Well. That certainly turned into a lengthy hiatus, didn’t it?
The last little while has been a whirlwind of finishing old jobs, starting new jobs, writing, producing, performing, and all the other general madness that constitutes my life/career. Throughout this time, I got tons of little messages from people asking me my thoughts about the Prometheus sequel, now titled Alien: Paradise Lost or Alien: Still Capitalizing On The Success Of An Infinitely Superior Film or Alien: Somehow We Do Not Feel Shame In Using The Title Of One Of The Most Important Works Of Writing Ever To Refer To A Fart In Film Form or some such. These comments inspired me (i.e., they stoked the endless furnace of rage within me), but still there was no time to sit down. (I also started a new job, and there’s that whole thing where people tend to look askance at new coworkers who rage outwardly about a film that they have seen more times than any human being should). But that self same new job necessitated that I both read the script for and watch Aliens, and I knew what I must do.
It is clear to me, dear readers, that I have a calling, and that calling is to talk about how the film Prometheus is a pile of sad old ham until my fingers can type no longer. At this point I will get my grandchildren to tie me to the roof of the car and drive me up and down the neighbourhood as I shout invective into a megaphone. Truly my future is a bright one.
Anyway, it’s great to be back, even if no one else is. Let’s dive back in with today’s topic, which is:
#7. EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IS SO BAD
Prometheus is many things – a wildly inaccurate look at biology, an experiment in how to create a horror film without any tension whatsoever – but above all it is a propaganda film about how all scientists are bad idiots that deserve to perish in humiliating ways. The scientists of this film are exactly a half step away from shouting “DUR DUR DUR DUR DUR” as they run in circles, shitting themselves all the while. We’ve talked a bit about this before, but let’s break it down:
- SCIENTIST WHO PIONEERED THIS MISSION: is not actually sure if it will work
- OTHER SCIENTIST WHO PIONEERED THIS MISSION: is furious when it DOES work
- BIOLOGIST: Cuddles up to a penis snake and is promptly deep-throated to death
- GEOLOGIST: Is the only one who knows how to navigate the planet; is subsequently the only one to get lost
It’s like they’re designed to make you go “JESUS GOD I WISH THIS CHARACTER WAS DEAD ALREADY” so you don’t care when, two scenes later, they’re killed in a stupid way that, save a few exceptions, is entirely brought about by their own actions.
I watched The Martian over the holidays, which offered me (amongst other things) a pleasing moment of respite from shrieking about when and how Ridley Scott’s career went so wrong. And although it’s almost unfair to hold The Martian up next to Prometheus – it’s not even so much comparing “apples” and “oranges” as it is “apples” and “a solitary pile of cat vomit orbited by a single lazy fly” – one of the things The Martian does so right (that Prometheus does so, so wrong) is character. The characters are a delight to watch: they’re smart, resourceful, principled. Even those that are underserved (i.e., Sebastian Stan) are established through their context as extremely intelligent, which earns some goodwill. And the purported “bad guy” of the film, Jeff Daniels, has complex reasoning behind his decision-making. If The Martian proves anything, it’s genuinely fun to watch smart people solving complicated problems, and satisfying to see people interacting with, occasionally being bowed by, but ultimately overcoming their circumstances.
This is one of the aspects of the movie that I genuinely can’t wrap my head around. If you don’t love your characters – or at the very least find them interesting – why are you even bothering to write about them? Don’t waste our time with people you don’t care about. Write about the things you love -because then we’ll love them too.
ALSO PLEASE DO NOT EVER SHOW ME A MAN HAVING A SNAKE GIVE HIM A THROAT JOB. DISGUSTING
What can we learn from this?
Create compelling characters or GTFO.
NO SNAKES EVER