The Fassbender And The Furious

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Wil Wheaton Plushie from HijiNKS ENSUE, Wil Wheaton Plush toy doll

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This comic was inspired by a conversation with my friend Stepto in which he attempted to convince me that I was too dumb to realize that I was too smart to be OK with all of the structural weaknesses in Prometheus. I was determined to hold on to my geek joy and not sacrifice it to his dead, pedantic spite-gods. Then I actually started to think about some of the… all of the stuff in the movie and the black goo of doubt began to race through my system and infect my very DNA. At one point a little techno-organic worm poked out of my eyeball just long enough to shout, “WHY WERE ALL THOSE SCIENTISTS SO DUMB AND BAD AT SCIENCE!?!” Just before I begged Charlize Theron to bathe me in cleansing flames, I realized he had a point.

Still I enjoyed the movie. And what is the most important question you can ask of art designed to entertain other than “was I entertained?” The weird thing about Prometheus is that it distracts you with pretty, and robots, and pretty robots, and murder aliens for 2 hours and then it’s over. So you don’t really notice all of the problems until you’re totally removed from the situation.

Regarding all the talk of “mystery,” I don’t think the plot actually leaves all that much unanswered. You don’t have to know why the Engineers want to delete humanity in order to understand the story or their role in it. David spelled it out perfectly when he made the “Why did you create us?” analogy. We would deactivate and destroy hundreds of thousands of androids if we decided they were faulty or posed a threat. They’re our creation and thus below us and we can do with them as we please. Same goes for the engineers. Whatever humanity did to piss them off 2000 years ago, was enough to say, “Well that’s enough of that bullshit. Time to wipe them out and mark a check in the FAILED EXPERIMENT column.” The “mystery” isn’t the issue.

The issue is one of characterization and motivation. The list of character problems I could make would be too long and boring to actually get anything out of, but all of the problems stem from the same root cause. Every single character in the movie (excluding perhaps David and the Engineers) establish type then play against it at every possible turn. And not in a clever way. More in a “one guy wrote the first half of the movie, then another wrote the second half without reading the first half” type of way. All of the hired scientists are incredibly terrible at their jobs despite displaying and professing their proficiency early on. We shouldn’t even have to question their merit considering the richest man in the galaxy decided to include them on the most important expedition in human history. Their ineptitude immediately throws their own character and that of Weyland (and subsequently nearly the entire plot of the film) into question. You get the impression early on that none of these people are professionals or even intelligent. Why don’t they follow any protocol on the planet? Why do they take their helmets off? Why do they KEEP TAKING THEM OFF even after shit starts to go real bad? Why does their cowardice overpower their scientific curiosity and why is that tolerated by their superiors? “I’ve decided NOT to contribute my expertise to this trillion dollar mission for which I was hired. Cool?” Why doesn’t main science lady ever tell ANYONE that she just c-sectioned an alien squid monster from her belly? No one even asks why she’s covered in blood, not in stasis and COVERED IN FUCKING BLOOD. There are just too many cases where people don’t act or react like actual people.

 Still, I enjoyed it. Considering it was written by a LOST show-runner, I’m not entirely surprised that an excellent premise was confusified into something that posed more questions than it answered. I’m not sure when it happened, probably when LOST got so popular, but why did Hollywood decide that confusing = deep? You don’t get to say “it makes you think” when you really mean “we couldn’t come up with anything so we just left that part out.” Still, I enjoyed it. I just wish it had gone through one more rewrite by someone that wasn’t mistaking ambition for sloppiness or convoluted for thought provoking. Still… I enjoyed it.

COMMENTERS: OK, GO NUTS! Spoilers and all. Get your Prometheus thoughts off your chest. 

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  1. I enjoyed it and would watch it again. I liked the performances and the visuals, and it played with themes I track with. Furthermore, it's the first movie I've seen in a while that reminded me how small I am in the universe, and I appreciated that. Perfect? No. A "good" movie? Eh. Given some of the plot holes, it's almost Lynchian (all that's missing were "Dune"'s inner monologues; it already has a mutant space fetus). But I had fun and got my money's worth.

  2. I wish I could agree. I felt that this was the Lost of movies. There were way to many mysteries and almost no answers. I'm not even convinced the engineers were going to destroy humanity, mainly because everything on the planet was pure conjecture by the crew.

    Also, what kind of biologist is scared of a dead humanoid alien, but 10 minutes later want to adopt a space cobra?

    • "what kind of biologist is scared of a dead humanoid alien, but 10 minutes later want to adopt a space cobra? "

      This is basically the part where they say, "OK guys, we're obviously not taking this seriously, so anything goes."

      • "what kind of biologist is scared of a dead humanoid alien" – this is one of the most important biological finds for centuries: proof of real life on another planet. He's gone on a mission in space. Yet he's too scared…. arrrgh.

        Also, I didn't really understand what David was trying to do. His agenda was never really made clear. But he's still my favourite character of the lot.

        • I found David the easiest to figure out. He's programmed to do most of what he is doing by Weyland who is on the ship with him. Weyland wants live aliens to talk to and demand eternal life from. [entitled much?] David pokes into everything on the test planet and finally finds an alien as boss ordered.

          However along the way David gets a crush on Elizabeth. He watches her dream [creepy] and she is the only one who is -nice- to him. When she's about to be blown away in the storm, David rescues her [and Holloway – who gives him the stink eye for doing this]. David is aware that Elizabeth is sterile but wants children, so he manages to give her a baby. A squid/alien baby, but there is some sweet in with the extra-creepy. David shows admiration for Elizabeth's tenacity & helps her not be surprised when the Engineer goes after her & then they end movie going off together. David was adorable … in a very, highly twisted and creepy way. Great character.

          IMO the stupidity of most of the for-hire scientists can be explained by Weyland hiring people who want the money & are willing to work without getting answers beforehand. Weyland is NOT hiring the best. Weyland is hiring a mostly sham team to LOOK like an expedition as a mask to hide his search for aliens to give him immortality. The only vaguely competent ones are the pair that lead him to the planet [Shaw & Holloway] & the Captain/nav crew.

          Also [MHO] Meredith is human. She is a rage-filled bitchy girl who has been ignored by her dad all her life. She is bitter & angry – and willing to fry anyone risking her mission success. Burning down Holloway is the most completely human action anyone on the ship shows. She has not yet caught the stupidity disease – and is the -only- person onboard ship harping about isolation proceedures and ship safety. It's almost a certainty she knows daddy is hiding on ship somewhere when she finds the -male- oriented medical unit in 'her' quarters. And she pushes David around/strong-arms him because he doesn't fight back & is passive around her.

          • I agree that David was a good character (the only one in the movie, imo) but your explanation of the scientists' stupidity doesn't really add up. What you said makes sense; Weyland wouldn't want anyone on the team who would ask too many questions, but their actions in the movie go beyond that. They don't even act (or react) like normal human beings, let alone intelligent ones. The best example is probably of the biologist being afraid of a dead alien body and then subsequently adoring another (live) alien. It just doesn't make any amount of sense.

            It's not that they act stupid, its that they act completely irrationally. They're personalities seem to change at random, and they seem to have no motivation at all for what they are doing. The movie is very cool, looks great, and has some nice action. But the plot and characters are some of the worst I've seen in a major motion picture in a long time.

  3. Thank you!

    *deep breath*

    Ok, I became a huge fan of the alien franchise when they started making the comics back in the early 90s, when people realised there was the potential to sell toys to kids based on the franchise and subsequently gave some excellent writers enough money to keep writing comics to keep people interested. I even played a role in a video ride that opened over here in the UK based on some of the expanded universe stuff – it never blossomed into anything more but I consider it my 15 minutes of fame and it was great to actually get to be a part of something I loved.

    Prometheus crapped all over that.

    In the expanded universe it was fairly well established that the ‘space jockey’ was part of a race we would come to call the Elephant men (our speciesist term for them based on the fact that the external osophagus looks like an elephants trunk). They were the race we would call ‘The Engineers’ but they didn’t make us, they made the Xenomorphs (dubbed Incubi in the comic as you couldn’t keep calling them aliens when there were multiple aliens). They’d show up at a planet, dump a load of xenos on the world, let them kill everything, then release a virus which killed only the xenos who would then conveniently melt down leaving no mess or fuss behind. Then the Elephants could just move on in. Unfortunately somewhere along the line the xenos became immune to the disease and it all went pear shaped.

    This is kind of what I was hoping to see (or at least see referenced). Instead Prometheus completely crapped all over that. I think its that more than the fact that none of the character’s actions made sense that most got my geek rage going. The idea that the guys from the Nostromo didn’t notice that the space jockey was just a big human in a space suit irritated me, but not half as much as them completely invalidating the entire Expanded Universe.

    I’ll leave the rants about continuity errors, glaring plot holes and sheer stupidity to other writers (although the random Scottish guy who talks tough then spontaneously becomes a big jessie did also irritate me), it was the slap in the face to the EU that really got at me.

    • you are aware that ridley's rebooting the entire franchise, mostly because it was either that or endure some hack remake his film, right?

      everything you knew is now as dust in the wind.

      the guys from the nostromo didn't notice that it was just a pressure suit most likely because kane went off down the hole and got himself face-hugged. they didn't exactly have time to do a full 'let's pull it apart and see what's inside.', at best they got a bunch of pictures and that's it.

      the expanded universe was never really regarded as canon, anyways, as far as the film franchise was concerned. it was dark horse's take on the concept as was their right in the licensing they'd arranged. nevermind that it was as contradictory and full of holes as anything else is, but that's what happens when you have multiple writers over a series of short-stories.

      continuity errors, plot holes, guys, it's ridley scott. in four years we'll have a director's cut that patches all of that up. he's from the 'fuck it it's too long cut entire scenes' school of editing. every single one of his movies has been like that. the director's cut is essentially the only one worth watching.

  4. And remember, that "LOST show-runner" is all over the upcoming "Star Trek 2 Again or Whatever They're Calling It" (he did get a Producer-but-not-Writer credit on the Star Trek reboot, which probably empowered him to do bad things to the Aliens Universe). Scary? Like a sky full of Klingon Birds of Prey. Also, he was one of the 6 credited Screenwriters on the multidimensional failure "Cowboys & Aliens". This is not a record that instills faith in a movie-goer. And then the news that he has been given the job of scriptdoctor on "World War Z" AFTER it semi-officially finished production and 7 weeks of reshoots are planned to do whatever he hasn't written yet suggests that most of the Science-Fiction-Movie Subsidiary of Hollywood, Inc. is in love with him and wants to have his babies, even if their delivery resemble the one in "Prometheus". Suddenly, Endless Superhero Movies look more OK.

    • If you listen to GeekTime on Sirius Howard 101, they did an interview with Damon Lindelof where he basically said he wrote the script that Ridley Scott demanded. In fact, he stated that the original ending was even more "next time on Prometheus" and he had to fight with Ridley Scott to give it even remotely some sense of closure.
      I'm not going to say that Damon Lindelof is the greatest or anything, but lets be honest this is Ridley's movie top to bottom.

  5. I 100% agree with you Joel. At some point someone had to have read the script and said, "Wait a minute, none of these characters are consistent or make any sense." What bugs me is thats all stuff that could have been fixed without changing the story at all. You think with the budget they would have sprung for a few extra rewrites.

    Still, I enjoyed it, so mission accomplished.

  6. I actually think this movie is getting a bad rap.

    It had some issues, but no more than most sci-fi movies, many of which people actually like. We seem to hold this one to a higher standard, as if somehow the Alien franchise had some tradition of great film making beyond the original.

    I think there's a pretty clear in-story bit that explains a lot of the characterization and plot holes, and it seems like people are almost universally missing it. Maybe Scott made a mistake in letting people draw inferences about what led up to this mission, rather than just explaining it, but I think there were circumstances behind this mission that may not have been conducive to fielding a highly trained, competent science staff. (Remember, a central them to the original Alien was that the crew was far from being the perfect team).

    I gather there were some planned scenes with a younger Peter Weyland that didn't make it into the movie. I wish they had developed that character more. The fictional TED talk on the Weyland Industries viral marketing site offers some hints.

    • But neither Scott nor the writers can get credit for things that *should* have been in the movie! The fact is, you have to infer HUGE amounts of things for any of it to make sense, and that's just bad writing.

      Also, people keep talking about how fans of the franchise had unrealistically high expectations for this movie. Am I the only one that remembers that the last 2 Aliens movies (not to mention the AvsP stuff) all sucked!? It's not that it's a sub-par Aliens movie that makes it bad. It's a movie that claims to answer the deepest mysteries of mankind, but can't explain how the squid baby multiplies to gargantuan size without anything to eat and without anyone noticing!!! It's just so stupid.

      • Note: Alien^3 gets a lot better when you watch the 144 minute version instead of the 114 minute one. Sadly the fabled "Director's Cut" of the film doesn't exist, but they managed to re-cut a chunk of he film with cut footage to make a much better version for the Quadrilogy box set. Also, c'mon, it was David Goddamn Fincher. This franchise has had some of the best names in the business work on it (Scott on Alien, Cameron on Aliens, Fincher on Alien^3, Whedon on Ressurection) and still managed to only come out with 2 good theatrical cuts (and even Aliens is far superior in the Director's Cut than it was theatrically)

        • Again, you're talking about Director's Cuts, and I really don't want to watch a longer version of a movie I already didn't like because they were too incompetent to cut it right the first time! Ridley Scott is over-rated.

  7. Yeah, that pretty much mirrors my own feelings about the movie. The characters just seemed to do things without any rational explanations. Or even irrational explanations. But I nevertheless enjoyed the experience.

    • I felt like it was one of those movies that's perfectly enjoyable in the moment, but afterwards you realize very little of it actually made any sense.

  8. Why in god's name did the biologist lose interest and run off the moment they actually found a dead alien? Why did he then (stupidly) show no fear when running into a LIVING alien that actually posed a threat? Arghhhh.

    Also why would anyone want to make a robot that is kind of a snide, passive aggressive asshole?

    • I can answer the android part because you left out "very intelligent", "absurdly obedient" and "ass kissing". He's a snide, very intelligent, passive aggressive, ass kissing android who will do anything, ANYTHING his boss tells him to. And doesn't require a salary once you've paid for him. Lots of companies wish their entire work force was made up of such people.

      It scares me how many managers saw that Happy Birthday David promotional video and thought "I'd buy one of those."

  9. Oh my god, do I ever not want to hear about Space Jesus!! It's so moronic, my brain can't take it.

    This reminds me of the problems people had with the end of BSG – that problems and mysteries that should have been solved or explained by science are instead revealed to be religious magic. A movie that relies on "faith" to explain its plot holes is never going to do anything but alienate most of its audience.

    • Also, thank you for this comic!! I have had an unhealthy obsession with spreading the truth of the deep flaws in this movie since I saw it. Now I can just send a link. 🙂

    • I agree that it feels like a cop-out, but on the other hand if you want a "we did something to piss them off" reason for the extinction what do you pick other than Space Jesus or some snide "we're smarter than they wanted" thing? Assuming you want some reason, rather than "aliens have odd motives."

      Hmm, this talk of Space Jesus gets me thinking, if an Engineer had human DNA, and formed the seed of life on our planet, then why did said life start in the oceans and move through things like the dinosaurs?

      • And why did he have to kill himself in order to get this DNA seeded? Don't these guys have penises?

        I don't understand the suicide-seed.

  10. What I hate most about the ending is that we don't see if David's head stops spinning and whether or not Shaw is dreaming. Way to leave it open guys.

  11. Not reading anything above me. Haven't seen it. Haven't seen anything to make me want to see it. I think I might just go see Titanic 3D instead. You know, for Rose boobies in 3D. Or save the money for Batman next month.

  12. I prefer to just watch a movie and enjoy/hate it for whatever has meritted such a feeling, from a visual, and creative standpoint, prometheus was awesome, from the viewpoint of someone who is looking for plot holes and what not, it was horrible. That said, the red headed irish(?) geologist had the right idea. “i see giant space monsters and a room filled with horrifying pictures and mysterious vases. Later i’m headed home.” that said he was the one who mapped the damn place, he shoulda never gotten lost

  13. I enjoyed it, my wife didn't care for it. After the movie she started picking holes in the behavior of the characters like, "Why did those two guys get left behind? One of them started the mapping he should have known the way out! Their locaters showed up on the map in the ship, how could they not notice those two were lost long before the others left?"

    To which I said, "Because it is, at it's heart and despite all the 'big ideas' it's trying to throw around, a horror film and in horror films the annoying ones get isolated and killed horribly early on. That's just how it's done, it's narrative causality."

    I knew it the second I saw the captain setting up his Christmas tree and and brushing off his employers lackey, that scene (and many others) took me right back Alien and the character Parker, so I knew how this was going to play out. I just sat back and watched the amazing visuals and cool gadgets while the crew got whittled away. For all it's high-brow aspirations (and there are lots of those, admittedly) it still to followed the horror film rules, which meant logic was subservient to setting up bad ways for people to die. I did mind that what's-her-name got crushed by the ship, but not because it was a stupid way to die (I can see why they wanted to crush SOMEONE with it, you're going to have a huge ship crash someones got to die, there just wasn't too many people left by that point), but rather because I wanted to see one of the surviving aliens get her.

    Anyway, that's probably why so many people are unhappy with the film. It tried to have it both ways, it tried to be a 'concept film' and a classic horror film at the same time. Two great tastes that can be amazing together if they blend seamlessly, but they don't often blend well, and it didn't quite work in this case. Maybe they'll be able to fix it in the directors cut…

    • Horror films (often) rely on people doing stupid things, no matter how smart those people are supposed to be. The clever films give an excuse for the stupidity such as momentary terror. I think the ship-crushing was actually a good use of that horror trope, even if it seems stupid to folks watching from a safe place while having time to think.

      • Jurassic Park would be an example of the other reason Bad Things Happen to Smart People: hubris. Whether it's overlooking some flaw or simply the Gods engineering one to punish you, depends on the tone of the movie.

  14. Here are several pictures of a dude pointing at dots, this is a clear indication that humans were engineered by aliens millions of years ago.
    Because I choose to think that.

  15. Okay…I HAVE A THEORY…
    In regards to the whole 'destroy the humans' thing. Personally, I think the humans were made for the production and manufacturing of the Aliens. It was clear the Engineers made the Aliens as weapons, but they only work if you have a host. So I think the human were made so that they can be used to mass-produce the Aliens so they the Engineers can use them as weapons as intended. Furthermore, the Engineers came and showed the star location to the primitive humans so that when the humans were advanced and numerous enough – they would come and wake up the Engineers so that they may send the stuff to create Aliens out of them. The star map was just a way of saying 'Hey, when you advanced enough to come find us that will also mean your numerous. So come give us a heads up when that's the case.'
    And I think that's why the Engineer they wake up seems to know exactly what is going on and what to do. He was just waiting for them to come along and give him the go-ahead.
    And that's me' theory.

    • The 'Supernova' theory (and many other sci-fi films as well). If a species is advanced enough to fly into space, decipher some cryptic message and build weapons, they are a threat. The Borg too (although i could never work out how they determined when something was a threat – Janeway and crew could walk past them with guns in their hands). Applies very well here too – basically treat Earth as a human-farm, and when they are sufficiently intelligent and cunning turn them into weapons.

      Interesting take!

  16. I actually felt the same way. I enjoyed it (while recognizing that it had quite a few faults), but the more I actually thought about it afterwards the more I realized how much didn't make sense. Especially (as you say) the weird actions/lack of actions of so many of the characters. It was like seeing a magic show then the next day being like, "Wait, that guy STILL has my watch!"

    And in my opinion if you aren't smart enough to run TEN FEET TO EITHER SIDE when being chased by a huge forward-moving object, you deserve to be crushed beneath a trillion tons of mysteriously unbroken-by-impact-despite-its-delicate-shape Holocaust spaceship. I'm looking at YOU, Charlize.

    • On a tangent, I used to have the opinion that I wanted to know how magic tricks were done, because that way I could admire the skill with which they were pulled off. About a week ago that changed, when I saw the ball-and-cup routine close-up and the magician dropped a 5-pound socket wrench head out of each of the cups, the kind they use to remove truck lugnuts. I don't know when he had a chance to get those in there and I don't WANT to know.

  17. If it had tried to be just a cheesy slasher-horror flick and stuck to that, I could have ignored most of the horrible failures of basic characterization and just watched awesome death scenes and sparkly effects. It wouldn't have been a 'great' film, and I'd only watch it the once – but at least it would have been consistent and not leave me feeling disappointed.

    The scientists (including the main female character) were really, really cringe worthy from start to finish. Starting with "because I choose to think that" and pretty much for the rest of the movie. Whenever supposedly brilliant characters did things that they should 100% know better then to do. Like Science 101 stuff.

    People can make stupid, horror-movie cliche mistakes when it fits the character. Cheerleaders, frat rats, teenagers, normal joes – characters in those genres can make really stupid horror-cliche decisions because they don't know any better and because we establish early on that they don't know any better.

    You cannot tout brilliant scientists and their credentials at the start of your movie, and then have them do things that literally NO SANE HUMAN would ever do, ever. Sticking your face/hand/appendage at writhing goo of unknown origin after it hisses threateningly at you falls under this category. There's no tension built when characters do things that are just mindnumbingly stupid.

    In the original Alien movie, it makes sense that the characters are a bit bumbling and make mistakes. They're not soldiers or uber-smart scientists with bajillion dollars in money, material and planning behind them.

    They fly a giant, beat up, space-truck to move cargo from point A to point B. It's a motley crew of underpaid space truck drivers and mechanics with space-duct tape. Regular guys of whateverthefuck century trying to make a buck, they check out a distress signal, and stumble into something really horrific. They have no idea what they've run into, there's no scientist or weapons on board to speak of, or advanced mapping technology, or one of the billion other gadgets. It worked because the context and the characters fit, and once they realize how deep the shit is that they're in, they generally aren't stunningly stupid.

    Also. Space Jesus. We really had to go there? A few guys with bronze/iron spears stabbing each other frightened an advanced civilization capable of mind-boggling feats of biogenetics to develop this horrible, deadly weapon?

    It couldn't have been something like the invention of the atomic bomb (a little cliche for a scifi setting, but at least a more valid threat) and it's usage that caused the creator-aliens to go "WHOA! Shits getting out of hand over there, time to prepare a kill switch".

    Let me toss something together real fast.

    "The messages the archaeologist found were left long, long ago – and really were intended to guide humanity to this place when they were ready to meet the creators. However, as time passed and humanity began harnessing greater powers of destruction and using it on each other, the creators realized they may have made a mistake. Some of their scientists created the black goo of doom and either:

    A) Left it on the planet as a last-ditch doomsday demise to exterminate humanity if they ever ventured too far from their solar system. The creators couldn't agree about if they should or shouldn't commit really gruesome genocide after they realized what they'd created. Some perhaps believing that if humanity was truly so dangerous, it would wipe itself and save them the moral stain – rendering the weapon unnecessary. Hence why the weapon still rests there unused, centuries later. No consensus has been reached (after all, they're advanced enough ahead of us they still have plenty of time to debate it) or perhaps it's been so long they just forgot. Humanity misplaces enough stuff due to bureaucratic red tape.

    B) Lost control/containment before it could be deployed, destroying the home planet of the engineers. The surviving ship captains went into stasis when contact was lost, their final orders being that if humanity ever showed up, use their own judgement to deploy or not.

    Boom. I'm sure people could come up with a ton of variations.

    It honestly failed at being a good film IMO, just because it constantly annihilated my ability to suspend disbelief when there wasn't shiny-flashy objects on the screen. It pulled me out of the experience as a result. Even a horror film has to hold the character or plot together in some way to be considered 'good' – if the plot is a little bit goofy, it can still pull you into the experience by making the characters likable and getting you to care about whats going on. With Prometheus, the most I can say the effects were pretty, and it was well-shot.

    But that's not going to make me buy it on DVD, or want to see a sequel to this new saga. I don't want to find out any more about these Engineers when their motivation is questionable at best and makes me cringe. I don't want to see more of the characters when I thought they were poorly handled and all but one was dumber then a box of rocks.

  18. Just pretend that Alien and Predator are still in the same universe, the Engineers are at war with the Predators, and that the reason why the Engineers seeded life across the galaxy is so they can develop new species to use as weapons. They gave humans knowledge of their planet in the hopes that once humans developed to the point where they can achieve space travel, they can be used as slaves to fight the Predators. However, unbeknownst to the Engineers, the Predators came to earth after they left and began influencing the development of the human race. The Engineer in "Prometheus" became hostile against humans because it sensed the influence of the Predators and decided that humanity has to be wiped out.

    • What do you mean 'pretend'? AvP IS canon for Prometheus. Weyland industries IS the company that sends the expedition to the pole to investigate the buried Predator installation. There is back-story and about 2 sentences of explantion that THIS is where the tech to get offworld has come from. IMO the reason the holo-pics of fleeing Engineers don't show anything else is because the Predators chasing them are in their stealth suits.

      Which means that the Engineers don't know where their attackers are coming from. It's possible that all the ships there were being given military-grade black goo to carpet bomb ALL the planets they had seeded, not just Earth. There were a half dozen planetary systems shown in the [pretty pretty] map room scene. Humans are just collateral damage. And when the Engineer pilot is woken up by intruders, it is highly likely he now blames humanity for the death/destruction – which is why he reacts badly. Especially if David is saying something like, "We woke you so you can tell my creator how to live forever': explains the pity expression given to David and then the 'kill everybody' reaction.

  19. Okay. Simply put:

    Ridley Scott wanted to remake Alien. That's why there is a motley crew of misfits on this billion dollar "most important mission in human history". Not because it makes sense, but because Ridley Scott wanted to remake Alien and Alien had a misfit crew. The story he was given wasn't a remake of Alien but because he has the clout and no one could tell him no, he made one anyway. Script be damned. Why else would the ship have had a Euro socker thug as a geologist? Can you picture that guy going through collage studying rocks?

    Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof wanted to make a high minded, enigma loaded comment on the dangers of playing God, as seen by those created by people playing God. David was created by us, and we were created by The Engineers. Look under the veneer and it's all rather ham fisted. For example Meredith Vickers got crushed by the ship because it was symbolic, I can think of at least two meanings behind it just while writing this, like "She was so rigid in her ways of thinking for fear of death that she couldn't conceive of changing course, and thus died a victim of her own ridged minded fear. Cosmic irony!" Blah. I much prefer my narrative causality theory above, which was that she got crushed by the ship because someone had to be.

    FYI in this situation "enigmas" are puzzles wrapped in a collage degree that aren't as well thought out as actual mysteries. "Lost" was an enigma orgy.

    These two goals did not blend well to make a good, deep and satisfying movie. In the same way "a remake of Mad Max on water" and "a statement on what it means to be human and Kevin Costner Oscar grab" did not make Waterworld a good film.

    But I still enjoyed it in an "it's just a pretty space horror film" way and no amount of "but it doesn't make sense!" whining is going to change that.

  20. YES, yes, yes, yes, yes AND yes!

    I have decided that the next time I watch this movie, it will be on MUTE – perhaps with a Rammstein album playing. It will make SO MUCH MORE sense that way.

    If you ever touch a thing that's been dead more than 200 years, AT LEAST WEAR A MASK.

    This ranks only slightly above Alien3 in the entire scheme of things. Can I watch Predators again now? I understood everyone's motivation in that. "Don't die." That's good motivation.

    I imagine there's about a ton of shit on the cutting room floor that make this movie make so much sense.

    • Slightly above Alien3 puts it very high in my book. I loved the dark bleakness of that film, there was hardly a glimmer of hope in its entirety – just dark shadows, a devil incarnate, filth and the corruption of human spirit. There wasn't much that felt out of place – what _would_ a prison planet on the arse-end of the universe filled with the scum of humanity be like? Pretty much what that film portrayed.

  21. Honestly, I think it's all simpler than that. Cherlize Theron's character setup the whole mission to fail (maybe she siphoned away some of that Trillion Dollars for her retirement fund, too) so that her father would just DIE. She hired cheap, bad scientists and made sure they were complete morons. That way, no matter what happened, it was all going to go really really badly. She came along, with a full backup, to make sure it failed.

  22. I'd be fine with the "misfit crew" argument if they had actually -showed- us at the start when we got introduced that these people weren't very smart. If the crew had very clearly been made up of pragmatic criminals and mercenaries with no loyalty beyond making a buck. With only the vaguest of skills/training, that were hired because no one would miss them if the mission went tits up, I'd have accepted some of the mistakes and bumbling they did. Not all – some defy any human sanity – but it would have fixed some of them.

    But they weren't – we are told by the story that these are highly educated, smart people. That's the problem, and why the actions and words of the characters start making NO sense really quick.

  23. I must say Joel, I've always loved your insults ('shut your fuck'!. Wonderful). Feel free to insult me anytime.

  24. From what I've read it seems like this movie would've done better if it wasn't connected to the Alien films.

  25. My biggest problem was with the scientists not being scientists in any remotely reasonable ways. Given that their theory says Engineers are closely related to humans, there should have been some straightforward quarantine procedures in place, just because their diseases are our diseases. One guy taking off his helmet, okay, I could buy that. Everyone doing so? And continuing to do so? That makes no sense. (The is-it-airborne question would have been much more interesting to watch if he had been the only one to remove his helmet.)

    A personal, possibly unshared quibble– Why weren't there any archaeologists? If the main pair were supposed to be, they failed miserably at everything.

    Don't get me started on a scientist thinking that "believing something because she wants to" is good science, or even okay. And a limited-run, super expensive medical unit being programmed for only half the population (my brain snarkily wondered what would happen if someone intersex hopped in).

    The great thing about Alien and Aliens was that the main characters WEREN'T scientists. I could let all the dumb mistakes slide, because Alien had a bunch of space truckers and Aliens had a bunch of soldiers. I didn't expect any of them to ask how the creatures worked, or why, I expected them to respond with violence.

    One final note – I suspect the person designing the Engineer helmets was a fan of Gaiman's Sandman; they look almost exactly like Dream's helm.

  26. I just got back from watching this, and I had read your reaction to it beforehand (but not the comments). While I enjoyed many bits of it, I was so angry about the characters (except David and the Captain. Those guys I got) being so badly written I was shaking. I won’t say I hated it but I feel like I was duped.

    Also, why is no one commenting on the tentacle baby’s vagina mouth that was surrounded by mini vaginas? That was all I could see, and it was quite close to some alien monsters in a comic book called “Bad Planet.”

  27. All I can think of is how much more interesting it would have been if the Engineers turned out to be androids too… and the xenomorphs were intelligent.


  28. I can justify the engineer suicide in the beginning and the giant head statue in their WMD factory as part of their culture. Workplace shrines and self sacrifice are not exactly alien concept to humans if you look outside of western culture.

    What bothers me is the implied events in the alien WMD factory. The lone survivor engineer put himself in cryo sleep to wait for the WMD aliens to die out. Only he didn't set a timer on his cryo pod and slept for 2000 years. When he woke up, his first thought was to get back to work. Did he contact anyone to make sure killing all humans was still a relevant action item? You'd think that in two millenia they had contracted somebody else to get the work done.

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