Spoiler: he's not impressed. Physics Today Editor Charles Day -- an actual smart guy -- takes the film to task over malprediction rather than plot, and in so doing, hits one of my problems with a lot of cinematic SF: the nuts and bolts of it are implausible; the characters are doing things in ways that have already become outmoded. --Or, worse yet, the science is simply, laughably wrong in ways no suspension of disbelief can remedy.
Or a combination of bad science and lousy technological applications (this ruins the film Sunlight for me, despite excellent sets and a good cast). Some of the least plausible SF manages to work because the writers know when they're lying -- from Stargate to Red Dwarf to Firefly, they get more right than wrong; and when they're deliberately wrong (stargates, stasis fields, ludicrous engines), they make a feature of it. Red Dwarf gets a little more leeway by way of being a comedy, and yet Dave Lister's underachieving Everyman is quite believable in a way that any Dr. Zarkov spouting pseudoscience can never be.
The core of making an SF film (or TV show, or novel, whatever) work is the same as any other film: the characters have to make sense; the plot can't depend on them being idiots at critical points, or pulling hitherto unsuspected abilities out of hats or hip-pockets or even (a-hem, Mr. Burroughs, you're excused by dint of being a trailblazer) on coincidence after coincidence. Nope, they've got to be real to the viewer -- and their world's got to be one in which they'd live, with a few dents in the walls and dust in the corners (or a darned good reason why not.)
Prometheus is undoubtedly a visual treat and rich on thrills; but thanks to Charles Day, I'm forewarned enough to not mind waiting for the video. Or at least to not throw popcorn at the screen.
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
4 weeks ago