Thursday, July 19, 2012

Prometheus Review

I went to see Prometheus a few weeks ago, caught it while it was still in the theaters, and I'd been meaning to circle back and put up a brief review.

The first thing to do if you see it is to check your expectations.  I wouldn't consider Prometheus a horror movie, or a prequel to the original Alien.  It's more like a science fiction movie, with a dose of horror on the side, and it only happens to share some similar themes to Alien.  It's a movie that takes place in the same universe as Alien.

Thematically, I felt that Prometheus had more in common with a pure sci-fi masterpiece, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, than a space slasher movie.  (In fact, there are quite a few visual cues to 2001 during the film).  It’s all about big questions and big ideas - ancient astronaut theories, the source of terrestrial life, myths of the war in heaven, the role of faith in a materialistic universe, allusions to Mary Shelley's work, the relationship of a created being to the creator.  The horror scenes with alien things tend to be incidental to the story themes.  The lingering horror is the many questions left unanswered by the film - why did "they" do this to "us"?

There are some flaws; I found myself a bit irritated at times by some of the unintelligent choices made by the scientists… like the xenobiologist that tries to pet a revolting wormy thing that emerged from a slime pool, "here, wormy wormy wormy".  Munch.  It goes badly for him.  It’s easy to discount horror scenes when people make stupid choices; I much prefer horror scenes where the protagonist 'does everything right' and it still goes wrong for them.

But it was well worth seeing; the visuals are stunning, and it's one of the few films I'm looking forward to getting on DVD; I'd love to see it again, especially if there's a director's cut.  The door is left wide open for a sequel, so I hope it was commercially successful and a sequel indeed finds its way to the cinema.

Inspirations for Gaming
This is a gaming blog, after all, so I can't leave you without some ideas.  The obvious one to borrow from something like Prometheus (and the original Alien, for that matter), is that of mistaken identity; misreading the prophecy or misinterpreting the signs.  "It wasn't a distress signal that lured us to the planet, it was a warning beacon".  "This place isn't a temple, it's a weapons dump.  No, wait, it's not a weapon's dump, it's a space ship…" You get the idea.  "This isn't the tomb of Karlyle, it's the prison of Karlyle - and the ancient vampire is still trapped in here.  And now we're trapped with him!"

Prometheus has a clever idea around biological weapons; stores of substances that generate new life forms and infect intruders so that they become their own monsters.  I have a similar idea in place in the Black City game (rage worm infection) but it's not nearly as squirmy and tentacled as the kinds of things that burst out of people in Prometheus.  I should probably amp up the ick-factor.  Heck, the whole movie of Prometheus could be inspirational for something like the Black City, an ancient ruin built by aliens.  I just need to get HR Giger to do the art.  Maybe one of the dungeon levels should lead seamlessly into a buried starship.  Quick - I'm off to pen a new sublevel!


  1. Well we've landed on an unknown planet to make contact with a superior civilization that may have 'answers', OR a psychotic desire to wipe humanity out. Who cares, either of those is good, so no need to do too much planning.

    Procedure as follows:

    1- Don't brief most of the people on the mission until we arrive, that's how NASA does it. Surprise!

    2- Hire the first twenty names that come up on and give them no mission-specific training. Some of them seem to not even want to be there and are meeting each other for the first time as they hit the ground. This is how you build an effective team.

    3-Decline to take weapons with you into the alien structure because the mission is 'scientific'. Self-defense is unscientific.

    4- Remove your helmet inside the alien structure, because you are the product of a lazy Hollywood hack who thinks this makes you an impulsive baddass and therefor relatable. Say woooooo! Like a fucking retard on spring break.

    5- Everyone else take their helmets off as well, because he did it, so.. you know. If he jumped off a bridge would they do it too? Apparently yes, because the mission is highly scientific.

    6-Lose track of two crew members, leave them in the structure, then wander away from the bridge to have sex, only discovering that they have been killed the next day. Do this because you are a black man, and apparently cannot control your sexual impulses, despite the fact that you are responsible for an entire spaceship because Hollywood is not racist. I mean, they put a negro in charge of a spaceship, what the fuck else you want?

    7-Master complex alien technology in five minutes by pressing some boiled eggs, plus some stuff you read off a pyramid wall, because you are a robot and robots are magic.

    8- Black slime that turns people into monsters.

    The end. Away into space for more answers! Up yours, Ridley.

    1. Doesn't bother me; people do stupid things all the time.

      Also, consider this pitch from Acme Future Megacorporation:

      Wanted: technicians and scientists for space exploration! We can't tell you what it is about because it is secret, but the pay is good. Oh, and you have to go into stasis for two years to get there.

      Given that kind of pitch, what kind of specialists do you think would sign up? Fanatics or those with nothing to lose.

    2. Aww, c'mon, the black slime idea was at least pretty cool even if what it could do was illogical. I mean, the idea of a nanomachine / virus that gets into your cells and re-writes the code until you become 'Other' is an interesting idea.

      Of course, the infected and broken corpse of a man that was suddenly super strong and could cling to surfaces was dumb as no amount of genetic re-wiring could do that to you.

  2. And while we're on the subject:

    Captain: Sex time with captain!

    Charlize Theron: No no. Highly inappropriate.

    Captain: What are you --- a robot?

    Charlize Theron: Robot!? I'll show you! Would a robot jump on your DICK?

    Captain: I stand corrected!

  3. I enjoyed reading your review. It doesn’t surprise me that there may be similarities to 2001: A Space Odyssey in the film, since Ridley Scott enjoyed Kubrick’s work and felt inspired by him, but I don’t think Prometheus was ever designed to be a slasher horror film. Ridley Scott has directed some of my favorites over the years, and after speaking with some coworkers of mine from DISH, who’ve already seen Prometheus, I’m ready to check it out. When I get excited about a movie, I’ve been known to run out and buy it, but that gets expensive. I like the peace of mind I feel when I save money by renting first, so I’m adding Prometheus to my Blockbuster @Home queue, and then if it meets my expectations, I’ll buy the Blu-ray and add it to my collection. Then again, it’s Ridley Scott, so I’m sure I’ll be the proud owner of Prometheus soon.