Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some Thoughts on Ridley Scott's Prometheus

The film Prometheus seems to be generating a lot of discussion. It's rather polarizing in the way it seems to be splitting movie goers into two camps. Some people like the film, in spite of its flaws. Others can't get past the dodgy science and the stupid choices made by several of its characters.

Here are some of my thoughts on Prometheus...

Firstly, regarding the stupidity of the characters in Prometheus, they aren't any stupider than some of the stupid people I've known! If I wrote fiction based on the true stories of stupid people I've known, it would be criticized for being too unrealistic. If I wrote such tales as non-fiction, I would be accused of making it up. No one would believe anyone could actually be that stupid! And education doesn't necessarily equal practical smarts. Sometimes, even smart people do really stupid things. Sometimes, even educated people do stupid things when faced with stressful situations.

Secondly, regarding the dodgy science in Prometheus, it's a science fiction/science fantasy film, not a science documentary. Let's not forget the fiction part of science fiction, or the fantasy part of science fantasy. Or, to use the broader term speculative genre, let's not forget the speculative in speculative genre.

Thirdly, thinking about art as a product of its time, Prometheus may be the product of now, when the History Channel regularly airs the program Ancient Aliens, when genetically modified organisms are in farmers' fields, when genetically modified foods are on grocery store shelves. Looking at it from that perspective, some of the storyline choices may start to make a bit of sense (from an artistic point of view, if not a scientific one).

Personally, I liked Prometheus well enough. I found it to be entertaining, if flawed. However, I do feel it pales in comparison to Alien. Looking at what movies were like back in the seventies and eighties versus what most movies are like today, I think it would have been near impossible for Ridley Scott to recapture the magic of the first Alien film. Alien was a product if the late 1970s, just like Prometheus is a product of today.

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