Unnecessary Prequels, Part Two

Last week’s episode of Enemy Lines delved into The Thing (2011), the prolonged deleted scene that is the prequel to The Thing (1982). Now, spoiler alert, I’m going to spoil Prometheus. I mean really spoil it, just get up in its grille and spoil the shit out of it.

Before the release of Prometheus, Ridley Scott became annoyingly coy about whether or not he was making a prequel to Alien. Now that I’ve seen it, I understand. Prometheus glances off Alien, taking place in the same universe as the 1979 film, but it’s a different story. The problem is that it’s a story that makes no sense and is largely driven by characters with random motivations doing unbelievably stupid things.

The film opens with a pale alien/god stripping down to show us how ripped he is before consuming something that causes him to disintegrate on a genetic level. His remains mix into a scenic waterfall to make a genetic soup that will eventually simmer into humans. This makes it immediately clear to the audience that this is going to be a WTF(BILC) movie: What the fuck? (But it looks cool!)

Apparently alien-gods that are kick-ass bodybuilders and travel the galaxy seeding planets with life don’t think of just adding their genetic disintegration snack to a simple blood sample, but instead prefer a suicide approach. WTF(BILC)

Next we get some human Scientists. I cap it because that seems to be how they feel about themselves: Back off, man, we’re Scientists. They discover a star chart in various ancient artworks across multiple civilizations, which they think is an invitation. Somehow, a few dots scratched in stone is accurate enough that they’re able to find the exact match dozens of light years away. WTF(BILC)

So they travel there and high jinks ensue. I’m not going to list all the WTF(BILC) moments, because the sheer volume could break the internet. And some of the WTF stuff doesn’t even look that cool, like when they keep taking their helmets off in an alien environment which, although it has breathable air, could still be full of who knows what sort of bizarre alien shit. Which, of course, it is. But why would they think of that? They’re just a bunch of Scientists.

Let’s just do a quick sampler list of further WTFs:

1. Two guys freak out and want to go back to the ship when the team finds some dead aliens. Even though they’ve mapped the site, and one of the freaked-out guys was in charge of the mapping tech, the two get lost.

2. When the rest of the team evacuates the site, they think the other guys must have already gone back to the ship even though all the ground vehicles are still there.

3. When the guys that got left behind find a creepy alien worm/snake, one of them—and remember, they were scared of DEAD aliens—talks to it like it’s a puppy and tries to touch it. Then things get squishy.

4. When one of the Scientists ends up pregnant with an alien squid baby, the crew is going to put her in suspended animation until they get back to Earth. Instead, she beats up a couple people so she can escape and perform a C-section on herself (see next WTF) . . . and then everyone acts like it never happened. No one says, “You hit me in the head when I was trying to save you. That shit’s messed up.” Or “Dude, what’s with the line of sutures on your stomach?” Or “So, boy? Girl? Other? Where are you registered?”

5. Scientist with alien squid baby ducks into a robotic med unit so she can take care of business, but the unit isn’t programmed for C-sections because it’s set up to treat males only. But the unit is the personal property of Charlize Theron’s character, whose skin-tight suits make it clear that she is in fact a woman. This raises two possibilities: a) that she is secretly a man, but that’s a pretty big WTF, even for this movie, or 2) that she is secretly an android (a distinct possibility that is hinted at in a couple other scenes) and she only has this as a way to say, “See, I’m a person, I need a robotic med unit in case something happens to me that would hurt a human but not an android, because I’m a person not an android. Why are we talking about androids?” Either way, however, it’s pointless, because she gets killed (see next WTF) and the whole thing was just awkwardly injected into the story (like an alien squid baby) to provide a way to extract an alien squid baby.

6. Big alien spaceship crashes and is rolling over toward C-section and Secret Android/Man. They run in the direction it’s falling, like dumb animals on the road running in the direction the car behind them is driving. Finally C-section runs perpendicular to the ship and gets to watch Secret Android/Man get crushed because she never thinks to turn left or right. But then when the ship stops rolling and tips over, C-section goes back to moving in the direction it’s falling and it lands on top of her, but she lucks out and there’s enough of a space beneath it that she survives.

7. Along the way it’s revealed that the alien/god bodybuilders had second thoughts about humans and were at this site preparing deadly alien creatures to bring back to Earth to exterminate us. Which then leaves them with no motivation at all to have ever revealed the location of their weapons lab to early civilizations which ended up in cave paintings and set this whole story in motion in the first place.

8. Turns out the whole mission was actually underwritten by a terminally old guy hoping the alien/god bodybuilders would cure him. Instead of being played by someone old, he’s played by a guy in obvious old-age makeup, I assume to trick the audience into expecting he will be regenerated at some point so that it’s more of a surprise when he gets offed by the roid-raging alien/god they wake from suspended animation. Not cool.

9. The alien/god bodybuilder doesn’t die at the controls of his ship like you expect to match the scene in the derelict ship in Alien, so this isn’t even the same ship or batch of aliens as in that film, making the link to Alien so tangential that it comes across as a shameless marketing ploy to package an independent story as being related to a beloved film classic.

Well. I’ve already gone on far longer than I meant to, and I only scratched the surface of all the nonsensical events that drive this film. But it sure looks cool.

3 thoughts on “Unnecessary Prequels, Part Two

  1. Hey, I come to bury Prometheus, not to praise it. But…

    -I read somewhere that the opening sequence with the dissolving “Engineer” was not necessarily Earth. The point of the sequence was to show that they seed planets. And the little ceremony that he performs with the other guy (dressed kinda like a monk) is supposed to hint that this was a religious ceremony, so him dying was some kind of self-sacrifice. Of course, because the next scenes take place on Earth, it seems obvious to conclude that the “Engineer” did this all on Earth.

    -The robotic med unit was clearly meant for the old guy, not Charlize Theron, which is why it’s programmed for a male. Of course, that makes no sense either. Why would an expensive unit like that only work on males? Was it short on memory? In the future is memory expensive? You’d think that a unit like that, whether bought at Costco or top of the line, would be programmed for both men and women. This was just a dumbass way to try and increase the tension.

    -The reason they had a young guy wearing bad old guy makeup was because they originally planned to have Guy Pearce appear in several other sequences in the movie, then show up later as very very old. Obviously a lot got cut.

    I have the feeling that this is the kind of movie that, after Ridley Scott dies, people will start telling stories about. My suspicion is that the script went through a lot of rewrites and that they did a lot of editing. Probably not smooth sailing

  2. Something that you discussed, although you didn’t put a clear label on it, is just how nonsensical the whole scientific team is. Somebody (Charlize?) states that the old guy spent a trillion dollars on the mission. If that is so, then whey did he get the worst set of scientists he could find? These people are dumb. And they don’t act like scientists. For instance, the mopey guy (who dies) gets all morose when he determines that the aliens are all dead, and then gets drunk. He’s not at all interested in all of the neat technology and ruins that they’ve found, which would keep a scientific team busy for decades or more.

    And what’s with the “scientist” who looks like a punk rocker?

    And what’s with the guy who sees an alien with BIG F’ING TEETH and decides to play with it?

    It’s not just that they’re dumb, they are also so inconsistent. For instance, the two guys left behind are scared right up to the point where they decide to mess around with the creepy stuff. It’s all just such a mess.

  3. Even if that opening scene wasn’t literally Earth, it was figuratively Earth, as we were one of the planets seeded. To me it just started the movie with a WTF moment of why are they killing themselves to seed a planet? If the answer is that they were religious nutjobs . . . well, I don’t even know. What a strange way to start the movie.

    The med unit . . . Aahhh, of course. Vickers (Theron’s character) knew her father was on board, so she had reason to lie about the machine. What I muddled up here was I was thinking she didn’t know her father was on board, and only the android did.

    Old guy makeup . . . yikes, well, that’s just a mess then, isn’t it?

    Yeah, the scientists were all idiots. Almost every thing every one of them did was stupid. So disappointing.

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