Prometheus: The Movie that could have been a Secular Humanist triumph but became a preachy Theist disappointment instead

***CAUTION: This Post is Full of SPOILERS***  

Just in case you thought reading an article about a movie you haven’t seen was a good idea, don’t.  See the film first, Read this later. 

So for those of you who HAVE seen Prometheus.  What did you think?  Most of my theist friends say things like “the setting was awesome but the characters were sucky” “I liked the idea, but the writing was crap” and “The love story was just eh at best and no one seemed really interesting enough for me to care if they died.”  “I forgot half the characters’ names.  Main people, like the love interest of Shaw.”

Well, I agree with all of you so far.  We can thank Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof for the cruddy writing.  Jon is a newbie to the business having only written two other films, both horror-genre themed.  Damon well, he seems to like comic books and flimsy sci-fi plots. Lost, Cowboys & Aliens and Hulk for a few examples.

So I wonder then, who is responsible for these horrid gaps: (again, spoilers warning!)

1. Science Based Plot Holes 

The medbay pod where one can perform countless emergency medical treatments at the push of a button. It’s so expensive and rare that Shaw is warned not to even touch it. And yet doctors of the future apparently forgot to create a medical bay that can be used on both men AND women? I call bullshit. In a future (not to mention on a crew ship) with female employees and passengers going in to space, it seems ridiculous that Shaw would have had issues using the pod. It would have made more sense to just scan her, identify the foreign object and then perform an emergency c-section at her behest. The drama would have remained the same in that scene without the implications that engineers in the future are still sexist idiots who think men and women need different medical care machinery. Anyone with a medical degree can tell you that the differences are minute and not worth creating an entirely separate unit or program for when it comes to planning. 

So I’m being told that this group of explorers entering the caves are professionals in their industry, right? I mean we don’t just hire any jackoff to go on a trillion dollar trip do we? And yet after discovering DEAD BODIES they forgo all common sense and industry CDC standards and just walk around with their helmets off like “woo this is awesome”. I call bull shit. Just because the atmosphere has oxygen in it, is no reason to remove your helmet and pretend that it’s perfectly safe and uncontaminated. Any REAL crew of scientists would have known this. 

Speaking of REAL scientists. Who the hell enters a cave on a new planet and takes no samples or pictures or records of anything? This whole “omg don’t touch it!” mentality was better suited to a group of historical preservationists in a horror film. Had they taken more than just a silly head, perhaps the movie could have been more interesting and explored and explained more to us, the audience, not to mention given the characters more depth and truth to them.

Who forgets that when they first got there, there were at least 5 other identical structures in the background? It never gets mentioned until the very end of the film, but that’s ridiculous. I’m pretty sure when people travel to Egypt and see the pyramids for the first time, they don’t think “oh no we saw one pyramid so let’s just assume the rest are identical inside!” So what does this mean? First off, it means that assuming there is only one Prometheus man who is alive, is premature. It also means that assuming they built these “bio weapons” here and yet this isn’t there home planet MAKES NO SENSE. How the hell do you know after exploring one measly cave on a GIANT PLANET that you have seen the whole planet? Hell, they could have just landed in a military installation. Making the giant leap from ONE cave exploration made no sense. Had this really been the team of “expert scientists” who had spent decades researching MANY caves back on earth for clues, I highly doubt they would become sniveling alcoholics after just seeing one cave of a few dead bodies.

And on that note, wtf Holloway? He sees ONE dead body in ONE cave and decides to become a drunk crybaby? His character should have been the first one pushing to explore the other caves and see if any of them were alive. Bad characterization, period.

The science in this film was disappointing at best. There were so many great moments that could have been expanded and explored. Instead they fell flat and left me wondering if the writers had even spent more than two minutes on Google looking up medical marvels, modern machinery and upcoming technology trends. Any science fiction author worth his money will do this. Yes, there is a fiction element, but the difference between FANTASY fiction and SCIENCE fiction is that sci-fi is rooted in real world, non supernatural plot lines. This movie toed that line one too many times and not in the good way like Star Wars’ “we have the force but it’s explained with midichlorians”.

2. Character Depth: There wasn’t Any

I am ashamed to admit that I have now forgotten half the cast even though I just saw this movie mere hours ago. Now I love horror films and understand that when it comes to the initial victims of these sorts of films, you are not going to get attached. But these are not some drunk teens going to a cabin for the weekend. These are supposed to be scientists, engineers and pilots. They, I assume, are smarter than Summer Camp slasher victims. And when you are killing off smarter victims, you should spend a little more energy in planning their demise and letting us believe they would actually die that way. 

The guy who played with snakes. Yes, I forgot his name. The long haired hippie scientist who made a remark about Darwinism (which is another plot mistake I’ll talk about later). Was he a biologist or a zoologist? I honesty forget if his specialty was mentioned. But I am going to pretend he is an animal expert of some sort. I mean, why else would the same guy who had run off in fear earlier now be the man who wanted to touch and play with an alien snake-monster like it’s a baby hamster. That thing didn’t even look cute. I understand when victims in Critters want to pet the tribble-like beasties, but what would possess a self professed coward to want to play with a giant snake like alien? His death seemed oddly out of place and unbelievable. Same for tattoo face. 

Speaking of this Geologist, wth with his little “pups” machines? Weren’t they mapping the cave and feeding the information back to him so he could give directions to the group? So how in the hell did HE get lost? They hadn’t even walked that far in and yet he managed to not only get lost, but to circle back to the very room the others had been in. The whole subplot of these two seemed wholly unbelievable. Not to mention that while they are dying, for SOME unknown reason, the pilot is off banging the ice queen. Typical Summer Camp cabin death. Out of place in this setting.

Regarding  that scene, why is it that when the pilot came back, he only saw that the two scientists were no longer responding? Yet he had a giant map showing where they were and the video surveillance which I can only assume had a record feature if this really was the EXPLORATION expedition it claimed to be. Hell, almost every thriller and horror flick that has video features has a playback element. You would imagine a cool scene where the rest of the crew is gathered around watching the last moments as the unlucky scientists died, screaming for help. But then I guess there would be the awkward “WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU!?” conversation and we’d have to pretend that whole innuendo sex scene plot device had really occurred.

So, Charlize Theron is supposed to be a real girl who is less human than her android brother counter part? I don’t know. She looks 30, her dad is 3758378 years old and her brother calls her mom, or ma’am. I couldn’t really get that part through his forced droid accent. I liked David. He made sense. But Theron’s character was just poorly written. I assume she was a hypochondriac for unexplained reasons. Who wanted her dad to die so she could take over his company that does, who knows what? Then she dies in a moment of sheer irony even though the Shaw who is profusely more weak and injured, manages to get out of the way. Riiiiight. Wouldn’t it have been better if she had been injured and went to her med pod thingy and found the beastie inside waiting?  She could have died that way and still kept the ending intact without cartoonishly killing her off. 

The captain and his crew (more unnamed people), from their cock pit view, where than can CLEARLY see that there are 5 other cave structures in the distance, are perfectly willing to kill themselves going after just one ship and assume that there’s nothing else to be afraid of? Suuuure. So I’m going to pretend they lack the critical thinking skills to say, “Waitaminute! What if there are others? We would be dying for nothing.” But of course, the writers decided that Shaw had to be the heroine of this film and as such, the others must be killed off, even if it is for weird or unrealistic reasons.

Speaking of Shaw, let’s get to my big beef with this film:

3. Religious B.S.

So I am going to believe that in 2093 there is a Christian scientist whose job it is to EXPLORE ancient worlds and study ancient cultures. And who seems to be a strong proponent for ancient astronaut theory. And yet this same “scientist” is a complete and utter hypocrite/moron? Look, you can have mysticism or philosophy in science fiction. Many of the greats do that easily with glowing monologues about life, purpose and understanding. But in a world where people are pretty aware of evolution, medical science and Space Travel, I highly, HIGHLY doubt you will find some stubborn religious fanatic who can’t let go of the Jesus. Especially in a setting where you are specifically disproving that one particular religion. It’s not like she says things like “Oh I have faith that they “the gods” had a purpose for making us. Or “I need to know the reason for our existence.” These would all be perfectly reasonable. Instead, she holds on to a cross. Not because it has sentimental value. Not because it reminds her of her parents. NO, she says she STILL believes in this bull shit even after seeing evidence otherwise. And not even that, after spending a large portion of her life studying ancient astronaut theory. It made no sense for her to be so attached to a dead faith to begin with. Had the authors been smarter, she would just have the necklace as a memento. Then your plot could stay the same. Instead, they had sweeping comments about Evolution v Creationism which were, at best, wrong and, at worst, insulting.

Christmas trees and “the year of our lord” etc: Umm. no. Just, no. What lord? Did you not just spend the last two hours showing me that we were created by multiple BEINGS? And why the hell do you even pack a Christmas tree? People still celebrate this made up crap in 2093? I hope not. Not to mention the arrogance of the script to assume that the best and brightest scientists are from Western civilization and Western religious beliefs.

It was never really explained as this film was more fiction than science, but here’s what I can guess the storyline is:
A Prometheus man, or member of this ancient race was sent to earth for unknown reasons. His body disintegrated after he had some bad coffee laced with body exploding juice. His DNA ended up in our water supply which then created the start of evolution which we now know as Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. Which, of course also makes no sense that the DNA would be an exact match because evolution does not work that way but let’s play along. So this mesh of evolution and direct creationism as whole human beings somehow also equated us seeing the Prometheus giants and worshiping them as god(S). Also, for some reason they told us where their home planet/military base/bio-weapons testing facility is located? So we drew some circles and these genius scientists we have here decoded it somehow 35000+ years later. So random company X gives us a trillion dollars to go to this planet so we can meet the gods and say “dude, wtf?” except we aren’t allowed to talk to them for unknown reasons except that the CEO’s daughter is a bitch and hates everyone. Also her robobbrother thinks this is super cool and has a secret mission. That secret mission is to help wrinkle butt gain immortality. You know, like the old guy from The Event, but uglier. So, we go in these caves, get killed from our own stupidity (not because of an underhanded plot) and for some reason, grandpa shows up, is on the ship and wants to play astronaut dress up. Then, for no apparent reason, he walks out with roid boy Dave and goes to chat it up with Prometheus man. Even though we have no reason to believe it, David can apparently talk to aliens. Which begs the question why grandpa had to be there in the first place. So, Prometheusgodmanalien thing gets all angry because we woke him from his nap. Goes on a rampage and turns into the monster from Resident Evil. In the end, the “faith” of one lone Christian soldier fighting in the face of alien science and her Creator gods (who have the warm personality of Ares) decides to kill off her true creator(s) and then go have a chat with the rest of them? Is that about right?

So in the end, I found this film highly disappointing. It was hard to follow. The characters made choices and said things that contradicted who they were supposed to portray. The writing was shoddy in the science department. As a thriller, it was gripping and suspenseful. But after leaving the theater I was full of so many questions left unanswered and forgetting the cast. In all, Prometheus could have been a great movie with a world uniting message about how we all were created from the same stuff and should feel together as a species. Instead, it pitted the world’s flimsiest excuses for scientists against a generic monster enemy and skipped over much of the gods vs. creations theory. I would love to see this film remade with a new crew of better people more fitted to doing research and exploration. Hell, it would make a great TV series. Just brush up that writing and character development. You had a good idea, but you ruined it.

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