Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Monsters of Prometheus Part 1

So, this weekend, like many many geeks in North America, I went to see Prometheus. Oh boy, was I disappointed. I utterly disliked this movie. It sucked pure and simple. Sure, it wasn't Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen or The Last Airbender. There were some good things - the sets are gorgeous and the actors are stellar despite having very little to work with. But the script is a stupid  mess similar to last year's Green Lantern.

But this post is not an in-depth review of Prometheus. Other people have done that, and I've done that on some website (namely io9) all week-end. No, this post is to criticize one specific aspect of Prometheus that is to my eyes an epic failure : the monster designs. Spoilers ahead, including the ending!

The Space Jockey

Yeah, yeah, I know, the official names of those creatures in Prometheus is the Engineers. But I,ve been using Space Jockey for more than a decade now, and I'll continue to use it. As a refresher, here is what the dead Space Jockey looked like in Alien:

Notice the size of that thing. It is obvious that, if it were to rise, the Space Jockey would be huge. Now, here is what a live Space Jockey looks like, from Prometheus (Sorry for the crappy quality)

Yep that thing is simply a bald, pasty white humanoid. Here what its face looks like.

 Holy Uncanny Valley Batman! What was that trunk-looking apparatus you say? Oh, simply a helmet. That would be a nice idea except for the fact that the head is clearly a skull in the original! Don't believe me? Here's a close-up of the original model:

See? Bones. Teeth. Tongue. This is not a helmet!!!!

As for the size, you can't really see on the picture, but from the movie, the Space Jockey is about 7 to 8 foot high in Prometheus. Much smaller than in the original. Basically, it's about the same height as the man¸in the original Alien suit (Bolaji Badejo, 7' 2")

So, failure number 1 of the Space Jockey design in Prometheus - continuity error. 

But hey, it's Ridley Scott's movie, surely he can decide to modify H.R. Giger wonderful artwork if he wants. Because let me tell you, the Prometheus Jockey wasn't designed by H.R. Giger. I have a book full of H.R. Giger's art right under the eyes. And you know what I see in it? I see spines, skull, elongated heads, baby faces, women faces, legs, cyborg pieces, needles, vagina and penises. Lots and lots of penises. But I don't see a pasty white male face.


Okay, fanboy rant aside, the design in Prometheus is just uninspired. The xenomorph is considered one of cinema's best monster for a reason - because it is so <i>alien</i> and non-human.  And considering the monster is played by a human, it's an amazing feat. It doesn't look totally organic - it's half organic, half cybernetic.  And, most importantly, it doesn't have eyes, the organs which we humans use to the most. And also, the "mirrors of the soul". A creature without eyes is extremely unnerving to us. But Prometheus doesn't have such creatures. Prometheus has big, pale humans as its centerpiece creature.

I know the whole point of the movie is that the SJ are our gods, and that we have been made in God's image. But does it have to be case? Do gods have to be human-like? After all, the SJ made all life on Earth, and all life on Earth doesn't look like us. So why make the creators of life humanoid? It's boring designwise. It's not scary, it's not memorable. In 20 years, will still have xenomorph fan art and parodies and reference. But I doubt anyone will remember the Uncanny Valley Man from Prometheus. 

But the Space Jockey are not the only cheaply-designed creature in this movie. In a few days, I'll continue looking as the failure of monster design in Prometheus. And, to cap that, I will do a list of my top 5 movie monsters (complete with explanation) so you can see what I like, not only what I hate. 

Till then, sleep tight, and COMMENT :P

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