We Need to Talk About Prometheus

You know that troubled kid you knew in school?  The one who acted out in class?  The other kids loved him, but the teachers didn’t appreciate his antics; they thought he was full of himself.  His parents only thought he was misunderstood- such a little angel at home.  He was kind of a showoff, and he liked to poke fun at the teachers, proving how smart he was by running his mouth.  The kind of kid about whom the administrators would call parents.  You know his kind?  Well, that’s Prometheus.  And you either love him or you hate him.

We need to talk about this movie.  It begs to be talked about, and it has been, though not the way it should be.  We need to talk about people calling it a horrible movie and about how divisive it is.  We need to talk about how I loved it and why it’ll be remembered for more than a disappointing sci-fi flick.

First of all, to you people who told me it was a horrible movie.  Now, sometimes movies really are bad movies; they add nothing to our lives.  In fact, they feel like a waste of time.  Other movies are seen as bad, because the audience’s expectations aren’t met.  Take a movie like Spider-Man 3– now if you were to go back and watch it again, you might be surprised how not bad it is (the emo-dancing scene notwithstanding).  Prometheus seems to be the same, to a lesser extent.  It either had massive expectations or people didn’t know what to expect.  I talked to people who hated it, then admitted they didn’t know it was an Alien prequel before they walked in.  I knew that piece of information, so that made me expect something entirely different from what I saw, and I had to manage those expectations and adjust them in order to truly appreciate it.  Some movies are seen as bad simply because they’re challenging.  Think of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Bonnie and Clyde.  They presented new ideas and were derided in their time, but have become classics over timePrometheus has the makings of this kind of movie.

My point is this: be careful how you rate movies.  Be aware of what you bring to the movie.  Don’t just label something a horrible movie without considering your own expectations and the effort you were willing to put into it.

That being said, you’re totally and completely entitled to your opinion.  Maybe you just don’t like sci-fi or horror.  I get that.  You’re missing out, but I get it.  Maybe you were turned off by the many uninteresting and underdeveloped characters, or by the often ridiculous choices key characters made that got them in trouble, trouble you saw coming a mile away.  I don’t blame you.  Maybe you didn’t like that, by the end of the movie, we didn’t get any answers*.  I respect that.  The friends I saw the movie with felt this way, and we’re still friends now.

But we’ve also got to talk about why I loved it, because it needs to be said.  Someone’s got to speak up for this movie.  Full disclosure:  I was anticipating this movie more than any other this year, even more than The Dark Knight Rises and Django Unchained**.  I loved Alien, and the trailer got me so pumped.  I was so excited about director Ridley Scott’s apparent ambition to tell more than just another sci-fi horror story.  As it unfolded before me with all its big questions about where we come from, with its effectively frightening and creepily alienating sequences, and with its four great performances (one each from Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba), I realized I was watching a movie on par with 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Tree of Life, both widely misunderstood but near-perfect movies that asked bigger questions than it was possible to answer.  Those two movies were okay with leaving the questions unanswered.  I was convinced that it would be recognized for its greatness later, maybe much later, much like Scott’s Blade Runner has been.  I’m excited to see it again to further wrestle with its themes, to further take in Noomi Rapace’s fearlessness, to wonder at the effects.

Look, ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me if you like it or not.  I loved it, and I’ll continue to love it.  It doesn’t even matter whether it’ll be regarded as a classic or not someday.  I hope it is; a movie that so strongly fulfills its own ambitions should be.  If history looks back and doesn’t see a classic, they’ll at least see a movie that must be watched, because we talked about it.

*Which is the point of the movie.  Just sayin’.

**Both of which, by the way, look awesome.

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3 thoughts on “We Need to Talk About Prometheus

  1. Nice post. I agree that Prometheus is better than most people are making it out to be, but it was still just ok. I felt torn between the (unanswered) existential questions posed and the horror elements, so the pace of the entire movie seemed a bit off. While I appreciate the effort of trying to make Prometheus more cerebral, if they’re going to go that route I would have liked to see a more focused effort. I’m fine with some ideas to chew on after a movie, but Prometheus just had too many loose ends for me. That being said, it’s definitely worth seeing if only for Noomi Rapace’s and Michael Fassbender’s performances.

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