DON’T WORRY, I’M STILL MAD ABOUT PROMETHEUS

Don’t worry, all zero of my loyal readers! It’s been a very busy time full of a lot of work and shows,  so I haven’t been able to focus attention on the blog. But rest assured that my churning, frothing hate for Prometheus is no less churny or frothy. I’ll be back soon with more posts where I discuss:

  • How The Scientists In This Movie Are An Affront To The Very Idea Of Science
  • How To End Your Movie With A “Wait What The Fuck Just Happened”, or, When You Decide Your Real Antagonist Is A Giant Squidly
  • How Is It That You Can Cast Idris Elba In Your Movie And Have His Only Discernible Characteristics Be That He Likes Sex And Christmas

And more! If there are things you’d like to see me cover, please feel free to leave them in the comments. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the process of writing this blog, it’s that Prometheus is a collective wound on all of our psyches, one we can only heal through a lot of capital letters and shouting about WHY IS ANYTHING THE WAY IT IS

See you soon!

LYLAGOPWAHPACAPI, INAITTVIOF,S,T,R,ANHFSIYM

(Love You Like A Group Of People Who Also Hate Prometheus And Actively Consider It A Personal Insult, If Not An Insult To The Very Ideas Of Filmmaking, Sense, Taste, Reason, And Not having Fucking Squidlys In Your Movie)

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DON’T WORRY, I’M STILL MAD ABOUT PROMETHEUS

I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU PROMETHEUS

I watched Prometheus again last night to get material for future blog posts, so forgive me if today’s entry is written with extra rage, but I can’t help it because you see THIS MOVIE IS A BOTTOMLESS SACK OF CRAP. OH GOD I HATE IT. I HATE EVERY SECOND OF IT. TRULY IT IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE TO BEHOLD.

Anyway, on with the blog!

#6. MICHAEL RAPAPORT IS THE WORST VILLAIN EVER

If you’re just joining the blog, it must be noted for clarity that the antagonist of this superdud is not star of Prison Break and Friends Michael Rapaport. However, I noted in my first post that they look pretty similar, and now they are completely indistinguishable in my mind – so much so that when I went to Google the images below I wrote “Prometheus + Michael Rapaport”. Anyway, look at this!

MichaelRapaportEngineer

Right? Right, though? As you can clearly see, I am correct about this, which is why the Engineers shall be referred to as Michael Rapaport, the Michael Rapaports, or – when I inevitably misspell it or neglect to revise an auto-correct – Michael Rapport or Parapaport. (Also because “The Engineers” is a truly stupid name for a villain. It’s so vague! You might as well just call them “THE GUYS”. UGH THIS MOVIE. It is an insult to everything I am and stand for).

Anyway, The Michael Rapaports are truly dreadful villains. In a film that never ceases to amaze – that, in fairness, EXCLUSIVELY amazes – in its capacity to plunge to the deepest levels of failure, the Michael Rapaports represent a stunning new low because they fail in SO MANY WAYS:

  • In a series that has introduced us to some of the creepiest and most evocative creatures in sci-fi history, we are given bodybuilders with bug eyes. (Side salad: Can we please get over the trope of “huge black eyes with no sclera = bad evil”? It is good and well played out. It is about as effective at this point as giving your bad guy a big twirly moustache.)
  • In keeping with my complaints from my last post about the film’s “is it or isn’t it a prequel” dilemma, they’re also a huge miss in terms of continuity. Fans of Alien will recall that the Space Jockey was enormous (the characters from Alien looked like children next to him, and in fact were literally played by children for scale) and looked like a giant space elephant. In comparison, the Michael Rapaports are the general size and scale of Michael Rapaport, and look like Michael Rapaport. WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST MICHAEL RAPAPORT, MOVIE? HIS WORK IN BOSTON PUBLIC WAS SOUND, I ASSUME

But the principal reason the Michael Rapaports suck (sidebar: spelling Michael Rapaport correctly has been a huge challenge thus far) is because they have no motivation that we know of, making them utterly useless in a villainous capacity. From literally the moment the movie starts to the second it ends, it’s completely unclear who they are, what they want, or what their ultimate goal is, and as a result it’s impossible to invest in them as characters. It’s not like you have to fully spell out everything about a character up front, but you need to give people something clear to latch onto: something that makes them understand the dynamic at play between your protagonist and antagonist, that indicates the source of tension created by their opposing wants. I mean, Darth Vader’s motivations are not exactly complex – they literally amount to “FUCK REBELS” – but at least you KNOW.

This is consistent with a storytelling mode that I find particularly irksome: the J.J. Abrams “mystery box” approach. A few years ago, J.J. Abrams did a TED Talk where he summarized his approach to story around a “mystery magic box” that he has never opened, saying:

“I bought this decades ago, but if you look at this, you’ll see it’s never been opened. Ever. Why have I not opened this, and why have I kept it?… It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential. What I love about this box — and what I realized I sort of do, in whatever it is that I do — is I find myself drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential. And I realize that mystery is the catalyst for imagination… What are stories besides mystery boxes?”

(http://theweek.com/articles/460936/hey-jj-abrams-time-open-mystery-box)

This sounds terrific. It is also total bullshit. Because it presumes that the absence of information is more interesting than any information – and that, by extension of that, the moment of first learning is the most interesting moment that could possibly occur. A blank page similarly has infinite possibility, endless potential, to be anything – because a blank page, you see, is nothing at all.

J.J Abrams, of course, worked with writer Damon Lindelof on Lost, a famous entry in the genre of “What Are We Doing? Tee Hee! I Wonder What Our HUUUUGE Secret Could Be! Ooh Hoo Hoo! It Is Such A Glorious Secret, And I Can Never Hey Where Are You Going COME BACK IT WAS PURGATORY”. So it’s not surprising that the same technique is employed here, though it is surely not ANY LESS FRUSTRATING. Let’s compare and contrast this approach to Attack The Block, a genius little movie that blew my mind by being the first movie I’ve seen in ages to not be fucking smug and cagey about its antagonist. It introduces the alien immediately, and what it loses by not holding off for some grand reveal, it gains in allowing us to get to know and fear the aliens by seeing them in action. In contradistinction, The Michael Rapaports just remain a mystery because, clearly, mysteries are compelling! But since you never know what it is they’re trying to do, it’s really, REALLY hard to care.

The other thing that I TOTALLY hate about this mode of storytelling is that it shifts the importance from “telling a story” to “delaying a reveal” for the storytellers and from “listening to a story” to “trying to figure out the reveal” for the audience. The mind rushes to fill a vacuum, and when you identify something as a mystery, it’s all anyone wants to think about. This might just be me, though, because the idea of not having a critical piece of information makes me INSANE. You have exactly two seconds to dangle a carrot in front of me before I’m shouting “THAT CARROT IS ALL I’VE EVER WANTED GIVE IT TO ME THIS INSTANT OR I SHALL MURDER MYSELF.” With this frame of mind, the reveal inevitably is a letdown: either because I’ve focused on it to the exclusion of everything else and it has assumed such mythic proportions in my mind that nothing could live up to it, or because I’ve already figured it out. Remember Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness, and how the entire promo campaign was “Who could Benedict Cummerbund be playing? WINK”, and then when you first meet Bendlepap Clementep in the movie, he’s all like “My name is John Smith, WINK” he’s like “My name is John Smith, WINK”, and then all through the movie it’s just nothing but Baplabap Canterboy being like “Who could I possibly be, I don’t know (I DO KNOW WINK!!!)”, and then when the camera FINALLY pushed in and Bumpletum Rampleblbapbl introduced himself as Khan, half of the audience was like “FUCKING OF COURSE YOU ARE” and the other half went “What’s a Khan” and I pulled out all of my hair in one swift movement and threw it into the air while shrieking? CAN WE ALL AGREE THAT THIS MODE OF STORYTELLING IS INEFFECTIVE AT BEST*

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?

I believe it was Carl Sagan who wrote, “It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to KNOW IT IS A FUCKING SUNSET.” Just tell us who your villain is. That doesn’t mean that they can’t still grow, or have more to show us, or have information to surprise us with – that’s just good development for any character! The value of a surprise is not the surprise itself, but everything that comes before and after – so give us a reason to care or GTFO with your dumb bug-eyes and your stupid bodies, you Michael Rapaports.

Also you Bendyface Clamplebaps.

WHY IS EVERYONE’S NAME SO COMPLICATED

*Runner up example: Super 8, a movie that works overtime to hide the fact that the Super 8** is just a spider with ET’s head

** YES I refer to the monster as a Super 8. YOU WATCH MOVIES YOUR WAY AND I’LL WATCH THEM MINE

I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU PROMETHEUS

MY DARLING I CAN’T STOP (hating this goddamn movie)

I was contemplating starting out this post with a fake-out about how a few days’ reflection had caused me to realize that I had been far too hard on Prometheus. This proved to be impossible, because instead of writing I just started imagining how much better this film would have been if I produced a vuvuzela from my purse and played it without ceasing until the final credits rolled.

In all honesty I am marginally concerned that spending a large amount of time (“large amount” being, in this case, any amount of time) thinking about what is truly a hate crime on cinema is having an adverse effect on my health. Yet I soldier on, determined to spread my gospel that Prometheus is a pile of pubes turned into a film by a truly bad wizard’s spell.

#5. IT’S NOT A PREQUEL TO ALIEN, UNLESS IT BENEFITS US SOMEHOW, IN WHICH CASE IT TOTALLY IS AND ALWAYS WAS SHUT UP

In its development phase, Prometheus was described in no uncertain terms as being a prequel to Alien. The original script by Jon Spaihts (entitled Alien: Engineers) was designed to set up the events of the original movie, and even took place on LV-426 – the same planet that the characters explore in the OG Alien. (Also of note: the protagonist of that draft was named Jocelyn! Since my name is Jocelyn, and I have been told by exactly one person who was squinting at the time that I “sort of look like Sigourney Weaver from the side”, this is unmistakably a shout out to me!) At some point along the way (or so Wikipedia tells us), Ridley Scott decided to go in a different direction in order to avoid repeating similar moments from the other Alien films. Now, I had my own idea of how an Alien prequel was going to look*, and I was pretty excited about it (Imagine! A time when I was excited about Prometheus! This is another reason I honestly wish I could send this toilet film to hell), but this is not a bad idea. Prequels are incredibly difficult to execute well. It’s hard to set up the action of a film (especially one made years ago using an entirely different aesthetic) in a way that feels organic and satisfying, or to try to “introduce” antagonists we are already familiar with without reiterating character beats that inevitably lose their impact for familiarity. So when I heard they were going in a different direction – one that was rumored to explore the famous “Space Jockey” character you see in the very beginning of Alien – I thought it was a solid idea and a great way to expand the universe of the franchise.

WOULD YOU IMAGINE THAT THEY FOUND A WAY TO DISAPPOINT ME

Instead of writing an entirely new script that reflected this new direction, they just changed bits of the old script (mostly, it seems, any parts of the script that made the characters not the stupidest and worst people in the world). So it’s a script designed to provide an explanation of how one set of circumstances leads to another set of circumstances, with ALL THE PARTS THAT EXPLAIN HOW THEY’RE LINKED REMOVED. This truly insane decision leads to a series of questions:

  • Okay so what who are all these Michael Rapaports? WHO KNOWS
  • Did they create humanity? UNCLEAR
  • Are they good or evil?  YES BUT ALSO POSSIBLY NO
  • Okay but that wasn’t a Yes/No question. TRUE
  • So wait what is this movie actually about STICKS HAND INTO BAG OF COCAINE AND LICKS IT LIKE A TERRIBLE LOLLIPOP

WHY WOULDN’T YOU JUST WRITE AN ENTIRELY NEW SCRIPT? If you’ve decided that doing a prequel is a zero-sum game, then DON’T DO A PREQUEL. This is like making a grilled cheese sandwich, deciding when it’s in the pan that you don’t want a grilled cheese sandwich, and changing direction by cutting a hole in the middle of the grilled cheese and FILLING IT WITH GARBAGE

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THIS?

If you’re going to do a prequel, then do a prequel. If you’re not, then don’t. You can’t create compelling mythology if you can’t account for why anything is happening, and you can’t do a good film if you’re making STUPID DECISIONS FOR NO REASON

*Okay so I totally thought that Prometheus was going to be about mankind being responsible for creating/releasing the aliens by exposing themselves to the black goo and mutating into them. I am not saying that this would have definitely worked better, but also I am totally saying that. Call me, Hollywood, you bunch of goons! Give all of your dollars to ME!

MY DARLING I CAN’T STOP (hating this goddamn movie)

Yes I’m Still Writing About PROMETHEUS

Welcome to the fourth post in this truly ridiculous venture. Some people have been very kind to read this ludicrous blog, and it makes my heart soar! Of course this also means that I have been thinking about Prometheus way more than usual, which means that my heart is also gripped by the ICY CLAWS OF FURY. It’s confusing.

Let’s get straight to the biscuits!

#4. CHARLIZE THERON IS MURDERED BY A SPACE CROISSANT

Objectively, Prometheus contains many of the stupidest deaths in film history. Examples!

  • A biologist whose entire job it is to study living organisms and who presumably went to school for some amount of time to learn How Not To Be A Fucking Moron sees a skeleton and freaks the FUCK out. Minutes later, he coos ecstatically at a snake/sentient penis/sentient penis with a vagina face/all of the above and – despite the fact that he has been goading an organism that he has no familiarity with and therefore cannot accurately predict its behaviour, and despite the fact that it is LITERALLY A PENIS – is surprised when it deep throats him to death
  • Having been dosed with the Black Goo That Can Do Anything Depending On What Scene You’re In by Blonde-Ass Michael Fassbender, Trey from The OC begins to succumb to its effects. At this point, having zero knowledge of what’s happening to him, or whether or not it’s curable, and all while he’s within spitting distance of a medical bay where information on points A and B could presumably be gleaned – he’s like “Welp, the only solution is fire!” and walks directly into a jet of flame IN FRONT OF HIS GIRLFRIEND so she may always treasure the memory of the time when she became traumatized 4 life
  • The scientist who has been transformed into a monster man by Thing Number Zillion Pillion The Black Goo Is Capable of Doing runs into the ship to display his signature monster power of Jumping Up High And Then Falling On People, and then is almost instantaneously dispatched by being run over by a car
  • Idris Elba, accompanied by Anyone On The Prometheus Who Belongs To A Visible Minority, shouts “HANDS UP” as he crashes the ship into Michael Rapaport’s ship, in a moment that I assume was supposed to look cool but immediately conjured memories of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noHlrgPKX5U

And yet, in this panoply of sincerely embarrassing moments in cinema, truly nothing is as stupid as the moment where Charlize Theron gets smushed to death by a spaceship like she’s in the world’s most expensive game of Grape Escape. For the record, here are the acceptable circumstances in which a character may be smushed to death:

  1. The character is Wile E. Coyote
  2. There are no other acceptable circumstances

The characters in this film are not exactly what you would call richly drawn. The breakdowns are essentially “7 IDIOTS AND A ROBOT”. But we at least know three things about Charlize Theron:

  • Wakes up out of cryo-sleep and does push-ups = Is Physically Strong
  • Was sent to supervise a mission she doesn’t appear to believe in = Tenacious Or Something
  • Refuses to let Trey from The OC back on the ship when he’s all goopified and whiny = At Least Capable of Some Good Ideas

So why in the hot fuck would this character, faced with a situation that she could escape from if she were to move exactly two steps to her left or right, be like, “Clearly the way out of THIS jam is to run straight! Ever straight! Always remaining in the impossibly thin shadow of the spaceship looming overhead! Surely this will not” (MAXIMUM DEAD)?

This is a franchise that brought us John Hurt seizing and gibbering hysterically in terror and anguish in a sequence so protracted and agonizing it hurts to this DAY to watch it. I can imagine that living up to that legacy is very difficult, and I don’t think that everything you do has to match or top that moment. But how this was not flagged as being the dumbest, cartooniest, tension-killingest way to kill off a major character defies all logic and reason. I am a person who has seen the episode of ER where a helicopter cuts off a surgeon’s hand, and then the later episode where another helicopter falls on him as tacit confirmation that he is the victim of some sort of helicopter vendetta, and I still consider this one of the ludicrous things I’ve ever seen. For all the emotional heft this scene has, they might as well have inserted a still reading “INSERT CHARACTER DEATH LATER” and called it a day.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?

Your audience is as invested in your characters as you are. You should care about them so much that when you put them into situations where they hurt, so do you – because so will we.

ALSO IT’S THE ALIEN FRANCHISE PUT YOUR GODDAMN BACKBONE INTO IT NO ONE SHOULD BE DEAD BY HAVING A SPACESHIP FALL ON THEM WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING FUCK IS GOING ON

Yes I’m Still Writing About PROMETHEUS