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Open Letter to Ridley Scott

Dear Ridley Scott,

I have just returned from seeing your new film, Prometheus, and I would like my money back, please.

It cost me twenty one dollars, Australian, and I would like that money returned to me in dollar bills, by yourself personally, after you have flown to my country. It's Winter here, so I apologise for the cold, but you created that awful, mind numbing mess of a film, and you owe me.

The problems of your film are many: your characterisation is flawed, your science is bad, your internal plot mechanics make no sense, and there is absolutely no sense of pace or tension within the film at all. In truth--and I won't lie here--your film is completely and utterly unredeemable, from start to finish, and anyone who tells you otherwise has had their brain removed, placed into a jar, and set on your mantel piece so that you can rub your genitals over what remains of their grey matter.

It is clear, for example, that you have never met a scientist. I myself am not a scientist, but even I know that any real scientist would be meticulous, would not be taking off their helmet, would not be picking up the decapitated head of an alien to take back to the ship and try and get a 'response' from it. I know this. I know more, in fact, but what I don't understand is that if you offer me a pair of scientists who have managed to convince a very rich man to spend trillions of dollars to fly to a planet, why you would think that I would buy the fact that they are the most naive and stupid pair of scientists that you could possibly come across? And I'm not even talking about the fact that they didn't realise straight away that the old man was lurking in a secret freezer on the ship waiting for his chance of immortality. That was just a bad plot device that you and the scriptwriter--the last one, Damon Lindelof--should have sat around and said, "You know what? That's pretty fucking obvious."

"Yeah," I imagine Lindelof saying as he lines up thick lines on a glass tray, "but fuck, Ridley, we'll hide it behind an evil robot."

David.

David, the evil robot.

It's so obvious, from the moment he is combing his hair to look like Peter O'Tool, and repeating the line, "The trick is not minding that it hurts." So obvious that it's bad characterisation, that it's terrible writing. But worse than the fact that you have him lurking the spaceship and combing his hair and watching the dreams of others, is the fact that you don't even bother to follow through on his evil. Let me give you a hint: if you want to infect one of the crew with an alien disease which causes worms to emerge from his eyeballs, at least have the decency to follow it through, rather than simply burning the man to death when his infection is in full swing. You could have at least done something with that--created a connection to the aliens, allowed a dialogue to emerge, shown him disintegrating, similar to what happens to the alien at the start.

But no.

No, you take a flame thrower to him under a sudden 'quarantine' concern. Is that a decapitated alien head you have in your spaceship? Did the evil robot stash a alien case in above the sink while none of you were looking?

Of course, you might say, that that was all part of getting the alien born. Ah, yes. Yes. There's nothing like a woman who has to cut her stomach open to remove her alien child and then run staggeringly around the ship, covered in blood. One might suspect that someone would almost ask what had happened to her. You would think. She is covered in blood, after all. They probably just thought, "Oh, she's been playing with the fully functional medical pod that we just happened to glance by earlier, making it, you know, the only notable part of the ship. Of course she'll want to go there to have her alien baby removed." Of course she, as a scientist, might not leave her infection half alive in some part of the ship. But of course, scientists being stupid is part of the deal here, isn't it? Like when you left two scientists lost in the ship and they decided to be cute with what I can only assume were the mutated worms. No need to show those worms later, incidentally. Just have them kill some folk and then one of them can come back as a zombie and thin out the cast in what has not clear reasoning and does not even warrant a proper sense of place within the film.

"You know, Damon." You are looking at the empty glass trays sadly. "You know, we might have to explain the zombie."

"Nah, nah. Hand me that piping bag. We don't--through the nose isn't good enough. Just take down your pants. Trust me, Ridley, trust me, it's great. And all we have to do is have the old man go to the ship to meet the last surviving alien. Final act, man!"

But for all this bad film making, bad art, it was the subtext of the film pissed me off the most, you conservative piece of shit filmmaker.

Your whole film is ultimately a heavy handed sermon to Creationism. Of course the scientists are stupid, of course they have nothing resembling a thought, of course they're responsible for unleashing terrible death--because as your film so clearly and utterly says, we are not meant to know how we are created, we are not meant to know how life began. Put away your quest to know, put away your research. If you don't, you'll only unleash terrible things!

Your repeated shots of the main character's religious iconography, your shallow definition of her faith that, I hope, insults religious people everywhere, who are appalled that you reduced such an important part of their life to blindly 'believing', of asking "Who made them?" when faced with the knowledge that humans were made by aliens. I hope they are angry at you for suggesting that their religion comforts them, gives them a sense of having been made with a purpose, and allows them to put off any search or quest for knowledge in the universe. I hope they send you hate cards. Because you deserve them, not just for that, but because your shit film is essentially an attack on science, on evolution, and the kind of reaffirmation of creationism that is taught to hardcore fundamentalist Christians in ring wing shit stain schools in the States.

And, on one last note that you and your conservative cohorts can ponder as you fly over to return my twenty one dollars, is that it is humanity, not mankind.

Get it the fuck right, mate.

Yours,

Ben Peek.

Comments

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jaylake
Jun. 7th, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
You, sir, are my new hero for this.
benpeek
Jun. 7th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
i am but the humble servant of the open letter ;)
hal_duncan
Jun. 7th, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
A Von Daniken premise, yes, but see, I didn't think it was coherent enough to have a Creationist subtext. For me it was more:

Faithyscientist: wrongright; BIIIIIIG, hu/mans "--Ancient" makekill? Thingies... TADAAAAAA!!!

Seriously, I thought it was less articulate than one of those chimps trained to press buttons that make a machine say, "banana banana banana want want banana banana want banana want banana banana." It was the linguistic equivalent of... ever seen a dog choking itself as it tries to eat and breathe at the same time? That.
benpeek
Jun. 7th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
yeah, i agree that it was nearly incoherant in its structure as a film, but i do reckon that that subext was clearly all the way through. it really was the only thing holding the film together at all in the end.

but man, it was such a shit film. i'm sorry i didn't listen to you, i really, really am.
hal_duncan
Jun. 7th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
I think it was, like... for me the faithy billionaire and the faithy scientist just came across as fucktarded cranks who got everyone else killed. Like, for all the waving a cross around and having people spout random Ponderous Notions, half the time it was (inadvertently) saying these Creationist loons were fatally moronic. Faithy billionaire wants immortality? Faithy billionaire is a fucktard gonna lose his head. Faithy scientist wants validation? Faithy scientist is a fucktard whose creators are fucktards. Cause yeah, make humanity, try to kill humanity, leave humanity signposts to your secret stockpile of bioweaponry... even the Engineers are blithering imbeciles.
benpeek
Jun. 7th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
the fact that everyone in the film was so stupid almost beggered belief. i mean, that lone engineer at the end? he's just lurking there in stasis while all his mates have died terribly, been killed aliens... and outside the fact that that is stupid in itself... the first thing he wants to do when he wakes up is kill some folk?
ABCiccone1
Jun. 7th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
So...you give this film five stars?
benpeek
Jun. 7th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
for sure, man, for sure.
exp_err
Jun. 8th, 2012 05:02 am (UTC)
"... even I know that any real scientist would be meticulous, would not be taking off their helmet, would not be picking up the decapitated head of an alien to take back to the ship and try and get a 'response' from it."

Your faith in scientists warms my heart.

Did I tell you the one about the ecologist who went electrofishing while standing in the water?

How about the one about the oceanographer who forgot to tie the $40K instrument to the rope before lowering it overboard?

Or the limnologist who left a logging instrument out for a three-month deployment without checking that the batteries were charged?

Or the chemist who decided to clean a hot laboratory oven with an aerosol?

I haven't? I won't then. I do like it when people have faith in scientists.
benpeek
Jun. 8th, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
well, i do actually know that scientists can be very thoughtless on a number of levels, but, y'know, if your plot hinges on that...

but mostly, i'm just tired of stupid scientists in films. it's so often, and so prevelant.
flaming_ewok
Jun. 8th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for putting into words my reaction after seeing the movie last night. This was the first time I came out of a movie feeling down-right angry. I couldn't believe the level of stupidity both in front of, and behind, the camera. And I think I had reasonably-tempered expectations going in....
benpeek
Jun. 8th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
your welcome :)
burntcopper
Jun. 8th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
...and here i was thinking I might see this even after the bad reviews of 'incoherent' for the pretty and Fassbender being creepy android.

Thankyou for saving me £10.

- Heather
benpeek
Jun. 8th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
ten pounds?!

you got it too good over there!

;)
burntcopper
Jun. 8th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
exchange rate. thpppppbbt. (also, cinema is not in London)
benpeek
Jun. 8th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
lol.

how things been, btw?
burntcopper
Jun. 9th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
eh, mostly. not bad, not awful, out of work at mo, but crossing fingers. publishing bores me rigid.
benpeek
Jun. 9th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
yeah, the publishing side of writing kinda sucks. i'd like to do without it myself, too. people could just send me cheques of large sums and pretend it all worked out well.
timwb
Jun. 9th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
Good one on the Creationism. You may also enjoy my conclusion of Scott's motives...
RjurikDavidson
Jun. 9th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
And there I was with just this discomforting feeling that it wasn't really very good. :)
benpeek
Jun. 9th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
heh. it's not.

but i like to also accuse it of creationism. because i'm like that.
lesslinear
Jun. 9th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
And one more thing: *auto-pilot*
Exactly why did those two non-captain guys have to sacrifice themselves in the collision? Why didn't they, along with Elba, jump ship and set the auto-pilot? They live that far in the future but don't have auto-pilot – or machines that can operate on women?

Also, laughed out loud during the 'oh, my barrenness!' scene. So infuriatingly feeble.

Thanks for the open letter.
benpeek
Jun. 10th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Re: And one more thing: *auto-pilot*
yeah, there was lots of stupidity. the barren woman part was pretty big, and the machine--though i guess the machine was supposed to be for waylan. but you know, either way, it was all pretty lame and stupid.

i mean, the theron character could've, like, ran sideways to avoid being squashed.
mrfluoro
Jun. 10th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
I get where you're coming from I really do. But I think you have gone a tad overboard. The way I see it Prometheus is two films in one. Ignore all the shit and there's this awesome visual experience with interesting questions about aliens and biowarfare and a great scene with an automated surgery machine. Ignore the good and you have a film with poor dialogue , paper thin characters and convoluted plot devices.

The opening five minutes with the crumbling alien and minimalist titles was one of the best starts to a film I can remember in a while. Scott showed glimpses in this film that really did live up to reputation of the director who made Alien.

I don't know why I feel the need to defend Prometheus. As soon it finished I wanted to talk about the script's flaws. My biggest gripe was with how Holloway went back and got himself drunk at the pool table when he thought all the engineers were dead. What a stupid scene. As if he wouldn't have been in there watching the head be dissected. And they had hardly started to explore so how did he know they were all dead? Stupid.

Maybe there's something Scott does with atmosphere that just gets me. Alien is in my top ten of all time. I think it's an almost perfect film.

I feel like there is a great film within Prometheus and somehow it got buried under a terrible script. But I can't understand the way people are acting like this is a 4/10 or less film. I give it 7/10. So much of Prometheus is visual storytelling and in that department Scott is a master. Imagine this film with a better script.
benpeek
Jun. 10th, 2012 04:59 am (UTC)
you know, i've heard a lot of people say they liked the visuals, which is cool if you dug them, but i got to be honest, i thought they were pretty bland. the footage of the engineers running was the only stuff i thought new and visually interesting--the rest of it was all the old giger stuff from alien, pretty much. there was nothing really new about it at all.

but that's how it is, i guess. some people dig things, some people don't. i thought the surgery machine scene was okay, but i couldn't get over what happened before it, or what happened after. it was just so terribly placed and so obvious from the start that that's what would happen.
flaming_ewok
Jun. 10th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, the surgery scene. The thing can't do a c-section because it's only programmed for male anatomy -- what? I know that it's supposed to be another hint that Weyland is on board, but really, wouldn't a machine this sophisticated and expensive have both male and female programming? The richest man on the planet couldn't afford the female app?

And I'm sorry, but that poor woman would not be running around after having the width of her abdominal muscles sliced open like that. And don't tell me that the machine had some kind of magical Star Trek-like instant tissue regeneration properties, because it closed her up with freakin' staples, for f***'s sake!

Sorry, but this movie really pissed me off. Mostly because I expected better from Ridley Scott, if not Lindelof.

Edited at 2012-06-10 05:30 am (UTC)
benpeek
Jun. 10th, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
yeah, everything for the surgery scene sucked, really, especially her run afterward. actually, everything pretty much sucked. i don't particularly have a high set of standards for scott, but even he amazed me with this.
channelpenguin
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
Discussing this with someone who has had abdominial surgery, he said that in his opinion, running would actually not have been a problem (esp. with heavy duty painkillers) it's lifting *anything* that would be impossible. Shock, fear for your life and the physical compression of the tight suit (later) would also help.

I have been stapled together over a couple of long wounds, but for surgery a broken leg, so can't really comment relevantly cos the leg wasn't self supporting anyway. Er, it hurt but not insanely much and I could still move/lift/bend the leg (so far as swelling allowed) and most muscle action seemed possible.

So not as big a plot hole as it might seem... but yeah the rest... still looks pretty though...
ataxi
Jun. 10th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
First of all, great post Ben. You really nailed it—it was the most sincerely and excellently bilious thing you've done on this journal for a while!

I agreed with every word of your critique, and especially enjoyed the interludes with Lindelof and Scott freebasing crack into their arses or whatever they were doing.

This is a good review along similar lines:

http://www.celluloidandwhiskey.com/post/24509447126/review-prometheus

Prometheus was such a curate's egg—after all, we had a potentially good-to-excellent cast, a massive budget, very impressive visuals and special effects to go along with the relatively crummy, derivative art design and the screenplay which was, as widely discussed, utterly awful in so very many respects.

I do think the premise warrants special mention. There ought to be a special Shelley Scale for films like this (or like the Matrix sequels) which harbour intellectual pretensions. Something like 0 is Frankenstein and numbers above/below zero are respective the 10log10 of the film's intelligence relative to Frankenstein. This would've been about a -20: 100 times stupider, less elegant and less probing than Shelley's work.

On the same scale, Blade Runner would be about a 3; Matrix Revolutions about a -25 …
benpeek
Jun. 11th, 2012 04:14 am (UTC)
three for blade runner?

i guess i just have no balanced view of that film, anymore. i've had to teach it for close to five years.

what i was thinking, while reading that review you linked, was how well done a lot of the extra things were for the film. the viral advertising and such.

it was just a huge waste of opportunity. given how much traffic this review has picked up, i guess a lot of people think that way.

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