Sunday, November 25, 2012

4th Sunday Surprise: How NOT to tell a story

Hubby and I watched Prometheus this weekend. I grew up watching the Aliens movies and looked forward to seeing Ridley Scott's newest creation. Plus it's no secret I LOVE sci-fi. However this movie turned out to be a dud. We fast forwarded parts of the film because the scene either dragged or the main characters were about to do something so dumb and I didn't want to waste my time watching their stupidity. When the end credits finally began to roll we glanced at each other and sighed in unison. There went 2 hours of our life and a $1.50 we would never get back. Thank heavens I didn't see it in the theater, because then I'd be pissed.

So what was it about the film that lacked?

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!! (If you haven't seen the movie and plan on it, you might want to stop reading here.)

Empathy- The movie starts out with an alien humanoid creature drinking a black fluid which causes him to disintegrate and tumble into a water fall triggering some new genetic reaction. The next scene switches to an archeology site on the Isle of Sky, Scotland were a couple discover ancient cave paints that match other ancient civilizations depictions. The lady archeologist, Elizabeth Shaw, interprets this as an invitation to find these people she labels "The Engineers" (the race who created humans). And then we are on the Prometheus traveling through space. All the crew are in stasis as the android David takes care of them and ship. When the crew wakes up as they arrive at their destination, the viewer is introduced to various array of characters thrown together supposedly to make for interesting story. None of them had met before they woke up, something I found very odd.

I didn't understand any of them or could sympathize with why most of the main character were there in the first place. The majority of the secondary characters behaved erratically and made poor choices that eventually led to their death. Archeologists were there to make contact with "their maker," but Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the leader of the expedition, forbids them to make contact without her permission. Peter Weyland is a rich man who funds this expedition so he can discover a way to live forever and is on board the ship. Okay I get the whole "seeking the fountain of youth" perspective, but wouldn't you pick a more emotionally balanced group of people to manage your 3 trillion dollar investment?

I couldn't understand anyone's goal or why they made the choices they did therefore I couldn't empathize for them and when they all died, except for one crew member, I didn't mourn their loss or care.

Logic- Prometheus lands on this planet and part of the crew go to explore a cave as soon as they get there. One of the crew members is a geologist and has these handy-dandy orbs that scan the tunnels of said cave. However when they discover this chamber where one of the Engineer's body lies decapitated he freaks out and decides to go back to the ship. Another crew member joins him. When a huge storm approaches and ship captain orders them to return, everyone leaves and barely makes it back to the ship, but not before David gathers some specimens to take back.The two dudes who left earlier are lost in the tunnels and remain behind AFTER they left long before the rest group. They encounter a snakelike alien creature slithering through a pool of black fluid and eventually die because of their moronic actions.

Okay, so that was the beginning of the "too stupid to live" mistakes that this movie teems with. 1) you fly a ship to the farthest place humans have ever gone and you land it (your only way home) on an alien planet without scanning the planet first? Why not send a investigating probe filled with those handy-dandy scanner orbs? 2) Mr geologist dude can't figure out how to get out of the cave system after he boasts his little orbs will map out everything for them and he had contact with the ship where they could talk him and his partner their way out. Huh? 3) Oh yeah, we're on a foreign planet in a creepy tunnel let's split up because that's always a wisest decision.

David ends up tainting the drink of Shaw's archeologist boyfriend with alien black water. He becomes unknowingly infected and has sex with Shaw causing her to get pregnant with alien baby (most predictable plot point of the whole movie besides people dying). The crew returns to cave after storm to search for the two left behind. David wanders way from the rest of the crew and discovers this is a ship and there is one Engineer in stasis there. This is where I fast-forwarded the movie because the crew discovers one of the teammate's body and people start acting stupid and I got impatient.

Shaw's boyfriend dies and it is then she discovers she's pregnant. She runs off into Vicker's quarters where she uses the expensive self-surgery machine to extract the octopus-like alien out of her. Then she proceeds to run throughout the ship as if she hasn't had any major abdominal surgery. Right, really believable...

Character Development- this goes along with empathy. Developing the characters helps the viewer empathize with them. Yet the only character development I saw was people's IQ level seemed to disintegrate as the movie went on shown by their idiotic actions. Maybe that was the point of the movie? Being in stasis for several years and then landing on a foreign planet makes you act stupid.

Lack of Story Arc- Weyland awakens from stasis. David leads him and part of the crew including Shaw who is mere hours post surgery to the alien ship within the cave. At least she's sweating and looks like she's in pain. When David awakens the giant humanoid alien who in return decapitates the android and kills everyone but Shaw who runs away. She manages to warn the Prometheus as she's running for her life and tell them that the alien is going to kill earth by flying the ship invested with canisters of black alien water. The captain decided to fly Prometheus into the alien ship to stop it. Vickers jumps the ship through a escape pod only to be squashed by the alien ship falling from the sky. Shaw survives and David (because he is an android and can't be killed) makes contact with her. She takes his head and body. Together they find another alien ship and fly away seeking the Engineer's home planet. A new species emerges from the fallen humanoid alien. The End.

The whole movie is a collection of events that are disconnected. Why did David taint the water and infect Shaw's boyfriend? Why did the Engineer kill the people? What was the other species that lived on this planet in the black water? Did they kill the Engineers? How did Shaw interpret that he was going to fly the ship to earth? And after everything she'd been through, she still wanted to track these creatures? Why, why, why?

No questions were answered in the movie. A bunch of people flew to this planet and died expect for one girl and talking android head. Okay so what was the point? Who was the antagonist? The aliens, the stupid crew members, or the planet? I felt the people were thrown into situations to create conflict, but the only thing that these events revealed about the characters is that they are too stupid to live therefore why should I care about or what happens to them? I understand there will be a sequel. Will the questions be answered then? Do I even care enough to watch the sequel?

Prometheus might be two hours and $1.50 I will never get back, but on the positive side, what a cheap class on how NOT to tell a story.

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