Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE DAMON LINDELOF INTERVENTION

Hulk examines PROMETHEUS and Damon Lindelof's debilitating fixation. 

Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE DAMON LINDELOF INTERVENTION

EVEN IF IT HAS BECOME FASHIONABLE IN SOME CORNERS OF THE FILM WORLD TO PICK ON HIM, THERE IS ONE SIMPLE FACT THAT MATTERS:

DAMON LINDELOF IS A SUPREMELY TALENTED WRITER WITH ALL THE PROMISE IN THE WORLD.

AND MUCH MORE THAN THAT, HE MATTERS. THE METEORIC RISE OF LOST HAS PROPELLED HIM INTO BEING THAT RAREST OF HOLLYWOOD BIRDS: A VALUED SCREENWRITER. WHAT GIVES THAT DISTINCTION ALL THE MORE IMPACT IS THAT HIS WRITING SHOWCASES BOTH PERSONALITY AND STYLE, I.E. THE VERY THINGS THAT QUALIFY ONE AS HAVING "A VOICE."  WE NEED MORE WRITERS LIKE HIM TO BE HONEST. AND TO TOP IT OFF HE SEEMS TO BE A KIND, AFFABLE GUY. STILL, HULK CAN'T HELP BUT WORRY ABOUT THE DIRECTION HIS WORK HAS BEEN TAKING LATELY. WITH THE ENDING OF LOST AND THEN THE ONE TWO PUNCH OF COWBOYS AND ALIENS AND PROMETHEUS, IT SEEMS AS IF THE VERY THEMES AND STYLISTIC CHOICES THAT INITIALLY MADE HIM FEEL SO DISTINCT ARE STARTING TO REACH A KIND OF CRITICAL MASS. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS ISN'T SOME REACTIONARY SENTIMENT OF SOMEONE JUST GETTING BORED WITH WHAT HE DOES. THIS IS ABOUT HOW HIS STRINGENT DEVOTION TO HIS OWN INTERESTS ARE ACTUALLY UNDOING THE COHERENCY AND PRAGMATIC FUNCTION OF HIS WORK, WHICH CAN MEAN ONLY ONE THING:

LINDELOF NEEDS TO START GROWING AS A WRITER... LIKE, RIGHT NOW.

PREFACE #1

IN THE FOLLOWING CRITICISM, THERE IS THE ADDED PROBLEM OF OBFUSCATION. HULK HAS EXPLAINED MANY TIMES BEFORE, BUT SCRIPT "RESPONSIBILITY" IS A DANGEROUS THING TO DISCUSS. BETWEEN MULTIPLE DRAFTS, STUDIO INTERFERENCE, PHANTOM RE-WRITES AND ULTIMATELY DIRECTOR EXECUTION, IT IS TRULY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHAT THE WRITER IS TRUTHFULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR. AND WITH PROMETHEUS, THERE ARE ALREADY SOME SERIOUSLY CONFLICTING STORIES ABOUT WHO IS ACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT AND SO ON. SOME WOULD EVEN GO SO FAR AS TO INDICATE THAT IT WAS ALL RIDLEY'S IDEA AND LINDELOF WAS JUST THE MOUTHPIECE. BUT THE FOLLOWING IS HULK'S UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT HAPPENED: SPAIGHTS WROTE A SCRIPT THAT WAS VERY MUCH A TRADITIONAL ALIEN PREQUEL. SCOTT WAS WAFFLING ON IT. THEN LINDELOF PITCHED HIS IDEA (THE CURRENT ITERATION OF THE MOVIE AND SPECIFICALLY THE THEMES) AND RIDLEY DUG IT. SO THE TWO HATCHED THE CONCEIT AND LINDELOF WROTE THE VERSION OF THE FILM WE HAVE NOW. AND IF YOU ASK HULK, THERE IS NO DENYING THAT THIS SCRIPT IS DISTINCTLY, DISTINCTLY LINDELOF-ESQUE. SO GOING FORWARD IN THIS ARTICLE WE ARE GOING TO ACCEPT THIS VERSION OF EVENTS. AND BEYOND THE QUESTIONS OF LEGITIMACY OR FUNCTION, THERE IS INNATE REALITY THAT LINDLEOF'S NAME IS ON THE THING. AND THAT MEANS THERE IS RESPONSIBILITY NO MATTER WHAT. SO CAN WE CONSIDER THIS A FAIR CONVERSATION? OKAY, GOOD.

PREFACE #2

HULK HATES WRITING COLUMNS LIKE THIS. THEY'RE NOT FUN. THEY'RE NOT POSITIVE. THEY COME OFF LIKE AXES TO GRIND. AND AGAIN. HULK LIKES LINDELOF. HULK WANTS HIM TO BE BEST POSSIBLE WRITER HE CAN BE. AND HULK REALIZES HOW INSANELY PRETENTIOUS IT IS TO EVEN BROACH A COLUMN LIKE THIS AND CRITICIZE ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED WORKING WRITERS IN THE BUSINESS. BUT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE READER, THIS COLUMN IS AN EXAMINATION OF HOW OVER-RELIANCE ON CERTAIN TECHNIQUES / THEMES CAN SEVERELY DAMAGE A MOVIE ON A TONAL OR PLOT-BASED LEVEL. MEANING EVEN IF IT IS NEGATIVE, IT IS A COMPLETELY WORTHY DISCUSSION FOR THE PURPOSES OF STORY UNDERSTANDING. AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE DONE SO IN AN UNDERSTANDING AND HUMANE WAY. COOL? COOL.

SO LET'S GET TO IT...

THE GENERAL REACTION TO PROMETHEUS IS THAT THE FILM IS OFTEN QUITE BEAUTIFUL ON THE WHOLE AND EFFECTIVE AT TIMES, BUT UPON THE MOST SIMPLE EXAMINATIONS IT REVEALS ITSELF TO BE A HOUSE OF CARDS. LARGELY BECAUSE IT CONTAINS A VAST NUMBER OF CHARACTER CONTRADICTIONS, CONTRIVANCES, NON-COMPELLING AMBIGUITIES, WAYWARD PLOTS, THEMATIC NONSENSE, AND IT ALL COMES TOGETHER AS A PRETTY UNSATISFYING MOVIE EXPERIENCE... OF COURSE, LIKE ANYTHING, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO REALLY LIKE THE FILM OR HAVE SOME VARIATIONS OF AGREEMENT REGARDING JUST HOW MUCH OF EACH OF THOSE ELEMENTS SUFFER, BUT HULK FEELS PRETTY CONFIDENT IN THIS GENERAL PUBLIC TAKEAWAY. AND AS FAR AS PURE REVIEWING PURPOSES GO, HULK WHOLLY AGREE WITH DEVIN'S REVIEW AND SAM STRANGE'S EPIC REMEMBERING. SIMPLY PUT: FOR WHATEVER THE FILM DOES WELL, THE CHIEF PROBLEM IS THAT IT DOESN'T QUITE WORK.

STILL, A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE RALLIED AGAINST THE NOTION OF CONFUSED THEMES AND DEFENDED THE FILM, MOST NOTABLY A POPULAR INTERPRETATION OF THE RELIGIOUS COMPONENT OF THE FILM. READING MOST OF THESE DRAWN-OUT THEORIES ON THEIR OWN, HULK WOULD AGREE: YES, THERE IS A WAY THAT WHAT THEY'RE SAYING IN THESE ESSAYS MAKES A KIND OF LOGICAL SENSE WHEN THE ESSAYS ARE TAKEN ON THEIR OWN SINGULAR MERIT. BUT THESE THEORIES ALSO FALL VICTIM TO A WHOLLY COMMON PROBLEM HULK SEES IN MOST ACADEMIA, AND THAT IS PEOPLE CONSTRUCTING SOUND LOGICAL THEORIES, BUT CONSTRUCTING THEM FROM UNSOUND DEDUCTION. MEANING THE LOGICAL IDEAS ARE EITHER NOT STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY THE TEXT, NOT DEDUCED FROM THE TEXT AT ALL AND ARE SIMPLY CONTINUING A LINE OF THINKING FROM AN EARLIER DEDUCTION, OR THEY RUN CONTRARY TO OTHER INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THE TEXT. THE END RESULT IS WHAT IS REFERRED TO IN ACADEMIA AS "UNDUE EXTRAPOLATION."

AND IT BASICALLY DRIVES HULK NUTS.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT ACTUALLY HULK LOVES INTERPRETIVE ANALYSIS. AFTER ALL, HULK'S THE HULK WHO WROTE A GIANT ASS INTERPRETATION OF MULHOLLAND DRIVE. SO IF ANYONE IS LOOKING FOR INTERESTING SUBTEXTS AND THEMES, IT HULK. BUT WHAT GOING ON HERE SO VIOLATES THE CORE ESSENCE OF SEMIOTICS THAT IT ESSENTIALLY UNDOES EVERYTHING SEMIOTICS HOLDS DEAR. ASKING SOMEONE TO MAKE A SYMBOLIC LEAP AND ACTUALLY SAY "THIS MEANS THIS" IS SUCH A SEVERE ACTION THAT THE MOST ACADEMICALLY INCLINED MIND UNDERSTAND THAT IT REQUIRES TRUST. AND TO DO IT UNSOUNDLY? IT UNDOES THAT TRUST AND WEAKENS THE MERIT OF THE ENTIRE FIELD OF SEMIOTICS ALL TOGETHER. NOT SO COINCIDENTALLY, UNDUE EXTRAPOLATION WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DROVE HULK NUTS ABOUT LOST FANDOM. THEY COULD TAKE A SINGULAR DETAIL AND EXTRAPOLATE A CRAZY THEORY FOR HOURS, BUT IT ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE A SERIES OF RUN-ON DEDUCTIONS. EVEN THE MOST FAMOUS LOST CRITIC, DOC JENSEN, WAS INFAMOUS FOR THIS. AT TIMES IT WAS FUN, BUT HULK HONESTLY BELIEVED IT UNDERMINED THE CORE VALUES OF THEMATIC INTERPRETATION.

TURNING OUR ATTENTION BACK TO THE LINKED THEORY ON PROMETHEUS, YOU WILL NOTICE THAT MOST OF THE SUPPORT FOR THE THEORY IS BASED ON AN INTERVIEW (AND DISCUSSING MATERIAL ACTUALLY CUT FROM THE FILM AT SCRIPT STAGE) AND RELATIVELY LITTLE FROM THE TEXT ITSELF. SO YEAH, IT'S GREAT THAT THE FILMMAKERS HAD ALL THESE NEAT IDEAS. BUT GUESS WHAT? THEY EITHER DIDN'T COMMUNICATE THEM WELL IN THE MOVIE (BY EITHER BLUDGEONING US WITH LITERALISM OR GARBLING THEM IN AMBIGUITY) OR THEY DIDN'T EXECUTE THEM AT ALL. SO HULK READS THOSE THEORIES AND SAYS "YEAH, THAT'S A NICE IDEA, BUT THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT WHAT WAS COMMUNICATED BY THE MOVIE HULK WATCHED." ... IT'S MERELY UNDUE EXTRAPOLATION.

MORE TO THE POINT, SOMETIMES VIEWERS HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT CERTAIN MOVIES CAN BE ABOUT "SMART" THINGS, BUT IF IT GOES ABOUT THEM IN UNINTELLIGENT, UNINSPIRED AND INCOHERENT WAYS... DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

AS HULK EXPLORE THE THREE CENTRAL PROBLEMS OF HOW PROMETHEUS GOES ABOUT ITS INTENTION, IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT SOMETIMES MOVIES JUST CAN'T BE FIXED WITH A MERE SERIES OF TECHNICAL EDITS AND TINY CHANGES. SOMETIMES IT TAKES AN ENTIRE SHIFT OF DISPOSITION AND UNDERSTANDING OF PURPOSE. AND FROM THERE, USUALLY THE CAPABLE PEOPLE IN CHARGE WILL UNDERSTAND THEIR PURPOSE AND IT ALL BECOMES CLEAR.

AND THUS, HERE ARE THE THREE CENTRAL CONCEPTUAL PROBLEMS OF PROMETHEUS, PROBLEMS WHICH ARE VERY MUCH LINDELOF'S DESIGN, WHICH HULK FEELS GO ON TO INFORM ALMOST EVERY ERROR THAT IS MADE IN THE FILM'S EXECUTION.

PROBLEM #1 - APPROACH TO THE THEME ITSELF

PER LINDELOF, PROMETHEUS IS SUPPOSED TO BE "A MOVIE ABOUT CREATION."

AND HULK BELIEVES THAT CREATION, IN ANY FORM, IS AN INTERESTING TOPIC. BEYOND THE MERE LOGISTICS THERE ARE A LITANY OF CONCEPTS THAT CAN PROVIDE THEMATIC FODDER TO A VERY HUMAN STORY.  THERE'S THE NOTION OF INTENTION. THE WILL OF THE CREATOR. THE SENTIMENT OF THE CREATED. THE AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY. THE AWE OF LIFE. AND THE INTRINSIC RELATION TO DEATH...

SO OF COURSE PROMETHEUS TAKES AIM AT THOSE IDEAS, BUT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IS GIVEN A BRIEF WHISPER OF MENTIONING AND... NOT MUCH MORE THAN THAT. SERIOUSLY, IT'S JUST LIP SERVICE. AND WORSE, NONE OF THESE THEMES ACTUALLY PLAY INTO ANYONE'S STORY.... THINK ABOUT THAT. THESE CRITICAL NOTIONS IN A MOVIE ABOUT CREATION ARE PRETTY MUCH LEFT TO BEING A BRIEF, UNREFERENCED OBSTACLE OR JUST A MATTER OF DISCUSSION ALONE... WHICH IS A FUNDAMENTAL VIOLATION OF "SHOW DON'T TELL." BUT FAR MORE PROBLEMATIC THAN THE FACT THAT THESE THEMES ARE BOILED DOWN TO VERBAL DISCUSSIONS, IT'S THAT THE CONVERSATION THAT TAKES SHAPE IS NOT ONE THAT FEATURES NUANCE OR UNDERSTANDING ON THE GRAY SCALE. IN FACT, THE ENTIRE THEMATIC APPROACH OF THE FILM IS BOILED DOWN TO A LONG SERIOUS OF EXCHANGES THAT LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THIS:

PERSON A: "I want to know the answers!"

PERSON B: "You can't know the answers!"

... SOUND FAMILIAR?

JESUS FLIPPIN' FUDGE DAMON! ARE YOU KIDDING HULK? YOU WENT BACK TO THAT DYNAMIC? THE ONE THAT YOU ALREADY DRAGGED OUT AND EXHAUSTED? THE ONE THAT WAS SO BLACK AND WHITE IT DROVE PEOPLE CRAZY? ARE WE SERIOUSLY GOING TO KEEP DOING THIS? YOUR OBSESSION WITH THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF FAITH IS NOW, OFFICIALLY, A PROBLEM. YOU HAVE ENTRENCHED YOURSELF IN THE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN ADORING THE POWER AND ALLURE OF THE UNKNOWN, BUT ALSO DWELLING ON THIS WEIRD HATE/ACCEPTANCE OF ITS CRUELTY. AND YOU JUST CAN'T SEEM TO ESCAPE IT. YES, YOU SEEMED TO COVER THIS ARENA OF FAITH RATHER WELL IN THE EARLY STAGES OF LOST, WHERE IT WAS GROUNDED IN YOUR OWN DISTINCT MYTHOS AND SCIENTIFIC CONVENTIONS. IT ALSO HELPED THAT THE WRITING AT LEAST WAFFLED BETWEEN POIGNANT SUBTEXT AND SOME ON-THE-NOSE SYMBOLISM, BUT NOW... NOW THE ENTIRE SITUATION HAS SLID RIGHT INTO OUTRIGHT, CRIPPLING FIXATION.

LOOK.

HULK IS NOT GOING TO BELABOR THE OBVIOUS REALITY THAT WE CAN'T KNOW THE ANSWERS TO CERTAIN GRAND QUESTIONS IN LIFE. BUT TO BE HONEST, IT IS SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE COME TO GRIPS WITH IN SOME FORM RATHER EARLY ON IN LIFE. THE FAR MORE FASCINATING PART IS THE WAY WE WRESTLE WITH THESE CENTRAL QUESTIONS (OFTEN INDIRECTLY) AND HOW IT AFFECTS OUR LIVES, NOT SIMPLY THAT WE DO. AND THERE ARE A LITANY OF FILMS THAT EXPLORE THESE CONCEPTS AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, BUT THEY TEND TO MAKE UP THE GREAT WORKS OF CINEMA. FILMS LIKE CITIZEN KANE, THE SEVENTH SEAL, THE RED SHOES, MOST RECENTLY THE TREE OF LIFE. AND YES, WHEN IT REALLY WORKED WELL, HULK WOULD DEFINITELY SAY THAT LOST WAS AS GOOD AT TACKLING THESE SUBJECTS AS ANYONE. TO RESTATE WITH ABJECT CLARITY: THERE CAN BE NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL, POIGNANT AND POETIC THAN EXPLORING THESE UNIVERSAL THEMES, PARTICULARLY ON THE PURPOSE OF LIFE.

AND SPEAKING OF POETIC, HULK WANTS TO TAKE A QUICK TANGENT FOR A SECOND, ONE WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY INFORM WHAT HULK MEANS BY THE LOFTY GRANDEUR OF THIS SUBJECT MATTER. YOU SEE, HULK HAS A BIT OF BACKGROUND IN POETRY AND, WELL, HULK LOVES IT AND WOULD BRING IT UP WITHOUT MUCH PRETENSE. SO IF THAT'S OKAY, HULK WANTS TO JUST TALK ABOUT TWO OF HULK'S FAVORITE POEMS BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS. BOTH ARE AN ABSOLUTE MEDITATION ON LIFE, DEATH AND CREATION. MEANING THEY ARE BOTH VERY PROMETHIAN SO-TO-SPEAK. THE FIRST IS CALLED "SAILING TO BYZANTIUM" AND IT IS WRITTEN BY YEATS AS AN OLD MAN LOOKING AT THE PROSPECTS OF DEATH. IT ALSO FEATURES AN OPENING LINE FAMILIAR TO ANY MOVIE FAN (AND TO ANYONE FOR WHOM POETRY MAKES THEIR EYES GLAZE OVER, THAT'S OKAY. JUST GIVE IT BEST SHOT BEFORE SKIMMING):

I

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees

---Those dying generations---at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unaging intellect.

II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

III

O sages standing in God's holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,

Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,

And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me

Into the artifice of eternity.

IV

Once out of nature I shall never take

My bodily form from any natural thing,

But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make

Of hammered gold and gold enamelling

To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

Or set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

AND THEN THE SECOND POEM IS "BYZANTIUM," WRITTEN BY YEATS WHEN HE WAS A REALLY OLD MAN AND DEATH WAS TRULY CLOSE AT HAND. YOU WILL HOPEFULLY NOTE SOME OBVIOUS THEMATIC DIFFERENCES:

THE unpurged images of day recede;

The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;

Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song

After great cathedral gong;

A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains

All that man is,

All mere complexities,

The fury and the mire of human veins.

Before me floats an image, man or shade,

Shade more than man, more image than a shade;

For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth

May unwind the winding path;

A mouth that has no moisture and no breath

Breathless mouths may summon;

I hail the superhuman;

I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,

More miracle than bird or handiwork,

Planted on the star-lit golden bough,

Can like the cocks of Hades crow,

Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud

In glory of changeless metal

Common bird or petal

And all complexities of mire or blood.

At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit

Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,

Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,

Where blood-begotten spirits come

And all complexities of fury leave,

Dying into a dance,

An agony of trance,

An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,

Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.

The golden smithies of the Emperor!

Marbles of the dancing floor

Break bitter furies of complexity,

Those images that yet

Fresh images beget,

That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

NOW, HULK ISN'T GOING TO ANALYZE THESE WHATSOEVER (THOUGH WE CAN IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU'D LIKE). HULK JUST WANTS YOU TO TAKE AWAY THE IDEA THAT THESE TWO POEMS ARE REALLY ABOUT THE SAME EXACT QUESTIONS PROMETHEUS RAISES REGARDING THE THEME OF CREATION/LIFE/DEATH. AND THESE POEMS TRULY SHOW HOW NOT ONLY DYNAMIC AND RANGED THESE THEMES CAN BE, BUT HOW AWE-INSPIRING AND SOULFUL THEY CAN BE TOO. COOL? COOL.

SO WHY THEY HECK DOES LINDELOF KEEP BEING REDUCING THESE COMPLEX THEMES INTO THE SIMPLE "I want!" / "You can't!" EXCHANGE??? WHY DOES HE BOIL IT DOWN TO SUCH A ROTE, UGLY DICHOTOMY? WHY DOES HE APPROACH THIS QUESTION WITHOUT A HINT OF HUMANE UNDERSTANDING OR HOW IT AFFECTS ONE'S GROUNDED LIFE? WHY CAN'T HE SEEM TO EXAMINE THE COST OF THESE QUESTIONS BEYOND MARTYRDOM? WHY DOES HE SEEM TO THINK THAT MERELY ASKING THE QUESTION ITSELF IS ALL ONE NEEDS TO DO?

THE END RESULT OF NOT GOING ANY FURTHER IS THAT LINDELOF ENDS UP ESPOUSING A FAUX-PHILOSOPHICAL MANTRA THAT IS ONE-NOTE AND QUITE HONESTLY FEELS DOWNRIGHT JUVENILE. UGH. IF HULK GOING TO BE SUPER HARSH, HE SORT FEELS LIKE THE 8TH GRADER WHO JUST DISCOVERED PHILOSOPHY AND IS, LIKE, DEEP, MAN. IT'S THE SAME KIND OF THINKING PUT ON DISPLAY IN THE EPIC KING LEAR SCENE OF MARGARET WHERE THIS SMART KID BULLIES THE CONVERSATION INTO A REFLEXIVE, POST-MODERN CONTRADICTION AND USES IT AS A ROAD BLOCK FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SAY ANYTHING (CUE MATTHEW BRODERICK'S HILARIOUS BREAK DOWN).

NOW OF COURSE HULK SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT LINDELOF ISN'T THAT GUY IN THE SLIGHTEST. HE'S FAR TOO DIPLOMATIC, SENSITIVE AND GOOD AT OBSERVING CHARACTER TO EVER BE THAT GUY. HULK'S POINT IS THAT BY  RELEGATING THE THEMES OF HIS WORK TO THAT SIMPLE EXCHANGE, IT JUST STARTS TO FEEL THAT WAY.

PERHAPS LINDELOF THINKS THAT BY BOILING THIS FAITH-CENTRIC QUESTION TO ITS CORE ESSENCE HE IS GETTING AT SOME KIND OF UNIVERSAL TRUTH OR SOMETHING, BUT HONESTLY HE'S MAKING IT MORE INACCESSIBLE. HE'S EFFECTIVELY OFFERING UP A BASIC PLATITUDE WITHOUT CONTEXT OR UNDERSTANDING, WHICH SUPPOSES THAT WE WILL SIMPLY DEVOUR ITS PRESENTATION ON MERIT ALONE. THE TWO HEAD-IN-THE-CLOUD SCIENTISTS AT THE CENTER OF PROMETHEUS HONESTLY SEEM TO HAVE NO MOTIVE OR STORY IN THE FILM BEYOND THEIR OBSESSION WITH THAT CENTRAL QUESTION. AND THE ONLY WAY THIS WORKS IS IF THE CENTRAL QUESTION IS ASSUMED TO BE FASCINATING... AND IN PROMETHEUS IT'S JUST NOT.

BUT IN THE END, HULK REALIZES THAT HULK'S REGARD FOR THIS PROBLEM OF LINDELOF'S MAY BE SOMEWHAT UNFAIR. SOME OF YOU READERS MAY FIND THE TOPIC / THAT BASIC THEMATIC QUESTION INTERESTING ENOUGH TO MERIT ALL OF THESE DECISIONS, AND EVEN IF HULK COMPLETELY DISAGREES AND SEES LINDELOF'S OBSESSION AS A WHOLLY JUVENILE INTELLECTUAL PURSUIT, HULK WILL STILL CONCEDE TO THE IDEA THAT JUDGING A FILM ON THE VALIDITY OF THE THEME ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH.

... SO THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES "WHY DIDN'T THEY MAKE THAT THEME COMPELLING?"

PROBLEM #2 - THE THEME'S USE ON A FUNCTIONAL LEVEL

TO BE HONEST, HULK ACTUALLY FOUND THE WHOLE FAITH/CREATION QUESTION POSED IN THIS FILM TO BE DOWNRIGHT JARRING.

FOR ONE, PROMETHEUS POSITIONS ITSELF AS HARDCORE, THOUGHTFUL, NUANCED SCI-FI WITH AN R-RATED AESTHETIC AND HORROR ATMOSPHERE. AND SO WHEN WE'RE HIT OVER THE HEAD WITH CLUNKY PLATITUDES THERE'S A WAY THAT THEY SIMPLY DO NOT FIT THE AIR OF SERIOUSNESS AND PRESUMED NUANCE OF THE WORLD. AND IT JUST FEELS KIND OF WEIRD.

THIS ISN'T SOME KNEE-JERK REACTION TO THE INNATE RELIGIOUS ANGLE OR ANYTHING (BECAUSE AGAIN, LOOK AT HULK'S FEELINGS AT THE POEMS ABOVE). AND HECK, EVERY SINGLE MOVIE FAN ON THE PLANET IS USED TO THE NORMAL FAITH-BASED TROPES WE SEE IN HOLLYWOOD STORYTELLING. AND THEY TEND TO WORK BECAUSE IT'S USUALLY HANDLED IN APPROPRIATE WAY TO THE TONE AND MECHANISMS OF THE MOVIE. TAKE A FILM LIKE THE MATRIX WITH ITS SUPER-LITERAL JESUS ANALOGY OF "THE ONE." WHAT MAY SEEM ON-THE-NOSE SO COMPLETELY WORKS BECAUSE IT FITS THE EQUALLY-LITERAL CONSTRUCT OF THE REST OF THE FILM. GLORIOUSLY SO. THERE'S A HAPPY CLUNKINESS AND ONE-TO-ONE SYMBOLIC RELATIONSHIP TO THE WHOLE DAMN APPROACH ("WHOA"). HULK THINKS THE MATRIX IS PRECISELY THE KIND OF DEAD-ON ALLEGORY THAT'S PERFECT FOR THE 12-14 YEAR OLDS IT'S AIMED FOR. SO CLUNKY/OVERTLY-RELIGIOUS OR NOT, HULK WILL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT A) IT'S FUN AND B) IT WORKS.

BUT THE USE OF THESE THEMES IN PROMETHEUS JUST FEELS SO DAMN HAPHAZARD AND INCONGRUENT. THEY HIT YOU IN THE FACE SOMETIMES AND THEN COMPLETELY OBSCURE THEIR INTENTION IN OTHER PLACES. WE GET MERE HINTS OF AN EVENT "2000 YEARS AGO" (JESUS! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN!!!) AND YET LEFT TO WONDER THE NATURE OF CERTAIN MECHANISMS CONSTANTLY. THERE'S ALSO STUFF LIKE PATRICK WILSON'S GRATING SPEECH FROM HER MEMORY/DREAM AND THE LITERAL PROTECTION OF THE CROSS SHE WEARS (WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE MAGIC POWERS OR SOMETHING). AND THE REAL PROBLEM OF THIS IS THAT BOTH THE ON-THE-NOSE SPOKEN THEMATIC EXCHANGES AND ALSO THE AMBIGUOUS INTERPRETATIONS ARE BOTH INCONGRUENT WITH THE KIND OF HORROR FILM THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE.

THEN AGAIN, MAYBE HULK SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED. THE ENTIRE FILM (LAST HALF ESPECIALLY) IS UNHAPPY MESS OF CONTRADICTIONS. ALL THE CHARACTERS MANAGE TO BECOME THESE BIPOLAR NIGHTMARES. IN WHAT FEELS LIKE A DECISION THAT'S ALREADY FAMOUS, THE TWO SCIENTISTS GO FROM BEING AFRAID OF THEIR OWN SHADOWS TO PETTING DANGEROUS VAGINA SNAKES. AND THEN THERE'S MAIN SCIENTIST GUY WHO GOES FROM REASONABLE AND EXCITABLE TO BEING A DRUNKEN SOURPUSS WHEN HE DOESN'T GET TO TALK TO ALIENS AFTER, LIKE, FIVE SECONDS OF BEING ON THIS PLANET. OH AND ALL THE SCIENTISTS ARE EFFECTIVELY TERRIBLE SCIENTISTS, GIVEN THAT SCIENCE IS ACTUALLY OPTIMISM BASED IN INHERENT SKEPTICISM. HULK COULD GO ON WITH THIS STUFF, BUT THE SAD TRUTH IS THAT EVERY CHARACTER DOESN'T MAKE SENSE AND PRETTY MUCH SUCKS.

ALL THESE ELEMENTS WOULD BE MUCH MORE FORGIVABLE IF THE MOVIE FUNCTIONED WELL ENOUGH IN SPITE OF THEM. AND TO BE FAIR, MANY TIMES IT DOES. THE FIRST HOUR BUILDS NICELY. THERE'S SOME GREAT, TENSE SCENES AND CREEPY ATMOSPHERIC MOMENTS. BUT THE OVERALL MECHANICS FAIL THE FILM. SOME DECISIONS ARE DUMBFOUNDING. LIKE HOW IT'S CONSTANTLY SHIFTING BACK AND FORTH FROM LOCATION, CYCLING BACK WITH A COMPLETE LACK OF PURPOSE. NEW BITS OF INFORMATION ARRIVE APROPOS OF NOTHING (IDRIS ELBA'S ENTIRE "WHAT THOSE CANISTERS ARE" SPEECH). DAMMIT IF PROMETHEUS ISN'T ONE OF THE MORE DISJOINTED MOVIE EXPERIENCES HULK CAN REMEMBER. BUT HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? HOW DO THE PLOT-MECHANICS ALWAYS SEEM TO COLLAPSE DESPITE ASSURED AESTHETIC DIRECTION?

BECAUSE THE INESCAPABLE TRUTH IS LINDELOF'S THEMATIC FASCINATION MAKES FOR BAD DRAMA.

AND THE TRUTH IS THAT IT ALWAYS HAS. WHEN THE FAMILIAR "I want" / "You can't!" THEME WAS USED IN EQUALLY CLUNKY WAYS IT WAS THE WORST FEATURE OF LOST. IT ALSO THE WORST FEATURE OF COWBOYS AND ALIENS. AND NOW IT'S THE WORST FEATURE OF THIS FILM. IT FEELS LIKE ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS IN THE MIDDLE OF A TENSE, PROPULSIVE SITUATION YOU IMMEDIATELY NOTICE WHEN THAT TENSION AND PROPULSION STOPS IN THE MIDST OF A ROTE, REPETITIVE CONVERSATIONAL IMPASSE. AND IT STOPS THE MOMENTUM/TENSION IN MOST DISTRACTING, NON-RELEVANT WAY POSSIBLE. IT ESSENTIALLY FEELS LIKE THIS HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION:

YOU: "Pass the Wheaties."

OTHER PERSON: "But whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!?!"

HULK KNOWS THAT SOUNDS SILLY, BUT REALLY THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS IN PROMETHEUS. THE MAIN CHARACTERS ARE TOTALLY DOING THAT. THERE'S ALL THIS HEINOUS SHIT GOING ON AND THEY'RE CONSTANTLY BEMOANING HOW THEY CAN'T GET ANSWERS TO LIFE'S CENTRAL QUESTION. IT'S LIKE, WHAT?!?!?! YOU DO REALIZE YOUR HUSBAND JUST DIED RIGHT? YOU DO REALIZE THOSE THINGS YOU'RE GOING TO HUNT DOWN AGAIN JUST TRIED TO MURDER THE SHIT OUT OF ALL OF YOU? YOU DO REALIZE YOU JUST MADE THREE PEOPLE SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES TO SAVE THE EARTH FROM THESE ALIENS AND NOW YOU ARE GOING TO GO CHASE DOWN MORE OF THEM??? THEY ARE CONSTANTLY FUCKING OVER THE INHERENT LOGIC OF DANGER IN THE NAME OF GETTING THEIR QUESTIONS ANSWERED... WHICH LINDELOF WOULD ABSOLUTELY ARGUE IS THE POINT AND ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE LIKE OBSESSED AND STUFF, BUT SHOULD THAT MATTER IF WE CAN'T FIND THEIR BEHAVIOR HUMAN AND UNDERSTANDABLE? THE GOAL IS TO MAKE US UNDERSTAND THEIR DEVOTION, BUT THE FILM DOESN'T DO THAT AT ALL. WE'RE PRESUMED TO BE JUST AS OBSESSED WITH THE QUESTION AS LINDELOF, BUT WE'RE TOTALLY FREAKING NOT. AND BEYOND RELATION, NOT BEING ABLE TO GO ALONG WITH CHARACTER UNDERSTANDING JUST MAKES FOR BAD FUCKING DRAMA.

YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE MAKES FOR BAD DRAMA? POORLY-ARTICULATED AMBIGUITY.

HULK WILL ADMIT THAT VIEWERS TEND TO HAVE A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP WITH AMBIGUITY. THE DEMAND FOR TRADITIONAL, CATHARTIC NARRATIVES ALWAYS SEEMS ESCHEWS ITS TRUE VALUE. THUS, THE NATURE OF AMBIGUITY IN A FILM IS OFTEN FIXED TO THE "KIND OF MOVIE" ONE IS MAKING. MAKING A DEEPLY PHILOSOPHICAL FILM LIKE THE TREE OF LIFE? GO NUTS. BUT EVEN A THOUGHTFUL SCI-FI FILM HAS TO HAVE A CERTAIN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW TO CONVEY ITS MESSAGES AND CERTAINLY ITS AMBIGUOUS DETAILS. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, A FILM LIKE ALIEN IS ACTUALLY PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD. BRILLIANT AND NUANCED FOR SURE, BUT ULTIMATELY CLEAR IN ITS PURPOSE. TRADITIONAL MOVIES JUST REQUIRE CERTAIN FUNCTIONS. AND SO WHEN YOU PUSH THINGS PAST THE REQUIRED FUNCTION (OR SUBVERT IT) THERE HAS TO BE A KIND OF ELEGANCE TO IT. A KIND OF UNDERSTANDING AND WAY OF MAKING THE VIEWER FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THAT AMBIGUITY OR CHANGE IN NARRATIVE TERMS, EVEN IF THE VERY PURPOSE OF THE SUBVERSION IS TO MAKE THEM FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE IN THEIR PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY. BUT AGAIN, LINDELOF CAN'T HELP BUT BOIL DOWN AMBIGUITY TO THE SAME ROTE, UGLY DICHOTOMY:

HE SEEMS TO THINK AMBIGUITY IS SOMETHING TOLD, NOT SOMETHING EXPERIENCED.

AND IN ALL HIS CONVERSATIONS, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT LINDELOF NEVER SEEMED TO UNDERSTAND REGARDING THE FALLOUT OF LOST IS THE FACT THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T GET SO UPSET MERELY BECAUSE THEY WERE EXPERIENCING SOMETHING UNRESOLVED, BUT BECAUSE IT QUITE LITERALLY (IF INADVERTENTLY) RUBS THEIR NOSE IN ITS UNRESOLVEDNESS.  AMBIGUITY SHOULDN'T FEEL LIKE IT'S BEING DECLARED TO THE AUDIENCE (WHICH ALL HIS PROPERTIES ARE GUILTY OF). IT SHOULD FEEL LIKE IT'S BEING EXPLORED WITH THE AUDIENCE.

AND HELL, ON A FUNCTIONAL LEVEL YOU CAN'T TEASE OUT AN IDEA IN A MOVIE AND THEN IN THE END, JUST SAY THE ENTIRE THING WILL BE FURTHER EXPLORED IN SEQUELS. THERE'S A WAY IT MAY WORK IN EPISODIC TELEVISION (FOR A TIME), BUT WHEN IT COMES TO FILMS? IT IS THE MOST WRONG KIND OF THINKING IMAGINABLE. IT IMMEDIATELY CREATES THE NOTION OF AN ENTIRE FILM'S JOURNEY BEING NOTHING MORE THAN FIRST ACT INSTEAD OF ITS OWN COMPLETE THOUGHT THAT JUST SO HAPPENS WILL LEAD INTO ANOTHER COMPLETE THOUGHT. AND PROMETHEUS ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT FEEL LIKE A COMPLETE THOUGHT. AND TO THE AUDIENCE THAT'S JUST DEATH. TO STUPIDLY BUILD FOR SEQUELS WITHOUT REALIZING THE ONE THING THAT MAKES PEOPLE EXCITED FOR A SEQUEL IS NOT LINGERING QUESTIONS, BUT FEELING LIKE THEY ALREADY GOT A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE AND NOW WANTING TO EXPAND UPON THAT EXPERIENCE. LINGERING QUESTIONS DON'T HOLD YOU OVER FOR THE THREE YEARS IT TAKES TO MAKE A MOVIE.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT ALL THE MISTAKES, THE PROBLEMS OF APPROACH JUST BECOME MORE AND MORE CLEAR. THE ANGLE OF EXPLORING "CREATION" IN THIS FILM IS NOTHING MORE THAN A STALEMATE. A THEMATIC ROADBLOCK. SURE IT CAN WORK IN A PHILOSOPHICAL PIECE (LIKE THE LIST OF MOVIES HULK CITED IN PROBLEM #1) BUT IN SOMETHING REQUIRING FUNCTION? COUGH COUGH LIKE A SCI-FI HORROR MOVIE?? IT JUST ENDS UP BEING THEMATIC ROAD BLOCK.

THE GREAT THING ABOUT ALIEN IS THE WAY THE THEMATIC EXPLORATION WAS, YOU KNOW, COMPLETELY NOT DISCUSSED. EVERYTHING WAS GROUNDED INTO PLOT MECHANICS AND VISUALS. THE MOVIE INVITED YOU TO THE SUBTEXT WITH STARTLING, BEAUTIFUL WAYS. THE ONLY TIME HULK EVER FELT LIKE PROMETHEUS ENTERED THE SAME TERRITORY WAS WITH THE FANTASTIC CESAREAN SCENE WHICH WAS SO TENSE, AWESOME AND CREEPY AS FUCK. BUT IT ALSO GOT RIGHT AT SOME GREAT THEMATIC GROUND. THE PROTO-FACEHUGGER BEING A KIND OF BASTARDIZATION OF THE CHILD SHE COULDN'T HAVE, BUT DESPERATELY WANTED. WHICH MAKES IT A PERFECT REPRESENTATION FOR HOW THEIR QUEST WAS TURNING OUT "SO WRONG." PLUS HULK FELT LIKE THAT SCENE WAS THE ONE TIME THE STERILE, COLD LOOK OF THIS FILM COMPLETELY MATCHED THE MISE EN SCENE NEEDED TO MAKE THE REVEALING HORROR OF THE SCENE WORK. IT WAS PRECISELY THE KIND OF "SHOW DON'T TELL" MOMENT THAT THE MOVIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT ALL TIMES.

BUT INSTEAD? WE GOT PEOPLE CIRCLING AROUND THE SAME DAMN QUESTIONS FOR THE ENTIRE RUNNING LENGTH WITHOUT EVER ACTUALLY CHANGING.

REALLY, ASK YOURSELF THIS: HOW IS THE MAIN SCIENTIST LADY DIFFERENT FROM HOW SHE WAS IN THE BEGINNING? WHAT DID SHE LEARN? WHAT DID ANYONE IN THIS FILM LEARN? EVERYONE JUST PILES THROUGH WITH RECKLESS ABANDON AND MEETS SOME SORT OF END. AND THUS THE CONSEQUENCES OF EVERYTHING WE'VE SEEN ARE RENDERED MEANINGLESS. THAT AWESOME CESAREAN SCENE? BARELY FUCKING MENTIONED AGAIN AND THUS ROBBED OF ANY IMPACT. SO WHY SHOULD WE EVEN REALLY CARE? THE CHEST-BIRTH SCENE IN THE ORIGINAL ALIEN STANDS THE TEST OF TIME BECAUSE IT RADICALLY CHANGES THE DIRECTION OF THE MOVIE. IN THIS? IT HARDLY MATTERS OR AFFECTS ANYTHING. SHE TELLS WEYLAND "WE WERE SO WRONG!!!" AND THEN IMMEDIATELY SAYS WHATEVER AND GOES ALONG WITH HIM ANYWAY. BY THE END OF THE FILM, SHE LEARNED NOTHING. SHE LOST HER HUSBAND AND HAD AN ALIEN BABY TORN OUT OF HER AND SHE WAS BASICALLY LIKE "SIGN ME UP FOR MORE OF THIS!"

UGH... TO BE HONEST, HULK IS PRETTY SURE THAT LINDELOF DOESN'T, LIKE, GET HOW HIS OWN OBSESSION WORKS... WHICH COME TO THINK IS PROBABLY WHY IT IS AN OBSESSION IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUT TO EVEN THE MOST BASIC VIEWER IT'S ALL SO DAMN CLEAR. THE BASIC VIEWER LOOKS AT HER END DECISION AND ON THE MOST BASIC ROOTING INTEREST IS LIKE "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU???"

WHICH MEANS THAT THE MAIN SCIENTIST LADY'S END DECISION IS REALLY A PERFECT METAPHOR FOR HOW BLINDLY DAMON SLAMS INTO THESE THEMES WITHOUT CONSIDERATION. HE DOESN'T SEE HOW APPROPRIATE THEY ARE FOR THE ACTUAL STORY HE IS TRYING TO TELL, THEMATIC, FUNCTIONAL OR OTHERWISE. THE TWO SCIENTISTS DIDN'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT WHAT THEIR OBSESSION DID TO ANYONE OR HOW IT WRECKED THEIR LIVES. LIKEWISE, LINDELOF SHOULD BE BUILDING A STORY ABOUT CONFLICT, TENSION AND THE HORRORS OF CREATION AND INSTEAD HE CONSTANTLY IGNORES THEM (I.E. IGNORES HIS OWN MOVIE) IN THE NAME OF ASKING "THE BIG QUESTIONS."

AND THAT MEANS HE MIGHT MISUNDERSTAND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL...

PROBLEM #3 - THE FUNCTION OF THE WRITER

IF HULK WAS A BETTING HULK, HULK WOULD WAGER THAT LINDELOF IS ACTUALLY AWARE OF MOST OF THE PROBLEMS AND ARGUMENTS MADE ABOVE. NOT ONLY HAS HE PROBABLY SEEN THEM BEFORE IN OTHER ITERATIONS, BUT THE TRUTH IS MOST WRITERS ARE COMPLETELY AWARE OF ANY PERSONAL SHORTCOMINGS. AND THUS THEY HAVE EITHER TRIED TO RESOLVE THEM IN THEIR OWN WAYS OR THEY SIMPLY HAVE MADE A CHOICE TO ASCRIBE TO WHAT THEY PERCEIVE TO BE THEIR STRENGTHS, AND PRESS FORWARD IN THE NAME OF THOSE WHO ENJOY THEIR VOICE. WHICH IS ALL MORE THAN FAIR.

BUT TO HULK, THERE'S THIS WEIRD PART OF DAMON'S PARTICULAR PROBLEM AND THE WAY HE WRESTLES WITH UNKNOWABLE ANSWERS WHICH FEELS A LITTLE... DIFFERENT. HULK SEES A WRITER WHO SEEMS SLAVISHLY BEHOLDEN TO THIS THEME BEYOND MERE FASCINATION, BUT ALMOST AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF REQUIREMENT. IT GOVERNS HIS WORK REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT IT'S APPROPRIATE TO THE KIND OF FILM HE'S WRITING. AND WORSE, IT SEEMS LIKE ANY EFFORT HE MAKES TO SOLVE THE ISSUE ONLY ENDS UP ENGAGING THE STALEMATE ITSELF... IT'S A NO WIN BATTLE.

SO HULK WANTS TO OFFER A MODE OF THINKING THAT MAY HELP... UGH. HULK REALIZES THIS (AND REALLY THE ENTIRE COLUMN) IS ENORMOUSLY PATRONIZING. WHO THE FUCK IS HULK TO OFFER SUCH THINGS? BUT PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK DOES SO HUMBLY AND HOPEFULLY WITH A HUMANE UNDERSTANDING. HULK LOOKS AT THE APPROACH OF LINDELOF'S WRITING AND WANTS TO GIVE HIM THE CONFIDENCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHOICE IN HIS APPROACH, ONE WHERE HE CAN FREE HIMSELF FROM THE CRIPPLING BURDEN OF "WHY" AND SUDDENLY EMBRACE THE "WHY NOT?" HULK WANTS LINDELOF TO KNOW THAT IN MENTAL WRESTLING WITH GOD AND UNKNOWABLE, HULK WOULD LIKE TO OFFER WHAT HULK VIEWS TO BE A SINGULAR, FREEING IDEA...

HE'S GOD.

THAT'S THE THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER. YOU ARE A CREATOR. YOU GET TO DECIDE THE MEANING. IT'S NOT JUST ALLOWED, IT'S ACTUALLY THE VERY PURPOSE OF ART. TO GIVE PEOPLE MEANING AND UNDERSTANDING BEYOND THE TANGIBLE. TO CREATE REALITIES THAT REVEAL SEEMINGLY HIDDEN TRUTHS. TO COMFORT, TO HARROW THE SOUL, THE MAKE LAUGH, TO PROVIDE SOME KIND OF EXPERIENTIAL SERVICE BEYOND ALL THAT IS UNDEFINED. BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS THAT PEOPLE INTRINSICALLY UNDERSTAND THAT LIFE IS UNKNOWABLE. THE POST-MODERN LACK OF CERTAINTY WAS REALLY HUMANITY'S FIRST PROBLEM. AT THE BEGINNING OF CULTURE WE WERE IN THE TOWER OF BABEL, ALL WAS UNKNOWABLE IN THE WORLD, AND WE, HUMANS, CREATED LANGUAGE BECAUSE WE NEED TO GIVE MEANING TO UNDEFINABLE THINGS IN ORDER TO SOLVE OUR MOST BASIC PROBLEM. FROM THERE? WE TOLD STORIES. WE CREATED HISTORY. WE CREATED UNDERSTANDING. WE CREATED PURPOSE. AND THROUGH THAT? WE LED PEOPLE OUT OF DARKNESS.

AND LINDELOF STRIKES HULK AS A WRITER WHO FEELS PARALYZED WHEN ATTEMPTING TO DO JUST THAT. SOME WRITERS ARE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH THE REALITY OF THE DARKNESS THAT THEY ENGAGE ART AND ESSENTIALLY GET SUCKED RIGHT BACK INTO OUR FIRST ESSENTIAL / OBVIOUS QUAGMIRE. LINDELOF LOOKS AT THE UNIVERSE AND ONLY CAN SEEM TO REFLECT THAT LACK OF CONTROL. HE MAKES THE DUALITY AND CONSEQUENCE OF "UNKNOWING" FEEL SO FIXED AND ANGRY. HE ONLY SEEMS TO REPLICATE HIS FRUSTRATION WITH "GOD" IN A REFLECTIVE WAY IN HIS ART. HE STRIKES HULK AS SOMEONE WHO FEELS LIKE THAT HE ONLY REFLECT THAT MOST BASIC, TERRIBLE REALITY AND IS THUS AFRAID TO GO BEYOND THAT AND FIND THE OTHER FORMS OF TRUTH IN THE WORLD (WHICH ARE THE ONES WE ACTUALLY NEED).

WHICH MEANS THAT LINDELOF, LIKE HIS CHARACTERS, IS IGNORING THE REAL STORY OF LIFE GOING ON AROUND HIM.

WHAT WAS SO WHIPLASH-INDUCING ABOUT THE END OF LOST WAS NOT THAT ITS FINAL MESSAGE OF "IT'S ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU WERE WITH THE WHOLE TIME!" WAS TOO CHEESY MESSAGE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT (IN FACT, IT'S A GREAT MESSAGE), THE PROBLEM WAS THAT THE ENDING SO ABSOLUTELY DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THE APPROPRIATE ENDING FOR THAT SHOW. WE HAD HAD SIX YEARS OF FOSTERED MACGUFFINS, OBSESSIONS AND SOLIPSISTIC PERSONAL JOURNEYS. AND THUS, THE ENDING DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THE TRIUMPH OF FRIENDSHIP WE WERE BEING TOLD IT WAS. INSTEAD, IT FELT LIKE AN UNEARNED CONSOLATION PRIZE FOR THE FACT WE DIDN'T GET THE PERSONAL SPIRITUAL ANSWERS WHAT WE WANTED.

AND HULK ISN'T SPEAKING FOR HULK-SELF, HULK COULD CARE LESS ABOUT "THE ANSWERS" AND JUST WANTED SOME ENDING THAT MADE CATHARTIC SENSE FOR THE SHOW (AND 99% OF THE FINALE DOES THAT BY THE WAY). WHAT HULK IS SAYING IS THAT THE SHOW ITSELF WAS SO DEVOTED TO THOSE IDEAS AND CONCEPTS, THAT IT FEELS WRONG FOR THE SHOW GOING IN ANOTHER DIRECTION (EVEN IF THAT WAS THE MORALLY RIGHT DIRECTION), THUS IT FEELS WRONG FOR THE AUDIENCE TOO.

BY NOT UNDERSTANDING HIS POWER AS CREATOR, BY BEING SLAVISH TO AN IDEA ABOUT EXCLUSIVE THOUGHT, LINDELOF ESSENTIALLY COMPLETES SOME HORRIBLE CYCLE OF ABUSE AND EXHIBITS THE EXACT SAME KIND OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR HE RESENTS ABOUT GOD. HE IS TOTALLY NOT REALIZING HE IS THE ONE WHO IS PURPOSEFULLY TELLING THE VIEWER THEY CANNOT HAVE SOMETHING AND IS PUSHING THEM AWAY. HE THINKS HE'S MERELY REFLECTING THE UNIVERSE, BUT REALLY HE'S DEFINING THE UNIVERSE. AND HULK KNOWS THAT SIMPLY CANNOT BE HIS INTENTION, BECAUSE UNDER ALL OF THAT PREOCCUPATION WITH THESE THEMES HE HAS A REMARKABLY HUMANE DISPOSITION.

YOU KNOW... HULK REALIZES HOW INCREDIBLY SILLY THIS ALL IS. HERE'S HULK, EFFECTIVELY PSYCHOANALYZING SOMEONE HULK HAS NEVER MET AND PONTIFICATION/POSTURING SOME IDEA ON HOW A LINE OF CONCEPTUAL THINKING IS DEBILITATING THEIR WRITING. WHICH IS NOT ONLY PRESUMPTUOUS, IT'S KINDA FREAKIN' WEIRD. HULK CAN POINT TO SOMETHING LIKE JOHN CARTER AND SEE THE TECHNICAL SEAMS AND POINT OUT LOGICAL FLAWS, BUT THE PROBLEMS OF PROMETHEUS ARE SO DEEP-TISSUE THAT HULK HAS TO PUT ON THE PSYCHOLOGIST HAT. TO MAKE THIS PROCESS OF DIAGNOSING MAKE MORE SENSE, HULK SEES THE SITUATION MORE LIKE WHEN AN A+ TALENT PITCHER SUDDENLY CAN'T FIND THE STRIKE ZONE AND RATHER THAN WORK ON MECHANICS YOU JUST HAVE TO GET THEM TO FIX THEIR DISPOSITION. OR AS A MORE APT COMPARISON, IT'S LIKE WHEN SPIELBERG TAKES HIS UNCANNY ABILITY TO CONVEY MEANING AND EMOTION IN HIS FILMMAKING AND OVER-MANIPULATES INTO OUTRIGHT SAP. IT'S THE OVERUSE OF A STRENGTH TO THE POINT WHERE IT BECOMES WEAKNESS.

WHICH COMPLETELY TELLS US THAT SOMETIMES THE PROBLEMS OF FILMMAKING AREN'T A MATTER OF SCREWING UP BASIC PLOT MECHANICS, OR LOSING A CHARACTER MOTIVATION, OR MISSING A BEAT. SOMETIMES IT IS ABOUT COMING AT A PROJECT WITH AN ENTIRE DISPOSITION THAT IS JUST SLIGHTLY OUT OF SORTS.  AND THAT'S WHAT HULK THINKS HAPPENED WITH LINDELOF'S ENTIRE APPROACH TO PROMETHEUS. THAT SLIGHTEST ERRONEOUS DISPOSITION WHERE HE FOCUSES ON ONLY ONE ASPECT OF CREATION, ENDS UP AFFECTING THE POWER OF THE THEMATIC RESONANCE, THE FUNCTIONALITY OF THE FILM WITH ITS GENRE, AND EVEN UNDERMINES HIS FUNCTION AS WRITER. AND AGAIN, THESE THREE CENTRAL PROBLEMS PRETTY MUCH GO ON TO INFORM EVERY "TECHNICAL" MISTAKE THAT GETS MADE IN THE FILM.

OUR DISPOSITION MATTERS.

TO WIT: DAMON LINDELOF ONCE SAID ON A PANEL THAT HE HAS THIS GREAT WAY OF APPROACHING CHARACTER AND THAT'S THAT HE DECIDES EVERY SINGLE ONE OF CHARACTERS HE WRITES HAS A SECRET. IT MAY NOT ALWAYS BE EXPOSED OR BE INTRINSIC TO THE PLOT, BUT HE'S AWARE OF WHAT THE SECRET IS AND IT UTTERLY INFORMS HIS WRITING.

ON ONE LEVEL. THIS IS A FUCKING GREAT IDEA. IT INSTANTLY GETS YOUR BRAIN TO THINK ABOUT CHARACTER IN A ROUNDED WAY. IT GIVES A CHARACTER DEPTH AND TEXTURE. IT GIVES THEM A PSYCHE. AND IF THIS SECRET ENDS UP INFORMING THE PLOT, YEAH, IT CAN TOTALLY BE OF GREAT USE TO THE FILM OR SHOW YOU ARE MAKING. THINKING SPECIFICALLY OF LOST, WHICH HAD THIS WEEKLY FORMAT OF PEELING BACK THE LAYERS ON A SPECIFIC CHARACTER DU JOUR, THEN IT'S A FUCKING BRILLIANT WAY TO APPROACH CHARACTER IN THE CONTEXT OF A LONGER, EPISODIC STORY.

BUT THE PROBLEM IS THERE ARE JUST AS MANY TIMES WHERE IT'S TOTALLY NOT AN APPROPRIATE WAY TO APPROACH CHARACTER. IN FACT, IT CAN BE WHOLLY DEBILITATING. NOT JUST BECAUSE A TWO HOUR MOVIE HAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SENSE OF FUNCTION (WE OFTEN HAVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CHARACTERS THE SECOND WE SEE THEM) BUT WHEN CHARACTERS LACK CLEAR MOTIVATIONS AND WE DON'T UNDERSTAND THEM THEN YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY WEAKENING THE CENTRAL DRIVING FORCE OF STORYTELLING AND CINEMA: CONFLICT.

CONFLICT IS DEPENDENT ON UNDERSTANDING: PERSON A WANTS X. PERSON B WANTS X. THEY FIGHT OVER IT. OR SOMETIMES IT IS A CASE OF PERSON A WANTS X AND PERSON B WANTS Y, BUT X AND Y ARE IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH EACH OTHER. AND THE MORE CLEAR AND UNDERSTANDABLE THESE WANTS ARE, THE MORE CLEAR THE OBJECTIVES AND GOALS, THE MORE THE AUDIENCE WILL ENGAGE THE STORY. SURE, MYSTERY AND ALLURE PROVIDE US WITH GREAT CURIOSITY, BUT IT'S NOT AS POWERFUL AS UNDERSTANDABLE MOTIVATION. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE MOST BASIC, GOVERNING PRINCIPAL OF ALL STORYTELLING HERE AND IT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY BIT OF EMOTIONAL RESONANCE WE EXPERIENCE WITH MOVIES. WE ROOT FOR PEOPLE. WE WANT THINGS THEY WANT. EVEN IF THE CONFLICT ITSELF IS COMPLEX, THE DYNAMIC IS NOT. IT IS SIMPLE. INTRINSIC. AND VISCERAL. THIS IS STORYTELLING.

AND BY ENGAGING IN THIS SECRETISM, YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY DELAYING THE AUDIENCE'S UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT YOUR CHARACTERS WANT. YOU ARE DELAYING A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONFLICT (A HUGE PROBLEM WITH JOHN CARTER TOO) AND THUS DELAYING THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE. IT IS ESSENTIALLY A MASSIVE CASE OF BURYING THE LEDE AND IT CAN BE CRIPPLING FOR THE KEY NEEDS OF DRAMA.

AND THUS, THE FAULTS OF SECRETISM ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME EXACT PROBLEMS CREATED BY LINDELOF'S LOVE OF THE THEMATIC STALEMATE HULK KEEPS MENTIONING. THEY ARE BOTH DRAMATIC NON-STARTERS. AND LINDELOF SEEMS TO HAVE BECOME SO BEHOLDEN TO THE POWER OF MYSTERY AND AMBIGUITY THAT HE HAS COMPLETELY LOST SIGHT OF THE MOST BASIC FORMS OF STORYTELLING.

AND HULK DESPERATELY WANTS HIM TO UNDERSTAND THIS. HE PROBABLY ALREADY DOES, BUT HE NEEDS TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT FUNCTIONAL AGAIN. HULK DESPERATELY WANTS HIM TO SUCCEED AND FIND THAT PERFECT BALANCE THAT IS STILL COMPLETELY TRUE TO HIS VOICE. THE ONE WHERE HE CAN CREATE FASCINATING MYSTERIES THAT ARE BUILT IN TANGIBLE CONFLICTS. HULK WANTS HIM TO USHER IN BIG BRIGHT IDEAS, CREATE UNIQUE UNIVERSES, UNEARTH POWERFUL CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS, DISPLAY HUMANE UNDERSTANDING, SHOW GREATER PURPOSE AND DO THIS ALL WITHOUT SACRIFICING DRAMATIC AFFECTATION.

OR TO STICK WITH AN EARLIER METAPHOR, HE'S GOTTA FIND HIS FASTBALL AGAIN.

THE FUNCTION OF THE WRITER IS NOT MERELY TO REPLICATE THE WAY THEY SEE THE WORLD. THE FUNCTION OF THE WRITER IS TO CREATE A WAY TO SEE THE WORLD, AND THEN MAKE IT A TANGIBLE EXPERIENCE FOR OTHERS. MEANING THE FUNCTION OF THE WRITER IS TO RESPONSIBLY TAKE ON THE ROLE OF GOD, NOT MERELY REFLECT DICHOTOMIES IN THE NAME OF GOD.

AND THUS, TO FUNCTION AS A WRITER, DAMON LINDELOF TRULY NEEDS TO EVOLVE. TO TAKE HIS STRENGTHS AND UNDERSTAND THEM. TO FIT THEM BACK INTO THE TRADITIONAL MODES OF DRAMA AND GENRE CONVENTIONS YOU CAN TELL HE TRULY LOVES. AND IT IS CRITICAL THAT HE DO SO, BECAUSE THE SAD TRUTH IS THERE ARE TOO FEW SCREENWRITERS IN HIS POSITION THESE DAYS. LINDELOF IS SO VERY IMPORTANT. AND WITH HIS LATEST, IT WAS ANOTHER FILM THAT UNDERMINES EXACTLY WHAT HE SHOULD BE DOING SO WELL.

PROMETHEUS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MOVIE ABOUT CREATION.

AND IT'S STARTLING HOW LITTLE OF IT HULK ACTUALLY SAW.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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