Monday, November 05, 2012


Yesterday wasn’t a very good day. I managed to leave our freezer open all night and now it has apparently packed up, I dropped hot cigarette ash on a new blanket Caroline had bought in Crete, and then I had the horrible misfortune of watching Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.


What a spectacular failure this film was. It had many superbly cool elements in it that should have had the SF nerd in me squealing with delight, but unfortunately they were delivered with such a lack of coherence I started to lose the will to live about halfway in. This was a bad film and now I will talk about why I think it was bad so, if you haven’t seen it and haven’t noticed the spoiler warning above, stop reading now. And let me point out now before anyone offers explanations: yeah, I probably missed picking up on some of the exposition. That was because I failed to care.

Where to begin? How about starting with an octopus creature removed from a woman’s body by auto-surgery? This thing started off at about the size of a human fist and in a matter of hours grew into something the size of a car. Did it eat the auto-surgery? This was something that annoyed me in the original Alien film. I later discovered that the original script contained stuff about food stores being raided, but that 'detail' not appearing in the finished film was a fuck up.

Move on then to the female this thing was removed from. Apparently, along the way, she acquired super powers that enabled her to run like the wind and leap chasms with her torso sliced open and then stapled together again. Perhaps it was the power of her faith that kept her going – the same faith that made her realise that the ‘engineers’ had invited humanity to their home world. Oh sorry, that was wrong. Apparently these engineers had left messages throughout human history indicating the position of some sort of weapons dump or military research facility. Why?

Why did the android infect one of the scientists (archaeologists, whatever) with the stuff from pots scattered inconveniently across a floor like alien eggs? Because his delicate sensibilities were offended? Putting aside the sheer silliness of this infection turning said scientist into an octopus seed carrier, can I just point out that frying him with a flame thrower seemed like a rather extreme and irrational response? But then none of these people were behaving rationally anyway and no motivations were clear. Why did two of our intrepid explorers stay in that building? To get rich? Or to provide us with the convenient cliché of the idiots who wander off in the territory of monsters? Why did one of them then suddenly start treating a creature that seemed a by-blow of a snake and a flatworm as if it was Tiddles the family cat?

What was going on with that fucking big head? Yeah, I can see that the need was felt for a rehash of scenes from the Alien films with talking heads scattered about, but come on. So, this engineer’s head, severed apparently for a couple of thousand years and failing to decay, gets somehow zapped into life, bleeds a bit, bubbles up like an accelerated boil and then explodes. Why?

Then we have one of the cliché idiots coming back to the ship after having his snake pet wiggle into his mouth. He’d undergone a similar transformation to flame thrower man but in his case, instead of turning suicidal, he turned psychotic and started killing everyone. Why?

Now let’s look at the ending. Along the way our intrepid heroes have learnt that underneath that building is an alien ship apparently full of bioweapons to be used against Earth. How they learned this is a mystery. Apparently, the all-knowing Alien films android cipher learned this but I didn’t spot him telling anyone earlier on. These weapons are to be used to clean the slate to ‘start again’, so he later told super woman. Why would you want to spread something across Earth that seems to generate all sorts of fast evolving life forms that are as hostile to you as anything else? Now, I could think of explanations for this just as I could think of explanations for so much in this film. I could write this as an off-shoot of some war between two factions of the engineers. But that’s not my fucking job!

Moving on… super woman runs back from the launching alien ship and, over suit radio, tells the captain of the Prometheus that if the alien ship gets away there won’t be any Earth left to go back to. This guy is then apparently so convinced he decides to be a suicidal hero by crashing Prometheus into the alien ship. His two crewmen go with him because … well because obviously you at once decide to kill yourself at the babbled behest of someone with a torso of steel. Where they on fucking drugs?

This film was a colander of plot holes, undeveloped characters who did stuff without motivation (and who I failed to give a shit about), crap story-telling, and Alien films clichés and rehashes. It was visually beautiful and special effects were superb, but we’re past the time when the new gobsmacking stuff like that was enough because now everyone can do it and it’s time to return to the real foundation of such entertainment, which is story-telling. And finally, and most annoyingly of all and most sad, it could have been brilliant. 

Very disappointing.      


Graeme Finch said...

See where you are coming from. Perhaps the editing was shite and there will be a directors cut, that will plug some holes.

Perhaps there will be some prequels and sequels that will also fill the voids. And perhaps in some very odd corner of his mind Ridley is going to steal the march on the AvP thing and bring the Alien strand and the Predator strands together (even though the Predator strands isn't his) I reckon it's do-able.

There were more questions than answers, and that did make things awkward, but is that not just bait to pull you back in? Though I'm guessing you won't be suckered.

PS: I saw Shyfall on Friday night, I thought it was very good.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

i know i know, Coor's Promothesis was written by the tv show Lost feller (loose ended turd of a series), shit wiped by Scott & then he had the ingenious idea to have Giger do a mural for the movie while training a skinhead baby huey to hide in the spacejockey pajamas. lets let the Giger potential, A E Van Vogt original alien idea, fall flat & stupid- quick! dum dum dum. like this beer ad promothesis:

i waited for something amazing to come from the first Alien, what we are fed is trite poo forever. thought Scott had a brain still, somewhere, maybe 30 yrs ago...

Looper was decent, especially the first half. the gun play was a little hokey/redundant what you would expect from all Hwood movies though. i guess -this many- chase scenes & -this many- gun battles have to get in the script or no funding the cliche.

still hope you get to see the greek masterpiece Dogtooth. wtf time.

Chrish said...

7.3 on IMDB, special effects are enough for most people I suppose...

Larry said...

Hmmm, I quite enjoyed it- Scott doing what he does best!

Phil M said...

Yes, quite agree with you there Neal, looked great but what about the story. When you're playing the who dies next game it doesn't say much for the film
Much preferred "The Avengers"

=DJ= said...

Glad I'm not the only one who was very underwhelmed by the plot. I know it was supposed to be The Future and the human race might all be assholes by then, but none of the characters seemed to resemble human beings - it's as if they did completely random things purely because the plot demanded it.

For me, the most human character was the android!

Philip Birch said...

It was a typical Ridley Scott film. It can look brillant, have wonderful direction, but he's not alway so bothered about the script.

Duracell said...

Yep, a very badly cobbled together plot indeed.

I loved Red Letter Media's demolition of it (!


Anonymous said...

I waited through the entire first hour of pointless gabble for something interesting to happen. By then I was starting to fall asleep.

Maybe as a scientist I expect more from science fiction? Like maybe script writers could hire some scientists who can point out the ridiculous flaws and try to amend them? I'll list the worst:

1. Humanity has FTL capable starships only 80 years from now but they can't find a way to extend human life? (life extension technology is far more feasible).
2. Random northern English rough bloke is the top geologist and he randomly howls like a wolf for some reason? "these are my pups"..really? Why say something like that? Just say "latest scanning modules, still prototypes". Just anything but that asinine comment.
3. The ship is crewed by catwalk models. I had more respect for the original Alien trilogy because the characters more or less looked like everyday people. Other scientists I have worked with generally do not like they've just walked out from a Abercrombie and Fitch photoshoot.
4. As you pointed out, why the hell send humanity all these messages when they're just going to be directed to an arms dump? They could use that tech against the Engineers so easily.
5. Life on Earth began 3.5 billion years ago. Assuming that the Engineer in the first scene started evolution then, this species has been around all that time and haven't moved beyond the purely biological?
6. Baby octopus grows giant from eating...what? Medical instruments? So bizarre. Do these script writers not understand that to grow requires consumption and assimilation of biomass?

Euch I could go on and on. All I heard from everyone is how AMAZING Prometheus is. That if you don't think it's awesome, you're just too stupid to understand it.

I've given up on science fiction in cinema. I gave up on sci fi on TV when Battlestar Galactica ended. No one has the balls to risk the ire of TV execs who only want soap opera love triangles set on modern day Earth with aliens who look human and have no motivations save to be aliens in disguise.

I for one would love to watch a space opera that is made to the same high quality as A Game of Thrones. Storytelling supported by character development. Not the other way around.

Rant off.

Neal Asher said...

Graeme, I won't be suckered. Yeah, there are plot holes that can be filled, but no amount of filling can repair the behavioural anomalies. Going to watch Skyfall soon.

Vaude, it was a bit like slipstream fiction on film - that oh shit moment upon the realization that stuff is happening for no apparent reason then THE END.

Chris, they certainly are. Hollywood would tank otherwise.

Larry, perhaps the problem was that he didn't have other people i.e. script writers doing what they supposedly do best.

Phil M, rehash of the Alien films: 'everyone' but the lead female dies.

DJ, perhaps that was part of the problem: too much focus on that character.

Philip, so much on film can look brilliant now, that's why attention has to be paid to a script to raise a film above the horde.

Duracell, I might check that out, but much later - right now it would feel like picking at a sore.

xwiffle, I was considering adding something about your point 1 as well, also adding something about infertility.

Roger Schweingruber said...

Saw it yesterday in the plane from Male to Zurich - to be honest, for me it was one of the most anticipated movies of this decade and... it sucked big time.

Watching it in an airplane with crappy airplane in-ear-speakers takes out everything that Scott is a master of - amazing pictures combined with a hammering 7.1 soundtrack. Truth be told, I'm normally sucked into a movie if these two factors are ok and normally I can't fill (or ignore) the plot holes - but not this time on the little 10 inch screen.

I was/am disappointed beyond explanation. Good damn, even though Alien got "sequeled" beyond common sense this was and is still one of my favorite franchise. Prometheus just did not deliver.

Plot-Holes - everything said - maybe they will be filled in a sequel?

Super woman - agree

Stupid Scientists - agree

Engineers acting just like stupid brutes and look like made out of plastic? - why?

Why did the Engineer in the beginning kill himself?

What was the background of all this "Believe" crap?

Suicidal ship captains - what??

Well - I will rewatch it at home in 3D, 7.1 and on my big tele. Maybe it get's better

Final thoughts - did anyone else think that is was
a) a really cheap alien (looked like a goblin shark) and
b) wyh the f*ç* was a picture of the alien queen in one of the chambers? BTW - they did recycle quite a lot of Gigers designs anyway (Ship, big structure over the ship looked like Gigers designs for "Dune")

BTW Neal, just reading "Hilldiggers" and then I'm out of "Asher Books" - any hint on publication date of your next Book?


Here some links to the Giger stuff I mentionned

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

Scott did nostalgia regurgi-recycling of the 'kill me' burn victim also (first movie outtake) & a few other 'duh, no way!' that was ultimately LAME. pandering foolishness.

"No one has the balls to risk the ire of TV execs who only want soap opera love triangles set on modern day Earth with aliens who look human and have no motivations save to be aliens in disguise. "

i need to tattoo this on my face. greatest rant this month. funny noses do not make alien. imagine what is really going thru the minds of the creatures in Spongebob.

Neal Asher said...

"Why did the Engineer in the beginning kill himself?" Roger, I suspect he was spreading his DNA in the early ocean of Earth ... now where have I come across that idea before? As mentioned before here I've loved Giger's stuff ever since discovering it in Omni many many years ago.

Yeah, Vaude, thinking about it there were plenty of those please kill me now with your flame thrower moments in previous films. Obviously an idea from someone who hasn't actually been burned because having something tear its way out of your insides would almost certainly hurt less.

Martin Sommerfeld said...

"And finally, and most annoyingly of all and most sad, it could have been brilliant."

Spot on, that was exactly how I felt. And agree with really ALL your other points as well.

Anyway, Vaude is right: Looper was indeed decent. Go check it out some day.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

lose all your Omni from cleaning mothers or significant others? been mining this pile here. EVERY issue:

Neal Asher said...

Martin, I will get hold of Looper though, unfortunately, someone gave away the ending on a blog I was reading.

I don't know what happened to my copies of Omni, Vaude. They probably fell victim to one of my tidy up and chuck away moments.

Lis Straaf said...

I agree, whole-hearted, with everything you say...except one thing.

That's not where the diaphragm is.

That incision wasn't a classic C-section, but the diaphragm is way higher, separating the abdominal cavity from the thoracic one.

Either way, yes, she displayed a wondrows healing power to be able to run and jump and everthing, after such drastic procedure.

Neal Asher said...

Okay, you got me Lis - I'll substitute 'abdominal muscles'.

Neal Asher said...

Or maybe just torso.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

the link i posted has d/l for every issue. only if youre nostalgic or feeling like you missed a few key issues.. is a goldmine.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

one last b.s. factor popped up: forgot to bring up the whole Lexx nod (without The Cure haircut) at the end of the Promotepid movie. anyone notice that sack of shit rearing it's head? how unsophisticated can you get? was this for the sigh fi channel or what? hopeless.

Tony B said...

I looked forward to it with great excitement, only to find it was absolute drivel.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it wasn't the best, I kinda felt like these guys