Prometheus breaks the first rule of movies: don’t make your audience think! Any movie that violates this taboo gets exactly what it deserves and Prometheus is begging for it.
Let’s get the good stuff out-of-the-way. Prometheus looks great. It throws up one fabulous tableau after another. To all the set designers, CGI programmers and other visual artists that worked on Prometheus take a bow; you did a superb job. I am not kidding when I say this would be a better film if you simply turned off the brain numbing sound track and soaked in the sights. Unfortunately the sound track is left on letting us in on the shallow thoughts of the too stupid to live protagonists.
I won’t dissect Prometheus’s numerous Promethean logical affronts. The blogosphere has already boiled and rendered that beast. Google the phrase “Prometheus too stupid to live”; the deluge of scorn will restore your faith in mankind. I could join in the script-savaging but I’m a kind, loving and compassionate man. I like science fiction. I want science fiction screen writers to succeed but the poor lost souls need help. Here are three “rules” that might have saved Prometheus.
1. Any “number” that appears in a science fiction movie must be real.
Numbers incite analysis and analysis plops you right back into reality which is not a good place for any movie especially science fiction. Prometheus violates this rule early on.
When the spaceship Prometheus arrived at its multiple-star-grouping destination the film makes a point of informing us that it’s 3.27 x 1014 kilometers from Earth. My little cinema bound brain went to work. A light year is roughly 1013 kilometers thus Prometheus was about thirty light years from Earth. I’d turned my cell phone off to watch the movie so I didn’t check the Hipparchus star catalogue but I’m pretty sure there are no large visible multiple star groupings that close to Earth. It’s possible a grouping of nearby brown dwarfs has escaped detection but then the color balance of the giant planet the spaceship was approaching was all wrong.
Flashing bogus numbers distracts and infuriates audiences. If you must insert numbers in your scripts make sure they are 100% scientifically credible.
2. Do not populate your spaceship with suicidal dolts.
It’s hard to relate to complete brain-dead tools. About halfway through Prometheus I realized the only creatures acting sensibly were the tentacle waving predatory aliens. They were busy going about their prey stalking ways. I can only imagine what they thought.
“Hey Sam,” alien vagina snakes call themselves Sam, “can you believe this fool wants to pet me. I bet his esophagus is going to be really tasty.”
“Uh, I don’t know Sam; something that stupid couldn’t survive in the wild unless it was highly toxic.”
“Yeah, you may be right but I’m going take a chance and stuff myself down his pie hole anyway.”
Nobody mourns the death of imbeciles. Sympathetic characters should have at least room temperature IQs.
3. Never show superior beings.
Good science fiction works best in the imagination of its audience. Nurturing a sense of mystery, awe and wonder is what this genre is all about. Showing too much kills the imagination and frankly my imagination took a few sniper rounds to the head when a “superior engineer” turned out to be bald, ripped, roid-raging bodybuilder that was as stupid as every other character in this film.
If the Prometheus of myth was as reckless as this “engineer” then Zeus did us a solid when he chained his dumb ass to that rock.