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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly disappointing even to those expecting it, January 14, 2013
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This review is from: Prometheus (Amazon Instant Video)
The real review is relatively short and separated from the following rant for ease in reading...

You could watch instead:

Planet Of The Vampires
Forbidden Planet
The Thing

This is about as bad a prequel as Phantom Menace - if anything it may be worse.

Overall, it appears to be bad for roughly the same reasons.

First, like the Star Wars prequels, the director seems to have started with a bunch of scenes they wanted to do for special effects reasons, then attempted to stitch them together after the fact. Like Star Wars, the overall concept of what the movie is about and specific scenes either fail to connect or conflict.

The characters are illogical and make mistakes, yes, but on a more basic level, they don't make sense as people. Characters are driven by emotion not logic, so we can't fault them for making the occasional mistake, but the characters act with no motivation or in a way that invalidates previously-established motivation or basic aspects of their character. As a result, I don't like, relate to, care about any of these characters. I'm a little bit intrigued by the android until he too turns out to be nonsensical. By making the actions of people incoherent, contradictory, stupid, and inconsistent, they're made into non-characters. They aren't believable as people.

I'd say there isn't much of a plot, an actual narrative per se. There is no discernable character arc for any of the characters. You could describe what happens on their mission in a sentence or two.

The film is awfully derivative - there seems to be a lot of borrowing from different places. Maybe Leviathan. And Stargate. Most of this film stole scenes or concepts directly from Alien vs Predator, Alien, and Aliens. However, the award goes to Star Trek Next Generation season 6 episode 20 The Chase, in which an ancient humanoid race referred to as The Founders is sought by scientists due to the result of archaeological research and found to have seeded their own DNA billions of years ago on other planets, giving rise to other humanoid races including of course humans. They're kind of albino-ish looking with strong brow ridges and bald heads.

So overall, I'd say if you watch something like Forbidden Planet or Planet of the Vampires, you'll be more satisfied. Maybe even more satisfied with The Green Slime

...end of the overview. But I can't resist going into a few more specific diatribes...


Some specific examples of bad filmaking

LAZY characterization. The lead female scientist has "faith." Not in Christianity per se but just a generally faith-y disney-its-maaagic kinda person. How do we know? Other characters tell her she's a "believer" several times and she wears a cross. Yet she's following a line of thinking that directly contradicts the cross she wears. Maybe she'd have been more believable if she was referred to as a "dreamer" and "mystic." her hanging a dreamcatcher over her bed, reading Crowley and Chariots of the Gods, have her talk about a few other off-the-wall ideas to establish a general hunger for strangeness and hidden mystery. As it was, she was a person with two diametrically opposed beliefs and no inner tension. Worse, she's a scientist and a Christian but believes - without specific evidence - that the figures in various ancient illustrations created humanity so she strays from BOTH her main character traits - her faith and her science. A person who doesn't even value their own values is difficult to like as a protagonist.

LAZY science fiction - they reference "ancient civilizations" all having the same star map and include Cave Men, the Mayans, and the Babylonians. So you've got cave painters from 40,000BC, Babylonians from 1700BC, and Mayans from 250-900 AD cited as all ancient and all having the same star map. What, they didn't want to drop off the same map for Atilla, Constantine, Diocletian or Charlemagne? With the other civilizations cited, it implies Engineers being constantly on earth interacting with humans for essentially all of human history. So they were around for 41,000 years, THEN decided they felt like getting rid of us, then at that convenient moment - but not anytime in the 40,000 years before - destroyed themselves with their own weapons just at the perfect moment - and apparently the Engineers at this one facility were the only ones to know this needed to be done.

If we are to believe the Engineer in the first shot was on a very early earth, we should remember life started maybe 3.5 BILLION years ago which is a long wait to decide you made a bad go of it. But let's assume they only intended to modify existing life. You'd probably need to arrive close to the development of invertabrates to at least have some chance of influencing local evolution to lead to an Engineer-like creature so they could have shown up for the Cambrian explosion which still gives them about 580 MILLION years to mull over the fate of all life on Earth.

Of course, to think that various influences that cause mutation leading to evolution - such as cosmic radiation hitting the earth for 580 million years straight - not to mention evolutionary pressures ie a different environment/planet - could possibly allow for CONVERGENT evolution leading to a specific body plan reveals a deep, deep non-understanding of science in general and in multiple disciplines. Like, this was what they wanted the movie to be ABOUT but they couldn't be bothered to crack a single book on the subject? Does the story of Prometheus take place in a heliocentric universe by chance? Or is the Earth flat? Are humans assumed to be composed of 4 substances/humors?

LAZY writing and choice of scenes. A surprising amount of time in Prometheus is spent setting up the same scenario as a single scene in Aliens - the same plot with the same exact plan - the evil Corporation plans to expose a human being to alien contagion, then transport them back to Earth in suspended animation. In Aliens, it was a quick, suspenseful scene and it made sense - the corporate guy did it because he was seeking profit at everyone else's expense. In Prometheus, it doesn't make any sense. The android has no personal motivation to do it and the guy who owns and controls the corporation is THERE onboard for a completely different purpose than profit - in fact, introducing an uncontrolled unknown never before studied contagion on board could greatly threaten his project and of course his life. Why do they do it then? Not for any goal but because er... it's what happened in another Alien movie so... it happens because that's what happens in these movies? Like, Ridley Scott wanted to make a non-Aliens prequel that was big-concept and thoughtful and did new things... therefore decided he needed to RE-DO the same thing covered by Cameron in the first alien sequel??? WTF? Lazy, lazy writing to rehash a previously - and well - explored idea. Characters that work against their own purposes. If they KNEW a monster would result from the trick, having it inside the ship would kill the crew and perhaps the billionaire and thus ruin his mission and end his life when he came there to extend his life - or if they had no idea what it would do, it hardly made sense to set it loose outside of a lab environment, considering how paranoid they were about living in a lifeboat.

Most of the movie is taken up with people doing things that make no sense and things that make no sense happening. Even making no sense in terms of the plot or story or just the basic idea for the film - such as why rehash previously explored Alien movie subplots? - the movie is about the big picture, alien "gods" as opposed to alien monsters... but the Engineer we meet is essentially indistinguishable from the no longer sentient crazed spider-monkey former crew member that goes berzerk.

Or having the automated medical system software not have any directions loaded for females - wouldn't it come standard? Wouldn't the old millionaire want it to be capable of helping his daughter who he was dependent on while he was in coldsleep? Moreover, shouldn't it be unable to operate at all under those conditions? These are all considerations that reveal the movie as stupid... But consider it from the writer's perspective from outside the story - they planned to have this character do the decathalon within 24 hours of a cesarean section. Sprinting, jumping, getting smashed by an alien and thrown across the room, jumping and landing heavily on things, climbing, more sprinting, more climbing... assuming the writers decided the same character MUST go through both the operation and feats of athleticism instead of using two different characters or giving her time to heal, do you really want to go out of your way to have the medical system state it is not equipped to take care of women? Maybe you could argue that futuristic technology makes it all possible but not when you have that technology itself tell the audience it isn't set up to help. Dumb nonsensical writing.

Alien was about a bunch of space-truckers who get re-routed from their normal job by their employer unexpectedly and run into something they can't handle. They're essentially expendables for a corporation who thinks first of profit and last of their safety. Despite the fact that they aren't scientists, they still worry about basic safety things like quarantine. Conversely, the owner of the corporation himself takes his A team out on a mission with him for the purpose of saving himself from death and they appear to be universally foolish, incompetent, and generally not A personality types. They don't seem to have much concern for each other or even their own lives let alone their jobs. You'd want a cast of sophisticated scientists and professionals for Prometheus to replace the hapless space-truckers of Alien because you want characters capable of the kind of nuanced, depthful discussions and actions needed to address the "big questions" of the film. Instead you have a badly written teenage slasher film with some of the best special effects ever. I recommend Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer over Prometheus.


...a small example of character development/character arc in Prometheus:


(dreamily, flakily) "I want to visit that planet, because I believe they are our creators, and I want to meet them. I believe that because... I believe it"

(aghast, horrified) "we should have never come here. we were so, SO WRONG!!!!"

(dreamily, flakily) "I want to visit that planet, because I believe they are our creators. I want to meet them... so I can ask them why"


(terrified, urgently) "If you don't stop that ship, there won't be any home to go back to!!!"

(dreamily, flakily) "I want to visit that planet, because I believe they are our creators, and I want to meet them. I'll just show up so they know we weren't wiped out yet and present myself for interrogation - assuming they don't kill me on sight - with an andriod that has a head full of information about Earth and one of their ships with a flight path they'll be able to follow back to this planet, where they'll find the remains of our own ship and our intact lifeboat, both full of information - the navigation databases certainly showing the location of Earth along with, most likely, every major human settlement. I can ask them why."
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2013 5:12:02 AM PST
R. Bell says:
Very much enjoyed your epic review, and share many of your criticisms, although I enjoyed the film more than you did. It's great to read such a thorough and detailed review in the midst of a sea of one-liners.

After viewing "Prometheus," I left the theater disappointed and confused, yet thoughtful.
I was thankful for the high budget visuals, and the intent of the story to at least AIM for something more substantial than the usual sci-fi fare. But the movie is impaired by trying to be too many things to too broad an audience and that makes it somewhat unsatisfying for most people, to some degree.

Your take on Shaw as a person with two diametrically opposed beliefs (she's a scientist and a Christian) reminded me of Andrew Parker's book "The Genesis Enigma: Why the Bible is Scientifically Accurate" (2009). It's a thoughtful (yet flawed, like "Prometheus") take on Gen 1, especially "Let there be Light." He accounts for the Cambrian explosion being due to the evolution of eyes. His reconciliation of science with religion remains elusive, but the science is sound in multiple disciplines and is up to date. If the writers had bothered to crack a single book on the subject, this is that book. It could have shored up all the shoddy science on display in this movie and the foggy faith issues as well.

I think the key to understanding the philosophical taproot of Prometheus ' concept of evolution lies squarely in intelligent design (an idea as old as Aristotle). It's an outmoded style of interpreting evolution, but millions of people embrace it. In Ridley Scotts' commentary, he says: "We come from these creatures' DNA, which is their [Shaw and Holloway's] big idea, their big thesis."

Scott provides the audience with proof for Engineer Creation via Intelligent Design. He illustrates this point starting with a beautifully shot opening sequence, in the context of pseudo-scientific intelligent design. Bad science from the get-go, but it makes for a nice idea to stretch your imagination in a fictional world. If you can't buy into this, why bother with the rest? So I went with suspension of disbelief and rolled with it.

It would have been nice to find a Space Jockey fossilized alongside the first single-celled organism in a 3.5-Billion-Year-Old sedimentary bed, if for no other reason than to provide Shaw with a plausible reason for her faith-based speculations that the engineers purposefully created humans. That's a pretty large leap based solely on ancient star maps. The audience is in on it through the opening sequence, but how did Shaw get there? Pretty thinly written.

Check out the discarded parts of Dan O'Bannon's original script and artwork (1975?) of "Alien" for many of "Prometheus`" ideas, if you've got "Anthology"( Blu-ray) or "Quadrilogy"(DVD). O'Bannon's script had the pyramid (or silo [from Geiger], also used in "AVP" on Earth), canisters (instead of eggs) and squid-like facehugger. In "Alien 3," Fincher bypassed the `chestburster' phase of the alien's lifecycle, adding the `Bambi-Burster' (it gestated in the same way as the "Deacon" for the last gratuitous shot used in "Prometheus"). In summary, much of what happens in "Prometheus" has gone on before and what's left is the story of the `Space Jockeys,' which I've wondered about since'79.

I noticed your review was based on Amazon Instant Video. The Blu-ray clears up much of the confusion. It seems that many people don't have access to the deleted scenes or features that answer many questions and spell out much of what was going on; either thru the two commentary tracks in the main film, or the text and audio commentary provided for every deleted scene, plus the supplemental bonus features. It convinced me to upgrade my 3 star rating. Without the BD content, I'm afraid I'd downgrade it. Yeah, it should have been up there on the screen; but was cut to reduce running time, improve pacing, or maintain the mystery (aka create the need for a sequel or Director's cut). It might have been a much better 150 minute movie.

I apologize for the length of my post. Your review was inspirational. Time to go dig out Star Trek Next Generation season 6 episode 20.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2013 10:07:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 17, 2013 10:36:41 PM PST
Absolutely no need for apology! I liked your epic comment :)

...which shows how what we imagined Prometheus could have been can spark a great deal of imagination and discussion. Even you and I could have both fixed the movie at least a little bit, which really tells you something since I'm no movie maker. Lots of 1-3 star reviews have plenty of suggestions on how this could have been a more meaningful film not to mention how the filmmakers wasted opportunities.

They could have examined the "big questions" within the tension of Shaw's dueling value systems with several characters as foils drawing her out... but Shaw would have been a very different character. Not dreamily saying, in response to specific questions about why the mission exists "because I believe it to be true that they're our creators" but being seen to work through her conflicts... we have no idea why or how her beliefs are important to her... in fact with the mission being essentially a devaluation of both her value systems we're left, like with most everything else in the movie, with the assertion that stuff happens randomly. How cool would it have been to see her at an opulent mass at an old Catholic church before the mission and then visiting her priest for one last communion before spaceflight -maybe a short but profound conversation with the priest - interspersed with some moments of logical deduction in discussion with fellow scientists, references to methods of reasoning and critical thinking - HOW we do this - leading to the mission? The movie could even culminate with her seeming to need to choose between the two perhaps even for survival but managing to survive by grasping at both, asserting "I need both." (even in the face of the fact that both cannot/should not co-exist) That would have been reasonably profound!

I don't think any of this is beyond the average moviegoer's interest if couched artfully enough - plenty of interesting Joseph Campbell stuff in the first Star Wars and it was just sort of implicit in the movie as opposed to preachy and beating you over the head. They COULD have pulled it off which is the really sad thing.

The writer Lindelof has already proven with Lost he has no insights to share. His technique is clearly to throw random things out there perhaps with the intention of "creating mystery" - but the word mystery implies there is SOMETHING there. Like in astronomy when the movement of known objects indicate the existence of an unseen object - there's a consistent reality with a partial unknown, not random disjointed movement. One of my favorite books, The Magus, NEVER explains the mysteries and it totally works - because the writer still can bring everything to a symbolically meaningful resolution. On the level of symbolism, it's like a musical piece that has a coda and resolves. Lindelof's writing would be more like someone grabbing random sound clips that initially sound like it will develop into a decent dubstep song but is revealed to be random cut & paste. Next up for Lindelof - World War Z. You can tell from the trailers he ripped Max Brook's ideas to shreds. Subtracting a basic element of good storytelling just isn't the same as creating real mystery and wonder.

The reference to commentary tracks, deleted scenes and features etc sounds disturbingly familiar - like when people kept suggesting that books, commentary, comics, etc fleshed out the Star Wars prequels and therefore the prequels weren't so bad. I'd have to say, much as I hope those who explore further enjoy themselves, extras are on the same level as people like you and I mentioning ways the film could have been better - interesting speculation but they still failed when it comes to the actual film. It's a bad teenage slasher film with excellent visuals. Characters and important things in the film change randomly based on what the movie requires them to be to get to the next scene. The black goo is 5 or 6 different things, the geologist is 4 totally different things to enable the next scene, Shaw ISN'T her two basic character traits just so the mission/film can happen at all. I could go into a stupidly exhaustive list of everything in the movie but I'll spare us both that.

Reality changes minute by minute to stitch the scenes together. How does the android know the Engineer is coming for Shaw when he is a decapitated head lying on the floor of a windowless cave? How does he operate his suit radio with no hands and no suit? Would his head really include not only a ridiculously powerful independent power supply but a powerful radio capable of broadcasting from underground? WHY when he was given a human form and would have been assumed to have access to all the tools humans would use? Even if you and I privately agree to SAY between the two of us the head had an independent power supply and super-powerful radio crammed into it, it's still a fail on the filmmakers' part. No matter what we say, it's left implausible in the film. You'd want to set up some scene where the android's head is taken off and stuck on a dock while someone runs diagnostics and the robot has a conversation via radio with someone - maybe an annoyed rolling-eye comment from the tech working on the android "god forbid Weyland not have access to his pet project for even a second" they could have even been efficient and used the Android/Weyland conversation to move the plot around or give the audience some necessary piece of information. Even with the android being made plausibly capable of contacting Shaw with everything necessary being inexplicably built into his head, he still has no plausible way of knowing what the Engineer is doing or where Shaw is. The magic happens because we want a scary scene in which Shaw hears over the radio that the Engineer is coming for her, just like Shaw can be operated on by the medical system even after it states it cannot handle the requested operation because we want that scary scene where the medical device says it cannot help - and we also want the scene where she gets cut open and the alien is extracted. Because they're both cool scenes we want to have in the movie.

I'd say trust your gut. That vague feeling of dissatisfaction or even unpleasantness after seeing Prometheus isn't due to vague causes. You may not have noticed due to your decision to suspend disbelief and give the film a chance - but your brain still noticed. The more you examine it consciously, the more you'll appreciate everything your brain was telling you - it had very specific and plentiful reasons!

I wouldn't rate Prometheus or Lost as "confusing." Is it confusing if a 4 year old tells you a disjointed illogical stream-of-consciousness story they made up as they went along? I wouldn't use that word. Saying the film was confusing implies there was meaning there that we didn't get as opposed to a failure on the part of the filmmakers to include it in their work. I read a book awhile back by a physicist who worked on the Manhattan project during WW2 - Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) ...Feynman was visiting the Vatican and was looking around at the art underneath the main ceiling mural in the Sistine Chapel and was saying - "That one's good, that one's good, that one's not so good, that one's not very good, that one's good..." and was surprised, as a guy who had his head totally submerged in mathematics and physics for the past few decades, to find when he checked the informational plaque, that the pictures he liked were done by masters while a few of them - the ones he thought were mediocre - were done by relatively unskilled understudies. He was pleased and reassured that any old human being could recognize the good, inspired art vs the okay uninspired stuff.

We're unfortunate to live in an age where we don't recognize that regular people DO need beauty, profundity, art, music, good storytelling. Like either we'd be weird antisocial self-cutters with goth haircuts and black clothing or we should just go eat our potato chips and watch our reality TV like good "consumers." The number of 1 and 2 star reviews for this film really reassures me. We're not film critics, film students, etc but we still care about good storytelling and - whether we shudder at the thought of it or not - we care about art too, even if we don't admit it -because it isn't about weird abstract S#%, it's about US, about being alive and human. How Prometheus ended up not being about that, we may never know.

If I would sum it up in one sentence: The filmmakers made the mistake of trying to make a film smarter, more profound, more knowledgeable, more wise than they were and failed.

I absolutely appreciate the concepts you've brought up... if only they'd been used to inform Prometheus with more of a story!

Posted on Apr 8, 2013 3:52:16 PM PDT
It's disconcerting when Hollywood directors try to tackle "big questions" they're so ill-equipped to deal with. All the mindless behavior of the characters here would be less disturbing if there weren't a constant underlying suggestion that this film is REALLY about the meaning of life. If I understood correctly, the question Scott wants us to ponder is "What if the human species was born by spontaneous generation from bits of an alien who disintegrated himself in a stream?" This ranks close to Steven Spielberg's "What if all civilizations on Earth were transmitted by alien pinheads who need to get one of their crystal skulls back in order to take off in their pyramidal space ship and go back home?" Somehow these interrogations don't make me feel tempted to stop and think.

Posted on Sep 4, 2013 11:14:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2013 8:03:01 AM PDT
I'll just add it is particularly sad when you compare it to say, Lars Von Trier's Melancholia - he manages to build sort of an existential terror without once doing anything graphically violent, sudden, or nonsensical. Surely, there ought to be a building terror of meeting your creator AND of finding out it's just a bunch of aliens not god or gods. There ought to be a sort of building metaphysical terror in the film of the characters finding out they are lab experiments not the children of god. Instead of getting someone struck with that kind of horror - or getting nietzsche's superman - someone who can look the abyss in the eye and carry on because they have their own reasons for doing so, you get the opposite - characters so moronic they look into the abyss and are totally unaffected.

I think it would be found that any detailed analysis of this film, going point by point, would reveal a sort of fractal stupidity to this film. You can zoom in on all the individual details, you can zoom out to an overview and it is still just as stupid.

If you stop to think about any particular detail of the film, this is the case. For instance, the film introduces our two archaeologists at a cave site on the Isle of Skye. We're told the cave paintings are x number of years old casually and they continue on with the dialogue. The problem is, the Isle of Skye was under about a MILE OF ICE at the time. Something called an Ice Age. Nobody was living there. Nobody COULD live there.

You can go two ways with that. One, the people involved in the film-making had such a wealth of multi-disciplinary ignorance they had no idea what they were doing and did not care to know. (They set their film up so that their entire plot happens because of archaeological evidence but they had no interest in it themselves even so far as making sure their references to it would be plausible)

...or two, they WANTED to place the cave paintings 30,000 years ago under a mile of ice... but have the archaeologists express no surprise, excitement, etc at finding evidence of human habitation under a mile of ice. So either the filmmakers are ignorant or their characters are purposely stupid. Like, if you found an entire Roman city dated maybe 100BC in Argentina and your first reaction is to speculate on just ONE particular mosaic on the wall of a villa - hey, is that a star map? Seriously? Like, if they found an ancient alien city on the dark side of the moon, would their first reaction be to take it for granted but exclaim - hey, look at this plaque - is this possibly a recipe for Tikka Masala?

ANYTHING you check in practically any discipline will yield similar stupidity. Even the little things. For instance, the illustration of the moon they land on shows it so close to the gas giant that tidal forces would prevent there from being a stable surface on the planet. It would be in constant upheaval.

The engineers go to the trouble of creating a human-breathable atmosphere inside their structures and are found to be 100% match to human dna, yet the Engineer can run around outside breathing the atmosphere to no ill effect. Were they making a human-breathable atmosphere indoors for thousands of years just on the off-chance humans would show up and might want to remove their space-helmets? Like, they presumed humans WOULD be capable of spaceflight and would show up, but would not have mastered space-SUIT technology, so they had the atmosphere thing running? Alternatively, should the Engineer have collapsed and died on the way to Shaw in the lifeboat? These seem to be the two alternatives.

Human holograph technology is in vivid, lifelike color indistinguishable from reality, but super-advanced Engineer holograph technology is a crappy blurry monochrome. Or maybe alien tech would have been as vivid as human tech, it just gets degraded over time, right? - except for any technology vital to the plot point. Every door characters need to pass through works perfectly, the alien ship works perfectly after millenia of zero maintenance, buttons, panels, things actively listening for flutes to play to know if they should allow access to ship controls, life support systems, coldsleep pods, all other Engineer tech turns out to work flawlessly but cut the holograph record some slack, it's old... we know because of how awful and degraded it is, right?

Unlike human ICBM missile silos and biological weapons research facilities from the 1970's, Engineers have zero security on their most dangerous weapons - if you can read the open sign and push the right button, come on in... but if anyone does show up, this is cause for immediate alarm, the immediate killing of all intruders, and the extinction of their entire species without delay.

...but to operate the ship, you have to play a flute as the password. A flute which you leave openly lying around while you are in coldsleep for long, long stretches of time - what if something happens to the flute while you're in coldsleep, how would you start your ship? There appears to be only one flute in the entire complex and it appears to be the sole surviving alien object in the entire complex. Why would an alien race whose technology and culture seemingly eschewed ALL objects require a flute to operate a vital ship... alternatively, if they used other objects, why would the flute be the sole object that stood the test of time while everything else crumbled - not a bottle opener, coffee cup, not a pair of slippers, not a keychain fob or Niagara falls souvenir. Why are Engineer objects so crappy and ephemeral when humans can find artifacts from daily human life from 40,000 years ago? But in any case, leave the single - vital - object in the complex lying around in the open while you sleep and don't lock any of your doors WHILE CONSCIOUS OF THE FACT THAT YOU LEFT DIRECTIONS TO YOUR LOCATION LITTERED ACROSS THE FACE OF A PLANET YOU HAVE PURPOSELY FILLED WITH SENTIENT LIFE CAPABLE ONE DAY OF VISITING YOU BECAUSE THEY ARE A 100% GENETIC MATCH FOR YOURSELVES.


Posted on May 27, 2014 2:03:42 PM PDT
...and just rethinking about the whole premise of the movie here, what was the goal of the Humans? (and in this case, I mean what was the goal of the Engineer-Humans, not the regular-humans...)

Their goal appears to have been to get regular-humans to come to their facility, because they left directions to their facility all over the Earth over a 30,000-40,000 year time span. Seems pretty insistent.

We can also conclude the Engineer-humans wanted the regular-humans to get INSIDE their facility. Because:
--the facility is easily recognizable from orbit as manmade
--They left everything running
--They put no locks on the doors
--Everything can be operated with use of regular-human language spoken on earth when the Engineers were around

So we can conclude that the Engineer-humans wanted regular-humans to come there and moreover wanted them to wander around their facility and spaceships. Or they're the dumbest bunch of non-aliens in cinema history. (not aliens since they are 100% match for us..)

So how should the Engineer-human react upon waking up and seeing regular-humans?

"Fantastic! You're here just as we planned! Glad you made it! Let me shake your hands."

Instead he reacts like a mindless monster and rips off heads, throws people into walls. The movie tells us with no uncertainty that the Engineer-human's purpose in taking off in his spaceship is to kill all life on Earth. They don't try to give us the impression Shaw may be jumping to conclusions here.

Wait, WHAT was the Engineer-humans' goal? If the plan was to have humans come to their facility, then everything is going splendidly. If everything is going according to plan - and logically this is the only possibility - what need for immediate action or hostility?

The Engineer-humans
--created an intelligent spacetravel-capable population on earth
--left directions for them
--made their facility operable by languages spoken by regular-humans of the time
--left no locks on the doors, no password protection on vital areas

If you DON'T want people showing up
1. Don't create a population of fellow humans... you're 100% human, you've achieved spaceflight. It's a pretty good bet that other humans you leave on Earth will eventually do so too.
2. Don't leave directions
3. Camoflage your base
4. Lock some doors.
5. Make it function in something other than the language of the people you don't want visiting there (or don't teach them YOUR language if that's what happened)
6. Hire an alarm service - you might not want to depend on your visitors waking you up to know they've showed up.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of leaving something in orbit of EARTH watching for spaceflight, you might consider putting some warning satellites around your own planet. Or put an alarm on the front door at least. Maybe leave an android awake to keep an eye on things while you sleep...

The filmakers don't seem to understand the basic premise of their own movie - the Engineers.

It's okay if we in the audience don't know exactly why things are happening but the most IMPORTANT FACET OF YOUR FILM needs to make some kind of plausible sense.

Were things going according to plan for the Engineers or NOT going according to plan?

If having humans show up and get inside the facility IS THE PLAN, there's no need to rush off to Earth in a spaceship "full of death," right?

Nothing has to be speedily fixed here if the plan WAS for regular-humans to use the information and resources supplied by the Engineer-humans. So it would make no sense for the head-ripping engineer to leave in such a hurry to attack Earth in that case.

Or... okay, was the plan to wait for humans to show up a trillion light years from home and then "Hey, they're here, great - now we know it's time kill all life on Earth"? Like, everything's going according to plan and this is the next step of the plan???

But if regular-humans can show up at the Engineer-human facility A TRILLION MILES FROM EARTH, common sense tells the Engineer it is way, way too late to eliminate non-Engineer-human humanity. Regular-humans are all over the place terraforming ENTIRE PLANETS, making gigantic spacestations, they've got a military... is it wise to make a pointless gesture of destroying little ol Earth just to end up having space marines show up to nuke you from orbit?

What does this Engineer achieve by killing life on Earth? He won't gain anything by committing a genocidal act on his own people ("100% match!!!"...) - except of course to gain a very dangerous, numerous, very pissed-off enemy. An enemy that previously didn't know the Engineers were there but will certainly convert to a war-footing and be on their guard for any further attacks. And if regular-humans are fragmented into multiple factions, there's no more unifying act the Engineer could take than attacking Earth.

So... the Engineer-humans' goal was to create a separate branch of humans that would achieve a high level of technology so they could then attack them in an unforgivable genocidal way so they could incite an intergalactic war on... themselves.

Like, they couldn't just pick teams and have a war themselves, they specifically wanted to wait until another group of humans were ready to party after 40,000 years of development and fire off first contact with them by doing a planet-wide genocide? So they could have a war in which they were the bad guys?

Considering the amount of resources devoted to the project and the gigantic scale of time it took to get it to happen, it makes the thinking necessary to carry out such a plan totally alien and IMPLAUSIBLE FOR A GROUP OF 100% humans to want to carry out. But if things were going according to plan for the Engineers, so far as they had a master plan, this was it.

Or things didn't go according to plan in which case the Engineers are the biggest three-stooges keystone cops types of scifi history. See #1-6 above. Like, the filmakers' plan was to portray our creators specifically as imbeciles who carry out imbecilic pratfalls of godlike proportions over tens of millenia? How profound.
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