The Knee-Jerk Reaction

Was doing a little internet surfing yesterday and came across a video review of Prometheus. It had the similar complaints I’ve heard in other reviews about the movie not making sense. But it was far more entertaining and, in part two, did some very cool theorizing as to what Ridley Scott might’ve been going for.

See for yourself, but only if you’ve watched the movie because there be many spoilers ahead.

On the sidebar was another clip, Prometheus EXPLAINED, and the only reason I clicked that one was because it had almost half a million hits. Surely, he must be saying something worthwhile to attract so much attention.

This guy gives good analysis. Watch out for spoilers on this one too.

During the review he mentioned when Alien (Prometheus is the prequel to Alien) came out, many critics, like Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin, gave it poor reviews. Here’s a small sampling of what reviewers thought of Alien in 1979. It’s not pretty.

Today, Alien is regarded as a sci-fi classic and holds a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of all the reviews, THREE are negative. Guess which reviews have the most comments? The very first comment (and there’s over a hundred) on a negative review : “I’m thinking this guy is borderline retarded.”

In 1979, movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters were the benchmark for sci-fi and since Alien was not those movies, it got slammed. Maybe when a movie comes out that’s unlike what we’re used to, the knee-jerk reaction is to say it sucks. Does this mean some people aren’t smart enough to get this stuff? No way. There are lots of reasons people don’t like movies and the point of this post isn’t to figure out why.

Writers do lots of thinking and imagining because when they see the world, they tend to see things that aren’t there. Some of these things are so bizarre, they only make sense to the writer. What if Ridley Scott doubted himself and didn’t make Alien? He wouldn’t have the legion of fans ready to defend his work. He wouldn’t have inspired countless others to go outside the box with storytelling. This gives me the confidence to tell my stories the way I see them in my head. I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with something on the Alien level of recognition. (I doubt anyone REALLY knows that’s what they’re creating anyway. The people decide.) What I can do, is to always tell the story I want. Doesn’t matter if the idea sounds crazy or no one gets it. As long as it gets me fired up to write it, then that’s what I’m going to do.

3 comments on “The Knee-Jerk Reaction

  1. I look forward to seeing this movie.

    Everyone has to write what they need to write. That doesn’t mean that we can’t sometimes write what’s popular…if it’s what we feel like writing. I was lucky that I loved vampires when the vampire craze hit. I’ll always love vampires even when they aren’t popular. But if we try to write JUST to please everyone else, and we don’t feel it, then it’s going to probably suck.

  2. Insightful as always! This is something I think a lot about when I am giving feedback to fellow writers about their work. Things change, and someone has to lead/innovate.

  3. @LL- As long as you go into the movie thinking it’s NOT an Alien movie, you’ll probably like it.

    @Nina- Thanks! I think writing is one of the few places where you have total creative control, so we can’t hold back.

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