Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Movie Review: Aliens Prometheus Part 1

I know I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but I still feel like I should throw my own opinions out there. I'm actually one of the biggest Aliens nerds alive, owning almost every comic and novel ever written in the franchise, including crossovers. It's not exactly a secret that this movie sucks, but apparently some people actually believe that it is a movie that makes you think and preserves mystery.
To that I say bovine fecal matter. Gotta keep this page clean in case any kids come across!
This is one of those stories that is so poorly designed and put together that it drives Aliens geeks like myself absolutely nuts. It almost physically hurts in how bad it is on a continuity, biological and storytelling level. When I say biological, I mean that I've actually compiled xenomorph biological information. You'd be amazed what you can research when you have absurd amounts of free time and no attractive ladies around!

So, let's see, where to start with this mess. I'll start with the title. Lately I've really noticed how movies have to put some sort of classic or smart sounding word in their titles without any real knowledge of what the word means. Like AvP Requiem. Requiem is a word pertaining to music and has absolutely no meaning in the context of that movie. The name Prometheus is from Greek mythology, the name of a man who gave fire to Man. This gave us the ability to make money which led to greed, allowed us to make weapons of metal and other problems, thus causing all sorts of chaos. Zeus then punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock where a mighty eagle disembowels him for the rest of time.

Here the name Prometheus means... um... Yeah, I think they just picked the word and rolled with it. It makes almost no sense in this context and feels like they picked it at random. That, or they are again going for the idea that alien travelers created humanity and taught us engineering and technology, which would have something to do with the Greek myth. Although that would create a problem what with the Predators also having done some visiting to Earth.
Suck it Engineers.
Man, humans have a really bad habit of worshipping extraterrestrial life forms! Thanks for all these stupid ideas Hollywood. I blame you for all those idiots ruining the History Channel.
There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey the hatred I hold for this trend.
Alright, let's get on with it. The very first scene in the movie is of Azog the Defiler before he got his scars, drinking the Black Oil from the X Files, dissolving into the ocean with weird stuff happening for some reason. Actually, this scene could have been cut and the movie would have made more sense. But we'll get to that.
Next scene we're with some archeologists doing some exploration in I think Scotland. Sadly it's not in the 1930's where one man with a fedora is punching Nazi's in the face over some sort of artifact and disarming traps. Nope, rather we've got two people looking at cave drawings of some sort of constellation on the wall.

Then we are in space where we have one of the few scenes that isn't retarded, that of the new android David just kinda playing around inside the ship that our "protagonists" are taking out into the void. I actually like David, as he's a polite, helpful and pragmatic artificial person. Too bad manners seem to have become extinct in the future here. Anyway, he enjoys his personal time as the ship, which is called the Prometheus, zooms through space towards their destination. Oh, so the ship is the Prometheus? Ah, well, that makes sense now! Except not at all. Ugh, fine, I'll stop picking on the name Prometheus. It bugs me, but wow I've got better things coming up, so I'll save my axe grinding for those.

Various primitive cryo tubes start opening up and the crew wakes up so they can be told what's going on. It'd have been better to tell them why they were blitzing across space for so sodding long before taking off, but this is just a prelude to all the dumb decisions that get made. Sadly, these old cryo tubes don't hold Khan Noonien Singh and his crew like in the new Star Trek movie, which would have been awesome, but instead holds only 17 people for first contact.

Seventeen? Really? You've launched into the void for one of the most single important missions in the history of mankind with a ship that they literally state is worth about one trillion dollars, no doubt funded by Obama earlier, to an entirely different solar system where no help can arrive if anything goes wrong, and you bring only seventeen people? A handful of crewmembers and a bunch of scientists are all they've got. What, were there frigging budget cuts and you couldn't fit more people in? There are no fighting people of any kind. No security, no soldiers, no ship-mounted weapons, no defenses, and only a skeleton crew to take care of the insanely expensive ship on the most important voyage into space ever.

Okay, I get that most of the people will be scientists, what with this being a scientific expedition and all, but come on! This is a pitiful number. This gigantic ship just barely has a larger party than the dwarves in The Hobbit. Good grief. Well, they do make up for the lack in numbers by being extremely intelligent, professional and ahahahaha! Oh yeah, that's a good one. Whew! Yeah, almost everyone on board this ship is an idiot. Seriously, I've seen more intelligent people at Scout Camp when we took turns letting craw-dads pinch us and jumping over fires. So yeah, this expedition is pretty much a wash from the start.

Really, considering the huge price tag attached to this project I have no idea why the WY Corporation didn't give the thing a half decent crew. Literally the only two people with any sort of intelligence are David and the captain of the ship, Janek, who I swear doesn't have his name mentioned once in the movie. Everyone else might as well just try landing on their destination by walking into the airlock and hitting the Open button. Heh. Heh heh heh heh... That would've been funny... Ahem, sorry. I'm not exactly fond of most of the characters here.

So, one of the first people to wake up from cryo sleep is Vickers, the corporate representative who can simply be boiled down to being a cruel, uncaring, unsympathetic drone who cares only about money and survival. Hmm, where have I seen that before? Besides every dumb corporate character ever? We then get introduced to the rest of our "protagonists", our two primary ones being Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway. Liz is passable as our primary character, but she ain't exactly Ellen Ripley. Nor is she Laurie Strode. She actually has some sort of history and character, most of which is revealed to us through David using a ... dream reader? Apparently the Weyland-Yutani Corporation has invented a device that lets you see into peoples' dreams while they sleep, even in cryo tubes. Y'know, that would have been helpful in the Freddy Krueger movies.

Dangit, how far into this movie am I? Lemme check... Oh dear Odin. Sigh.
Well, just to get this out of the way, Elizabeth has a curious history with religion, her dad having been a doctor that worked in Africa and quite religious. We see a brief memory of her working with her dad and how he tries to explain belief to her. To be fair, this is one of the things I think is actually well done. It's a brief but decent scene that actually gives some flavor to the character. It helps us understand her beliefs somewhat and see at least a chunk of her childhood that doesn't seem like complete garbage.
Too bad this is one of the only well done things, because this really doesn't help later on. So, the whole ship is awake and we get a briefing as to what they are doing within this chunk of space. Okay, even before I saw this, this bothered me. Ya'll just spent two years in cryo, and only a handful of people knew why? You couldn't have given them a hint before taking off? Okay, the first AvP movie wasn't exactly good, but at least Mr. Weyland there had the decency to tell everyone what the heck was going on before they hit the ice.

We get to meet two other characters here, but I honestly don't like either of them enough to actually remember their names, and I'm not about to waste sixteen seconds of time to look them up. So I'll just designate them Weird Hair Guy and Toady Glasses Idiot. Toady Glasses Idiot is around as a biologist and tries making friends with Weird Hair Guy, a geologist, who for no real reason is quite aggressive and abrasive, and tells the other guy to sod off. Charming. Now, I get having a jerk character around, but for some reason Toady Glasses Idiot decides to sorta tag along with him and try to be chums. What, did the writer watch Red vs Blue and try to capture the relationship between Church and Caboose? That would explain quite a bit actually. Well, don't bother with hopes of knowing who these guys are. They aren't interesting, and they might as well be wearing red Star Fleet uniforms and soaked with steak sauce. Spoilers.

So, we get all the idiots collected in some place on the ship where a hologram of Mr. Weyland tells them that they have a mission to find what they suspect are intelligent alien life that engineered the human race, being dubbed Engineers. Fair enough. Problem is that this whole mission hinges on a bunch of cave paintings that over multiple areas sorta seem to resemble a set of stars in the sky, which they are heading towards.

Um... Your coordinates are based off of different cave drawings? Now, not to be a jerk to primitive peoples, but they aren't exactly ones for getting constellations spot on. If this were something like, say, star clusters gathered and indicated by Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and a few other somewhat organized cultures that had a rudimentary idea of science I'd cut them some slack, but we're talking about frigging cave drawings. Frigging finger paintings from people who probably hadn't even invented the wheel!
This is skipping ahead a bit, but I might as well bring it up now. We're meant to think Vickers is a Bad Person because she doesn't leap into this project with enthusiasm and appears skeptical about the whole thing. In actuality, her reasons for being reserved and a bit peeved make total sense. The ship they are on costs literally one trillion dollars. Even if you take inflation into account, that's still a frigging huge chunk and took two years for them to reach their destination. And it all hinges on Charlie not being an idiot. Honestly, I have difficulty faulting her. And get used to me knocking on the Charlie character, because I don't think there are enough synonyms for the word "hate" in the English language for me to use in relation to this guy.

Anywhat, the one time hologram of Mr. Weyland tells them that by the time they see this message he'll be worm food and that they'd better not screw this up. They are all there to look for aliens which supposedly created human life and hopefully collect lotsa sciency stuff. Charlie and Liz are sort of a couple or married, not positive which, I care less, but Charlie acts really smug about how he found this stuff out and tries to get everyone psyched up. Weird Hair Guy actually makes a valid point, asking how the heck they know that these Engineers exist, that they created humanity, and that they are on this planetoid they are about to visit. Liz uses the inspiration from her dad, declaring that she doesn't have scientific proof, but has faith that these things are true.

... I now know why alcohol exists.
Okay, declaring your choice to believe in something in terms of religion is fine. Heck, it's more than fine! I have no problem with that sort of thing. However, science doesn't work like that. You need sodding scientific evidence to support your allegations. At best you have a theory, and a pretty weak one at that. Again, cave drawings. I'd have trouble convincing some drunk hillbillies following me along into the backwoods if I used that as evidence for something.
Yet these guys acquired a trillion dollar ship and crew to fly all the way out there? No wonder Vickers, a person working for the company and has to deal with money, is so uptight. A huge chunk of the company she represents is resting on this pretty flimsy hunch. But Mr. dead Weyland seems to be a gambler and wanted it to go through anyway.

Almost everyone else realizes how retarded this is except for Charlie, who really seems to go out of his way to be a complete jerk to David, who is nothing but civil. I'm sorry, but it bothers me just how insensitive Charlie is towards David. He has this really smug, condescending attitude that triggers some strange instinct in me to plant my kneecap in his groin. Charlie doesn't feel like a scientist. He feels more like a con artist who has fallen for his own crap and reacts like a petulant child whenever someone doesn't support him blindly. Huh. Actually, now that I type that out, are we sure he wasn't written as a politician at first?

Oh, we also get this scene where we view the life boat that Vickers supposedly owns, which is insanely lavish and is equipped with what they claim is an amazing state of the art medical suite that can treat almost any and every injury, infection or surgery you could want. Problem is, it's barely bigger than the cryo tubes they just popped out of. Yeah, I'm so not buying that this thing is all that great. I swear it doesn't have more than ten different tools. Oh, but wait until later when it actually gets some use. The thing is priceless! I'd have loved to see the person using it give an Amazon review for the darned thing.

Ah well, they start the process of entering the planetoid atmosphere and conveniently enter almost smack dab next to a strange structure that is most certainly an Engineer building. Charlie sees a right angle and insists that this is a sure sign of construction. Knowing him, I'd disagree with him by default, as he's almost like Colonel Klink in that he won't know what the right answer is but he'll almost certainly guess the wrong one. Alas, Charlie is correct and they just set down a mile from the thing. Heaven forbid they try hailing the structure with signals, or even try communications when they were in orbit. Might have been nifty. It's almost like they just plain assume that the place will be in ruins. Seriously, you guys aren't even going to do some scans before plopping right down on that thing's driveway? What if that's a standard attack maneuver for their species? What if that's the equivalent of declaring war or saying you don't care about their territory? You don't even want to drop them a friendly "Bah Weep Gra Nah Weep Nini Bon?" Fine. Just sit your fat ugly ship down and trust that it doesn't have any negative consequences.

Okay, so, apparently Charlie is correct in that Engineers were at least here at some point, which shocked the frak out of me despite knowing that this movie would involve alien life. So, instead of taking the calm, analytical, cautious, scientific route by running scans, taking photos, recordings and stuff like that they just roll on in using dune buggies. Granted, I'd like to do something like that, but I'm also a cowboy who prefers shooting things, not a sodding scientist with more money than I could spend in ten lifetimes and the scientific discovery of the millennia riding on my shoulders. Y'know, it'd have been smart if they just sent in some probes with cameras and sensors to steadily explore the structure so that the scientists wouldn't have to endanger themselves, but since almost all of them have been lobotomized they decide they have to jump balls into the thing.

Also, one of the doctors says something about the atmosphere being deadly to humans, since it has something like 2% CO2 in the air.
... Pardon? 2%? Okay, my chemistry isn't exactly great, but I'm going to throw a BS card on that one. I'm sure that's some Global Warming piece of crap right thar, but what makes me more bewildered is the fact that they don't mention the other 98% of the stuff that makes up the atmosphere! What freaking else is there? I'm willing to bet money that you could find a few other things floated around that are more harmful to human lungs than CO2. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So, they bonsai into the abandoned building with space suits that have frigging bubble helmets that looks like something out of the fifties scifi genre. Rest of the suits are alright I guess. Ah, but with Charlie at the helm and leading the expedition he makes sure to do things wrong from the first step. His computer says the atmosphere inside is breathable and fine, and decides that's all the evidence he needs to whip off his frigging helmet on an uncharted planet. I had the same reaction to this that Buzz Lightyear had in the first Toy Story movie when Woody opened his helmet.
Liz tells him to keep his helmet on and not be stupid, to which he replies "Don't be a skeptic."
Riiiiiiight... Because there is absolutely zero chance of the computer having missed any dangerous spores, fungi, molds, bacteria, airborne pathogens, viruses or toxic substances. Nah, let's trust Charlie and take our helmets off not three minutes into the mysterious Engineer building.
Looks good to me!
Do I even have to explain why that's completely dumb? Whatever. Moving on. The architecture is all loopy inside, so Weird Hair Guy produces a quartet of red glowing balls that hover and begin mapping the complex in a systematic and efficient manner so that they don't get lost and they have some clue what this place is like. Hey, maybe you could've sent those things in first, eh?
Taking exactly zero precautions, they of course touch absolutely everything they see. No taking samples with sterile instruments, no digital cameras recording what's going on, no sensors taking notes, nothing. Somehow David finds some weird buttons way high up on the wall, pushes them which activates a hologram for some reason. Okay, why did David just start pressing buttons without even mentioning their existence to anyone else? And why did they only activate a hologram? Can those buttons do anything else? Anyway, the hologram is a recorded incident of four Engineers running down the hallway which leads them to a sealed off chamber which has a pile of dead Engineer bodies, one of which is decapitated from the door. I'd like to know why that was recorded and if anything else happens to be on storage just waiting to be looked at, but of course they don't look at any of that.

Weird Hair Guy freaks out, presumably soils his spacesuit because there are a bunch of corpses and decides to book it back to the ship. I myself am not sure why a bunch of clearly old dead bodies are making him lose his head, but he's an idiot anyway, so I guess that's in character. Toady Glasses Idiot decides that he's suddenly scared too and wants to follow his chum back to safety. Huh, it's almost like some of these people are unreliable. If only there was some sort of drone you guys could have used to do the initial exploration so that you wouldn't have had this problem! Oh wait...

So now it's David, Charlie, Liz and Nameless European Doctor, they manage to open the door and find a very strange chamber that has all of these metallic jars stacked from floor to ceiling with a big carved head on the roof looking down on them and they begin exploring this crap too. As they walk we see the soil of the ground squirm and exposes some sort of worm organisms. This is again skipping ahead a bit, but I want to rant on this right now. This is obviously a storage room for bio-weapons. So why in the unholy heck are the floors made of dirt!?!?
Y'know, cuz contagious biological materials tend to do their worst when allowed to escape through something like an unsealed room. What, did the Engineers working there have to make budget cuts? This makes less than no sense. Sure, they had the money to make the huge statue face leering down at everything, but not enough to put frigging floorboards down.

Anyway, these metallic jars start leaking this Monster Goo, and Liz says this is due to the change in atmosphere. Okay, how do you know that? How do you know the atmosphere in that room was dramatically different from the hallway and the rest of the facility? And why would a simple change in atmosphere suddenly cause freaking metal to begin sweating this Death Serum?  Curse you budget cuts! Seriously, this crap is oozing from the metal container like a manatee in a steam room for no real adequate reason. And since this is obviously horrifying Black Oil from the X Files, why would the designers store that crap in containers that let it out if the air conditioning kicks in? For crap's sake, you'd get more secure stuff from the Tupperware isle! At this point I honestly wanted them all to get infected and die horribly. That'll teach you to take off your frigging helmets you dunces!

Of course, since this stuff has Danger written all over it, of course they have to go poking it without any sort of caution at all. Man, and I thought Kane in the original Alien movie sticking his face in the alien egg was dumb! These guys make Kane look like a paranoid survivalist by comparison.
Suddenly back at the ship Captain Janek informs the landing party that a wicked storm is approaching and that they'll have to get their butts back quick so that they don't get blitzed by the shards of rock blowing in the wind. Man, that storm must've popped up quick, cuz this thing rolls in out of nowhere! That, or no one was bothering to run frigging scans around themselves and one of the pilots just looked up and saw a twister heading their way in time to give everyone a heads up. Brilliant.

Liz decides that before leaving they have to snag at least one souvenir and she stuffs an Engineer head in a duffle bag. David also swipes one of the Monster Plague jars with all the subtlety of a five year old grabbing a cookie. To be fair, I wouldn't exactly be worried about being caught by any of these dimwits either. So they make a dash to the ship where lots of crap happens but they end up getting in safely anyway. For some reason Liz is mega protective of keeping that Engineer head and almost dies trying to retrieve it. Granted, it's an organic sample of a super intelligent life form, but there are others in the building dude. She could've just strapped it to her back like a backpack and she'd have been fine. Ah well, it's not like they get much use out of it anyway.

Also, the big open bay for the Prometheus bothers me as well. It just opens up like a portable garage without any sort of decontamination facility of any sort. You've just got easy access doors and can walk right in. A pal of mine tried sticking up for this, noting that debris that flew in was promptly cooked with really crappy flamethrowers. Okay, what about all the airborne crap that dusted the vehicles and the people wearing suits? Freaking oops. I've seen fast food restaurants more thorough in cleaning. Also, why do they have flamethrowers as their primary weapons? Yes, it's true that they used flamethrowers on the Nostromo, but that thing was freaking huge. There had to be tens of millions of cubic feet of air on that thing. But in a ship that's much smaller like the Prometheus, that's going to mess with the oxygen. It just seems to me like if you wanted to sterilize stuff there are much more efficient ways.
Maybe I shouldn't be knocking on the lack of decontamination stuff, since in tons of the expanded universe like comics and such don't have facilities like that. Maybe I should go easier here, seeing as how ICC Quarantine procedures probably weren't even in existence at the time. I think it's just because they do so many stupid things here already that I have trouble letting other things go. I'm not sure. The lack of a decontamination bay just bothers me here. Perhaps I should just let that one go. I don't like holding double standards.

Cutting back to the facility, apparently Weird Hair Guy and Toady Glasses Idiot somehow managed to get lost even though they have a map, announced they wanted to get back to the ship, Janek having a direct com link to them and a 3D display of the facility and could have easily guided them out. Nothing but the highest standards for this trip!

Good grief, I just had a terrifying thought, one way more scary than anything on screen here. If these are the guys they recruited, who the heck got rejected? Holy crap!

Janek only notices that these two losers are missing after the storm is in full swing and there is no way for them to get back. In fact, with the kind of help he gives, I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of some evil plan to get the morons cacked. It's almost like he's partially aware that he's in a dumb horror movie, and sure enough these guys deliver on that end. Anyway, they are wondering how they are supposed to get out of the facility and Janek tells them that they are going to be sacrificed to the Old Ones need to hole up for the night and that they'll be rescued tomorrow. Uh huh. Sure.

Janek looks at the 3D display and notices that one of the probes is reporting that there is a life form nearby. They frigging failed to notice the insects on the ground earlier, but whatever. Janek, seeing a good opportunity to get these guys axed suggests that Weird Hair Guy and Toady Glasses Idiot go check it out. Not like they need any gear, protection, weapons or anything else with the possibility of a potentially hostile life form in the Death Factory. Ah, but combining their mental faculties they actually make a smart decision. They decide that they don't want to be anywhere near the possible  brain eater and book it in the opposite direction. The signal then appears to die, and Janek shrugs and basically says "Oh, my bad, there's no life signs anymore. It must have a cloaking device and is most likely heading towards you now for your souls have been a glitch. Nighty night boys!" It's actually kinda hilarious as he just sits back and listens to their peals of terror over the radio with the same smug expression that you see on a cat's face when it has a wounded mouse under its claws.

However, the two morons don't keep that smart streak going. Where do they go? They go to the frigging room that looks like Cthulhu's toilet with all of his urine collections, which is now oozing in small streams across the floor. Of course, they decide this is the best option they have for riding out the storm. Jeez.
And for some absurd reason Weird Hair Guy has some sort of smoking device inside of his suit. How... What... I don't even... Why... How in the heck does he have a smoking device in there? Is it a hookah? I can't even tell, it's some weird tube that's letting him smoke inside the suit. Cuz, y'know, that's not dangerous at all. Who the heck on the writing team thought this was a good idea? Are you kidding me?

It's not like they need to further illustrate that these guys are gore scenes waiting to happen. Anyway, Janek is on the bridge and manages to convince Vickers that they should shack up together for the night. He then joins her shortly thereafter, leaving no one around to supervise the two idiots or to enjoy their suitably gruesome deaths. He doesn't even leave one of the pilots up there just to keep tabs on them. Again, I'm just assuming that he wants these two guys dead just as badly as I do, and the only thing he could enjoy more than watching them suffer would be getting it on spacey style. And no, that doesn't make any sense to me either.

So, Weird Hair Guy and Toady Glasses Idiot are chilling inside the Doom Chamber when something actually slithers up out of the death slime. Remember how that footprint earlier revealed that there were little worms in the soil there? Well, they were apparently exposed to the goo and have now mutated to much larger, more aggressive freak animals. One of them slithers up and rears up like a snake to scare them. Remember how before they wet themselves at the sight of dead alien corpses? Well, a live one don't seem to phase them that much. For some reason Toady Glasses Idiot thinks this pale, translucent xeno-cobra is adorable and actually tries to pet the sodding thing.

Isn't it cuuuuuuuuuuute?
For crap's sake... The thing hisses at him and its face unfolds like a cobra and flashes a weird looking mouth in the universal sign of "Back off or I hurt you." Toady Glasses Idiot takes a momentary step back but decides to try again. According to him it's just plain beautiful. Okay, how in the world do you expect this to turn out well? In what universe does this make sense? No one is this abysmally stupid. Why in the heck is this guy reaching out and trying to pet the frigging alien cobra beast? What is he expecting it to do, purr and come with him? Come on! It's at this point that no one with a working brain can think this is a good story.

So, as you may have guessed, the White Mamba loses what little patience it had to begin with and bites the crap out of Toady's hand. Gasp! How could he have seen this coming? This was totally unexpected! No one could have predicted that would happen! Of course, this comes as a complete shock but nobody but Toady Glasses Idiot. He sure isn't Steve Irwin. The thing then wraps itself around his arm and begins breaking it while Weird Hair Guy wonders what the heck he should do. Eventually he settles on whipping out his knife and cutting the thing in half through the midsection which sprays his helmet with acid. The faceplate melts onto his face and he falls face first into the Monster Mix.

Toady Glasses Idiot has his broken arm dangling and the cobra alien slithers up through his suit, into his helmet and rams its head into his mouth. Hmmm, trying to appeal to the Japanese demographic, eh Ridley? I'm so going to get crap for that one. So yeah, the two morons have the decency to die horribly, bringing nothing but relief and laughter to the audience. It's difficult to convey in language just how idiotic this whole scene is. This is what you'd expect from a scifi comedy, not a horror movie. You can't possibly take this kind of crap seriously. It baffles me how anyone in the writing department thought that this would work. Did the studio find every decent writer and break them over the shins with metal rods until they conformed to crappy writing? Certainly seems like it!
I'm beginning to wonder if all the good writers didn't jump ship to work with JJ Abrams or if there is some kind of writer holocaust going on in the backlots of Hollywood.

Sigh. Well, that's all for Part 1 of this thing. I'll work on Part 2 soon enough, cuz there is so much idiocy in this movie it's hard to get it all down in just one article. Stay tuned!

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