May 1, 2013

Archaeology on film. . . .and in the future

Filed under: Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:49 pm

Well, Prometheus. Finally got around to seeing (most of) it, as we recently got HBO. I say “most of” it because I missed the very beginning twice and by the middle of it I was so stupefied and bored that I just went to bed. Here is Forbes’ review, which I have to say I mostly agree with:

Where Scott & Co. have innovated on these stolen ideas is by making their characters — who are all bizarrely unfazed by the philosophical weight of their mission and discoveries — do ridiculously dumb things. When they see black alien ooze, they touch it. When they find a giant severed alien head, they bring it on the ship and perform inexplicable experiments on it in an open environment with no protective clothing. When the answers Charlie seeks are not immediately offered by the alien temple — which would be an earth-shattering discovery in its own right — he foregoes further inquiry and gets drunk. When members of the science team are lost in a gigantic, danger-filled alien structure, the mission leaders all go have sex. When a giant wheel-shaped object is rolling toward a couple of characters, they don’t run right or left, but stay directly in its path, like the security guard and the steamroller in Austin Powers.

Mostly everything that happened you saw coming from a mile — no, two — away and, like that say, they just did everything not even remotely like what, you know, actual people would ever do.

But that’s not my main beef! This is:

Screenwriters and directors are not scientists, and will likely fall back on the kinds of formulaic, non-scientific ideas that would occur to people who work in the entertainment industry.

One thing (among many) I’ve harped on here over the years is the sort of cardboard-cutout characters that Hollyweird likes to make Scientists out to be. You know the type: Incredibly brilliant, socially inept, usually working alone, shunned by colleagues who “just don’t understand because they’re stuck in their own scientific dogma”, but who is miraculously proven right in the end. This can work out well, like in Stargate, but here the “scientists” are just so. . . .lame. . . .that you kind of want to run to your office, tear down your framed PhD certificate, burn the paper, and shatter the glass to gouge out your own eyes because you’re too embarrassed to even be associated even indirectly with these people.

And they had to be archaeologists!!!

1) When you find a giant temple complex on another planet, what’s the first thing you do? Map it and photograph it in excruciating detail? Why no, you charge into the main temple and start poking around. I mean, duh.

2) What happens when you find a mummified head? Scan the crap out of it, take samples, DNA, blah blah blah, all in a safe containment vessel (not to mention collecting it in a sterile haz-mat container instead of stuffing it into a plastic bag)? Why no, you stick stuff in it and crank it up until it explodes.

Admittedly, they did have these whack floating orbs that cruised around the whole interior of the temple mapping everything in a sort of LIDAR-ish fashion. I’d give my right arm for something like that. But, you know, they only busted those out after they’d charged into the temple near dark. Without any sort of plan.

So I dunno. I guess I’d like to see the beginning. Otherwise, I think I’ll go watch Blade Runner again. . . .

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