June 22, 2012, OTTAWA — I know it's not very post-modern of me, but I like to suspend my disbelief when a book or film takes me to another world. I like to pretend that Middle Earth is real, that the Doctor's phonebox might really materialize with a voorp-voorp-voorp right in front of me or that I really could thumb a ride to Bellona.
Put it another way. Fiction ought not set off too many of my shit-detectors. A surgeon should know the kidneys are, a cop shouldn't ride a unicorn in present-day Toronto and Richard Nixon shouldn't spout socialist philosophy on the campaign trail.
(For the record, I can also enjoy in-jokes, the breaking down of fourth walls and even direct auctorial interruption of a narrative — when it is done well.)
The worst thing a creator can do to his or her audience's suspension of disbelief is not to ask it to accept the fantastically impossible, but to accept the mundanely improbable. A Doctor who travels through time and space in a magic phone-box is wonderful, but a doctor who doesn't know basic anatomy is ridiculous.
Which brings me to my second foray into a movie theatre in the year of our Lord two thousand and twelve. Once again I was hyped into slapping down my hard-earned money on a block-busting 3D fantasy. Once again, I walked out well, dissatisfied, to put it mildly.
In fact, Ridley Scott's prequel to his 1979 classic, Alien, is one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. Failing basic archaeology, biology, astronomy and psychology (to name only a few areas of Epic Failure), Prometheus makes no sense and isn't even scary.