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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » It's because Damon Lindelof is a bad writer, period.

   
Author Topic: It's because Damon Lindelof is a bad writer, period.
Sa'eed
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Never saw "Prometheus," but this "Honest Trailers" video verifies my fears about the film being a nonsensical mess where mysterious stuff just happens without explanation, like Walt's (from Lost) weirdness and specialness (and much, much else from that show).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBaKqOMGPWc&feature=player_embedded

Red Letter Media lampooned "Prometheus" too (mature language):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x1YuvUQFJ0

Damon Lindelof is the most successful science fiction screenwriter currently working in Hollywood.

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Stephan
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What makes you say he is the most successful?
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Sa'eed
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Because he keeps getting to write major sci-fi films, which end up sucking, Cowbows & Aliens, Prometheus, etc.
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Blayne Bradley
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I liked Cowboys and Aliens.
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Aros
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Prometheus was awesome. And I wouldn't say that Red Letter Media lampooned it either. They just said that a lot of it went unexplained.

It was a thinking movie. No problems with that.

[ October 09, 2012, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Aros ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
It was a thinking movie.

http://i.imgur.com/3epKL.gif
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Foust
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Prometheus was awesome. And I wouldn't say that Red Letter Media lampooned it either. They just said that a lot of it went unexplained.

It was a thinking movie. No problems with that.

There certainly was a lot to think about.

Would you try to make friends with a space cobra?

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Aros
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Maybe I'm a sucker for it because the certain themes and the ending reminded me a lot of 2001 (the book series, not the film). Plus there was an artistic fearlessness (recklessness) in telling a story that they must have known would be unpopular.

Certainly not a mainstream flick.

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Aros
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And he wasn't very involved in Cowboys and Aliens. It was mostly Orci and Kurtzman.

Lindelof has gone on record several times, talking about stories being in a "living" world, where not everything has to be explained to the viewer. I think both Lost and Prometheus are very susceptible to this.

Frustrating? Yes, to some. Incompetent? I (personally) don't think so. And a lot of critics seem to agree.

From Wikipedia:
"Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, labeling it a "seamless blend of story, special effects and pitch-perfect casting, filmed in sane, effective 3-D that doesn't distract." Ebert wrote that Rapace's performance "continues here the tradition of awesome feminine strength begun by Sigourney Weaver in Alien", but considered that Elba's Janeck has the most interesting character evolution. Ebert thought that the plot raises questions and does not answer them, which made the film intriguing and in the "classic tradition of golden age sci-fi"."

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
There certainly was a lot to think about.

Would you try to make friends with a space cobra?

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/06/13
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TomDavidson
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God. The idea that hipsters might start flocking to Prometheus because the squares just don't "get" what a deep and courageous film it is -- as opposed to a shamelessly hollow piece of crap -- really, really irritates me at some sort of primal level. [Smile]
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
God. The idea that hipsters might start flocking to Prometheus because the squares just don't "get" what a deep and courageous film it is -- as opposed to a shamelessly hollow piece of crap -- really, really irritates me at some sort of primal level. [Smile]

It didn't really happen with the final season of Lost, did it? There were the people that loved it, the people that disliked the "God" angle, and the people who hated (read: didn't understand) it.

The finale was met with popular hatred, and I haven't seen too many people try to stick up for it. Short of a few critics / bloggers.

http://screenrant.com/lost-finale-explanation-kofi-61464/

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Samprimary
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People also, at least in my experience, really dropped off fast from defending Prometheus. I mean, really, "unanswered questions" is Ebert's handwavey blind spot at work* — if you can make Solaris make sense, you can make Prometheus make sense. Or, you can suck at it.
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Samprimary
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* same blind spot responsible for 3/5 out of 4 reviews for freaking the phantom menace and crystal skull
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Aros
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Good point, Sam. Ultimately, I think one is going to argue in favor or against based on their gut feel, and do any rationalization after the fact. Both Ebert and I enjoyed the beautiful panoramic shots (I saw it in 3D IMAX), the gorgeous sets, and some of the better action set pieces. I also enjoyed the melancholic tone of the ending.

Sure, I'd argue that it was a good movie. Because I enjoyed sitting through it. But I could just as easily argue that it sucked for a good many reasons.

I think I might have liked it a lot less if I was a fan of the Alien movies and had any expectations whatsoever.

I liked Solaris. And I like ambiguity in films. *shrug*

I still don't see why anyone enjoyed Crystal Skull. Then again, I don't see why anyone watches Two and a Half Men.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
I don't see why anyone watches Two and a Half Men.

I can tell you why I watched the first season. A rare alternative family sitcom not featuring a purely idiot dad like Raymond, Home Improvement, and so many others. But then the jokes got repetitive.

Crystal Skull had no redeeming value in it whatsoever.

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Blayne Bradley
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My mom liked it, and she's a long time Harrison Ford fan.

I never saw Prometheus, I was never into the Alien franchise.

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Foust
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quote:
I liked Solaris. And I like ambiguity in films. *shrug*
Prometheus certainly had plenty of ambiguity.

Like, why did the boyfriend scientist get so depressed and consider himself a failure after discovering conclusion proof that his research had not been in vain?

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
I liked Solaris. And I like ambiguity in films. *shrug*
Prometheus certainly had plenty of ambiguity.

Like, why did the boyfriend scientist get so depressed and consider himself a failure after discovering conclusion proof that his research had not been in vain?

He was looking for God, only to find out that God is dead. That can make you mopey.

Obviously this could have been better established in the film - The transition in the character is jarring, even if I got what they were going for.

My main problem with the film is scientists acting stupid while doing field work. Granted, a lot of them were out of their depth - They didn't even know that the mission was potentially going to involve extra-terrestial life. It was a group of random scientists of different fields put together by a company who's purpose was to simply extend the life of company owner. The company didn't care about any scientific research beyond that.

But why concentrate on the negatives so much? The film is a visual wonder on a level that only few directors can deliver. It has terrific action and suspense set pieces, it has very good acting, some intriguing characters, some witty and stirring dialogue (yes, just watch it again), and it's vast in ambition and scope. It's also poetic and beautiful, with one foot firmly in the harder side of scifi, which is very rare in big budget scifi films.

The positives win the negatives 10 to 1.

I loved Prometheus and I have already watched it twice. The ending is so great and intriguing, that I really hope to see the planned sequel.

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Foust
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quote:
He was looking for God, only to find out that God is dead. That can make you mopey.
But... no. What he found was conclusive proof of a space faring race. They could have still been on other planets, you know? He didn't find a dead God.

Maybe the character was bipolar, or something.

Yes, the movie looked beautiful. Yes, Michael Fassbender was awesome. The movie was like a perfectly cooked steak smeared with poo. Yeah, it's a perfectly cooked steak, but would you eat it?

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
He was looking for God, only to find out that God is dead. That can make you mopey.
But... no. What he found was conclusive proof of a space faring race. They could have still been on other planets, you know? He didn't find a dead God.

Maybe the character was bipolar, or something.

Yes, the movie looked beautiful. Yes, Michael Fassbender was awesome. The movie was like a perfectly cooked steak smeared with poo. Yeah, it's a perfectly cooked steak, but would you eat it?

Well, he wanted to talk to them. That's why he went there. The aliens had been dead and abandoned for 2000 years. There wasn't any signs of an alive civilization.

The point is, the foundation of the character is solid. But otherwise he hasn't been written very well. He comes off as a foolish and ungrateful person, for reasons that are not executed clearly enough.

But there are other characters to like: David is an awesome character, Elisabeth Shaw is pretty standard woman in trouble at first, but shows so much badassery towards the end, that I liked her a lot. Peter Weyland is an interesting character, and has interesting family dynamics with her daughter and her "son". Idris Elba and and Charlize Theron don't have much screentime, but both have compelling sub-plots to them.

Everyone else is basically cannon-fodder, as can be expected from a film like this. But at least the acting is consistently strong across the board.

And dialogue is often really, really good. If you don't remember all the witty lines, a 2nd viewing might illustrate them better.

And the set pieces are pretty amazing. Prometheus colliding with the alien ship, and the giant wheel destroying everything on it's way. The greatest C-section ever committed to film (And a great character-building scene for Elisabeth). The storm scene is really cool too. And the humans finally meeting their creator, alive, with unfortunate consequences. And Prometheus arriving to the planet is just epic.

And there are so countless of smaller scenes, which are just really vivid and memorable. Which means pretty much any scene that centers on David. And then there is the head in the duffel bag, and birth of a most unlikely friendship. And the monk-alien ritually sacrifing himself to give life to a planet. And the re-animated alien head, which really creeped me out. I could go on and on.

And there is the outstanding cinematography. And the production design. And the costumes. And the top rate effects work. Music is excellent, too.

And the basic plot is clear and tight: Heroes go to a distant planet to find the creators of human race. They find the creators, but the heroes also realize, that they creators are about to destroy their own creation: The mankind. And so the heroes have to destroy the creators, before mankind is destroyed.

It's a pretty great high concept for a scifi horror film. Simple and distinctive. And the film delivers on that promise with a punch.

So yeah, I admit that the character who has the 6th billing in the film is a weak character. But the five most important characters in the film are good, and one of them is remarkable.

Not too bad for my money. Damn, I have to watch this film again...

BTW, I should mention that Lindeloff didn't write the script alone. The other writer was Jon Spaihts, who wrote the excellent spec scripts for Passengers and Shadow 19. Smart, character-driven hard scifi scripts both. His fingerprints are over this film just as much as Lindeloff's.

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TomDavidson
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I think you and I have very different definitions of both "smart" and "hard" sci-fi.
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Aros
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I think the point is that it is "smart" and "hard" sci-fi . . . in relation to most mainstream tripe that passes as sci-fi. This isn't Primer, but it certainly isn't Star Wars either.
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TomDavidson
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Well, sure, but that's like saying that Reservoir Dogs is a gritty and realistic crime drama.
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Aros
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Tom, I'm reminded very much of the new Star Trek. Think about it this way -- the old Star Trek was very much Golden Age science fiction, at least as much as television could be. TNG became softer, incorporating some hard sci-fi elements, but it became much more of a character drama. The new Star Trek movie dropped even more of the sci-fi in favor of dramatism; but by doing so, it was able to appeal to a much more mainstream audience. It was able to rejuvenate a franchise that'd already had its death knell.

The new Star Trek was handled deftly and was able to appeal to both the nerds and a wider mainstream audience. Does watering down the sci-fi decrease its intrinsic value? Prometheus did some daring things for a mainstream movie, but some elements were handled less than deftly (while it was handled MUCH more artistically and seriously than Star Trek). I think there is still a lot of intrinsic value.

All art is flawed on some level. Does that invalidate it? If so, then only art with mass appeal can be relevant. Is the Iron Man movie the epitome of good science fiction?

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Samprimary
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I don't think any of that is a counterpoint to why people have ended up recognizing that prometheus is a distinctly flawed product. It comes down to basic things, like writing, character motivations, and not getting stuck in a malaise of 'why would they do that' and 'why wouldn't they just'
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
(while it was handled MUCH more artistically and seriously than Star Trek)[/QB]

Is "artistically" just another code word for "seriously" here?

And does "seriously" itself only mean serious in the sense of somber/unhappy/dour?

Like, Star Trek had lots of lights and jokes and happy people and good triumphing, whereas Prometheus* had low lighting and lots of sad and unhappy people and a bleak outcome. So Prometheus was more "artistic."

If that's what you mean, I totally disagree with your definition of "artistic and serious."

If that's not what you mean, then I don't get what you mean.

*: I haven't seen Prometheus, so this description is based on what I've read about it and the trailer.

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Destineer
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Star Trek was a *much* better film than Prometheus. And in its way, it was more artistic as well. There's no other film that looks like the Abrams Star Trek. Such distinctive cinematography.
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Destineer
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When you guys talk about Solaris, are you talking about the Clooney or Tarkovsky version?

I like the Clooney one all right, but I can see disliking it. The Tarkovsky one is just amazing, and anyone who doesn't like it is making a big mistake.

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Aros
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Dan, I love how much argument you can put into a movie you haven't seen.

Prometheus had stronger acting, set design, and cinematography, but it was much more of an auteur piece (with all of the trappings -- including limited point of view in script development, less streamlined, bloated, etc).

Star Trek was the quintessential stylized movie, the output of a large team of creative people distilling a project under the helm of a competent director.

They were both artistic in their own way. But it's like comparing a flawed Rembrandt and a strong Gauguin. Rembrandt is still going to kick butt in the raw technique department.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Dan, I love how much argument you can put into a movie you haven't seen.

Thanks!

As long as I misunderstood what you meant by "serious and artistic," that's fine.

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Aros
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Yeah, pop art is still great. But no matter how well crafted Star Trek was, it would never win an award.

I'm still surprised that Return of the King hauled away some trophies.

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Orincoro
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I just realized who started this thread. Then I realized that Lindelof is Jewish. Then I was like: "ohh..."
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Samprimary
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For once I have to grant it could be coincidental but
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Destineer
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quote:

I'm still surprised that Return of the King hauled away some trophies.

Really? I feel like since Titanic, and especially since Gladiator, big epic blockbusters have been favored over artsier stuff for Best Picture, and to a lesser but still noticeable extent for the acting awards.
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Orincoro
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It's political as well. They campaigned for the Oscar and it was really in honor of the enormous amount of good work the whole production encmpossed through 3 films.
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Tuukka
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Just for a note, I really like the new Star Trek, but in terms of story logic it makes a lot less sense than Prometheus. The plot holes are gigantic.

But like Prometheus, it has so many enjoyable and ambitious elements to it, that I can overlook some weaknesses of the script.

(And yes, Prometheus is "hard" in terms of Hollywood movies - Or movies in general. I'm not going to compare it to hard sci-fi literature, because it's a movie, not a book)

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Destineer
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quote:
Just for a note, I really like the new Star Trek, but in terms of story logic it makes a lot less sense than Prometheus. The plot holes are gigantic.
The character motivations are a lot more consistent, though. That counts for more, in my book. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has huge plot holes, too, but it works.
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Foust
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
[QB] Just for a note, I really like the new Star Trek, but in terms of story logic it makes a lot less sense than Prometheus. The plot holes are gigantic.

Really? This feels like a rhetorical exaggeration. Did I miss the scene where Scotty tried to make friends with a space cobra?
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
[QB] Just for a note, I really like the new Star Trek, but in terms of story logic it makes a lot less sense than Prometheus. The plot holes are gigantic.

Really? This feels like a rhetorical exaggeration. Did I miss the scene where Scotty tried to make friends with a space cobra?
Extended version.
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
[QB] Just for a note, I really like the new Star Trek, but in terms of story logic it makes a lot less sense than Prometheus. The plot holes are gigantic.

Really? This feels like a rhetorical exaggeration. Did I miss the scene where Scotty tried to make friends with a space cobra?
Well, the villain has no logical reasons for his actions. And the entire story hinges on them. The story wouldn't exist without them.

Spock didn't destroy the Romulan home planet, he just failed to save it despite his best attempts. So the reason for the anger of the villain is illogical.

Moreover, when the villain travels back in time, he never goes to his home planet and evacuates everyone - He would have 130 years to do it. He is missing his wife... So why not go and meet her?

He could easily save his home planet and all the people in there, which is supposedly exactly what he wants to happen.

But no, he just wastes his time trying to torture Spock for no real reason whatsover.

The entire plot depends on completely illogical behavior by this character. And these plot/character points are much larger than the space cobra in Prometheus.

Also the drilling platform above Vulcan could have simply been shot down by the Enterprise. No need to risk personnel, and the planet would have been saved. It's a shame that this obvious solution didn't occur to anyone. But the characters in Star Trek are not very logical.

And then the plot also depends on completely ridiculous coincidences - The story couldn't happen without them. The most obvious one is when Kirk is abandoned to a random ice planet, and it just happens that he crash-lands next to a cave where the old Spock has lived for the last 130 years. The chances of this coincidence happening are impossible. It could never happen. But it happens in the film anyway.

In contrast, Prometheus is a much tighter and logical script.

And Star Trek, despite some glaring story and character problems, was still pretty awesome.

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Aros
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Agreed. And people were able to overlook its faults because of the "fun" factor. And because it catered to both neophytes and Trekkies. A Star Trek movie that you can take a date to and she won't hate you for it.

Just like I'm able to overlook some of the problems with Prometheus because it was hauntingly beautiful, with superb acting, and it had some killer action sequences and a great ending. Oh, and the 3D IMAX was pretty much universally agreed to be at least as good as Avatar.

Caveat: It's highly likely I wouldn't have appreciated the movie so much had I NOT seen it in 3D IMAX.

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Destineer
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There's a premise here that people are taking for granted, which I want to contest: the assumption that Prometheus was a well-made movie at the nuts-and-bolts level. Actually, at that level it was total shite.

Some people seem to think the big problem with the movie has something to do with the premise, but I don't feel that way. I just think it was put together ineptly. The dialogue is almost entirely a mix of horrendous howlers and skull-crushingly blatant exposition ("It's OK that you can't have babies, baby"). There are all kinds of off-feeling details that didn't need to be there (Pearce's awful makeup, the CG of the Engineers, Shaw staggering around completely functional as she holds together her stapled uterus).

Also, partway through the movie switches type from mind-expanding sci fi to sci fi horror. This confounds the viewer's expectations, for obvious reasons. There are two ways to handle a switch like this well, that I can think of. One way is the path chosen in Sunshine (which pulls almost exactly the same move), which is to have a connecting thread between the horror and intellectual elements of the film, so that it doesn't jar the viewer. The other way is to own the turn-around and underscore it, so that the point of the movie becomes the way it defies the expectations it set up. Prometheus does neither of those things, so it just feels like a film that sets up one plot and then resolves a completely different one that the viewer never had the chance to get interested in.

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BlackBlade
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It was still beautifully shot and the sets were amazing.
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