I did something yesterday that I have never done before in my life -- I went to the movies by myself. Sand steadfastly refused to go to see Prometheus, ostensibly because Ridley Scott's original Alien movie nearly scared her to death and she swore never to see another. But as you know, I find big budget sci-fi movies to be irresistible even when I know they are going to be bad. I actually went to see it the day before yesterday, but I had left a little late, got there in what may have been enough time since there are always a bunch of previews before the movie starts, but then encountered an unusually long and slow movie ticket sales line. I guessed that I would end up missing some of the opening scenes if I tried for it, and did not want to stick around for the next showing, so I came home. That incident dredged up some long buried memories. When I was in first grade, I wanted to go to a Saturday school event -- a morning of cartoons in the school auditorium, with promises of cookies and chocolate milk. Getting ready took longer than it should have, and as a result, when I got there, the doors were closed. I could hear the kids' laughter inside, but I turned away and walked home, sorely disappointed.
I suppose that if I had been a little bolder, I might have tried the doors. But, truth be known, I am painfully shy and usually exhibit a nearly pathological reticence dealing with people ... except when I am with Sand. She has the impression that I am an intrepid and resourceful explorer, and indeed when we are together, I feel that way, maybe because I rise to occasion and become the gallant knight, or maybe simply because I am drawn into her vision of us together.
Having failed on the first attempt, I resolved to go the next day just to prove to myself that I could. And so, with fear and trembling as they say, I entered the local megaplex and settled in ... alone ... to watch Prometheus.
Two young scientists/lovers/stupids, Elizabeth and what's-his-name, have discovered cave art that they believe signals that a race of alien visitors had visited the Earth and left behind the genetic material that became us. Labeled as the "Engineers" by the scientists/lovers/stupids, these aliens seem also to have left their address on the dresser before they slipped out humming Angel of the Morning. Well, nothing can be done except we should immediately get a couple of guys together and go looking for the Engineers. It just so happens that there is a very rich and eccentric guy who is old and doesn't want to die and is willing to stake his fortune on finding the Engineers and asking them for the secret of living forever. He funds the expedition, builds a luxury liner called "Prometheus," and entrusts it to a tough chick named Vickers who looks after his interest, and a very advanced Roomba cleaning robot named David who is in charge of the ship for the two years or so the crew is in suspended animation during the trip to the Engineers' house. David spends his time learning foreign languages and shooting basketballs while riding a bike, possibly preparing for a career in the circus after the voyage.
Sure enough, when the Prometheus arrives at the Engineers' house, they find it was really a military base of some kind, and that all the Engineers have died from dysentery. Actually, I made up the part about dysentery, but it does appear that the aliens are all dead. Of course this is a movie, so they aren't really all dead and David the Roomba turns out to have some hidden agenda, He soon infects one of the young scientists/lovers/stupids with some kind of really nasty stuff that he found among the mostly dead aliens. Of course in a sci-fi movie the first thing you want to do when you are infected with an alien bug is go make love to your girl who you thought was sterile but is apparently Miracle-Grow Potting Soil for alien life forms.
Yada yada yada, there is one alien left, yada yada, David has his head torn off, yada, everybody dies or gets eaten except Ripley. Sorry, not Ripley, Elizabeth.
You may get the impression that I didn't really much care for this movie. I didn't. But I will try to be fair. This was a breathtakingly gorgeous picture. The Prometheus could be ripped from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, it is so well appointed. Tough Chick Vickers has a suite on the ship that includes, among other things, a bar that could seat a half dozen or so and a baby grand piano for Pete's sake. Everything about the ship Prometheus is beautiful and wondrous. I had to chuckle at this, juxtapositioning the images on the screen to the recent images I had seen of the International Space Station. You can take a tour of the ISS HERE. Fact and fiction have a way to go to catch up with each other. Nonetheless, when the future gets here, I wouldn't mind at all if it had the look of this film.
The cast had some strong points also. Noomi Rapace was a good choice for the Elizabeth Shaw, the Ripley-from-Alien-type character in this film. She looked physically like she could do what was being asked of the character. Charlize Theron as Vickers lent some life into a poorly written character. And Michael Fassbender continues to impress me with the range and the depth he brings to his roles, this time as David, the Ash-from-Alien-type character. Everybody else was totally forgettable. Sorry guys, y'all were boring.
In the end, I will say that lots of things did get blowed up real good, and they looked pretty doin' it. But jeeze louise, guys, skim a little off the CGI budget and hire a writer, please. For all the stuff I read about the philosophical ideas floated around in this film, I'd say if you want philosophy, go watch some old Star Trek (Plato's Stepchildren) reruns -- aliens as Greek gods that torture midgets and make Kirk kiss Uhura right on the TV, now that's philosophy, and unfortunately about as deep as it gets in Prometheus.
It serves me right, though. Shouldn't have gone without Sand.