Prometheus: Massive Spoiler Post
WARNING: IF THE TITLE OF THIS POST WASN’T WARNING ENOUGH, THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE PROMETHEUS. DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. GO SEE IT AND COME BACK LATER, M’KAY?
So, this happened yesterday:
To say I’ve been looking forward to this movie is an understatement. Ridley Scott’s original Alien is one of my favorite horror films ever, and Aliens is a pretty great movie in its own right, while Alien3 is a worthy addition to the trilogy (and it is a trilogy and only a trilogy, do you understand? This alleged movie Alien Resurrection is a figment of your imagination and NEVER HAPPENED, much like Rocky V and Godfather III. NEVER HAPPENED.)
Prometheus isn’t an Alien prequel per say (Scott claims that it only contains pieces of Alien “DNA,” which is pretty clever given the story line of the film actually), as there are as many shout outs to other films (most notably I think Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) as there are to Alien, but in the end it makes a nice addition to the broader Alien universe, or at least 3/4 of it does, and that part is good enough to overcome a rather “meh” ending.
First things first: this is a beautifully filmed movie (I saw the 2D version) and it should gain Oscar nominations for cinematography and art direction without even breaking a sweat. It is worth seeing this movie for the visuals alone, even if you insist on forking over the extra money for the unnecessary 3D (Quick rant, I despise 3D – all it seems to do is add a surcharge to your ticket price and darken the movie by about 30% for no real reason). The extended scene where the crew of the Prometheus enters the atmosphere of the distant moon where a majority of the story takes place and lands amidst towering peaks that dwarf Mt. Everest is one of my favorite visuals in a long time. Where Alien built dread and horror by emphasizing the tight, claustrophobic spaces that the doomed crew were trapped in, everything in Prometheus is large, wide open and majestic, from the ship that gives the film its name (named for the Titan who stole fire from the gods to give to the human race – heavy symbolism alert here) to the massive structures built by the oversized “Engineers” that the crew of the Prometheus are searching for.
Speaking of the Engineers, that’s where the story begins, thousands of years ago on a remote Scottish highland, where the movie posits that one of these massive, albino alien beings first planted the seeds of human existence on earth, one that is discovered (in theory at least) in the year 2091 by two scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) who connect a similar image from ancient art and cave paintings around the world which lead them to believe that an alien civilization has often visited earth and was possibly responsible for humanity itself. These are the questions that drive Prometheus forward initially (How do you explain life on earth? Are science and faith compatible? And, in the end, what would you ask your maker and what happens when your maker no longer has a need for you? The answer to that one isn’t pleasant)
The story then flashes forward two years with Rapace and Marshall-Green joined by 15 other crew members in a state of suspended animation aboard the Prometheus and headed to the deep reaches of space to find these Engineers. The crew are attended to in route to their eventual destination by the real star of the movie, Michael Fassbender’s David, an android who spends his free time in space learning ancient languages, shooting baskets while riding a bicycle, and re-watching Lawrence of Arabia while styling his hair to match Peter O’Toole’s well quaffed ‘do. David’s allegiances are quickly called into question, though the movie often hints that he’s serving his own agenda rather than blindly following orders of others.
Many of the others in the crew are little more than caricature or blatant red shirts, destined to be served up as victims when the inevitable carnage begins. (Scott takes his time getting there though, content to make us wait for the “horror” part of the sci-fi/horror film that this is.) Charlize Theron plays ominous representative of the Weyland Corporation (who’s founder, played by Guy Pearce, forked over the trillion dollars to finance this venture), a woman so icy and reserved that she’s mistaken for an android like David. The “others” are mostly forgettable, except for ship’s captain, played by the Idris Elba from The Wire, if only for giving us the image of Stringer Bell playing Stephen Stills’ accordion while trying to pick up Theron (and succeeding only by questioning whether or not she’s actually human.)
After discovering a massive temple apparently built by the Engineers, the crew explores the depths and gradually discovers the grisly truth: the creator race was hunted and overwhelmed by a vicious species that will look familiar to those familiar with the Alien franchise. From the remains of one of the Engineers Rapace’s Elizabeth confirms her suspicions by matching the much older DNA of the alien race to human DNA. Asked whether her discovery shakes her Christian faith, Elizabeth is nonplussed, asking who created the creators? With the Engineers wiped out, the opportunity to ask them is lost, or so it seems. David discovers that one of the Engineers is still alive in suspended animation. In the process he uncovers the real purpose of the strange, bomb-like capsules stored by the the thousands inside the temple and the Engineers mission: the temple is actually a ship and the capsules are weapons of mass destruction in the form of the alien species that turned on their creators. The Engineers had planned on returning to earth to unleash them on humanity and destroy the race they had created in their own image. This was not the home of the Engineers at all, but rather an outpost used to manufacture these weapons.
It’s at this point that movie took a bit of a nosedive for me, dissolving into a C grade action flick in the finish. Here’s the short summary: Pearce’s Weyland is still alive and on the ship and has been directing David to find a live Engineer so that Weyland can, wait for it, live forever. So, what started out as a nuanced take on creation, faith, and the origins of man ends up as one greedy old man’s quest for eternal life. That sound you hear is the movie deflating before your eyes a bit. Anyway, Weyland wakes up his maker, tries to talk to him, gets brained by the decapitated head of David (which I will admit, was the one of the best on screen deaths ever, well done Ridley). Meanwhile, back the ship, Elizabeth has to have a automated C-section to remove the alien love child gift left to her by Marshall-Green’s character, who was infected with alien DNA by David for reasons that aren’t readily apparent (my theory, David developed feelings for her, the one thing everyone keeps telling him that he would never have).
The newly awakened and enraged man-god finishes wrecking havoc and destruction on the crew that interrupted his nap and tries to carry out his mission on Earth by firing up the ship and delivering his deadly payload. Elizabeth realizes what this means and convinces Prometheus’ captain that he has to destroy the alien infested ship, which he plans to do by the only means at his disposal, by ramming the ship at high speed and sacrificing himself and the crew that volunteers to remain behind (who include Rafe Spall from Shaun of the Dead fame). Theron, who it turns out is Weyland’s daughter, isn’t in a sacrificial mood, hops on her escape pod and bails before the ships collide. She and Elizabeth are then left to try and outrun the falling debris of the monstrous alien craft, but only Elizabeth has the sense to run in the obviously right direction and she avoids Theron’s crushing demise. But wait, now the wreckage is falling the other way and puts Elizabeth in peril again, but she survives and makes it to the pod, where hey, guess what, the alien fetus she had removed is now full grown and itching to get out and maul something.
Elizabeth is warned by decapitated head of David through the amazing comm system that her creator survived the crash and was coming to get her. Before she can gasp the Engineer is on top of her and she escapes only by unleashing the alien beast inside the locked door behind her, who immediately implants the Engineer with a classic alien facehugger move to take him down. After surviving all of this, she loads up David’s head in a bag and drags his android body to another ship, which she needs David to pilot, to go and find the Engineer’s real home and ask the questions she came to have answered in the first place. Before leaving, she broadcasts the famous “this place is death” warning message
that Ripley and company pick up in Alien. (Yeah, ok, I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. Jumped the gun and should have thought about that one for a minute before posting. That definitely wasn’t the message picked up the beginning of Alien, but it should have been.)
Got all that? Anyway, I very much enjoyed the movie, even though it does take a turn for the worse in the last 20-30 minutes. The movie that comes before it is good enough to overlook it, call it a solid B+ overall with an big A for visuals.
Random list of things learned from Prometheus:
Windows is still the dominant operating system in 2093.
Major, invasive surgery can be performed in less than a minute.
If you come across a snake-like alien creature that flairs like a cobra, you are better off not messing with it.
If you are Noomi Rapace’s character in a movie and a male comes with 1oo yards of you in a movie, nothing good will come of it (remember, she played Lizbeth in the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy).
Have you seen Prometheus? Are you planning on it? What did you think?