Despite its clever graphics and superb special effects, Ridley Scott’s belated prequel to his Alien series, Prometheus is very possibly the silliest piece of cinema you will see this week.
As it happens, I attended the famous director’s pitch to the producers in LA and secretly smuggled out some notes.
WARNING DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU WANT THE MOVIE COMPLETELY RUINED FOR YOU!!
So, Ridley, strange name, tell us about your latest movie idea. You want HOW MUCH???
MR SCOTT (for it is he):
Yeah, well, okay. We open with an enigmatic scene, like thousands of years BC, that’s Before Columbia, where this alien-looking giant humanoid drinks a potion and his DNA all spews out over a big waterfall. This is the human race being engineered! Cut to some modern-day scientists, one speaking with a slight French accent, the other some random American, excitably (but not too scientifically) discovering a cave painting in Scotland, England, that looks remarkably like an illustration from Erich von Daniken’s book, the something-or-other of the Gods. It’s a star map! Could an alien race be calling us? We cut like in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to a future spaceship moving unbelievably fast like an usherette’s torch against a sparkly background of zillions of stars. Cue counterintuitive classical music, not Strauss this time, er, let’s go for a Chopin prelude.
Then on board we’ve got a dozen ill-assorted sociopaths, like in the Magnificent Wild Dirty Dozen Predator Geese, whatever, who all turn out to be, like, experts in their field. We’ll give them hearts of gold, too, even the Brit hippie guy with a tattooed face who turns out to be like this annoying expert geologist? Yeah, we’ll kill him off quick. And we’ll throw in an android English flunkey for good measure, like Crichton from Red Dwarf or the gold one from Star Wars. Ensure he is malfunctioning (maybe he wants to be Lawrence of Arabia! Maybe he is eavesdropping on the crew’s dreams!) and that his behaviour can be easily misunderstood, such as spiking scientists’ drinks with green gloop for no apparent reason. His name? Er, let’s call him David, like the Kier Dullyea character in 2001, who gets murdered by the crazy computer with the creepy voice. Great idea, we’ll give him a creepy voice.
We first discover the crew asleep in cryogenic pods onboard the spaceship Prometheus. A voiceover explains who Prometheus was, for the benefit of the average audience. So, okay, he was chained to a rock and brought fire from the Gods, some Greek guy. Then things roll across the pool table so we know the ship has stopped, yeah, like in Titanic, and the crew all wake up and have breakfast, like in Alien One, or two, I forget.
Okay, they soon learn they’re on a difficult mission from which they are unlikely to return, like they didn’t know, no-one told them, before they got on the ship. The two scientists, everyone thinks they have to be crazy with their wacky giant alien star map theory, but they turn out to be right all along. Make it an affair between them until one gets wormy eyeballs and has to be incinerated for the sake of the ship. Not before he has impregnated the other scientist with some green gloop Crichton slipped into his fizzy drink in the rec room. There’s some old guy played by a younger actor dipped in collodion, with a little dog. He is dead, but has sent his hologram to introduce the crew to the scientists they won’ have met like at the beginning of the mission before they all went to sleep, whose theory about the Gods he believes in. And there’s a giant building in the desert like in Dune, with a big dust storm approaching. Get outta there NOW!
SECRET – DO NOT READ THIS BIT EITHER
So, the secret purpose of the secret mission is, of course, a secret known only to the elderly party in the hologram, a dying trillionaire business guy who is looking for the secret of eternal life and wants to ask the giant alien in the old cave pictures if he is really God. Unbeknown to the crew, he has been smuggled aboard with all his, like, bodyguards and male nurses and some powered trousers we got from Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers, and is occupying an entire secret residential suite somewhere on board that nobody has noticed is there. There’s this tall blonde chick, Grace Kelly type, whom nobody would ever guess is the old guy’s daughter, a corporate iceberg who like bosses everyone around but puts out for the hunky ship’s black captain, although of course we never get to see the hot interracial action between them. Bound to turn up on YouTube.
Together, they arrive on a planet with air that is three per cent CO2 (‘kill you in two minutes’), just like Earth, so they mustn’t run out of oxygen or drive SUVs to school. They enter the huge alien building like an underground carpark, where the air is breathable, and find a severed giant alien exploding head whose DNA is us! He looks just like the waterfall guy from the beginning. The crew are soon being hunted down one by one in a complex of darkened tunnels infested with half-seen alien creatures like Triffids, or in Predator, with tentacles that fuck you in the throat. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a 12A. Yeah, darkened tunnels, I use ’em ‘cos they’re cheap to build and light, and you can shoot ’em from either end, they look twice as complex. I saw that in Dr Who, which is just like the BBC TV Centre corridor, mostly.
Then there’s this great fuzzy effect we’re using, like a black-and-white TV, yeah, they used to be in black-and-white before colour, and fuzzy, where we see the ghosts of the vanished race of throatfucked alien giant superbeings the scientists call the Engineers wearing elephant masks – the ship’s captain is called something like Ganesh, the Indian elephant god, we’re kinda stuck on elephants – trying to run away from the little throatfuckers, like it seems they arrived on the planet to set up a green-gloop killer-DNA factory only hadn’t realised about the little slug things turning into bigger ones and they all like died before they figured it out and could leave, they were so smart? There’s a pile of dead elephant mask Engineers in front of a secret door only David the smarmy barmy android can open, like in Indiana Jones and the Lost Narrative Arc, with inside thousands of, like, jugs of gloop and little slimy, sluggy things wriggling around, that only we can see. There’s an approaching silicon-storm, 200 mph for preference, so the characters can outrun it with only split-seconds to spare, gives the movie a bit of suspense, and extra silicon for, like, jug implants, while the guys who get left behind in the complex of darkened tunnels end up as zombies that relentlessly attack the ship, like in Them!, so have to be destroyed with a handy flame-thrower. There’s a a secret interplanetary killer-DNA green-gloop factory and some advanced medical technology stuff too. It’ll be great.
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ MORE!!! EXPLODING BRIAN WARNING!
Okay, so in the meantime the American scientist with the wormy eyeballs has had sex with the other scientist so she can get pregnant with something nasty, and we watch her in enormous detail carry out a DIY caesarian section on herself using, like, advanced medical technology with only split-seconds to spare before she would anyway give birth to it naturally, while being hunted by the ship’s medical team who want to put her in stasis but can’t find her because she is already in the sickbay. Lots of blood, sweat, panic. Have her remove a scary like baby octopus from her uterus, then staple herself up with big staples that hurt. Send usherettes to fetch the audience back from the toilets.
Okay, so now we cut to the scene where David the smartarse android finds this big chamber full of giant relics of a bygone civilisation, whose language only he knows because of them having taught it to the ancients on Earth. Some 2000-year-old giant aliens are stored in cryogenic chambers, one of them is still alive but seemingly confused. Have David press buttons until he sets off the holographic map of the universe, pointing to Earth. Reveal the secret of the mission: the old man must meet the alien who engineered the human race, before he dies! The giant aliens are planning to attack the Earth, taking the green DNA-gloop!! So, the giant alien wakes up after 2000 years asleep. He immediately goes berserk and slays the old trillionaire. He pulls off the head of Android Dave, who is filled with, like, polystyrene – but Dave’s head can still speak, remember Pierce Brosnan in Mars Attacks!? God, at was so weird — and even transmit instructions from inside the alien building using a radio pack that is no longer anywhere near his head to talk to, like, the sectioned caesarian scientist, who has survived the impressive emergence scene from beneath the desert sands where the giant Engineers have unexpectedly buried it in a secret chamber, of the enormous-sized giant alien spacecraft that looks like a half-eaten bagel, or torc as the Scottish people call it. That’s like a reference to Scotland, right, where we started out? No, I don’t know who’s supposed to be flying it if there’s only one giant alien left and he’s still in the building, I’ll work something out. No, it’s not very aerodynamic but at least it’s something original! Whaddayawant?
GIVING AWAY THE SURPRISE ENDING NOW – ABSOLUTELY LOOK AWAY!! OR BE SURPRISED FOR FREE AND NOT HAVE TO PAY £6.50 TO GET IN
Yeah, there’s more. So, the surviving crew needs to find a solution to bring down the giant alien spacecraft before it can set off to destroy the earth with the killer-DNA gloop, but they’re unarmed so they decide to ram it. So this is the part where the hunky captain and the remaining crew reveal their hearts of gold and go to their deaths with a quip on their lips, to save Mankind! We’re staying wiv you, Cap’n, you never wuz much of a pilot anyway! says the Chinese one from that Kung-fu movie, in the only joke in the script. It’s from an old TV western, where we found the plot. Oh, yeah, then we wrap-up the iceberg lady story arc by having her squidged under the falling giant alien torc ship and she goes, like, oh no! or something tall and icy. Daiquiri? Don’t mind if I do.
Meanwhile, the caesarian scientist is also under the falling ship, but has survived by sheltering under a small rock. Rediscovering her religion, she elects to fly off with David in a handbag, using a spare torc ship he knows of, that he can tell her how to fly all by herself, to find whichever planet the aliens came from – the ones, that is, who weren’t the other aliens that had four sets of teeth, one inside the other, like in Predator, and who fucked everyone in the throat with tentacles – so that she can find out why, why oh why did God abandon Mankind? And her mommy, who died when she wuz 3? Did Mommy go to ‘eaven? Can we find this, like ‘eaven, right ‘ere in Ouder Spess?
Meanwhile, the baby octopus has grown into this giant octopus, that fights the last giant alien like the dinosaurs in 2 Million Years BC, and the giant alien wins — only to give birth within seconds to the familiar pointy head of…. The Alien! It’s a prequel!
And roll credits. How was that for you?
MY CRITIQUE COMING UP NEXT. VERB ALERT: CRITIQUE IS NOT A VERB. DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU THINK “TO CRITIQUE” IS AN ACTUAL VERB…
Despite its brilliant graphics and superb special effects, Ridley Scott’s belated prequel to his Alien series, Prometheus is very possibly the silliest movie you will see this week, except for some of the other films in the Alien series. From start to finish it has not one single original or logical idea, that I could understand. My son tells me Alien Resurrection is probably the worst film he’s ever seen, but explains how that is because all these Ridley Scott movies are not films at all, but FRANCHISES. Anyway, he seemed to enjoy it, maybe yours will too. Oh, you are one… Sorry.
I have seen Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, They Came from Outer Space, various Godzilla franchises, the original one, and many more truly dreadful Sci-Fi films, but this, believe me, was the worst, if only because of the brilliant graphics and stunning special effects when matched up against the shocking banality of the content. What a waste. You can’t just make movies for the effects, there has to be something else in them, some idea, a credible storyline…
God, that last jelly baby I just ate was a mutant… tasted like one too.
And why can no-one yet get 3D perspective right? Things nearer to you are meant to look bigger, not smaller! Ask any 14th-century Italian. I had a Pollock’s Toy Theatre when I was a kid, everything was flat cutout 2D shapes mounted in receding planes, sometimes 3D cinema looks just like that, don’t it? Way to go, Ridley. Strange name.
Rating: Go, see. Just make sure it’s a rainy night, your basement is flooding and there’s no TV.