Damon Lindelof’s Writing is Rubbish

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.

Damon Lindelof

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?

Lost Cast Photo

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.

Michael Fassbender in Ridley Scott's Prometheus

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…


Where did Walt go?

Where did Walt go?





16 responses to “Damon Lindelof’s Writing is Rubbish

  1. You’re in for a real treat when you get around to watching Star Trek Into Darkness.

    • I’ve seen it, and, I’m aggrieved to say, I quite liked it. It appealed to the ’80s boyish adventure’ movie fan in me.

      But… let’s not kid ourselves; Lindelof was true to form as the writing stinks. Thankfully; Abrams filled it with enough crashing space ships, fist fights and explosions to keep me suitable distracted like a 12 year old version of me.

  2. Totally agree.

    The reason Lindeloff doesn’t tie up his “brilliant” ambiguous plotlines is that he can’t figure out how to do it.

    Anyone can sound brilliant by being “deep” and “ambiguous”. The real talent shows when the writer can actually make these techniques work. Unfortunately this guy isn’t smart enough to do it although he thinks he is. The rest of us are not fooled.

    Star Trek into Darkness was a mediocre movie. Classic lindeloff: lots of “cool” ideas (bodies in missiles for example) with no purpose to the story other than being cool. This was a real problem in Prometheus also, which was basically a stew of cool ideas that had no relation to one another. Sorry, but coolness in and of itself is not a story.

  3. Also, the fact that many reviews point to Fassbenders performance as being the high point of Prometheus says a lot about just how bad the movie is. Just how difficult is it to play an emotionless robot? Is this really Oscar-worthy acting?

  4. The reason his stories are “ambiguous” is that he can’t find a coherent way to connect his “deep ” ideas. Any high school creative writing student knows that the way to solve this problem while appearing brilliant is to create an ambiguous story

    • Have you ever seen JJ Abrams Ted talk about the mysterious box? Try it out – it clears up one of the reasons why these idiots keep things ambiguous. It’s to do with a misguided concept over an unopened box…

  5. He’s definitely terrible. Why they keep handing him quality projects is baffling.

  6. Lindelof is a shirty writer because he is spiteful of the audience. When interviewed for “Lost” he promised the audience, unequivocally, that it was not going to end a certain way and then did it anyways. For “Prometheus” he took a script intended to answer questions about “Alien” and them stripped it of those answers.

    He sets narrative expectations and then says “f*ck you” to the audience when they expect him to deliver.

    • That’s an interesting take. I never knew that about the ending. I suppose it’s never a good thing if a writer is interpreted as disrespectful towards as you perceive it.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Pingback: I thought Brad Bird was a Legend… | True Mister Six·

  8. I just watched the commentary of prometheus by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts and it seems everything Jon wrote to stay true to the original alien damon went and rewrote it to make it into such a riduculous movie. I now can see what they mean by mtv directors and writers, only good for making a very hollow unintelligent movie that totally goes nowhere. Please damon, stop ruining good movies…

    • I didn’t watch with the commentary – so thanks for the insight.

      We’re not alone in our feelings on Damon: this blog post is undoubtedly my most read post ever. He’ll keep ruining movies because…well…some idiot somewhere in Hollywood keeps paying him!

      Tomorrowland may well end up a total disaster…

  9. Exactly sir! I am still agrieved about the time I spent watching Lost. What a train wreck

  10. I couldn’t agree more. Prometheus had so much potential, and it occasionally shines through. But every vague philosophical question that Lindelof raises is then rendered completely pointless by his infuriatingly obnoxious tactic of providing no answers. The worst part is he seems to think that that somehow gives his work some deeper meaning for the audience. When in reality it ruins the experience and it’s painfully obvious that he has no damn idea what the fleshed out story would even be. He just throws out these half ideas and wants the viewer to fill in the blanks. Granted ambiguity can be an excellent way of engaging the viewer, Kubrick being an excellent example of this, but it only works if the writer has fully formed the narrative even it’s not shown. I think that he has potential but he really needs to start heeding his critics, simply write a complete story and drop the psuedo intellectual to cool for school attitude.

  11. @Travice:

    You miss the point. It’s not that Lindelof won’t make his stories unambiguous. It’s that he CAN’T make them unambiguous.

    As the poster said above, he doesn’t know how. He thinks that just because he comes up with neat-o sounding ideas, he is a good writer. The problem is that he can’t turn these ideas into a coherent story so he falls back on creating an ambiguous story, then claims “I meant to do that”.

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