Prometheus 2 is coming in the next year or two, whether you want it to or not. Perhaps Ridley Scott and his crew learned from their mistakes in 2012, and will be able to redirect these prequels back onto the road of compelling storytelling.
I was swept up by Prometheus back in 2012, in awe of the immaculate, captivating beauty of seemingly every frame. It was only later, when I watched it at home and the set design took a backseat to the actual film, that I realized what a clumsily constructed clusterfuck Prometheus had been. It is a maddening picture, undeniably beautiful on one side, infuriatingly amateur on the other. While the consensus of critics in 2012 was generally positive, many backhanded compliments discussing the uneven nature of the film spoke to the very flawed final product. Claudia Puig said in USA Today, “When it comes to technical wizardry and sheer visual spectacle, Prometheus unequivocally delivers.” Meanwhile, Joe Morganstern said “This tale of an interstellar search asks cosmic questions about the meaning of life, but comes up with lame answers in a script that screams attention-deficit disorder” in his Wall Street Journal review.
Even the most cynical fan of Prometheus must acknowledge Scott’s aesthetic masterstroke here. The film is stunning in its beauty. It’s the storytelling that feels like it was taken out of the oven too early – if it was ever put in the oven to begin with. The sheer idiocy of the characters in this film created a cottage industry for bloggers all across the Internet. Lists naming off everything wrong with Prometheus range from 20 to 100. Damn Lindelof’s script has these characters, all brilliant scientific minds in their own right, say things like “I’m a Geologist. I love Rocks,” on their way to making confusing, careless, reckless decisions.
The entire journey to the planet, built on the premise that “someone put these pictures here because they want us to come visit,” is as flimsy as the gray matter of literally everyone aboard the ship. Consider the Geologist, that one with the brilliant line about rocks. He and his partner generate an entire 3D rendering of a cave, only to get lost in said cave moments later. Or how about another crewmember carelessly playing with a snakelike alien creature, therein having his arm ripped off? The pure absence of logic litters the screenplay, building on staggering implausibilities.
While each character has their own IQ shortcomings, Idris Elba’s pilot, Janek, takes the cake. Once the crew arrives on this alien planet, Janek’s first order of business is… decorating a Christmas tree?
Are we certain there isn’t something more productive he could be doing? Oh, right, there is. He could be fucking Charlize Theron’s equally lamebrained character, Meredith Vickers, in the exact moment when the crew members are being systematically killed off by aliens and desperately calling back to the ship for help. Perfect timing. You know something has gone terribly wrong with your film when even Idris Elba cannot rescue his own illogical character.
The problems with Prometheus could take up an entire journey from Earth to LV-223, but there are some building blocks in place, and the the first film serves as a path which not to travel. Prometheus suffered from not having a clear alien antagonist; it was concerned with discovery, philosophy, evolution. The end of the film, clearly setting up the sequel, also gives us the birth of the alien xynomorph, H.R. Giger’s incarnation that is still one of the most indelible movie monsters of all time. With that as the clear baddie in the next film, Prometheus 2 already has a leg up on its rambling predecessor.
Scott also has a clean slate in which he can work in Prometheus 2 to create new, intelligent characters. Just about everyone is killed off, mostly through their own stupidity, leaving only Noomi Rapace’s Eliabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s android, David. Arguably the two least-aggravating characters. Perhaps making the other characters epic nimrods was the plan all along, tying in Darwin’s theory of natural selection to the thematic elements of the story. I wouldn’t throw that much credit their way, though.
Prometheus 2 has, allegedly, a working title of Paradise. The plot and the shoot is shrouded in secrecy, which I think is a terrible idea for a sequel to a derided picture. Get this thing out in the open! We need set photos, plot synopses, press releases aplenty. Scott needs the fans back in his good graces before they shell out money for a ticket; the best way to do that, no matter how bad an idea this typically may be, is to let them know at least some of what they are walking into.