Guest post: Sigmund pans the movie “Prometheus” (spoiler alert)

Sigmund is becoming a regular around here, and has contributed a review of the new SF (or is it “SciFi”?)  film Prometheus, which has generated a lot of buzz. He didn’t like it, largely because it’s scientifically inaccurate. As always, readers who have seen the flick should weigh in with their own opinions.

Film Review – Prometheus  (spoiler warning!)

by Sigmund

The film ’Prometheus’, the first return to science fiction for director Ridley Scott since Blade Runner, is supposedly a prequel to his famous 1979 movie ‘Alien’ and is therefore a major event for sci-fi geeks. As it opened a week earlier in Europe owing to the start of the European football championship, I’ve had a chance to see it (twice!) and can offer a personal opinion of the movie without, I hope, giving away too much of the plot. But if you intend to see the movie soon and don’t want to read any spoilers, I’d advise avoiding reading any further.

The director of two of the most iconic and influential science fiction movies ever has returned to his sci-fi roots by revisiting of the ‘Alien’ universe, this time before the events of the original film. Prometheus, in Greek mythology, was the Titan who, having created man from clay, stole fire from the Gods for man’s use. He was punished for this crime by being bound to a rock and tortured by having his liver eaten each day by an eagle, only for it to grow back overnight, ready to be devoured again. In literary tradition, Prometheus is often a metaphor the overreaching of man or science (Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is subtitled “The Modern Prometheus”.)

Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ examines the question one step removed – in this case it’s not humans who have overstepped the limits of science, but another alien species, who, in the first scene of the movie, are shown seeding life on an early version of the Earth. These aliens, in ‘Chariots of the Gods’ fashion, have made themselves known to various cultures throughout human history, all of which have left images of the same star formation in cave paintings or carvings. This clue convinces an aging billionaire with a strong interest in science and spirituality, Peter Weland, to invest in a spacecraft (the ‘Prometheus’), that travels, in the closing decades of this century, to the aliens’ home to “meet our makers”. That it’s already starting to sound like ‘Templeton in Space’ is not a good sign.

Why some markings are evidence of the aliens being our creators, rather than simply repeat-visit tourists, is never made clear, other than the recurring suggestion that the emergence of humanity requires a deeper level of explanation than the one that science provides.  Indeed, the premise that a kind of intelligent design (with space aliens rather than Jeebus as the designer) underlies humanity raises a host of scientific implications that go unanswered.

The reason for these lacunae becomes apparent early on in the movie – the writers appear to have never come close to a science book in their life. They certainly seem to know next to zero about evolution or basic biology. You can see one within the first minute of the movie: the aliens seed life onto a barren planet (presumably Earth?). Not only do we notice that the planet isn’t exactly lifeless (we see grass or some other type of green vegetation growing in the valleys), but the seeding process seems to consist solely of the alien’s DNA being released into a lifeless mountain stream.  Somehow we are supposed to assume that naked DNA has the ability to self-replicate and populate a planet.

If that isn’t bad enough, we discover later that this alien DNA, having gone through several billion years of replication, modification and mutation—in the process populating the entire planet with a diversity of life—is an exact match of modern human DNA! Unfortunately such basic scientific errors occur throughout the movie, yet never once cause the principal characters—most of whom, we are informed, are ‘scientists’— to say “wait a second, that can’t be right, you’ve obviously loaded the wrong sample into the sequencer.”

A recurring theme in the movie is the conflict between science and religion (with religion being seen as the good choice – “I know it’s true because it’s what I choose to believe”). Both of the two main scientists in Prometheus are religious – one of them, an archeologist/molecular biologist called Elizabeth Shaw, played by the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander from the Swedish Series of ‘Millenium’ films), is overtly so.

The two minor character scientists, a punk geologist who doesn’t seem to have the slightest interest in his surroundings when on a moon on the far side of the galaxy, and a biologist who freaks out when he finally sees a dead alien, are not exactly shown in a good light. They seem compelled to make the most appalling choices imaginable—most notably, when they come across a snake-like alien who looks like a cross between a very toothy cobra and a vagina (in such circumstances do they:  A. Run like hell? or B. Try to hug it?)

The movie certainly looks beautiful, but the level of suspension of disbelief required is almost insurmountable if you know anything about genetics, abiogenesis, archaeology, or medicine.  In almost every situation the characters do the equivalent of the typical slasher movie victim faced with a dark cellar from which emanates a menacing growling sound (“I think I’ll go down and check this out, bringing with me a flickering candle and a quick sniff of sneezing powder”).

The script’s numerous logical deficiencies caused the audience in the second showing to which I went to begin laughing at the most inopportune moments  –  someone behind me even imitating the three eyed aliens from Toy Story, “the claw is our master”, during the cesarean/abortion scene, which, although weirdly fitting, kind of ruined the mood.

That said, if you can get past the numerous scientific and historical errors, there are some interesting ideas in the movie – chiefly centering on the question of consciousness of the character ‘David’, an android played with Machiavellian creepiness by Michael Fassbender.  Despite being told by other characters that he cannot understand things because he is not human or (according to Weland/Templeton) because he has no ‘soul’, it is David alone who seems to seems to have a mind of his own – or at the very least is the one character who doesn’t seem intent on a future career as alien snack food.

The movie finishes with many questions unanswered—most notably why on earth Scott chose a script from the writer of the incomprehensible ‘Lost’ TV series and the dreadful ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. It sets up a sequel that one can only hope is less anti-science than the current movie.

Considering that Scott is currently planning a sequel to ‘Blade Runner,’ it is probably a good idea for fans like myself, who valued his previous work, to let it be known that we prefer our sci-fi to be at least remotely scientifically plausible.

146 Comments

  1. Matt
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t have much hope for Mr. Scott.

    “NASA and the Vatican agree that is almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way, that’s what we’re looking at (in the film), at some of Eric van Daniken’s ideas of how did we humans come about.”

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ridley-scott-michael-fassbender-noomi-206321

    • Stan Pak
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Yep, he has just mathematically proved that he is hopelessly dumb.

    • Frank
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Setting aside the dubious and premature claims that emanate from NASA on a regular basis, it is amazing to me that any intelligent person would give any weight whatsoever to “agreement” from the Vatican on any scientific issue. They have an impeccable track record of being wrong or out of step, and have veered toward intelligent design of late. Is it really so hard for Ridley or anyone else to crack open an elementary textbook on evolution or biological anthropology to see the rich array of fossils indicating quite nicely how humans “came about?”

  2. Hugh
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen it also and enjoyed it, more than most critics seemed to.

    Why does it have to be scientifically accurate? It’s not claiming to be, no-one is going in to the film expecting to learn about science. Like all good SciFi it’s plot is derived from an interesting idea but interesting ideas for stories don’t have to be true. Did people the people who first saw ‘The Tempest’ say “well, this is terrible, none of this could happen”? No, appreciate things for what they are. What this is is a film that looks good, is well acted and is successful and making the viewer feel uneasy, although the script was a little clunky and the characters’ motivations didn’t seem consistent.

    • bricewgilbert
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Well when your characters are all unlikable and underdeveloped you already have a problem. I didn’t hate the movie. It’s probably around a C+ for me, but the second half of the film really has some weird pacing problems. I’m still trying to work out what the film is trying to say (if anything). There are a handful of possibilities. All of which are either stupid or boring.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        +1

        I enjoyed a lot of the visuals, but they sacrificed a lot of credibility for action/excitement.

        1. The crew of an interstellar craft seem to have no training and no discipline.

        2. They arrive on a distant satellite, land on the end of a straight “road” near a possibly artificial dome because “God doesn’t make straight lines” and immediately drive landing vehicles towards the dome at earth-illegal speed.

        3. After a “silicon” storm that has the cast fleeing, sliding doors close smoothly without even a grating noise.

        4. Android David’s head and neck continue to function normally after his body’s been torn off.

        5. The captain leaves the “bridge” for some rumpy-pumpy with nobody in charge while crew members are in danger on the satellite’s surface.

        6. A woman bursts into a meeting of top executives wearing a bikini, covered in blood and with a row of staples across her belly, having just been “delivered” of an alien (by a machine programmed only for males – in a woman’s compartment – using “remove foreign body” settings; it dangles the wriggling alien from conventional delivery-forceps as precariously as a teddy-bear in the jaws of those lucky-dip machines) and immediately joins in their discussion without explanation.

        7. Alien holograms are really, really grainy, and occur for no apparent reason, conveying no useful information.

        8. My most annoying. Some horrendous concatenation of disasters has just happened, and the woman’s first words on encountering the robot are (with some irritation) “Where’s my cross?”

        • Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          Dammit, inadvertent sockpuppetry; that’s an alter ego of mine. I hate the way WordPress defaults to the previous identity, regardless of site. Sorry.

        • Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

          +1

    • PB
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      The movie is disappointing not just for its anti-science (no-science?) stance, but also from very poor script. In addition to the above, scientists landing on a new planet, and the response is really underwhelming! The Jurassic park crew is much much better at the surprised acting! This is more like Lost.

      The only thing positive is just the CGI, and everybody knows that’s far from enough for a good movie.

      • suwise3
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        I liked the movie, but then I am easily amused. But I spent *the whole movie* thinking “This is EXACTLY the first Alien movie.” Not a prequel, not a sequel, not an “homage,” THE EXACT SAME SCRIPT.

        • Posted July 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          You are right: the sequence is the same EXACT script as the first Alien movie. But with all the horror and action out!

      • Sigmund
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        “This is more like Lost.”
        Indeed. Considering that both Lost and this movie were scripted by the same person it is very apparent that Prometheus is pretty much “Lost” in space.
        The major flaws of ‘Lost’ are exposed here – particularly the idea that you can avoid explaining one mystery to the audience through the simple expediency of introducing another, even bigger mystery, that makes them temporarily forget the first one. This seems to work in a TV series setting (at least it worked for ‘Lost’) but it’s terrible in a movie.

        • Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          “Prometheus is pretty much “Lost” in space.”

          You beat me to it! 😀

          /@

  3. Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Wait, dude quoted NASA on the origin of life? As it if were relevant, even assuming he’s accurately quoting the opinion of (someone at) NASA?

  4. Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    (And sorry to post again, but second thought….)

    If it’s so close to mathematically impossible for us to have gotten here “without a little help”, who helped the helper? If *we* are so impossible, aren’t *they* (or isn’t *it*) just as impossible? So what evidence is there that we are NOT the first?

    • darrelle
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      I have always thought the juxtaposition of “Humans are so special that we are THE REASON for the universe” against “Humans can’t possibly have done that by themselves, it is beyond human capability”, to be really weird. And sad.

  5. E.A. Blair
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    SF (or is it “SciFi”?)

    Here’s a good rule of thumb: It’s “SF” if you know, admire and respect the genre; it’s “SciFi” if you think that “Megashark vs.Giant Octopus” is a really nifty A-list movie.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      I thought that was “SyFy”? “SciFi” goes back a lot further than the cable television channel.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Yes, and people have been dissing “sci-fi” for decades in favor of “SF”.

        It’s like trekkies vs. trekkers, I guess. It’s a meaningless distinction to anyone outside the debate itself.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Yeah. That was sort of what I was getting at. Should have said “SciFi” vs “SF” goes back a lot further. What was described is SyFy and is far worse than “SciFi”.

        • Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Just like the distinction between Dutch and Flemish is lost on everyone outside BeNeLux. (Or professional linguists.) Or the distinction between atheism and agnostism… (Worms! Can!)

          /@

  6. darrelle
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Sad to hear. Some day a science fiction movie will be made that scores high in all categories. Visually stunning, great story, great casting, and science and reason portrayed as positive character attributes. With none of the silly deepities that movie makers seem to feel compelled to include, like “I know it’s true because it’s what I choose to believe”.

    The wait continues. Thanks for crushing my brief, tiny little hope that this movie might be the one. 🙂

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      So which have come closest to that ideal?

      2001: A Space Odyssey? Contact?

      /@

    • Chet
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      The Avengers didn’t cut it for you? Maybe you don’t think of it as “SF”, but it is, and it scores highly in your categories, particularly the last.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        I’d certainly agree that The Avengers/Marvel Avengers Assemble is likely the best film in the costumed superhero sub-genre.

        /@

        • ColdThinker
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Pray tell me, through what goggles does The Avengers have to be seen to consider it a good film? I ask this honestly, since it has been a huge box office success and there has to be something there I just don’t get.

          To me it was the ultimate achievement in stupidity in film making. Just endless war scenes, no original imagery, not any even remotely original ideas to get the heros out of their difficulties, only bringing on new divine and infinite powers to solve all problems. Almost left the theatre, which I never do.

          • Chet
            Posted June 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            It’s an ensemble film. The “goggles” are “I’m enjoying the interaction between these characters.” It’s like when Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne get together. It doesn’t matter what or where they play, it just crackles.

            That’s The Avengers. “Stupidity in film making”? I’d describe your comment as the ultimate achievement in pretentious film criticism – the notion that, if people are fighting on-screen, the movie can’t possibly be any good. How tiresome. There was a really great film in there, a really neat story about power and resistance and everything that makes up a human being – intelligence, nobility, courage, perception, even rage and duplicity – but you were too busy complaining about the kids on your lawn to notice.

            • Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

              Exactly!

              And certainly science and reason are portrayed as positive character attributes. (The interaction between the two scientists, Banner and Stark, just sizzles.)

              /@

      • darrelle
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Not bad, not bad. I was thinking of something more capable of crossing genre boundaries though.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        I feel as if now is the time to throw Nolan’s Batman trilogy, as Dark Knight is my all-time fave, Begins is my 2nd all-time fave, and Dark Knight rises is shaping up to knock Dark Knight own to 2nd.

        But that’s all I can say. I’m pretty sure those movies don’t rank as far as science is concerned, but whatevs.

        TDKR!

  7. Hugh
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    There is a reason they put the word fiction after the word science. Why do people want factually accurate stories? It is not being promoted as fact, it’s not being presented as an alternative to a scholarly discussion on the origins of life or what it means to be human. It uses those ideas to derive a plot, all good science fiction uses ideas to derive and drive plots. But good ideas for stories don’t have to be true.

    Anyway, it seemed to me that the idea behind the story wasn’t “Darwinian evolution is wrong” but “what would it be like if we found out we were created but not wanted?” which relates more to the artificial intelligence ideas that exist in this as well as ‘Blade Runner’.

    I don’t think scientists are shown in a worse light than anyone else in the film. It seems to be that it’s characters’ motivations, rather than their beliefs, that determine if we’re supposed to like them or not. No doubt on some Christian forum there are people complaining that it had a plot where people weren’t made by a God. I would be very surprised if someone goes to see this film and becomes a creationist.

    For what it’s worth I thought the film looked good, was well acted and directed and was successful at making me feel uneasy throughout. Although it did have a clunky script and the characters’ motivations didn’t seem consistent.

    If we denied ourselves films, literature, opera and mythology that have stories that aren’t scientifically possible we would be culturally much the poorer. They’re no threat to science as long as we understand the idea of ‘fiction’.

    (I apologise if I’ve already posted a comment like this, I believe StopScript prevented me the first time.)

    • darrelle
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      But in this case, and in many other cases, making the science comport more closely with what we know could only have enhanced the movie. It is not too difficult to include made up science, that current real science clearly indicates is not very probable, in a way that is much more plausible. All that is needed is a few phone calls to enlist the aid of an enthusiastic scientist.

      The bad science was not necessary for the story. The same story could have been told with more plausible science, and that would have made it a better story. This kind of flaw shows laziness on the part of the movie maker. Scott clearly spent tons of money and time on other components of the movie in an effort to make it epic. Why leave such a glaring flaw when it could have been avoided with so little cost and effort?

      • Hugh
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        The whole basis for the plot of this film was bad science, as it were. It was sort of explained away by the fact it was by a civilization that was immeasurably technologically superior to us. The bad science wasn’t what was wrong with this film.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

          I disagree. It may not be the only thing wrong with the film, but it sure contributes to my disappointment.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Why leave such a glaring flaw when it could have been avoided with so little cost and effort?

        totally agree, and also can’t count the number of times I’ve said exactly the same thing, nearly word for word, whenever a movie so horribly gets science wrong.

        whether it be a SF movie, or drama, or even the damn history channel.

    • ColdThinker
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Of course it’s fiction. Actually, I don’t think any story that involves interstellar travel really passes as SCIENCE fiction, since Homo Sapiens will absolutely never, ever travel beyond our solar system. It’s all fantasy fiction, like Superman flying without any external energy source.

      But Prometheus is not an honest fantasy adventure film. It’s trying to be a mature (science) fiction which should provide some food for thought for the audience. But the very premise demanded such huge suspension of disbelief, that it ruined the experience for me. It was like having a talking dog as a crew member instead of an android. Talking dogs are funny stuff for a family comedy, not stuff for a captivating drama.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I concur with darrelle.

      No, not all fiction has to be scientifically possible, least of all mythology, but science fiction should at least by scientifically plausible and evince some scientific literacy.

      /@

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 3:54 am | Permalink

        Yes.

        I don’t think any story that involves interstellar travel really passes as SCIENCE fiction, since Homo Sapiens will absolutely never, ever travel beyond our solar system

        Citation required. Just because we cannot conceive of the science to achieve this right now, does not make it impossible. There is a difference between scientific speculation about FTL travel or space warp drives, and ignoring current scientific knowledge just because it “suits the plot”.

  8. Lance
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I’ll have to agree with all the negative points made in this review, and yet I found Fassbender’s performance and the scenery so excellent I enjoyed the movie anyway. I would add, though, that one of the most consistently annoying things about movies like this is the absolute insistence on people behaving in a completely foolish, irresponsible way.

    Several issues bothered me, but they allude to much of what happens, so, spoiler alert! Read no further if you don’t want any of the movie given away.

    First, if you wanted to fund a mission of this kind, why would you immediately send down a human team without scouting the area out first? Why couldn’t they have remained in orbit, and send out robots and probes to investigate the planet?

    Second, why did they have basically no plan at all for where they were going to land and what they were going to do? They fund this entire trip and spend all this time and effort to go here, only to spontaneously figure out what they are going to do when they arrive? Missions like this would take years of planning. Instead, they allow the team to go out with barely any daylight left on a lark, and then they act as if it’s absolutely urgent to bring the head back *right that moment* even though they could have presumably waited out the storm and returned in the morning.

    Why did they need to destroy millions of dollars worth of equipment and risk their lives just to deal with the head a little sooner? And then they end up accidentally destroying the head in a totally irresponsible way. If you’re the first people ever to find an alien corpse, why would you perform procedures that had a high risk of destroying it?

    Third, how could they possibly be so idiotic as to observe almost no safety procedures at all? The archaeologist insists that nobody brings weapons. Why? This stupid move didn’t even factor into the plot, so what was the point? They take off their helmets, exposing themselves to a foreign atmosphere on a planet where there is apparently life – why wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity for extraterrestrial pathogens guarantee they come down with untreatable illnesses? There were dozens of other failures to act safely – running around the ship dripping blood, leaving aliens inside your medical chamber without making sure the alien is dead (and how exactly did the alien grow? What was it eating?), smoking cigarettes, poking around dead alien bodies with no masks on and only checking if they’re contaminated after you all stand around them without being covered up.

    Lastly, why were these “scientists” almost completely nonchalant about being on an alien planet with extraterrestrial architecture? Why weren’t they running around gathering soil samples performing all manner of other tests? Why wouldn’t they fly over the planet and do surveys of the terrain or look for other interesting features before plunging into dangerous locales? These people did not act like scientists; they didn’t even exhibit the barest curiosity. They don’t seem plausibly nervous, interested, excited, or in general, to experience what would almost certainly be a kaleidoscope of powerful emotions when visiting an alien world.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

      /@

      • PB
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Fassbender is the real actor here.

        I am bit sad to see Noomi like that, trying to be Sigourney, with very poor script. Sad.

    • Dominic
      Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      YES! It should respire, ingest & excrete to grow. Absurd. The utter bollocks of some parts of the script – the ‘god’ bits particularly -completely spoiled it for me.

  9. Jim Thomerson
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    There was a similar, but different, story written by the late Chad Oliver, an anthropologist who wrote fiction around various anthropological themes. I was fortunate to take introductory physical anthropology from him. Incidentally he is mentioned in the last Tarzan book. Here is the Wiki on the story.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transfusion_(short_story)

  10. Rod Wilson
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I was a big fan of the Alien and Aliens movies but this looks like a real dissappointment. It seems to me that some of the most technically and artistically talented people in our society are involved in making movies – the special effects and sets, but the people who actaully write the scripts for these multi-million dollar enterprises seem rather incompetent. This is like making Linsay Lohan the navigator and pilot for the navy’s newest aircraft carrier
    An example. In 80 years we travel across the galaxy to find one planet based in a star map consisting of a few stars but the aliens who ‘created’ us ( and the bad aliens) havent changed at all in appearance or technology in 3.5 billion years

    • Ichthyic
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      the special effects and sets, but the people who actaully write the scripts for these multi-million dollar enterprises seem rather incompetent.

      I think the entertainment industry realized decades ago that they didn’t need to pay for good writing.

  11. Pray Hard
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    That’s why they call it science FICTION. Gotta suspend disbelief for a couple of hours, girls and boys. I’m going to see it regardless. I like most of Ridley’s stuff. But, if it sucks, it sucks, who cares? Won’t be the first lousy movie I’ve seen. Gotta see a lot of movies to find a couple of really good ones. It’z just teh natuur of teh beest.

    • bodhi
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      agreed! well put.
      i want to escape reality at the flicks.
      Ridley is a brilliant visual master and a great story teller.
      i’ll view his works anytime.

      • Badger3k
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Everyone loses it sometimes – look at Lucas. Considering this is the third review in a short time that really pans the lame plot, huge plot holes, illogical actions…I’ll pass on this. I think they just phoned it in and are trusting us to follow their advice and just believe that their movie is good. Really disappointing, and it really doesn’t make me confident that his next work will be any good.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      But why then do they call it SCIENCE fiction?

      This is just a fantasy with sf tropes and trappings.

      /@

    • CarlosT
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      So, it’s fiction therefore the writers don’t even have to make a minimal effort at plausibility? They could drive the ship across the galaxy using an Evinrude outboard engine and that would be okay? Because it’s fiction?

      I don’t see why it’s so hard for writers of science fiction films to run their scripts by a couple scientifically literate people and ask “hey, is this complete BS?” and if it is ask “what would make it not complete BS?”

  12. Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Not reading the post since I didn’t see Prometheus yet.

    Here’s the scariest thing in the movie. They’re using a 100 year old operating system.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Geek moment acknowledged.

      But I can’t make out in the link just what is the relevant identifying feature?

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        You can see a Windows 7 start menu and an Internet Explorer icon in the task bar on the left, and the group of small icons on the right of the task bar, as well as the date and time. The other screens have the task bars hidden.

        • suwise3
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          Nice observation! I missed that!

  13. Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    My favorite science boner in the movie: the scene where they effectively reanimated the head of an alien that had been dead for 2000 years by injecting 30 amps into its locus coeruleus.

    Overall I enjoyed the movie. I also was disturbed by the “exact” DNA match, but perhaps they did that because people have heard that humans/chimps are 98 percent similar, so anything less than 100 percent and people would get suspicious about whether we really were the same as this species.

    Though it is odd anyway, because there were clear phenotypic differences, so it could not have been 100 percent. And even you and your mom are not 100 percent. Obviously a big hole here (they could have had the biologist who they painted as a jerk “Oh sure ignore 300 years of darwinism”, actually act intelligent, show a not quite exact DNA match, and explain how it is still amazing).

  14. ColdThinker
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I’m a huge Ridley Scott fan, so you can imagine what a painful disappointment this film was. It was a meticulous production and the story was guarded like a state secret. It’s full of breathtaking cinematograpy and all kinds of state of the art production values like all Ridley Scott films. But its so scientifically silly that it must have been written by an anti-science creationist (even a Young Earth Creationist) or a person who’s grown up in such an environment and now wants to play with the idea.

    It kind of made me think there must be Templeton money behind the film. Also, it kind made me think Ridley Scott isn’t the cultured, educated and intelligent film maker I thought he was. Or if he is, he is callously willing to convey whatever toxic message someone is willing to finance.

    The idea of life on Earth being seeded by aliens was already introduced by the awful mess of a film called Mission To Mars, which was a dreadful career misstep from Brian De Palma a decade ago. But instead of being the ending of the story, in Prometheus this idea is the premise. So no spoilers here. But the question is, why do such otherwise great film makers allow such painfully ignorant scripts?

    Perhaps this film shows how little even the most basic knowledge of biological evolution is part of our common knowledge. Apparently the writers of Prometheus think chimpanzees and all other non-human life on Earth must be somehow degenerated or ”fallen from grace”, if the human DNA (the film also supposes all people have the exactly the same DNA) was introduced already long ago, at the beginning of all life on Earth.

    To me it felt as facetious as having a talking dog as a crew member instead of an android. But apparently Scott and the producers of Prometheus calculate the bulk of the audience won’t care one bit.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Hey, I’d love to see a talking dog as a crew member! A talking cat would be even better!

      • ColdThinker
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Yeah, it would be fun stuff for a family comedy. But I wouldn’t buy a talking dog in a serious drama. And that’s kind of what Scott is trying to do in Prometheus.

  15. DrDroid
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but I plan to. From reviews I have read it sounds like an awe-inspiring spectacle shot specifically for 3D, and for that reason alone I will probably like it. However the reviews indicate that the first half of the movie attempts to build a plot of some substance, then the screenwriters bailed out in the second half and went for the explosions and monsters in order to dumb the movie down to the level of your typical Hollywood blockbuster. You expected more from Hollywood??

    Perhaps my favorite sci-fi movie is Contact, which is based on Carl Sagan’s novel. When Ellie Arroway made her trip through the wormholes to visit the aliens she could have been met by toothy monsters, but thankfully the screenwriters avoided that cliche. Of course they chose to pose a religion vs. science conflict by involving Ellie in an affair with Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), a liberal Christian apologist with national political influence. So they have a few conversations in which the question of “God” comes up and he regurgitates the argument from personal incredulity, to which the screenwriters have Ellie say…nothing.

    While I thought Contact made a good case for atheism, the screenwriters’ attempt to straddle the fence on the issue of God’s existence was apparently successful: a Catholic acquaintance of mine “loved” the movie and obviously found Palmer Joss’s defense of belief in God to be powerfully convincing. Oh well, that’s Hollywood for ya, and I’m sure they’ve inserted the same old drivel into Prometheus…

    • ColdThinker
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I really, really hate 3D, it’s ruining the art of cinematography for a cheap effect. It’s also ruining the theatres, since the projectionists won’t care to adjust the projector lamps back to less intense 2D settings, supposedly to extend their longevity. So the 2D films are projected as too bright, hence also less colourful as intended. And the goggles are always scratched and awfully uncomfortable.
      And it’s misguiding advertising hyperbole to even call it 3D film. It should be called stereoscopic or parallax effect film.

      • DrDroid
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        3D seems to provoke polarized reactions. I’ve heard people express reactions similar to yours before, though perhaps not quite as extreme (“I really, really hate 3D”). I’m somewhere in the middle I think. There aren’t many 3D movies that I think are good, and some of them actually give me a headache, but the ones that were shot specifically for 3D can be very good IMO. Here’s one reviewer’s take on Prometheus 3D:

        http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=2479

        “Watching Prometheus in 3-D, I was strongly reminded of how different a native 3-D production is from a converted one. Scott is one of only a handful of filmmakers to film a major motion picture in 3-D and the visual quality is striking. Prometheus’ 3-D creates a sense of depth and detail that even the best 3-D conversion cannot come close to replicating. What’s more, because Scott compensates for the dimness of the glasses, the movie never descends into a murky mess. It’s a crisp, clear experience entirely unlike about 90% of what’s out there being touted as 3-D. Prometheus, like Avatar and Hugo, shows that, when used as a tool and not a money-grubbing gimmick, there is a place for 3-D in today’s movies. Unfortunately, it takes directors like Cameron, Scorsese, and now Scott to find the “sweet spot.” Although I have no doubt that Prometheus will work in 2-D, the 3-D is worth the extra money; it enhances, rather than degrades, the experience.”

        In the (apparently unlikely) event that you see Prometheus in 3D please let me know your reaction.

        • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          “3D seems to provoke polarized reactions.”

          Very witty! 😀

          /@

          • DrDroid
            Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            Wish I could take credit but I was too dumb to notice I had posted a pun. :-))

            • Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

              Slightly OT but people here are probably the most able to to explain it to me. I understand that the left and right images are circularly polarised in opposite chiralities (I think of it as the light-waves being like opposite-handed corkscrews) and that they alternate on the screen, at twice the usual frame rate.

              But when I play with two pairs of the spectacles, they don’t behave the way that analogy would imply.

              When they are pointing in the same direction, the left and right filters don’t block all light at any orientation, nor differ from each other. When their orientation is the same, two filters, whether both left, both right, or one of each, add a yellow tint. When one is rotated axially 90 degrees, a bluish tint, but they never darken.

              When they face each other, corresponding filters (L+L and R+R) transmit most light at any axial orientation, while opposite-eyed filters are quite dark when rotated 0 or 180 degrees, and trasmit least light at 90 degrees.

              Looking at yourself in a mirror with the glasses on is bizarre. Each eye can only see the other one. If you wink at yourself, you will only ever see a closed eye.

              • Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

                And if you have only one pair of glasses, look through them at an LCD monitor or TV. Both lenses behave the same, tinting yellow at 45 degrees clockwise (on this screen) and blue at 45 degrees anticlockwise – if you are looking normally through them. Point the earpieces at the screen and they will both blacken at 45 degrees anticlockwise and be almost perfectly clear at 45 degrees clockwise. I don’t get it at all.

        • ColdThinker
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          I did see Prometheus in 3D, because that’s the way it is intended to be seen by Scott and his team. I may go to see it also in 2D just to have some comparison. But actually, I somehow detest the idea that the film makers’ original vision is flattened down, so that’s why I preferred the 3D version even though I don’t like 3D in itself.

          Once again I found the stereoscopic effect fun for the first few minutes, but then it felt just gimmicky. But I realize my gimmicky feeling may change eventually if 3D films become the industry standard. Anyway, the goggles were a bit scratched and uncomfortable. Through these dark and scratched extra lenses the picture felt blurry and lacking contrast, it didn’t look brilliant like it is in all other Ridley Scott films. It was like having to listen to a live concert through ear plugs.

          In such films I expect and often receive cinematic brilliance. But in my view, instead of beautiful photographic compositions, 3D film offers a series of dioramas. The long shots and close-ups seem to work, but cutting to a full shot somehow has the effect of turning the actors into barbie dolls. Kind of ruins it for me.

          • DrDroid
            Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

            Well I’m glad to hear that you didn’t throw up or anything. 😉
            I suppose I should wait until I’ve actually seen the movie myself before I offer any more opinions; maybe I won’t like it either.

        • suwise3
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          My reason for hating 3D is real practical. The glasses never fit over my glasses.

        • Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:39 am | Permalink

          I find 3-D distracting, pulling attention from the story. That might have been a benefit in this film, so perhaps I should have watched it in 3-D.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        It’s a growing pain. When people get familiar with it, directors will stop showing off and use it rationally.

        When red-green 3D first came out, some films, like “House of Wax” went silly with it, having a man bounce a tethered ping-pong ball at us till we were tired of it, while masterly Hitchcock in “Dial M for Murder” saved the 3D up for the corpse with scissors (I think) sticking out of his back.

        The same thing happened with colour and wide-screen. Remember the transformation scene in “Wizard of Oz”, and then Emerald City and the Horse of a Different Colour? I bet people complained about those at the time, too.

        • DrDroid
          Posted June 10, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

          There certainly has been a lot of misuse of 3D. Reminds me of the situation when CDs first appeared. There were lots of people who complained that the CDs didn’t sound as good as the vinyl records they were replacing, and they were right. But the recording engineers eventually learned how to use the new medium correctly. Maybe 3D will be the same way, or I hope so. I have a 3D TV (does that make me a True Believer™ in 3D?).

  16. Kieran
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    This has spoilers in it, firstly learn to bloody count, origin of species 1859 film set in 2093 it is not 300 years of darwinism!
    Ding dong the witch is dead, I love a homage to wizard of oz in a film.

    I couldn’t get past the science as the film itself is pretty bad, no real tension just a series of scences on a planet far away.

    So much wrong on the basics that you’d need something to get past it and on no occassion does the film come close.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Yep — no sustained threat.

      /@

  17. Tom
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t bear it.

    It looked great but it was so loaded with stupid that I couldn’t get past it. I really, really wanted to like it but I hated it.

    In pretty much every scene the characters actions were unbelievable and/or their motivations were stupid.

    Everyone was a cypher to make sure Mr Scott could construct his set pieces. It was put together as if he had a list of imagery he wanted to create so they nailed a script together to let him.

    The actors did their best, especially Fassbender, but for me it showed how little chance you have in the face of a totally incoherent script.

  18. Vaal
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Saw it. Had tons of fun simply on the “what is Scott going to show me next” experience.

    But the logic throughout was brutal.

    I had little hope for the science part having read those quotes from Ridley a while back. Though he’s certainly not pro-religion. In a recent interview he just rags on religion big time calling it (if I remember properly) the biggest source of evil…all religions evil.

    But as they say, being non-religious doesn’t automatically make you a critical thinker in other areas.

    Vaal

  19. TGC
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    What is equally disappointing, in my estimation, is the glowing, four-star review Roger Ebert gave the film on his website (www.rogerebert.com).

    • Greg Esres
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Ebert does try to evaluate a movie within the context of the kind of movie it is. In other words, if you like this kind of movie, then this is a good one of those.

  20. Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I took my “science critique” hat off at the beginning of the film. It obviously wasn’t going to be that kind of film. As expected, the depiction of science in the film was no better than it has been in Scott’s other works, and no better than can be expected from Hollywood.

    This film’s main burden is to tidy up some loose ends in Alien and clear the stage for a possible new series of films. To put it another way: he’s trying to reboot the franchise. Seen from that viewpoint, the Daniken/Templeton strand makes sense.

    All this bellyaching about the lack of scientific veracity in this and other films seems pointless to me. Once you’ve got unexplained ape descendants wandering around the galaxy before any ape evolved, you’ve surrendered the scientific high ground, but increased the likelihood of a dramatically pleasing film.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      What about basic plot and story elements?
      I mean there are some major plot holes in the film. For example, how does the captain know that the planet is military instillation? WHy do the anthropologists think these aliens are our designers?

      Also, somewhat annoying, how much it plays on motifs from Alien. I mean did we need to see Fassbender doing an impression of Ian Holm from the first film?

      Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to forgive a movie a great deal, and don’t need a film to be wholly scientifically accurate. I don’t mind King Kong, or Skull Island. But Prometheus ignores nearly the whole of biology and to the detriment of the film.

      • gillt
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Plot holes/ambiguities:

        What happened to the biologist after he was attacked by the serpent thing?

        It’s unclear whether the first alien that was dropped off on earth was supposed to disintegrate himself in order to seed the planet with his DNA or was being rebellious and trying to kill himself but failed because genomic DNA is pretty stable stuff once its in water (but not stable enough to reverse degrade)

        Why did the aliens leave star maps for our cave-dwelling ancestors and why would they assume our species at that time would understand what it meant or think it important enough to finger-paint it on a wall? There must have been communication between the two so then why no cave paintings of the aliens themselves?

        Why didn’t they hire an actual old dude instead of putting 5 lbs of makeup on Guy Pearce?

        Do the baby worm aliens only turn the men they infect into crazed zombies because the lead female character had one coming to term inside her but acted normal?

      • Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        “But Prometheus ignores nearly the whole of biology and to the detriment of the film.”

        If they didn’t toss away the biology textbook, there wouldn’t be a film.

        As for the plot holes, those exist in any work of fiction when you look closely. This is because it’s fiction and not reality.

        What I liked about the film:
        * it was a retelling of Alien
        * it tied up some loose ends in that film
        * it has some interesting ideas, more so than most action films
        * it was great to look at, and well enough paced

        Now I seldom get too worked up about the scientific illiteracy of writers and directors. It’s not what they do. There have been one or two exceptions, which I won’t mention here because I don’t intend to invite a comparison. In both cases I can think of the original author was an astronomer, and the biology was not excessively implausible. But that isn’t what I watch films and read fiction like this for. They’re basically modern folk tales.

        • gillt
          Posted June 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          As for the plot holes, those exist in any work of fiction when you look closely. This is because it’s fiction and not reality.

          You’re confusing internal logic with what’s realistic. We should expect our fictional narratives to hew to the first.

  21. Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I actually thought the film wasn’t too bad on the intelligent design front.

    (mild spoilers follow)

    There is a scene in which the scientists on the ship ask what evidence the ID proponent has that these aliens are indeed the designers of humanity. She admits that she has none and is taking it on pure faith.

    Granted she is vindicated in the end but I don’t think that is so bad given that it’s only after evidence was found that other people started to believe her.

    Which is the right way to do it, even if the ultimate conclusion is one we might not agree with. There’s no “ooo look at the mystery, therefore ID” it’s just “I have faith and it happened to be right”

  22. Greg Esres
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I hate this sort of movie, because people just serve as material to be chopped up by some monster. In one sense, it’s a religious point of view because it represents man to be helpless and foolish. My view is that it’s unhealthy to digest this sort of fare.

    The one exception that I ever saw was the “Aliens” movie, the second one (didn’t see the first.) The moment when the characters saw what they were up against on the planet, they decided to run and nuke the planet from orbit. None of this “Let’s go down in the basement and see what’s there” crap.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Eh? They did go down in the basement and see what was there, IIRC.

      But that was one of the most-quoted lines ever:
      “I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

      (Looking it up reminded me, that movie had great dialogue. That line of Ripley’s was followed by:
      Burke: Hold on a second. This installation has a substantial dollar value attached to it.
      Ripley: They can *bill* me.

      I love Ripley being sarcastic. Along with “Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?

      Of course that was James Cameron’s movie.

      But it’s worth seeing Alien, Ridley Scott’s original. Where Aliens was an action movie, Alien was a SF horror movie. There was (true to the title) only one alien, but it was very, very creepy – probably the classic SF monster movie of all time.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        IIRC, the title of Alien is an adjective not a noun…

        /@

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          I think it could be taken as either an adjective or a noun (why not both). And who the frack is this IIRC that people seem to be dierecting their comments to?

          • Posted June 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            “If I Recall Correctly”

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted June 10, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

              So people are too lazy to use a few extra keystrokes to use a bunch of fake-trendy internet slang? And I thought this was supposed to be for rational people. IJMPH.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

                Rational people who have already in this thread used SF, OT, IQ, ID, OK, CD, LCD, 3D, DNA (with two different meanings), NASA and CGI?

                Would you care to advise us which of those are A-OK and which are NBG so we can endeavour to make our posts universally comprehensible to the colloquially deprived 😉

                (Personally, I hate LOL, but ROTFL is OK…)

  23. Posted June 9, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This was my review on Twitter:

    #Prometheus: V disappointing. Great production design & cinematography. Acting OK. But ultimately undermined by scientific & dramatic flaws.

    Which prompted a dismayed comment from someone who’d been eagerly anticipating it, to which I replied:

    Sorry … #Prometheus /is/ thought-provoking… but in the end, the thought it most provokes is, “Why wasn’t this much better?”

    /@

    PS. Contrast:

    #MIB3, on the other hand, exceeded expectations. Nicely plotted & great fun. Josh Brolin is just perfect as the young Tommy Lee Jones.

  24. Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I agree with Sigmund and the majority of commenters here.

    I had been looking forward to this movie for a number of months and came in feeling good about it. Within the first few minutes of the opening, I was already put off by bad science. The DNA scene where the “Engineer” falls into the water was silly, and then there were Shaw’s dreams with her father about where her dead mommy was, and then the meet our maker junk….

    Really, this movie could’ve been so much better. There was no reason for humans to have been directly created by those aliens. Instead it could’ve been that the aliens seeded life on Earth and periodically visited to see how things were going. At some point they decided that they didn’t like how humans were turning out, and they were going to kill us. What’s wrong with that story? No need to sweep aside the reality of evolution and biology in that story.

    Also, it was a bit silly that they got Guy Pearce to plan an old guy. Sure, if he was young for part of the film, then fine, but he was old for the whole thing. Why not get a real old guy? His face looked so fake.

    As soon as that movie ended, I expected someone to have a post on it here on whyevolutionistrue. I’m glad that I wasn’t wrong about that.

  25. Badger3k
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Sciencepunk at Scienceblogs (http://scienceblogs.com/sciencepunk/2012/06/01/the-science-of-prometheus-a-review-containing-a-lot-of-spoilers/) has a review with a lot of spoilers and all the bad science.

  26. Kevin
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I do enjoy the “future universe” movies. But I find myself being brought up short whenever the premise is just flat-out scientifically impossible.

    This film being one of them.

    However, I think the most-egregious misuse of science has to be the premise of “The Core.” Currently in the ad infinitum playlist on cable.

    In which scientists have to travel to the sun in a spaceship so they can explode a nuclear device in order to get the sun “re-started.”

    Fractally stupid.

    There’s also “Battleship”, which by the looks of the trailer pits the US Navy against aliens who have vastly superior technology in every respect — but have somehow failed to invent projectile weaponry. And so must use their machines to run over shit.

    And oh yeah, the US Navy doesn’t have battleships anymore. And hasn’t since 1992.

    • ColdThinker
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      ”The Core” was a silly film about a team of ”scientists” trying to restore Earth’s lost magnetic field by restarting the motion inside Earth’s core with nuclear devices. There’s no end of scientific nonsense in this film, most of it obvious to a smart third grader.

      The film you seem to refer to is ”Sunshine”, a bit less silly film. It is indeed about attempting to restart the fading Sun and there are scientific inaccuracies in it. But at least it had Brian Cox as a scientific advisor. It was a psychological story set in an SF backdrop. So I would criticize it for its characters who seemed to have unconvincing motivational problems considering they are on a mission to save the whole Earth. But as to science, they at least tried.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Well, I hate to be put into a position to defend a movie like Battleship, but. The aliens most certainly had projectile weapons and did not use the tactic of running shit over as a standard in combat. And the battleship in the movie was not a commissioned naval vessel. It was a quay side museum vessel.

      Yes, I know. That is even MORE implausible than the US Navy having a battleship in service in 2012. Who could possibly believe that powder charges and viable projectiles for the 16″ main batteries would be left lying around on a museum ship? I have to admit, that was the worst part of the movie for me.

      I guess my point is, don’t criticize obviously stupid stuff on the specifics if you aren’t sure of the details of the stupid. It gives your stupid opponents ammunition.

      • Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        In college I penned a review for The Core wherein I recommended the film (though I gave it 1 star) on the grounds that it was so bad it crossed into the realm of comedy. But really scientifically batshit crazy.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          +1

          I saw ‘The Core’ on TV by accident, and I couldn’t stop watching – just to see what idiocy they were going to come up with next. Roughly the equivalent of watching ‘Collected Epic Fails of 2012’ on Youtube but not quite as funny.

          • Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            Honestly,
            The Core is a train wreck, and like most train wrecks it is hard to look away from.
            Part of me wondered if the whole point of “the Core” wasn’t to revisit the bad sci-fi of the late 40s, 50s and early 60s. The camp seemed to obvious at times.

            But who knows may be they thought they were filming a serious film, like Roland Emmerich in his classic, and classically crappy, “the Day After Tomorrow.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        “And the battleship in the movie was not a commissioned naval vessel. It was a quay side museum vessel.”

        Ah. Stole the idea from Battlestar Galactica then. 😉

        (BSG, I’d note, though it was full of SF, was really all about human (and humanoid Cylon) behaviour).

  27. jose
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Well, the most famous archaeologist in movies is Indiana Jones, and we know how that man works. This movie is probably above average on the science with respect to the movie industry.

  28. Julia
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t exactly disappointed as a)I hadn’t been following the media hype and b)I’d read some scathing reviews before watching the film. But I have rarely felt as EXASPERATED in a cinema – the pseudo-scientific/religious guff, the relentless stupidity of supposedly brainy scientists, gaping plot holes, stereotypical characters, an abysmal screenplay…it was painful.

    The only things that kept me in my seat were the jaw-dropping visuals and Michael Fassbender’s marvellous performance as David. Bearing in mind that the film ends with David and Elizabeth flying off in search of the Engineers, I’m hoping that the sequel will involve an interspecies romance with lots of hot android-on-human action (preferably after David’s head has been reattached).

    • DrDroid
      Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      “preferably after David’s head has been reattached”

      ROFL 🙂

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      …but if it’s re-attached, there goes the opportunity for a ton of “give me head” jokes.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        +1

    • Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, preferably. We know from Shame that David’s been over-engineered.

      • Julia
        Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        *note to self: rent ‘Shame’ at the earliest opportunity*

  29. John
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Ridley Scott’s beliefs notwithstanding, I think it’s possible to reconcile evolution with what is presented in the movie.

    The movie never proves we came from the Engineers; it is only assumed. What if the Engineers came from us? What if they were abducted by aliens many thousands of years ago (for slavery, etc), and eventually came unto their own, forming their own highly technological civilization? It would explain why their language is a common ancestor of other ancient languages. The cave paintings on Earth could have arisen when Engineers visited Earth and told Earthlings where they (Engineers) came from.

    It’s more plausible than just throwing away evolution, anyway.

  30. Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I love Alien and Aliens (I try to pretend that the other two movies don’t exist), so I went into this film full of hope and based on Roger Ebert’s 4 stars, high expectations. This was a phenomonally dissappointing trip to the cinema.

    The film has some potentially interesting questions lurking around, but it fails to address them with any thing like insight or imagination. It deals with the idea of an intential episode of panspermia and its implications for religion, and biology in a ham-fisted and trite way. When you add to this sorry state of affairs a host of stupid characters (well acted for the most part) the ingrediants for terrible sci-fi are all in place. THerein lies the tragedy of Prometheus. Its premises and the questions that they imply also offer the potential for a very serious (and potentially fun) foray into sci-fi. Scott, who seems almost scientifically illiterate, and perhaps philosophically so also, simply didn’t know what to do with the script.

  31. darrelle
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Puts me in mind of the twists in the biological puzzle of the Giants novels (James P. Hogan).

  32. Krishan Bhattacharya
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This is the single dumbest review of ‘Prometheus’ I have seen yet. Scientifically inaccurate? What are you smoking, Sigmund?

    It’s a sci-fi film. Objecting to impossibilities in it is like going to see the latest Spiderman movie and pointing out that the g-forces resulting from swinging from skyscrapers would rip Peter Parker’s arms off. Suspension of disbelief is requred to immerse yourself in the film.

    To anyone reading this, the movie is fantastic. ‘Prometheus’ is a brilliant, rock-and-roll space epic, and probably the best sci-fi horror film to appear on the scene since ‘Event Horizon’. It is also the greatest 3D experience yet released. 5/5 stars.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      In a film like Spider-man you give the film its premise. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for Parker, and his villains. But you have to play by the rules you set. Scott is trying to offer hard SF, not space opera, not super hero fantasy. If you are going to do that then you must try to keep to those parameters. So the science should have been tighter by far. Films like Spiderman and the Avengers aren’t hard SF, they are mythologies that sometimes have interesting SF in them.
      Scott trotted out a bad script, and then poor characters and lathered on the bad science to boot.

      • Krishan Bhattacharya
        Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Can you point me to a sci-fi film with ‘good science’ ? I have seen a ton of sci-fi, and none is plausible. That’s why its science-fiction.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Depends how realistic/plausible you want it to be. You could make a film about, say, a manned ‘Mission to Mars’ which would technically be sci-fi (in that it hasn’t been done yet) but was entirely realistic (only deviating in assuming certain likely improvements in the performance of space technology). In that case, it would really be an adventure drama rather than sci-fi. Whether it would be interesting is another question.

          Essentially, most interesting sci-fi assumes some particular deviation from present reality. Time travel for example, is probably forever impossible and generates huge paradoxes, but provides a fertile ground for sci-fi stories (including ethical questions like ‘would you kill Hitler?’)

          I think the most one can ask is that a sci-fi movie stays true to its (non-real) premises, and doesn’t include other anomalies ‘because it’s sci-fi so we can’ (which is a bit like saying ‘goddidit’ in religious arguments – it removes any requirement for plausibility).

          But then, many other genres depart from true realism for dramatic effect – Bond and Jason Bourne movies, for example, or Westerns with their notorious 20-shot accurate-at-100-yards revolvers…

          • Krishan Bhattacharya
            Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

            So your example is “Mission to Mars”? You say: “but was entirely realistic (only deviating in assuming certain likely improvements in the performance of space technology)”

            Wikipedia summarizes the end of the film thusly: ” The trio view the planet Mars, then covered with water. The graphic then shows the planet being struck by a large asteroid. A hologram of a Martian then appears before the group.

            It reveals that the Martians evacuated their world in spacecraft following the collision. One ship headed towards Earth, depositing a strand of DNA into an ocean which at the time contained no life forms. Over millions of years the DNA evolved into fish, land mammals and eventually humans, who would one day land on Mars and be recognized as descendants. An invitation is offered for one astronaut to follow them to their new home planet. Jim theorizes that they are actually inside an alien spacecraft and decides to accept the invitation. ”

            This is “entirely realistic (only deviating in assuming certain likely improvements in the performance of space technology)”?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted June 10, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

              Oops. Actually, I wasn’t aware there was a movie of that name! I was postulating some entirely hypothetical space-exploration movie. (Probably the name was subconsciously drifting around my head having heard it somewhere). So any connection or contrast between my comments and the real movie of that name is totally accidental. If the movie is as you’ve described it then obviously it’s totally different from what I had in mind.

              Apologies for the red herring. :-{

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted June 10, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

              Actually, the space voyage part of Mission to Mars was okay – it’s the whole alien woo stuff that sucked.

    • Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      probably the best sci-fi horror film to appear on the scene since ‘Event Horizon’.

      Thanks, that was quite informative. *coughs*

      • darrelle
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

        You making me laugh. In agreement.

    • Tom
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

      Its not just the bad science that rubbed, its the stupid scientists. As someone else mentioned, its a multi-billion scientific expedition but everyone behaves like a bunch of teenagers in a slasher flick.

      “I have been exposed to an alien life form and now I have a worm crawling out of my eye; best I keep quiet about it”

      “I am a biologist and I have just found a completely unknown alien life form, I’ll just grab it”

      “I’m a alien world survey crew and I have just found a biological specimen, lets bring it on board!”

      and where did the alien zombie bit come from?

      how come David never pressed the wrong button on the alien ship?

      It could have been SO MUCH better! I could even forgive the stupid ID science if people just behaved like intelligent adults.

  33. gillt
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    they seem compelled to make the most appalling choices imaginable—most notably, when they come across a snake-like alien who looks like a cross between a very toothy cobra and a vagina (in such circumstances do they: A. Run like hell? or B. Try to hug it?)

    I went to see this movie with some herp people and they concluded that there are no snakes in the near future since the biologist wanted to pet something that clearly looks like a cobra ready to strike.

  34. E.A. Blair
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    A lot of the negative comments here remind me of an article Martin Gardner wrote about Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The movie really had him bent out of shape, and he wrote as if he had been expecting a documentary and that Spielberg was foisting off his story as reality. He just couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the notion that it was a possible world where aliens had been observing humanity and chose to make contact in that particular way. I am not in any way a UFO buff (that’s something I outgrew about the same time my age hit double digits), but I found the movie visually stunning and the story well-crafted. Unlike Gardiner, I was not expecting reality. If I do go see Prometheus, I will see it forewarned that the science is about what can be expected from the average movie, and I will probably ignore that so I can feel like I’m almost getting my money’s worth.

    The last movie I graced with my actual presence in a theater was Thor. I went because I have almost enough college credits in Old Norse language, literature and mythology to have a separate degree in the field and couldn’t pass it up. I also went knowing that the integrity of Norse mythology would be torn to shreds, but I didn’t care. It was fun, and if that’s all I get from two hours in a dark theater, that’s fine. Anything more, like actually having my intellect engaged, is a bonus.

    • Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Actually, Thor is another movie that positively portrays a scientist character, Natalie Portman’s character.

      Oh, and you could rationalise Norse mythology as being a imperfect recollection of the acts of these alien beings; that is, it’s the mythology that “tears to shreds” the historical truth of the movie! 😉

      /@

  35. Strider
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Though very likely R.S. is a friend of his I think I’ll rely on Roger Ebert’s *four star* review of this movie. He rarely lets me down.

    • Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Well, if you care as little for scientific plausibility as Ebert seems to, then you may find you like it as much as he. 😉

      /@

      • Strider
        Posted June 10, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        Dammit, Ant, it’s a Sci Fi movie not a Star Fleet Academy training film!

        • Posted June 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          Yes, that is the problem; in the vernacular of sf fandom, it is a skiffy movie, not the hard sf movie that Scott seemed to be promising.

          /@

          • Strider
            Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            So, how would you classify Larry Niven’s work? There’s clear hard science in his body of work but also some “skiffy” preposterousness, too; I’m thinking specifically of “The Legacy of Heorot” and “Footfall”. Does that lessen the entertainment value of these excellent novels?

            • Posted June 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

              Generally hard sf. But I’ve not read (or don’t remember reading) either of those novels (?) — what skiffy preposterousness did they contain?

              But Niven’s “hard” scientific approach is summed up in his discussion of telekenesis (probably in one of his short story collections): If you teleport out of a moving car, you retain your momentum, rather than being at rest at your destination (cp. Bugs Bunny stepping out of a falling lift/elevator). Even if you think telekenesis is preposterous, the laws of physics are otherwise unchanged.

              /@

  36. Sigmund
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Just to reply to those who complain that a SF movie is fiction and thus I am getting simply my knickers in a knot when I complain that it’s failing to take into account known scientific facts.
    First, as a fan of science fiction in general, and Ridley Scotts previous SF movies in particular, I realize they are meant to be fiction. I am aware that, like in any genre movie (SF, horror, fantasy etc) the audience IS required to suspend their disbelief. What I would suggest, however, is that there are two levels of suspension of disbelief in science fiction movies. I am quite prepared to accept future science that is not currently known – for example interstellar spaceships that travel close to or faster than the speed of light. Also things like suspended animation, conscious robots, wierd alien biology, alien weapons and technology etc. None of these are scientific ‘facts’ and some (faster than light travel) may never be possible, but we accept it for the sake of the story.
    The other level of suspension of disbelief is the kind that was expected of the audience of the movie “The Red Planet” – where the ‘biologist’ explained to his crewmates that “DNA is made up of four bases – A, C, G and P”.
    In this case you have to assume that known established science means nothing at all – anything goes, like in a superhero movie.
    That was the problem with ‘Prometheus’ – the writer seemed to think that he didn’t have to worry about known scientific facts (like the fact that plants are also part of life (the alien seeded life onto the Earth when plants were already growing on the land.)
    The terrible part of this is that most of the glaring mistakes could have been avoided if they had spent 50 dollars of the 150 million budget getting a scientist to look over it first and pointing out the parts that would have people guffawing at the mistakes (hell, many of us would have done it for free!)
    For instance the alien DNA scene – why did the alien have the exactly same DNA as humans? Why not simply say that it uses the same genetic code? It would mean the same to the audience and prevent those who know anything about biology from dropping their popcorn on the floor.
    There are many other such silly mistakes in the movie that don’t comport with how science works – for instance the whole “lets take off our headgear and breathe in the alien air” episode, and the “re-animating the head” section.
    My own opinion is that they thought it was not important, or perhaps they simply forgot, to do basic fact checking – look at the ‘archaeology’ section. One of the civilizations visitied by the engineers was the Hawaiian civilization. Yet Hawaii was only populated after 300 CE – several hundred years AFTER the engineers were wiped out by the xenomorphs!
    How difficult is it to solve that plot hole.
    Just don’t use Hawaii as one of the civilizations!

    • Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:43 am | Permalink

      Excellent.

      One thing further, which, iirc, comes from Tolkein. It’s not so much about willing suspension of disbelief as belief in a secondary creation. So, the less internally consistent the science in an sf film and the less compatible with know science and scientific methods, the more that belief is strained and the less intellectually satisfying the fiction.

      Oh, and is David a conscious robot, or does he just behave as if he’s conscious?

      /@

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted June 10, 2012 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      +1 again (WordPress is getting a bit sniffy about my continually adding +1 to show my simple agreement).

  37. Posted June 10, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    I have no problem with the science being far-fetched.

    E.g., Star Trek always had unbelievable aliens and planets, etc, but it always had an important message. But the underlying theme of Prometheus was silly: man’s search for his origins and then a romp through space with greasy lizards and a crew that is undisciplined and stupid.

    The Starship Enterprise would never have been so careless.

  38. Sigmund
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    A final bit of theological silliness about Prometheus. Ridley Scott, interviewed by a movie site about his film, reveals the Jesus connection.

    Movies.com: We had heard it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives, and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was that ever considered?

    Ridley Scott: We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, “Let’s send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it.” Guess what? They crucified him.

  39. Julia
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Here’s an interesting take on (possible) Christian symbolism in ‘Prometheus’:

    http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html#cutid1

    I’m not convinced, although the scene in which non-human David tells infertile Dr Elizabeth Shaw that she’s pregnant did remind me of the angel’s annunciation to John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth. It would have made more sense had Dr Shaw given birth to a new Redeemer instead of a monster, but then neither ‘Prometheus’ nor religion makes much sense!

  40. IW
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Once again I’m amazed at the Wrath of Can’t. Can’t they do better? Can’t they make it more realistic? Can’t they make it more scientific?

    Yes, they can always do better, but movie-making isn’t a one-person show; it’s a team effort, and things get sacrificed in favor of other things.

    Why is it that scientists expect a science documentary instead of a movie aimed at the general population – who by common assessment, is largely scientifically illiterate in the USA? Here’s my guarantee: get a better science-educated population, and I guarantee you that the movies will improve their science, but until that happens, WYSIWIG, period.

    Apparently it hasn’t occurred to all-too-many who comment here that the scripts are not written for scientists, they’re written for everyone, and they are not made for scientists, they are made for everyone. The logical solution is: if you don’t like them, don’t go to see them; watch a science documentary instead.

    Oh, wait! there go the goalposts: we don’t expect a science documentary, we do expect it to be true to life! No, it’s a movie. It’s not a documentary. If it were true to life, there would be no trip to a distant star and no hypersleep! There wouldn’t even be a space shuttle….

    Oh, wait! there go the goalposts again: but they could at least follow scientific principles! Yeah – then they would be telling your story and not theirs. This isn’t about you, it’s about their story. Again, if you don’t want to hear what they say, then don’t go to see their movies – or if you do, don’t whine that they told their story instead of yours. If you want your story told, then you write that script and send it in. Let’s see how well you do.

    And on the topic of accuracy?

    “is supposedly a prequel to his famous 1979 movie ‘Alien’”
    It’s been made clear that it wasn’t a prequel as such – simply an indirectly connected story set earlier and in the same universe.

    “in the first scene of the movie, are shown seeding life on an early version of the Earth.”
    We don’t know that for sure it was Earth. We do know that the alien took some sort of life-engendering/-enhancing potion which is later encountered by the humans who visit the “weapons dump”on that alien moon.

    “This clue convinces an aging billionaire”
    Trillionaire.

    “Peter Weland”
    Weyland

    “to the aliens’ home”
    No, just a supply dump. It was not their home.

    “They certainly seem to know next to zero about evolution or basic biology”
    They’re writers, not scientists. They’re writing a movie, not a science documentary. You want different? You want “better”? Then write it and let’s see how it does.

    “the seeding process seems to consist solely of the alien’s DNA being released into a lifeless mountain stream”
    Wrong. The alien takes a life-engendering/enhancing potion beforehand. That potion figures hugely, later in the movie.

    .”Somehow we are supposed to assume that naked DNA has the ability to self-replicate and populate a planet.”
    Wrong. The alien took some sort of potion….

    “is an exact match of modern human DNA!”
    Point. But again, we don’t know what was in that potion that the alien took before the seeding.

    “Both of the two main scientists in Prometheus are religious – one of them, an archeologist/molecular biologist called Elizabeth Shaw, played by the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander from the Swedish Series of ‘Millenium’ films), is overtly so.”
    If you refer to her partner, no, he wasn’t religious. And what? There are no religious people on Earth? No religious scientists? Who was it again, who read from Genesis whilst on a sling-shot around the Moon?

    “a punk geologist who doesn’t seem to have the slightest interest in his surroundings when on a moon on the far side of the galaxy”
    A punk geologist who the movie makes clear is a whack job, chosen not for his credentials, but by Weyland for his own agenda. Many of the ‘scientists’ are in this same position. Anyone who overlooks Weyland’s agenda is missing an important point. It’s Weyland who is the ‘godlike figure’, pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

    “the level of suspension of disbelief required is almost insurmountable if you know anything about genetics, abiogenesis, archaeology, or medicine.”
    This is why we ignore those things and enjoy the movie instead of expecting it to be a true-to-life documentary. If you don’t like that concept, don’t go to see these movies.

    “or at the very least is the one character who doesn’t seem intent on a future career as alien snack food.”
    Since he’s not an organic being he is of no interest to the organic predators. And once again he has an agenda which isn’t even his own agenda, but that of Weyland.

    “most notably why on earth Scott chose a script from the writer of … the dreadful ‘Cowboys and Aliens’’
    Which made $174 million – and of Star Trek, which made $385 million….

    “It sets up a sequel that one can only hope is less anti-science than the current movie.”
    If it interests people in science, however tangentially, how bad is it for science?

    And onto the comments…

    “The crew of an interstellar craft seem to have no training and no discipline.”
    Hired by Weyland to meet his needs, not to meet the needs of a scientific expedition.

    “They arrive on a distant satellite, land on the end of a straight “road” near a possibly artificial dome because ‘God doesn’t make straight lines’ and immediately drive landing vehicles towards the dome at earth-illegal speed.”
    Were they on Earth? I saw no speed limit signs. I guess that was in the outtakes. Again, these were not ‘scientists on a true science expedition’ but Weyland’s hirelings, hired for no purpose other than to meet his agenda.

    “After a ‘silicon’ storm that has the cast fleeing, sliding doors close smoothly without even a grating noise”
    On a door that was in the lee of the storm…..

    “Android David’s head and neck continue to function normally after his body’s been torn off.”
    The operative word here being “Android”. Or have we forgotten the body-less android scene in Alien?

    “The captain leaves the ‘bridge’ for some rumpy-pumpy with nobody in charge while crew members are in danger on the satellite’s surface.”
    That must have been in the outtakes. They talked about it, but never showed it. And so the captain is never entitled to a break I guess, not even when he’s been shown sitting around clearly not on duty. And no one ever goofs off or makes a mistake? I guess htis means the captain of the Exxon Valdez is innocent….

    “A woman bursts into a meeting of top executives wearing a bikini, covered in blood and with a row of staples across her belly, having just been “delivered” of an alien (by a machine programmed only for males”
    and reprogrammed specifically for her own purpose by a thinking-out of the-box-female character. I guess she’s just another stupid bitch huh?

    “using “remove foreign body” settings’
    oh there it is!

    “it dangles the wriggling alien from conventional delivery-forceps as precariously as a teddy-bear in the jaws of those lucky-dip machines) and immediately joins in their discussion without explanation.”
    Hello, it’s a movie! The problem here was not that. The problem here was that she was running around, way too athletically, after major abdominal surgery. But then women are tougher than we men like to portray them, aren’t they?

    “Alien holograms are really, really grainy, and occur for no apparent reason, conveying no useful information.”
    Right, because showing how to fly the alien space craft was of no value whatsoever. And nowhere on Earth have we ever had devices that create a video record of what’s happening in the immediate area….

    “My most annoying. Some horrendous concatenation of disasters has just happened, and the woman’s first words on encountering the robot are (with some irritation) “Where’s my cross?” ”
    Ri-ight, because religion meant nothing to this “religiously overt scientist”…

    “Why couldn’t they have remained in orbit, and send out robots and probes to investigate the planet?”
    Why send humans at all? The mission was funded by a trillionaire. He made all the choices, including the crew. He had an agenda. It’s not that hard to understand, but then it is rocket science!

    “why did they have basically no plan at all for where they were going to land and what they were going to do?”
    They did have a plan – they were scouting likely places on the planet for signs of life; their technology alerted them to one such place and they landed to investigate.

    “with barely any daylight left on a lark”
    That’s essentially what the Apollo 11 crew did. I guess that was too improbable, though, wasn’t it? I don’t believe it. They probably never even landed on the Moon….

    “Why did they need to destroy millions of dollars worth of equipment and risk their lives just to deal with the head a little sooner?”
    Because the scientist was passionate to find out more. That never happens in real life, now, does it?

    “why would you perform procedures that had a high risk of destroying it?”
    They neither knew nor expected that it would react that way as the scene showed.

    “how could they possibly be so idiotic as to observe almost no safety procedures at all?”
    I guess Chernobyl never happened either….
    Unfortunately, scientists can be dumb, too, especially ones picked by a trillionaire with his own agenda, who picked those specific scientists for a reason.

    “poking around dead alien bodies with no masks on and only checking if they’re contaminated after you all stand around them without being covered up.”
    Yes, that was silly, but are alien bugs going to bug human physiology? Possibly, but again, these scientists were on a Weyland expedition, for his purposes, not on a scientific expedition per se. It actually wasn’t a “real” scientific expedition, but a pet project of Weyland’s.

    “Lastly, why were these ‘scientists’ ”
    Now you;re getting it!

    “almost completely nonchalant about being on an alien planet with extraterrestrial architecture? Why weren’t they running around gathering soil samples performing all manner of other tests?”
    Because the movie wasn’t a documentary about the scientific method. It wasn’t made to satisfy scientists; it was made to satisfy audiences in general, who are, we all agree, largely scientifically illiterate, especially in the USA. How hard is that?

    “the people who actaully (sic) write the scripts for these multi-million dollar enterprises seem rather incompetent.”
    Cowboys & Aliens made $174 million. Star Trek made $385 million. How are you defining incompetent and why should we use your definition?

    “and then there were Shaw’s dreams with her father about where her dead mommy was, and then the meet our maker junk….”
    Ri-ight, because there are no religious people on Earth and certainly no religious scientists, and no one dreams, and no android with an agenda would ever be a peeping Tom on those dreams….

    “Really, this movie could’ve been so much better. There was no reason for humans to have been directly created by those aliens. Instead it could’ve been that the aliens seeded life on Earth and periodically visited to see how things were going. At some point they decided that they didn’t like how humans were turning out, and they were going to kill us. What’s wrong with that story? No need to sweep aside the reality of evolution and biology in that story.”
    Write it and see how it does. Go ahead.

    “Scott trotted out a bad script”
    He didn’t write the script, but the script served his purpose for his story. You want a different story, then write it.

    “how come David never pressed the wrong button on the alien ship?”
    Remember those “Alien holograms are really, really grainy, and occur for no apparent reason”as one commenter mentioned…?

    • Sigmund
      Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      If all you are interested in is the potential profit then fine, to hell with any sense of accuracy, just pick a fairly recent blockbuster – say, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull – and remake it in an alien planet setting.
      Come to think of it, isn’t that what they did?
      Archaeologist who shows no sign of any scientific training…
      Aliens visiting ancient civilization and leaving clues…
      Alien head found in ancient ruin…
      Nefarious agency out to steal the aliens secrets for their own end…
      Alien spacecraft hidden within the ruins that takes off at the end of the film…
      The only difference is that ‘Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull’ was more scientifically rigorous, had less cliched dialogue and overall had less plot holes!

  41. Sarah
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Someone already pointed out the stupidity in taking off your suits’ helmet on a planet where you are uncertain of the biology. Simply protocol by intelligent people would have kept them from doing so, why check for contaminants when you have already possibly brought them back aboard on your suits and by breathing them?
    The evolution thing that someone brought up above was kind of alluded to twice. You see maggots on the planet and then the “weapon” touches them and they become “super snakes” and then again when the Alien queen is created. Kind of interesting the whole religion…who do we come from? debate and it shows in this movie that we are really the exact same as the Alien from the Alien movies. Our DNA comes from the same beginning, it technically had two human grandparents and was hosted in the creator of us all…interesting debate that it could raise there.

    But above all…the thing that annoyed me the most was that the Weyland Corp. has created an Android, terraforming capabilities, space travel to distant planets in a matter of only 2 years instead of multiple lifetimes and yet the most sophisticated weapons that they have at their disposal are hand guns and flame throwers? I understand that Alien was “after” this movie…but come on. They didn’t have the giant old cameras as security cameras on the ship from the 1979 movie so why can’t we assume that they had maybe a laser or something a little more impressive than a flame thrower? Even the modern military has more impressive weapons today than FLAME THROWERS

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      Hmm… hand guns. If you’re looking to store up the maximum amount of energy in a given size and weight of package, then I think chemical energy (i.e. explosive) is probably superior to any other. (Other than nuclear, but I doubt if anyone will ever manage to pack a controllable nuclear bomb into a handy package – and make it directionally controllable and multi-shot).

      And the best way to deliver that chemical energy in some destructive way to the opposition may well be by using it to propel projectiles at it.

      I certainly doubt if lasers could be made to deliver a fatal energy pulse, repeatedly, in a handgun-sized package. But of course I could be wrong…

      A souped-up taser could be quite effective with an even higher kill rate than current models, but it’s limited by the length of its wires and it’s effectively single-shot.

      • Sarah
        Posted June 12, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

        Wow I just saw how many errors I made in my first post. That would be the problem with typing quickly and not editing as you go!

        My point infiniteimprobabilit was that that the current military is already developing larger mobile laser weapons that have the capabilities to bring down missiles. There are other weapons currently being developed as we speak for the military both on the large scale and small scale that after 100 years of development would be much more effective than a flame thrower. The man who created terra forming to save the planet from global warming, who created solar panels and funded travel to distant planets can’t advance military weapons past bullets and flame throwers? Just a thought. Plus if it is sci fi, why would this be the only place they ask us to not look beyond the realm of possibility?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 13, 2012 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          Well, rayguns of course have been around (in SF) for decades. I suppose lasers are the exact equivalent.

          The advantage of a laser at long range, I imagine, is its speed and ballistic (or would that be ‘non-ballistic’?) properties, i.e. the shot wouldn’t be affected by gravity. But for shooting something 20 feet away, those advantages disappear.

          It all depends on circumstances. I could cite the intriguing example of the Gatling gun, which sank out of sight in the 1900’s, superseded by self-powered machine guns and utterly obsolete; then came back with a rush half a century later when aircraft with enough power to drive and carry them and a need for their extremely high rate of fire appeared. “Old” does not necessarily mean ‘out of date’. (I’m not suggesting a rotary cannon would ever be a good hand weapon, ‘Predator’ notwithstanding…)

          I’d still speculate that chemical-propellant weapons i.e. some sort of handguns would offer the best offensive fire per pound of weight to carry. I could be wrong on that.

          Last point – because it’s sci-fi doesn’t mean everything is obliged to be different. I haven’t seen the movie but – Did they have doors? – why not force fields? Did they have wheels/tracks – why not antigravity? Or a teleport – they *must* have a teleport. And so on… Because they could doesn’t mean they must.

  42. E.A. Blair
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I went with a friend to see Prometheus today, and I walked into the theater armed with all the comments that have been posted here. Despite all that, I did enjoy the show, and of all the things people have been carping about for the last six days, the only annoying things* I really noticed were Meredith Vickers’ “half a billion miles” remark (but since her character was more suited for the boardroom than the bridge, I pegged her as a Sarah Palin type where technical matters were concerned) and some of the phony spirituality that got tossed around. Everything else I could let get lost in the story.

    All in all, I did not consider it a waste of time, and I will peobably want to watch it again when it’s available on DVD. What I’m really waiting for, though, is for the first and second parts of The Hobbit to get to theaters. I refuse to die until after December of 2013.

    *Actually, the most annoying thing about the whole experience was the brightness of the lights in the men’s room after two hours in a dark theater room.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Sorry – I forgot to use the {/i} in the first paragraph.

  43. DrDroid
    Posted June 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I finally saw the movie today and thought it was enjoyable in the usual Hollywood sci-fi/horror movie sort of way. I really didn’t dwell much on the scientific goofs in the plot because the plot’s kind of a mess anyway and it’s clear that the scriptwriters are going for the lowest common denominator in the audience. If you just suspend your critical faculties for a couple hours and/or have a beer or two before the movie you’ll be in just the right frame of mind. 0_O

    As far as the 3D aspect goes I thought it was OK; I wasn’t aware of it that often (good) and when I was I thought it enhanced the realism of the movie. Avatar it’s not. Avatar was a dazzling spectacle of color and fantastic scenery; Prometheus is dark and brooding in order to raise your anxiety level.

  44. Posted June 20, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The movie finishes with many questions unanswered—most notably why on earth Scott chose a script from the writer of the incomprehensible ‘Lost’ TV series and the dreadful ‘Cowboys and Aliens’.

    This movie was dreadful. I actually managed to enjoy “COWBOYS AND ALIENS” and “LOST”, despite their flaws.


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  1. […] hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle Review of Prometheus on “Why Evolution is True”June 12, 2012 By: Michael Simpson Michael Simpson Filed in: ScienceFrom Guest post: Sigmund pans the movie “Prometheus” (spoiler alert) « Why Evolution Is True. […]

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