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Jun 21 2012

Who could have predicted?

I saw the movie Prometheus. It’s worth seeing, especially if you liked any of the Alien movies with Sigourney Weaver. Being a physics and math guy I saw holes you could drive a quasar thru, but this is sci-fi after all. There was a preview for another movie about Abe Lincoln though … I don’t think I can recommend this one:

KanStar – Seth Grahame-Smith’s silly script re-imagines the Rail Splitter as a vampire vanquisher, a man seeking vengeance on the monsters who killed his mother, who conveniently are mostly Southern and support slavery because they’re in need of a “a fresh crop” to feed on whom no one – no one white, anyway – will miss in pre-Civil War America.

See, the Civil War was really about vampires. That’s why the South couldn’t give slavery up. The plantations and Southern culture was all owned or influenced by vampires, slaves were the vampires’ food source. This is considered such an important perspective that the movie is being promoted as I write this on MSNBC’s premier morning cables news program, Morning Joe. ::double-twisting face/palm::

25 comments

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  1. 1
    throwaway

    face/palm: ‘facepalm’ing so hard you divide your face with your palm
    alt. form: fapalmce

    *fapalmcing* here too.

    The Abraham Von Helsing angle doesn’t really have anything to offer. It’s not outrageous enough to be memorable. It’s like an idea you’d hear after passing a joint around in a dorm room and then 5 minutes later you’re ordering pizza, having totally forgotten about it. The subject matter isn’t dark enough, and from what I can tell it takes itself too seriously to be a comedy, so it’s not a dark comedy. It just seems like a way to shove gratuitous violence down audience’s throats, and it’s all OK because they’re vampires. Well I mean, fine, but Blade and Underworld have already gone that route, and with shit like Hostel and Saw as part of the social consciousness there’s no need to make the enemies unreal.

    I really don’t know what else to say without having seen it my self, but those are the impressions it gives me, and it totally warrants a fapalmce that it’s getting any attention at all.

  2. 2
    johnhodges

    Leaving aside Lincoln etc.
    One of my peeves is “science fiction” movies that are actually thinly disguised anti-science pro-religion propaganda. “Signs” with Mel Gibson, “Solaris” with George Clooney, “Knowing” with Nicholas Cage, are some of the more obvious ones. But this same message shows up more subtly in many movies. To see it, ask yourself who are the different characters, what might they represent, what happens to each of them in the course of the story? Who lives, who dies, who wins, who loses? In the case of Prometheus, the sympathetic protagonist who survives is an archaeologist who wears a cross around her neck, who several times admits that she has no evidence for a belief (a belief on which is being bet the whole mission, ship, and crew) “but that is what I choose to believe.” The hyper-rational officer-in-charge dies crushed like a bug.

  3. 3
    CT Chimako.27

    I thought I was the only one annoyed by this.

    And vampires are so over done. I am sick of both vampires and zombies in my science fiction. So. so. sick.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    As a premise, it is no worse than any of the new genre of mash-up literature. Typically, though, such works start with an established work of literature in the public domain and modifies it: “The Meowmorphosis” is basically Franz Kafka’s story about a man who wakes up and finds he’s turned into a terrifyingly cute kitten, and “Android Karenina” is Tolstoy’s classic novel with a few additional brass gears and coal-burning steam engines.

    “Abraham Lincol: Vampire Slayer” is based loosely on the John Morse’s 1893 biography of the president. As an original creation, rather than a modification, yeah: it’s not as good as some of the others in the genre. Why they picked this one to turn into a movie rather than, say “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (the book that kicked off the genre) is beyond me.

  5. 5
    carpenterman

    “George Washington: Slayer of Werewolves.”
    “Thomas Jefferson and the Zombie Invasion.”
    “Franklin Pierce: Ghost Buster!”
    “F.D.R. and the Nazi Robots (from Mars).”
    “Richard Nixon, Freelance Exorcist.”

    Okay, I’m done.

  6. 6
    carpenterman

    No, wait! One more…
    “Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire.”
    Oh… wait a minute…

  7. 7
    sivivolk

    @Gregory

    I think part of the problem is it uses the Civil War and slavery as a plot point, while making the Southerners essentially inculpable for their historical actions because it was all run by vampires?

    It’s like this Marvel plotline where it turned out much of WW2 was engineered by shapeshifting aliens, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to destroy their training camps.

    History mashup-type stuff can be fun, but it can also be massively offensive to people who have suffered through those historical events by essentially appropriating them and ignoring the important real-world contexts of those events.

  8. 8
    fentex

    It’s kind of funny to read someone on an atheist orientated site say nice things about Prometheus because I suspect if it had told it’s story with clarity instead of not bothering to organize a story at all you’d have a different opinion.

    Something that is not obvious in the movie is the plot point about why the black goo is so dangerous. It’s forgivable that people didn’t notice because the movie was a nonsensical collection of plot beats without coherent narrative but I’ll piece it together for you;the engineers died two thousand years ago when their goo turned on them.

    It did so because our dark souls corrupted it when we perpetrated a great crime. Two thousand years ago. The engineers want to erase us because we don’t accept the self sacrifice they think all worthy people appreciate and offer, as demonstrated when they give of themselves for life to blossom. And we proved that two thousand years ago.

    Connect the dots, and perhaps reappraise how willing you are to accept shoddy SF?

    An amusing take on Prometheus’ obvious flaws.

  9. 9
    fentex

    And Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is a great idea for a movie.

    He woulda been a great Vampire Hunter, freakishly strong as he was.

  10. 10
    leftwingfox

    Funny, I just saw a positive review of this before I came here.

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2012/06/abraham_lincoln_vampire_hunter_1.html#axzz1yR5f2ac4

    MaryAnn Johanson is my “go to” reviewer; I find my tastes generally track with hers with a few notable exceptions.

  11. 11
    timberwoof

    “this is sci-fi after all”

    When I was in high school and college, there was a difference between “sci fi” and “SF” or “Science Fiction”, and the way we SF-elitists said “Science Fiction”, you could hear the capitalization. At the time, the examples were that Star Trek is Science Fiction and Lost in Space is sci fi. Science fiction expects there to be some willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, but beyond that it has to follow certain rules. Break too many of them and it becomes trash. The distinction between SF and sci fi was a useful one but is lost on most people these days.

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter just screams to be remade as a cheesy, campy, low-budget farce, “Abraham Lincoln: Gay Vampire Hunter. Mary Todd Lincoln was his beard; she took over running the country when Abe and his lover Joshua Speed ran off to hunt vampires. (Of course, one of the people he saves would eventually become the mother of Magnus Hirschfeld, and one of his vampire-hunting proteges is Oscar Wilde. This demands two sequels.)

  12. 12
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    Hey! JohnHodges @ #2, how about a spoiler alert? Real classy.

  13. 13
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @1.throwaway :

    from what I can tell it takes itself too seriously to be a comedy, so it’s not a dark comedy.

    Wait, you said not comedy?? They make a movie called ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ and it’s NOT intended to be a satirical comedy? For real?

    Wow. That’s almost funny in itself.

    As for Prometheus I agree with FTVB blogger Martin Wagner’s views of it expresssed here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/06/10/prometheus-pandering-to-anti-science/

    Beautifully cinematic great SFX, worthseeing in 3D just for teh sceneryand visuals but yeesh it has a plot that’s just plain dumb.

    Ancient astronaut VonDaniken meme .. Yeck.

    Suspension of disbeleif fail in a major way and so many things that just don’t make sense in it.

    The first two Aliens movies were brilliant. I try to pretend the later successsors incl. this prequel just weren’t made.

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    FTB is what I meant, natch. Swear these typos creep in after I hit the “submit comment” button. Sigh.

    My personal take on (& take off of) that Prometheus movie can be found here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/06/10/prometheus-pandering-to-anti-science/#comment-61961

    and comment #61 there too in case anyone’s interested / amused which hopefully, yeah, they will be.

  15. 15
    Zeno

    Isaac Asimov wrote a funny piece for TV Guide back in the day when “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space” were first launched. The casual approach to plausibility by “Lost in Space” was grist for Asimov’s mill. In the first episode of the TV series, the Robinson family’s spacecraft goes off-course and is suddenly “lost in space” in another solar system (or galaxy; I forget). Asimov quipped that it was like a small child making a wrong turn with his tricycle and ending up lost on the next continent. “Lost in Space” was pretty mindless entertainment, with entirely too much of the dramatic tension coming from Dr. Smith’s frustrated attempts to molest Will Robinson. (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”)

    But perhaps I read too much into his behavior.

  16. 16
    Gregory in Seattle

    @leftwingfox #6 – Rotten Tomatoes, which amalgamates movie reviews from many different sources, currently has it at only 26%. That is to say, their weighted average system says that only 26% of the reviews published so far are favorable.

  17. 17
    psocoptera

    This sort of reminds me of Fevre Dream, by George RR Martin, not that I am recommending the book or anything. The last thing I read and liked with vampires in it was Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. The whole vampires like slavery thing never made sense to me. Slaves were much more expensive than orphans.

    @timberwoof – that works great in theory, but I have seen several threads derailed by people insisting that the presence of FTL (faster than light travel) makes a book not SF. Your distinction between serious SF and soft sci-fi sounds even harder to make.

  18. 18
    davidmc

    Prometheus was a massive bag of shite,its only worth seeing in the same way that jar jar binks was the best thing ever about the entire Star Wars franchise.It was anti sci fi at its worst, wait for it tto come on tv and then watch another channel , its the only way to avoid disappointment.
    “It’s worth seeing, especially if you liked any of the Alien movies with Sigourney Weaver.” needs a massive “NOT”, inserted for that sentence to make any sense to me.
    AS a long time lurker and full time slacker, i had to retreive my password to prevent you leading readers astray.
    it pains me to say this, but if you can be so utterly wrong in this, how am i supposed to take your best guess for life, in the solar system Enceladus ( gosh im gonna look a fool if i remembered that wrong now)with any kind of seriousness. sorry if this sounds harsh but even on a 2 for 1 offer i felt mugged, and the other person paid for both tickets!

  19. 19
    Daniel Schealler

    Eh, I was planning to see it.

    My impression of the trailer was that it was going to be a campy/stupid we-know-this-is-silly-just-play-along sort of affair that could be fun to watch so long as no one takes it too seriously.

    Of course, perhaps some people are taking it seriously if it’s appearing in prominent locations. In which case… Why?

  20. 20
    leftwingfox

    12: Metacritic is giving it a 49%. (For some reason I never got into Rotten Tomatoes, which is a bit odd, since the critic I noted is one of the reviewers RT uses regularly).

    “Brave” and “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” are both out this week, so both “Prometheus” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” are probably going to wind up losing out.

  21. 21
    lorn

    I might have to go see the Lincoln movie. Southern culture is fairly vampire in its undertones. What with its idle elite males flouncing along doing no work, up at all hours, sucking the blood from hard working people (yes, there is a homoerotic undertone to that) and exploiting with one hand and playing up honor and southern culture with the other.

    Sounds like a hoot.

  22. 22
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Meh it was OK. I like sci-fi with a real solution, an “aha” hinted at throughout the story and revealed sooner or later. Prometheus asked a lot questions and barely addressed some of them. Whether it turns into the Survivor or X-files genre no answer deal, or somehting better, I guess we’ll see.

    For lame brain lurker, I’m not sure I can ever trust anything you ever write here for the rest of time. If you say the sun rises in the East I’ll have to see it with my own eyes that day and confirm the earth’s rotation has not reversed. After all, we disagree on whether a sci sci-fi movie is worth seeing or not … and that’s all I need to know! /satire

  23. 23
    davidmc

    Stephen, it wasnt for you to trust me, it was to save the innicent who might go and see it, on your “worth seeing” mistake, im trying to save you all, thier entrance fee and your reputation. Eventually you will realise i am right in this, and your lack of trust will turn to love and admiration. From start to finish it was tripe. I almost cried at the end , viewing one of the lamest, leave it open for a sequel, endings OF ALL TIME.
    Thankyou, tho’ for publishing the criticism of your critical faculties

  24. 24
    postman

    You can always watch Abraham Lincoln vs zombies, if the vampire thing is not for you.

  25. 25
    M can help you with that.

    My trouble with Prometheus is that it’s yet another movie that seems to think that SF never progressed past the pulp era, so if you have aliens and/or space travel and/or made-up technology on screen you can ignore things like coherent plot, believable characters, etc.

    Hell, even the pulps had some better-written stuff than Prometheus. And in written SF, there have been some “recent” advances in the quality of the storytelling that filmmakers seem to have not heard about yet; still, we can’t expect too much, since this was only fifty years ago.

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