I’m back! Also, Learning From Movies: Prometheus

It’s been far too long. Almost two months, in fact. It’s partially my fault, but at the same time not. Basically, finals happened. And for a number of reasons, this finals season was the hardest one I’ve had in a while (partially due to my lack of desire to do anything school related). But now finals are done, I’ve graduated from college, and just about all the major events of this part of the summer are over with. So, I’m back.

Something else I’ve noticed is that it’s been hard to find topics to write about that are short enough that I can do it without a huge time investment (there will be some of those bigger ones, eventually). I had an idea, but I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to go about it. Fortunately, I have since figured out how I would do it.

So without further rambling, let me introduce Learning From Movies!

In this (somewhat regular) segment, I will discuss I movie I have watched recently. I don’t plan on making it an actual review, as I am not at all an expert on movies, and that would defeat the purpose of what I want to do. (However I will of course give my thoughts, which will include if I felt it was good or not.

I watch movies for two main reasons. The first is the same reason most people watch movies, for the entertainment. Movies are something I enjoy watching, and I am very willing to overlook flaws if I enjoy the overall product. The second reason I watch movies is to refresh my ‘idea bank’ as it were. Even most bad movies will have something interesting, either a particular character, scene, or idea that I can use as inspiration for my own writing. It isn’t just about saying, ‘that’s cool, I should have that in a book’, but rather ‘that’s cool, I wonder how I can use this to make a basic idea I already have more interesting’. The best is when the movie is’t the greatest, but has some really cool ideas or events that I can give my own twist to and make better use of.

As the title of this post suggests, the first victim–I mean subject–is the movie Prometheus, which came out some time in 2012. It was one of those movies that I kind of wanted to see, but I was never motivated enough to get out an see it in theaters, so it became that movie I’d see mentioned randomly, would read some spoilers of, always reminding myself that I should watch it at some point.

About a month ago, I finally did just that after seeing it was available for view on HBOGo. I probably shouldn’t have watched it when I did, as I had plenty of course work to do, but senioritis. (And I should note that I haven’t watched it since, so I don’t expect to remember everything.) Overall, I think it was worth my time, though I fully understand the problems people had with it (yes I know that things make more sense with the deleted scenes added back in, but that wasn’t the version I watched). The story was serviceable, and the acting was fine, and I liked the references to the Alien movies, which I am a fan of (the good ones, anyway). There were some things that didn’t make sense, such as when two characters (including the one who made their map) got lost, then killed by not being careful with the alien creature they saw.

But I’m not here to talk about what was bad. I want to talk about what I, as a writer of sci-fi and fantasy (with sci-fi being the more relevant here) gained from watching this movie.

The most obvious value to Prometheus are its visuals. everything looks great, and I love seeing depictions of futuristic technology, as that helps me better visualize things in my own sci-fi settings. The ship looked great, of course, and I particularly liked the little drones they used to map the building they found. The movie’s depiction of the exploration of alien ruins was also well done, along with the intrigue among the crew, such as with the android’s killing someone to figure out how the black goo worked. (And the alien substances were cool as well; while it’s not exactly an uncommon thing in sci-fi, they always fascinate me.) The Company intrigue I could have done without, but the whole sense of foreboding we had from when the crew finds the alien compound is well done and I like seeing that in movies from time to time.

There were two other, more specific things that I thought were really interesting, and are definitely relevant to my own writing goals. The first was the scene in the medical pod. It wasn’t really the scene itself so much, but it was a really interesting take on future medical technology, quite different from anything I remember seeing before. It’s one of the things to watch sci-fi for, the little, interesting things.

The second thing was the whole subtext of aliens having interfered with our development as a species. I’ve watched my fair share of ‘Ancient Aliens’, which ranges from hilariously ridiculous to really interesting (seeing how they make such outlandish claims seem plausible). While I’m not sure where I stand on the ancient astronauts theory in real life (while I am a religious person, I think that intelligent life does exist on other worlds, and would not be terribly shocked if they had interfered–though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that aliens inspired religion; G-d and aliens can both exist in my universe view) the theory is extremely interesting, and I am making great use of it in the universe where most of my story ideas will take place, because it does makes sense assuming advanced life exists. For example, if aliens discovered a fantasy world where magic existed, you can bet they’d interfere in some form or fashion (I’m mostly going with the ‘remain hidden my study and meddle’ method rather than the ‘invade and exploit’method). Unfortunately it wasn’t executed in the movie  as well as it could have been, but seeing someone else’s take on a topic always makes your own ideas more refined and interesting, especially when you’re learning from their missteps.

Oh, and I almost forgot–the alien creatures themselves. I love seeing interesting aliens in movies, though they’re unfortunately not as common as I’d like. Prometheus was a mixed bag in this area. The Engineers were pretty boring, looking too human (though that played in to the ancient astronaut theory thing), but the other creatures, the ‘proto-Xenomorphs’ we can maybe call them looked great, and reinforced the fact that the Alien franchise is very good at making creepy alien monsters.

I think that will do it for this first Learning From Movies. Prometheus, despite its flaws, had a wealth of things that made the movie worth watching, and provided me with some new ideas I could make use of in my own writing. I’m not sure exactly how well organized it is, but I hope that over future installments of this I’ll develop a better structure.

In closing, I hope you find this at least somewhat interesting, and until next time, keep writing (and watching movies). As for me, I’m just glad to be back and posting here again.

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