Welcome to Reasons I Hated PROMETHEUS, the blog in which I address the many and varied reasons why I hate this film with all my heart. I hate this film so profoundly that the mere mention of the film is enough to make me want to put my body into a fireplace. I could write forever about the things in this film that are stupid and terrible and never fully itemize why it is such a toilet to my eyes.
As I write this, I’m watching a YouTube video which boldly makes the claim that Prometheus is misunderstood. This is false. Prometheus is a dog’s breakfast, which is an adorable term for when something is a gigantic embarrassing mess. It is the worst kind of bad movie – a movie that looked like it was going to be good, had all the components to be good, and then improbably is bad – not enjoyably terrible or deliciously stupid, just plainly, simply BAD – in ways that you never could have anticipated. It is the film equivalent of going to your mom’s house and seeing all the ingredients lined up for tacos, and smelling the tacos, and thinking about how delicious it will be when you get to eat tacos, and then when you’re called for dinner you discover that your mother has not prepared tacos but instead has somehow made you A BARREL OF GARBAGE FILLED WITH BAD SNAKES. (V good metaphor, there are a lot of bad gross snakes in this film)
I should clarify that I like everyone involved in this film, and for the most part, do not hold this giant sadness pile against them. As a writer and a performer, I recognize that sometimes despite everyone’s best efforts a project just goes completely belly up and there’s nothing you can do to fix it. But I do think it’s worth thinking about and talking about this condensed heap of failure three years after the fact not only because a sequel is being released (WHY WHO WILL WATCH IT), but because I think it’s a perfect example of storytelling/filmmaking gone wrong. If there is anything that Prometheus can offer us (beyond the actual lather of rage I develop every time I think about that dumb squid monster), it is that it can serve as a learning tool/cautionary tale to filmmakers of all stripes who want to avoid the unimaginably stupid missteps that comprise this entire film.
It is difficult to know where to begin listing the problems with this terrible parade of mistakes – so much so that I have been drafting this inaugural post for a full night and a morning, and every time I’ve started I’ve been distracted by fresh thoughts of another part in the movie that was so nonsensical I wished I could hit it with a stick. However, after considerable deliberation, I’ve decided to begin with one of my biggest sticking points with the film:
#1: THE BLACK STUFF
WHAT IS IT
WHAT THE FUCK IS IT
IF ANYONE CAN EXPLAIN WHAT THIS STUFF IS TO MY SATISFACTION I WILL BUY THEM A HELICOPTER (I do not intend to honor this request)
Let’s backtrack momentarily. One of the reasons Alien works so well – why it’s great on its own and why it’s viable as a franchise – is that the titular alien is as straightforward a villain as you could ever hope to have. Consider how difficult it is to create a character you’ve never seen before (i.e., think of movies that have done it unsuccessfully like Lady in the Water), and then have that character be so clear in its motivations and fully defined in its life cycle that people who haven’t even seen Alien could realistically explain in a sentence how it develops. It’s an ingenious feat of writing. And because the script is so successful (and expedient) in setting out what this character is and can do, it can spend the rest of the film mining that idea for its potential. SO IT MAKES NO GODDAMN SENSE WHEN YOU *KNOW* HOW WELL THIS WORKS TO HAVE A BLACK GOO THAT IS CAPABLE OF DOING LITERALLY EVERYTHING AND NOTHING ALL AT ONCE
The first time we see the black goo some Michael Rapaport-looking motherfucker is drinking it, at which point he explodes into DNA clouds (congratulations, for sure this is how DNA works). So the black goo has destructive properties? No, because the next time we see it Michael Fassbender is dipping his blonde-ass finger in it to no effect. Then it makes a worm into a penis snake. THEN it makes a worm come out of the eye of Trey from The OC (NVR 4GET). And in addition to murdering Michael Rapaport into a cloud and having no effect on an android, it can also make a man into a monster boy and make a lady pregnant with an actual squid.
WHAT IS HAPPENING
THIS MAKES MY WHOLE BODY TINGLE WITH HATE
My limited research indicates that the black stuff is supposed to be a “catalyst for evolution.” As a non-scientist, take this with all the grains of salt you need, but I am fairly certain that evolution does not go as follows:
- Michael Rapaport (who we learn shares human DNA) ingests black stuff; explodes
- Trey from The OC (also has human DNA because is human) ingests black stuff; explodes
- Trey also has sex with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; makes a squid baby
- Squid baby + Michael Rapaport = the alien from Alien?
BOO. If you can’t fill in the blanks of what your stupid made up substance does then it is useless as a narrative tool. And if the black goo can just do whatever you need it to do, it is robbed of any dramatic potential. This is not mysterious. This is not captivating. THIS IS F MINUS WRITING AND IT BELONGS IN A GARBAGE CAN
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
Make your writing have stakes. Make things MEAN things. Put forward an idea and then mine it for all its worth. This is the basic thinking behind everything you like – a simple concept explored in depth. It’s not interesting to raise a million questions that you can’t answer and it is CERTAINLY not interesting to just watch a million things happen THAT YOU CANNOT ADEQUATELY EXPLAIN.
Personally, I also learned that it is difficult to spell Michael Rapaport. So far I’ve done Raport, Rapapaport, and Parappaport. GET A BETTER NAME, WEIRDO.
That’s about as much thinking about this garbo movie as I can do for the moment before my nose starts bleeding. Join me for future installments of this blog, maybe? Or not! LIKELY NOT?!