plausible.

It’s fine to create your own cosmology, but your cosmology needs to make sense, needs to follow logic and reason, if you are presenting it as logical and reasonable. “Prometheus” is chock full of logical and chronological inconsistencies and contradictions. Were I to watch “Prometheus” on DVD and be able to stop and start it again, I probably could fill pages of notes of all of the shit that just doesn’t make sense.*

And that doesn’t make “Prometheus” deep and unfathomable. That makes “Prometheus” not very well planned out.

The acting in “Prometheus” is good, even though our heroine more or less is an Ellen Ripley reboot, and expect Ridley Scott and his army of technicians to sweep the Oscars with technical awards, and indeed “Prometheus'” ultra-special effects and BIGNESS do indeed draw you in, at least at times throughout the film’s two hours, and so as summer-movie entertainment, “Prometheus” more or less succeeds, but by trying to do way too much, and by not making much sense in the process, “Prometheus” lets you down.

The main problem with “Prometheus” indeed seems to be Ridley Scott’s outsized ego. “Prometheus” isn’t just the dude in Greek mythology who first brought the use of fire to mankind, and “Prometheus” isn’t just the name of the ship in Ridley Scott’s first sci-fi film since 1982’s “Blade Runner,” and “Prometheus” isn’t just the humanoid alien at the beginning of Scott’s latest sci-fi film who apparently is the father (father/mother?) of all mankind on Earth, and “Prometheus” isn’t just the title of Ridley Scott’s latest film. “Prometheus” also very apparently is Ridley Scott — who wishes to remind you that he first brought the “Alien” franchise to mankind!

At age 74, perhaps Scott thought that “Prometheus” might be his last film, and so he had to make a splash. Ironically, it seems to me that had he tried to make much less of a big splash, “Prometheus” would have been a much better film, because it isn’t a big splash — it’s a big mess. A very pretty mess, but a mess nonetheless. With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott bit off way more than he could chew.

There are elements of “Prometheus” that I like. I like the proto-human, humanoid aliens, and I would have liked to have known an awful lot more about them, but I suppose that that would have been too much like “Star Trek” for Scott, and again, I have the feeling that we aren’t told more about these aliens not because Scott was trying to be coy (although I don’t rule out that he decided to save some details for sequels, of course), but because he actually never bothered to flesh out his cosmology for “Prometheus.”

Reviewers have been raving about Michael Fassbender’s performance as David, the android. I like Fassbender — he’s good in pretty much every role that he plays — but David is only a mish-mash of androids that we’ve seen before in the previous “Alien” movies and in many other sci-fi films. The protagonist juvenile android of Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” also is named David, whose “daddy” is the CEO of a corporation, just like “Prometheus'” David is the ’droid “son” of a CEO. (The symbolism, I suppose, is that sculptor Michelangelo created his own David. Deep!)

Yawn.

And the theme of the robot who knows that he doesn’t have a human soul has been visited many times before, not only in “A.I.” but with “Star Trek’s” Data, of course. (To “Prometheus'” credit, I suppose, the android David apparently does not, in Pinocchio-cum-Data style, long to be a real boy, as does “A.I.’s” android David. “Prometheus'” David seems to prefer his status as an android.)

But why do almost all of the androids in the “Alien” movies have to be decapitated or cut in two? As I watched the talking head of David in “Prometheus,” I really could think only of the android characters of Ash and Bishop in “Alien” and “Aliens,” respectively, who were decapitated and cut in two, respectively, but who kept talking. Why couldn’t Ridley Scott have kept David in one piece?

And why did Scott have David deliver lines that are so similar in their content and even in their cadence to the lines that HAL delivered in “2001,” such as something along the lines of: “I know that we have had our differences,  [insert hero or heroine’s name here], but I can assure you that I am fully functional now”?

David’s being the only one “awake” for more than two years while the human crew were in cryosleep as their ship traveled to its destination (the Earth-like moon of a planet far, far away) on a mission that most of the crew members were not briefed upon until after their arrival at their destination also makes David too much like HAL and “Prometheus” too much like “2001” (as well as their grand opening scenes that retell how humankind came into being).

And for fuck’s sake, I love Guy Pearce, but if you have a character who is supposed to be an old, old man, why not just have an old, old actor play that role? (AARP, are you listening?) It’s taboo these days to put makeup on a white person and have him or her play, say, an Asian or a black person, so why is it OK to just put makeup on a younger man to have him play a Yoda-old man? (Age progression is different. Pearce’s character, the CEO of “Weyland Corp.” and the “father” of android David, is ancient throughout the entire film.)

Many reviewers have noted that “Prometheus” appears to be Ridley Scott’s attempt to take back the franchise that his 1979 “Alien” started, and indeed, the final, very apparently unintentionally risible scene of “Prometheus” — in a which a proto-“Alien” alien bursts from the torso of one of the proto-human, humanoid aliens — seems to be Ridley Scott fairly screaming: “See? I gave birth to the alien!”

Admittedly, the “Alien” franchise went off the tracks with its third installment, but “Prometheus” hasn’t put it back on track.

Gee. Maybe James Cameron can rescue the “Alien” reboot…**

My grade: B-

*You are demanding at least one thing about “Prometheus” that doesn’t make sense, so fine: Why does the humanoid alien at the end of the film, who, we are told, has been in cryosleep for at least 2,000 years, decide, upon finally wakening, that he still must fulfill his destructive mission on Earth? How does he know that the mission is still a good idea? Is it not possible that things have changed in two millennia? And even with the humanoid aliens’ advanced technology, how was he (it?) kept alive in cryosleep for two millennia?

Here’s another logical problem: The automated surgery pod that operates on our heroine — if it was programmed for male patients only, as we are informed, how did it cut open and then close her uterus? (Was the alien being in her uterus? She was told that she was pregnant, so I assume so.)

Here’s another problem: How can you actually reanimate the head of a humanoid being that has been dead for centuries? (And isn’t it repetitive? Ash the android’s head was reanimated in “Alien,” for fuck’s sake. WTF is Scott’s obsession with reanimated heads?)

And yet another problem: If the humanoid aliens’ DNA were exactly like Earthlings’ DNA, then why are the humanoid aliens hairless, pale (translucent, really) and huge? If the DNA were an exact match, wouldn’t Earthlings be giants, too?

There are many more inconsistencies and contradictions, but those are good for starters.

**Lest you laugh, Wikipedia notes that “Prometheus”

…began development in the early 2000s as a fifth entry in the “Alien” franchise, with both [Ridley] Scott and director James Cameron developing ideas for a film that would serve as a prequel to Scott’s 1979 science-fiction horror film “Alien.” By 2003, the project was sidelined by the development of “Alien vs. Predator,” and remained dormant until 2009 when Scott again showed interest.

I am not certain whether Scott and Cameron were working together or were working independently on an “Alien” prequel, but I rather would have had Cameron make the prequel than Scott…

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This is all I’m going to say about 9/11

The unelected Bush regime beat the nation over the head with 9/11 for many years, so sue me if I long have been 9/11’d out.

As nightmarish as it was to have had to experience the reign of BushCheneyCorp after the stupid, fat and lazy American public just allowed the right-wing thieves (redundant…) to steal the White House in late 200o, the traitors who comprised the Bush regime were, in their own sick, twisted and treasonous way, brilliant. I mean, they took a spectacularly tragic event that they’d been warned about but did not prevent — and used it for political gain.   

It was only until the mid-term elections of 2006 that the Repugnicans no longer could wave the bloody shirt of 9/11 for political gain.

What have we Americans learned since Sept. 11, 2001?

Absofuckinglutely nothing.

We were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, because we wantonly had slaughtered Muslims, or allowed them to be slaughtered or allowed or caused them to die, in the Middle East. In fact, the main reasons given by 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden himself (and other members of al-Qaeda) for 9/11 were: the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, which resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of Iraqi civilians, including children; the presence of the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia after the first George Bush war on Iraq; and the U.S. government’s blind, slavish support of Israel.

So: What has changed since then?

Well, let’s see: The U.S. killed even more innocent Iraqi civilians in George W. Bush’s Vietraq War for Big Oil and for the war profiteering of the war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton; the U.S. military moved its main base in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, which, to my understanding, still violates the fundamentalist Islamist belief that no infidel should be allowed to occupy Muslim land; and the U.S. government still licks the ass of Israel, which can do no wrong and which enjoys the blind, slavish support of both parties in the duopolistic dog and pony show that we call “democracy.”

While I’m not asserting that when Osama bin Laden shouts “Jump!” Americans should ask “How high?”, it seems clear to me that Americans are hated around the world because they just allow their government and their military (which are only in the service of the corporatocrats and the plutocrats) to shit and piss upon the poorer, weaker peoples all around the globe — yet these same Americans fully expect to be adored around the world just the same.

Why do they hate us?

They hate us because we’re stupid.

They hate us because we’re xenophobic — we don’t even bother to try to learn about other cultures, but we function from the stubborn but incorrect belief that other cultures have just failed at being us. We just assume that they want to be just like us (they don’t) but that they just can’t pull it off because they don’t have what it takes.

They hate us because we’re hypocrites. (To give just one of many examples, the U.S. government maintains that Israel may have nukes but that Iran may not. And for the only nation ever to have nuked another nation to be dictating who does and who does not get to have nukes — because you just can’t allow one nation to nuke another nation —  is pretty fucking insanely hypocritical.)

They hate us because we have no empathy whatsofuckingever. We use the occasion of the anniversary of 9/11 to wallow mawkishly in our own national pity party about the 3,000 or so Americans who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, while we don’t say a word about the tens of thousands of civilians whom we allowed our government to kill or cause to die in Iraq using 9/11 as a pretext. We talk only about American losses because we consider only Americans to be fully human. Yes, they hate us because we don’t consider them to be fully human.

They hate us because we’re greedy, fat and lazy — and that we use violence around the globe to support our ability to be fat and lazy.

They hate us because we’re destroying the very planet, such as with global warming.

They hate us because we are, in a word, Rome, which I surmise also was rather hated throughout the world.

We fat, lazy and stupid Americans should remember: Rome fell.

Happy International Burn a Koran Day.

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Worst. ‘President.’ Ever.

President George W. Bush listens to his introduction as he prepares ...

Reuters photo 

Speaking at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania today, “President” Bush bragged that there hasn’t been another 9/11 since 9/11 — he wants kudos for doing his job — and today he also claimed to Fox “News,” “I didn’t compromise my soul to be a popular guy.” No, he sold his soul to Dick Cheney’s war-profiteering Halliburton instead of to popularity.

Apparently “President” Bush doesn’t want our last memory of him to be that of him ducking a pair of shoes thrown at him by an enraged Iraqi — you know, one of the people we “liberated.” (We “liberated” tens of thousands of them quite permanently)

So now Bush is reminding us that we have him to thank for the fact that we haven’t had a 9/11-level terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001.

Wow.

That’s like expecting a fucking Brownie button for the fact that yes, you killed an entire family while drunken driving, but that you haven’t killed anyone else since.

The worst terrorist attack on mainland American soil happened on Sept. 11, 2001, on Bush’s watch — less than a month and a week after he had received a presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

Who knew?

Bush knew.

Bush didn’t care.

Just like he knew that Hurricane Katrina was determined to strike in the U.S. in August 2005 but he didn’t care about that, either.

In the last days of his disastrous hostile occupation of the White House, Bush can try to rewrite history all he wants; history will record him as W: The. Worst. “President.” Ever.

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