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Published on June 12th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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Prometheus: In space, no one can hear you scream, or scratch your head

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0WUpsErUBA&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

By Danny Simon

It’s always hard to understand why any director would choose to tarnish the memory of the project that made their career. Lucas. Spielberg. And now, Ridley Scott. These guys have vaults like Scrooge McDuck, so what makes them so careless with their legacy?

Director Ridley Scott’s Aliens (1979), basically feminism in space, was brutally suspenseful and cutting edge. H.R. Giger’s artistic vision was a mix of sterile utility and Tonka truck bravado. Sigourney Weaver’s performance was a breathtaking marriage of beauty and brawn. A few decades later with two sequels under his belt, Scott returns to that original vision and mars it for a pile of prequel loot. Asshole.

Or maybe I’m the asshole. Having had my curiosity piqued by trailers a few months ago, I entered the theatre with raised expectations that were met for the first half hour or so. The ship is cool. The casting dynamic. But slowly, I felt myself getting annoyed. Scott is a solid storyteller, I thought to myself. Maybe I just drank too much last night.

But the film proceeded to get worse. And when the final scene came, I wanted to punch myself in the head. I’m writing this while nursing a hangover, which has been made all the worse by the film’s massive inconsistencies, awkward pacing, and ginormous black holes–one of which has sucked me in and now I wanna crank call
Ridley Scott, but I don’t have his number, and my caller ID would ruin the gag anyway.

No big spoilers here. Thematically, the story focuses on creation, existence, and paternity. Set in 2093, the crew of the Prometheus venture across space to find the extra terrestrials who appear on cave paintings made 35,000 years ago. But there are other agendas, other identities and stories, though none of them are ever developed enough to make anyone care when the inevitable hammer of the gods comes crashing down. When the obligatory ending finally arrived and we see our beautiful alien born, I yawned and considered a nap. Fish tacos?

Ray Bradbury passed earlier this week and an NPR reporter credited the author with bringing respectability to the genre of science fiction. The loquacious writer’s stories were filled with anxiety of a future just beyond the horizon. This is the juice of science fiction. When it’s done well, sci-fi forces the reader or viewer to confront hard truths and to attempt to answer difficult questions. When it’s done poorly, like Prometheus, sci-fi offers little but a reminder that our future is likely a predictable extension of our present condition. Clearly, I need a drink.

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