The movie poster to Ridley Scotts new Alien prequel prometheus says ‘they went in search of our beginnings…’ – for a science fiction nut like myself this is the holy grail! Answers to the biggest questions await: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Who made us? Naturally this is a movie I have been looking forward to for aeons – a very long time. Yes, been looking forward to it for almost two years now since the day it was announced by the studio.
The day finally dawned. I walked into the cinema foyer and nervously asked the ticket lady for a ticket please. She looked up at me and she understood the quiver in my voice and the beads of sweat on my brow. I went into the cinema clutching my sweat drenched ticket in one hand and soggy popcorn in the other. I was expecting to be not only dazzled by the special effects, not only mesmerised by visions of an utterly fantastic alien world, but also profoundly touched and deeply moved to tears by a new vision of our origins…
The movie trailer promised much. It promised answers as well as edge-of-your-seat scares.
The lights went down. Nobody was sitting in front of me so I had a clear view of the screen. The curtains parted. No annoying idiot behind me munching noisily on his popcorn. Not many people in the cinema in fact as I had timed it perfectly. It was a 12pm Noon time show on a Friday. The kids were at school. Most people at work. I clutched the box of popcorn almost strangling it in the process. The movie began…
What’s that sound? I could hear popcorn munching and a heartbeat.
Oh, only me!
Did the movie live up to what it promised? Did it do what it said on the packet? Did I leave the cinema blinded and pole-axed? Had I found the metaphorical Holy Grail? Was I a new person?
No! No! No!
I am angry. Angry for letting myself be fooled by the hype. Letting myself go and ‘believe’ that this was the one. For wanting to believe that this would be the science fiction classic that would go beyond mere spectacle to delve into the deepest questions.
And answer them.
Here is a list (in no particular order) of why I am angry. I know. I know. It is only a movie, but trust me, these things matter!
Angry moment # 1
Somewhere in the beginning, when the crew of the ship have been woken up from their two year space journey and are sitting together to discuss the mission, they are told their mission and the reason why they are going to this alien planet. Apparently, cave paintings found on earth seem to indicate that life on earth was begun or was seeded by an alien civilisation. So they are going to this planet to find out why humans were created. In response to this one of the crew members says: (I don’t remember the exact words. I just remember being very angry. Yes when the actor said these words I was fuming. Profoundly pissed off in the cinema!). The words were:
“Aliens, started human life on earth? Are you sure? But that’s going against 3 billion years of Darwinism”
Idiots! Absolute morons! They spend 300 million dollars on a movie and they can’t even get basic biology right!
Calm down Wasim
I am fucking calm!
What has Darwinism got anything to do with alien civilisations seeding life on earth? So life on earth was created by these aliens? So did they just provide the initial spark to send it on its way down the evolutionary road? Or did they provide the ingredient to turn apes into humans? Whichever one it is Darwinism still applies. The reason I am angry is not because they got the science wrong (well actually I am because it just misleads people) but because they just mentioned Darwinism to make it all sound so profound and deep. To make the script sound profound and bamboozle the audience with profundities. To give the appearance of depth, when actually there is none. The truth is most people watching the movie won’t care. They don’t understand enough about evolutionary biology to get worked up about it. Except me. I get worked up about such things because they matter to me. And they are important. When it comes to human origins – I don’t like being treated like an ignoramus!!!
But I. Oh! I was expecting answers (Wasim cries in his hands).
Connected to this is also the fact that they don’t actually explain at which point the aliens interfered on earth? Was it at the genesis of life or the genesis of humanity? Did they start life itself or did they provide the ingredient to evolve apes into humans? The movie doesn’t explain that. This is important! There is a scene where they show some alien DNA and how it matches human DNA. Excuse my French but what the fuck does that mean!? – Idioteque!
Very angry moment # 2
So they haven’t explained where we come from. Fine. I can live with that. What am I doing expecting a movie to answer such deep questions anyway?! – right? If I did that I should get a life right?!
Anyway, next thing. The crew. Now in the original Alien movie and in James Cameron’s Aliens sequel the crew on the ship are cool and have character. There is chemistry between them. And this chemistry heightens the tension. Not in this movie. In this movie they have as much chemistry as there is in a glass of milk. Nada. Zilch. None. Sure we have all the boxes ticked: Asian guy (tick box). Stupid grunt (tick box). Boffin scientist (tick box). Nervous wreck (tick box) etc etc. The thing is I didn’t care for the characters. I couldn’t care less if any of them died a horrible messy death. In fact, I found myself wishing that they would all die, so I could leave the theatre!
In David Fincher’s (criminally underrated in my opinion) Alien 3 – which was set on a prison planet, the characters were thoroughly enjoyable to watch. A lot of them were English actors with Cockney accents but that’s not the point. The point is that the script allowed you to get to know them. To get to like or dislike them. And when they died terribly violent deaths at the claws of that alien nasty, you felt it. You felt sorry for those wretched prisoners who had found God at the edge of space. Look, it’s very simple. For scenes of blood curdling gore to have great visceral impact you gotta care for the people being killed!
Very very ANGRY moment # 3
So….near the end of the movie we discover that this sophisticated race of aliens actually started life on earth (somehow). And the crew of the Prometheus have stumbled upon one of their ships on a planet. In this ship is one of these aliens, and he is still alive. In deep sleep. Now remember, this is not those nasty aliens, he is part of the race that started life on earth. So he is presumably of super intelligence and sophistication. I mean his race can travel vast distances through interstellar space, they have massive space ships with amazing technology, they can seed life on planets, they must be cultured and supremely aware etc etc.
So…the humans wake him up. They want to know answers. They want to ask him why they seeded life on earth. They want to know the big stuff. So they wake him up. And what does this apparently smart and sophisticated alien, that belongs to a race with futuristic science and technology, do?
Yeah, he gets angry and rips the humans head off! And then he goes after them all. Not even a hello. Why the fuck would you do that? Just put yourself in his shoes. You’re an intelligent sophisticated being, asleep for millennia, and you get woken up by some other creatures (humans), who don’t pose a threat to you, you don’t want to eat them. They just want to have a little discussion with you. A little chat. So why can’t you have a chat with them? Why would you go on a murderous rampage?
It doesn’t make any sense!
Why am I the only person that thinks such things?
It’s stupid. It’s idiotic. It doesn’t make any sense!
What they needed was some science expert to give consultancy advice on the script. Somebody who understands stuff like this. What they needed was a script and plot that was sufficiently fleshed out from the outset.
What they needed was less reliance on special effects and some character development.
What they needed was….someone like me!
If they had me to help with the movie, I would have:
1) Souped up the dialogue
2) Come up with a plot that actaully made some sense
3) Answered some profound questions in the movie
4) Made the alien behave more like you would expect him to behave, and not with those temper tantrums
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
(Wasim crying in his hands and drooling and babbling like a baby) – all I wanted – all I wanted was answers and a deeply satisfying movie. Not some ignorant hogwash. Absolute shweinhund!
But other then the above – still worth watching! The cinematography is amazing. The special effects out of this world. The set pieces gut-churning. And some truly memorable moments.
In space…no one….can hear you scream…