Why, oh why, does anybody still hire Damon Lindelof to write TV/film for them?
It utterly mystifies me.
Everything his word processor has typed for TV & film is dreadful. I’ve called him the ‘anti-Midas’ on forums and in tweets before now because it seems to me everything that he touches just turns to shit.
What has prompted my resurgence of bilious Lindelof-hating? I’ll tell you; it’s one of my latest rentals; Prometheus. What a god-awful, incoherent mess that turned out to be. It’s typical Lindelof – he throws down all these big ideas in the script but entirely fails to tie them up at all. I’m certain he thinks his ambiguous approach is by design; to provoke some sort of metaphysical reflection in his viewers, but all it does is make the viewing experience completely unsatisfying and have me feeling like I’ve watched a movie made by an over excited teenager who’s flitting through the Internet and getting turned on by every half-idea and cod-intellectual concept he finds on Wikipedia – with no true understanding of the idea or concept at all.
It was the same with Lost. The most extravagant waste of airspace I have ever encountered. How many people, like me, got sucked in and invested in the show only to finally realise that the writers room (led by Lindelof) were throwing it all in for shits and giggles, chugging on crack pipes and convincing themselves the next ridiculous plot development they planned was any good. They just threw in every mystical and Sci-fi trope they could find, and tried to tie it all together any which way they could, ultimately filling the show with inconsistencies, unconcluded storylines and pointless flashbacks; all designed to add more intrigue to the deeper mystery but were basically time filling red herrings. That deeper mystery never got explained in even a cursory manner whatsoever. So much stuff went unexplained – Walt, the numbers, the four toed statue, where the Others came from, and who truly were Jacob and the Smoke Monster Man in Black?
I mean, seriously, the show dedicated a whole episode to two characters that were fleshed out and killed in the same 42 minute episode never to be seen again. (Trying to be a ‘Lower Decks’ but failing miserably) Lost is truly an incomprehensible mess that has magically hoodwinked all of the juvenile idiots and pseudo-intellectuals that it was some intricately plotted exploration of the human condition but was, in fact, mostly superficially “profound” bullshit to keep the punters hoodwinked and coming back for more advertising and merchandise.
I’m not even going to start on the finale – it’s not worth my blog space.
I think that the inherent problem with Lindelof is that he tries to bring these grand ideas and mysteries to his work to engage the audience but when the chips are down fails to give the viewer any payoff or comprehensive solving of the mystery, because he is either not bright enough or chickens out. This therefore creates incoherent stories that are wildly unsatisfying and not nearly as clever as they think they are.
Prometheus sadly suffers from the Lindelof failings evident in Lost too – lots of “greater meaning” content that has no depth to it whatsoever and loose-end-mania in the plot. It’s such a shame because visually the film was stunning and some of the cast performances were A-grade.
There is simply no doubt that the visual elements of this movie (FX, sets and modelling) are it’s finest achievement. Some of the cinematography is breathtaking; take a look at the dramatic, sweeping shots of landscape that are magnificently grand and epic. I also found the Alien structure suitably unsettling, all dark and mysteriously misty, creating just the right atmosphere. The Prometheus itself looks great.
Fassbender was also a saving grace. Despite the utter lack of rationale or comprehensive motivations evident in the screenplay for his character he still created a fascinating and watchable individual through his performance. There are very few actors who can improve bad writing through the performance alone but Fassbender does, and makes it look easy.
So – a sloppily written, incomprehensible mess that is barely redeemed by Fassbender and the direction/cinematography. Proof reading this now I’m not sure it’s quite what I set out to write – what was supposed to be a review of my latest Lovefilm rental became dominated by my rantings over Lindelof and his failings as a writer and show runner. Perhaps that reflects just how frustrated the guy makes me…