Monday, June 18, 2012

Bringer of Fire

Your esteemed author, in an intellectual conceit, is going to pretend that he is an obscure cousin of Prometheus, the titan in Greek mythology who gave mankind the gift of fire. This identity lets me show that brimstone is a highly combustible substance as I post a scathing review of the new Ridley Scott film named after his famous relative.

Why am I so aggravated by this movie? Two words: high expectations.

I own just about every commercially-released version of Blade Runner and Alien (okay, not the Betamax versions). I would rate both in my all-time top five films, both in terms of pure enjoyment and on objective merit. So I got my hopes way, way up in imagining what Scott could do with modern film technology in making a prequel to Alien.

What did Scott ultimately deliver? A really amazing film spectacle, yes, but really he shot a film with a horrendous script.

Let's imagine you are one of the really, really smart decision-makers working for the Weyland-Yutani corporation, and your company is bankrolling a trillion-dollar space mission to another planet. This ship is going to carry your CEO, his daughter - who stands to inherit the controlling interest in the company, and who wants to survive the voyage - and some top scientists to explore a planetary body which might hold the secret of how life began on Earth. If we assume the crew were following their mission orders, based on what I saw in the movie theater, you probably wanted to make sure no-one came back alive from this journey, and you wrote up the mission protocols like so ...

Mission Protocols

1) Explore any artificial structures found at voyage terminus.

2) If structure contains breathable atmosphere, recommend opening all helmets and outer coverings to conserve oxygen supply.

3) If structure contains possible bio-hazards, direct contact (up to and including rubbing into eyes or other orifices) is authorized in order to discover possible physiological mutations in human beings.

4) All symbols should be immediately and repeatedly manipulated by direct contact. Any potential doorways should be opened without consultation with security personnel nor implementation of quarantine procedures. Ignore any signs of danger such as alien corpses, holograms or psionic shrieks of distress.

5) All alien power sources should be activated. Functionality of alien artifacts is a mission priority.

6) Release all (bound) alien life forms from stasis, to ensure best possible human-alien diplomatic relations. 

7) All specimens, materials and samples from the exploration site should be disseminated to surviving crew-members.

NB. In space, no-one can hear you scream.