Prometheus remains one of two notably disappointing movies for me this year. While I enjoyed viewing the movie and its some of its tantalizing propositions, ultimately it was a heavily flawed movie. I was hoping that its home video release would change my opinion of that and correct those flaws. After watching the some thirty minutes of deleted scenes I would put forth that they actually do make the movie better, but still do not correct the flaws.

I won’t be reviewing the movie here, but let me point out my major issues with it. There will be spoilers in this outlining and discussion of the outtakes.

In no particular order:

1)  Behaviour and skillset of the scientists, coupled with ignoring the ramifications of advanced technology.

Many have pointed out that none of the scientists act like scientists, even the ones responsible for getting the whole mission together.

Holloway and Shaw don’t even bother to back up their hypothesis for the existence of the engineers.  Shaw chooses to “believe”, rather than demonstrate evidence for her conclusions. So much for scientific method.  Holloway gives up on the entire mission when the Engineers are discovered to be “all dead”, despite having the biggest scientific discovery of all time at his fingertips.

The geologist, replete with awesome flying mapping drones – his seemingly one real job on the mission – loses his way: he doesn’t even have direct access to the data he is collecting. Even if the drones required the computers on Prometheus to sift through the acquired data, why wouldn’t he have gotten partial updates back from it?  Sorry, but you can’t have all these cool gizmos without some kind of rationale about their functioning.

The biologist is just as bad, discovering new alien life and then provoking it into attacking him, Steve Irwin style, rather than observing it and above all, taking notes.  He doesn’t even appear to be excited about his discovery. Its just some dumb organism to him.
The extras contains two scenes that pertains to this – there is a scene that depicts the discovery of an alien organism – a small worm – that gets bottled. The biologist is partially excited and points out the significance of the event. Okay, all well and good, so why not carry that across other scenes culminating in the attack?  The commentary points out that this scene was removed because it derailed the main narrative.  Maybe so, but it is so in-line with that narrative – finding the Engineers is the main narrative and by this time, there is strong reason to believe that the alien creatures are also their doing: the controlled climate, the containers, black ooze the creatures are in, etc.

The other scene depicts the biologist finding a discarded skin of a creature, very similar to the scene in Alien when the moulted skin is found. The biologist picks it up tenderly, helmet off and then sniffs the thing, which he finds repulsive. Uhm, contamination anyone? At least he is looking for evidence and treating it carefully, but its not a very convincing scientific job.

2) Lack of resistance to the idea of crashing into an alien ship

At the end of the movie, the Captain and crew are informed that the alien ship is planning on visiting Earth with its deadly cargo of alien nano-tech. They promptly go “Okay” and do their thing, with nary a complaint, despite it meaning the end of their own lives. None of the scenes leading up to this support the idea that they realize the gravity of the situation, or have such disdain for their own lives that they’d be willing to throw it away, or even point out that they are all closet heroes just waiting for the chance to jump on a metaphorical grenade.

The Extras show a scene where the Captain has some insight onto a similar situation containing human engineered “bad stuff” that needed to be eradicated with something nuclear or perhaps a Fuel Air Explosive/Thermobaric device in order to contain it. This was a good scene in that it supported the Captain’s convictions: he understood why it needed to be done.  The two pilots, however, don’t get any support from the scene. In the theatrical release, the Asian guy pipes up that he’s going to help because the Captain is a crappy pilot, while the other guy just smiles. Seriously? You’re facing certain doom on some raving woman’s whim, and you smile? Yeah, rriiighhhtt…

“Don’t worry, its nothing. Stop your fussin'”

3) Ignored important demonstrated events.

The whole alien baby thing. David infects Holloway, who impregnates Shaw, who gestates a “baby”, then gets it removed caesarian style and then… Well, no one really cares. At all. Shaw stumbles into another room with the real “villains” of the movie – Weyland, his nurses and David – covered in blood, iodine sterilizer, with a row of staples around a very noticeable cut and they don’t say a thing; an almost completely null reaction. David makes a joke and that’s it. David isn’t even really interested in the results of his experiment, which is growing at a ridiculous rate in the medical pod.  The whole thing – obviously a key point in the whole “what does this black goop do and why was it created?” narrative – is conveniently ignored because another major narrative is reaching its climax (and the real reason for the mission, see point 4 below).

The extras really don’t address this at all. It seems it was put in the movie for shits and giggles, spectacle and to reprise a major scene from Alien, but with the opposite expected results. Something that Prometheus and Ridley Scott is big on. Kinda like androids getting their heads ripped off.

4) Lack of explanatory scenes for key plot points.

If the theatrical release is to be thought of as a polished vision of its creators, and there are no “real” mistakes, then there must be reasons for why the final movie appears to be a mishmash of confusing ideas. Vickers is/isn’t an android. The scientists aren’t very good scientists, and so on. There has to be a reason behind these points.  But if there are, they are never explained to the viewer, who must stew in his own ignorance of these things.

One thought I had about the scientists being unscientific is that they really didn’t care about the mission at all, science or no. Fiefield the geologist, with his contempt for “real scientists”, tattoos and mohawk, respect for money and toking up on the scientific mission of his life, really doesn’t seem to be a scientist at all. Perhaps he isn’t. Perhaps he is just filling out the crew so Shaw, Holloway and Vickers will think the mission is to find the Engineers on behalf of humanity, rather than the selfish desire of Weyland. Fiefield has been paid an ungodly amount of money for his discretion and presence, not for his scientific acumen.  This would explain the shitty biologist as well.

Vickers being an android is really a mishandled idea in this movie. An obvious “connection” to the themes of Bladerunner, its literally dropped in the lap of the viewer with blatant delivery: “Are you an android?”  As far as the theatrical release is concerned, yes, she may as well be and no one cares. There’s lots of evidence for it and the intimation of sex with the Captain really does nothing to confirm or deny the idea: if a synthetic human can be engineered to the point where the human face is indistinguishable upon viewing or even touching, then replication of the genitals, inside and out, with mimicked sensation shouldn’t be that difficult.

The extras go a long way toward making Vickers more human. There’s several scenes with her emoting in response to the traumatic experience she’s witnessed. These should really have been left in, as it makes her a much more compelling character and supports the plight of the entire crew, which would help out with the climactic scenes where heroic suicide is called upon. These scenes were probably culled because it dispelled too much mystery about her and would answer the human/android question. Instead of (slightly more) compelling human drama, the character remains wooden and uninteresting (even humourous, as her death scene is the thing of much ridicule) in the theatrical release.

Prometheus movie-viewer, mid-show. Watch out, Ridley!

5) Pointless, disconnected action scenes.

With this, I’m primarily referring to the Fiefield mutant attack. The theatrical release had what appeared to be a neanderthal version of Fiefield running amuck. It seemed disconnected because of the hint and clues “container” storage room. That room had a massive mural depicting what most known as an alien/xenomorph from Alien, and is backed up by the black goop, H.R. Giger designs all over the place, etc. Fiefield gets attacked by the black goop  – and he becomes a neanderthal mutant… who finds his way back to the ship – despite being totally lost WITH all his techno gear earlier – and then randomly attacks whoever gives him attention.

The extras don’t change this much, but they do connect it to the containers and the general narrative of the alien discovery.  The Fiefield mutant is all CGI – courtesy of Weta SFX – and looks far more interesting, terrifying and still alien. Its face is still notably Fiefield, but blackened, chisel-toothed, with a bony skull face and cranium that strongly resembles the classic Giger alien design – even much more so with regards to the skull which was dropped in every Alien movie after the first.  Its forearms are elongated and it leaps about with more kinetic grace and violence than the neanderthal version. Also, its design ties in strongly with the dissolution/disintegration of the Sacrificial Engineer at the beginning of the movie, with its blackened skin, corrupted veins and so on. In short, it is much more impressive and fearsome, less amateurish and comedic.  It is definitely more in line with a horror-infused monster movie, than… whatever the Neanderthal was supposed to be. I wish it was part of the theatrical release.

6) Weyland’s mission really didn’t go anywhere.

The theatrical release: So this dude – he invests trillions of dollars into a space mission, freezes himself for two years to confront his “maker” and ask for something from them. The audience has no clue what was asked and the dude is killed pretty much immediately afterward. Great job, guys! I was totally invested in that narrative.

“I want more life… fucker!”

The extras show a full interaction between Weyland and the Engineer, complete with translation from David. It hits all the right notes, describing the Divine Right of Kings (which connected to Vicker’s conversation with Weyland earlier) and its bearing on Weyland’s desire for immortality, by virtue of his scientific achievements. The engineer seems supportive of the whole thing and his expression even seems to hint that what Weyland is saying is EXACTLY the kind of reason why the Engineer’s abandoned the installation in the first place and wanted to annihilate all they had created – or specifically humans. It actually made sense… but it was cut from the theatrical release because it revealed too much. Once again, great job guys, you removed the whole point of the movie and instead left us to try and decipher an ancient Sanskrit, Aramaic or other dead language. You didn’t even give us one line of subtitles for what David said, leaving the audience confused, disheartened and disappointed. As a writer, that is unconscionable and the hallmark of a pissant auteur, in my opinion.

So, do the extras make up for the movies losses? No, unfortunately they do little to patch the holes, but they do help. If I was making the movie, I’d slap most of them back in the movie to make them the official cut, especially the confrontation with the Engineer, as it has all the bits needed for a SF movie climax. As I’ve pointed out before in my previous article – Pointless Correlation – it is another version of the Roy Batty meet Eldon Tyrell scene of Bladerunner, but it meshes so well with some of the earlier scenes, that it is a sad, sad shame to see it removed.

If you want to feel a bit better about Prometheus, check the extras out. If you are permanently soured by it, this release won’t do much to change your mind.

Image Credits: 20th Century Fox, Weta Digital.

Related Article:   Pointless Correlation