I have taken a few days to digest Prometheus. I saw it in 2D at my local theater on Saturday morning. I was very excited to see that Ridley Scott was returning to the franchise he launched back in 1979. The original Alien film was a gutsy, in more ways than one, gritty genera bender of a science fiction film. He abandoned the sterile, futuristic, and martial landscape of science fiction and put it in a dirty working class world of a commercial tug and refinery vehicle the Nostromo. He turned the camera on a handful of terrified everyday people as they struggled to survive an epically hostile alien that they not so unwittingly unleash upon themselves. The movie is spiced with a good dose of corporate paranoia when they discover that their employer is very aware of the creature and is quite willing to sacrifice them all in order to get their hands on the alien and use it as a weapon. I was hoping that Prometheus, being a prequel to Alien and directed by Scott, would have some of the same energy and style of the original Alien.
Prometheus is very high on style. The special effects are absolutely flawless and stunning. Everything is shiny new and high tech, and surprisingly that is my first real problem with the movie. Every other ship, the Nostromo and the Sulaco, or installations, the colony on LV426, the prison in Alien3 are used, old, dirty, and in some cases abandoned commercial sites. The research ship Prometheus, on the other hand, is new and advanced it is more like the Enterprise than the Nostromo. Yes an argument can be made that it is a research vessel and not a commercial tug or a military transport but even the best research ships are not “state of the art”. Prometheus is a fantastic ship but it sticks out from all the other hardware in the series and just does not seem to fit in the alien universe.
Putting the Prometheus aside the major problem with the film is that it tries to take on big ideas. It is not just an origin myth for the Alien creature but tries to speak to our origins as humans as well. This movie attempts to touch on deep philosophical questions and it fumbles all the answers. I am not sure about anyone else but one of the things I loved about Alien and Aliens is that they were about people trying to survive getting their faces eaten off. I felt that the mystery of the space jockey and the origins of the alien itself added to the atmosphere of the series. I found the reveal of the space jockey to be a huge letdown. The addition of human and space jockey origins and religious implications was a detriment. Prometheus was a Greek god who was punished by Zeus for giving man fire. His sentence was to be tied to a rock and every day an eagle would swoop down and consume his liver, the organ would grow back every night. The big idea is the eagle that consumes Prometheus.
Danger…. There are spoilers ahead! I am not responsible for anyone who has not seen the film reading any further.
Plot problems, after the opening scene of a large humanoid on earth I guess ingesting some black liquid his DNA and his body is destroyed and his remains fall into a river and the DNA reforms. Cut to future earth and a pair of archeologists Charlie Holloway Elizabeth Shaw and uncover an ancient cave painting of a large humanoid, same one we saw earlier, pointing to a star cluster.
Cut to classic Alien sequence as the camera moves through a seemingly deserted space ship that has one crew member watching over the other sleeping companions. This is David and he is obviously a robot, an early prototype of Ash and Bishop. You cut to scenes of him monitoring the rest of the crew and entertaining himself.
Ship arrives at destination planet and the crew wakes up. They are given a mission briefing by holographic projection of a very old Peter Weyland the creator of the now infamous Weyland Yutani Corp. The archeologists then take over and explain that the symbol they found was created by a dozen other widely scattered ancient cultures on Earth and that they have just entered the system indicated on the cave paintings. They are responding to a long post invitation to meet the makers of humanity. The other scientists are not impressed in the least but they get on with their duties.
First order of business is to check out one of the several unnatural tit formations on the planet surface. The scientists find a way inside and into the familiar alien shaped corridors. In the middle of this David, the robot, finds an alien control panel and activates it. The panel activates a holographic playback system showing space jockeys running down the hallway. One of the unfortunate space jockeys gets decapitated at a nearby door and the projection system shuts down. The scientists run down the corridor and find a decapitated space jockey.
Why was there a holographic display system in a hallway? I know plot convenience; we can’t just have the scientists come across a dead space jockey. Oh wait yes we can, it was done in Alien. I feel like I am being spoon fed at this point.
Two of the scientists Millburn and Fifield get spooked about aliens and head back to Prometheus. David is able to open the door and they find the space jockey head is perfectly preserved in a room with a large face sculpture, a couple worms wriggling around in the dirt, dozens of canister looking things. As soon as they enter the canisters start leaking a black liquid and the scientists get a report from Prometheus that a dangerous storm is approaching and they have 15 minutes to get back to the ship. The scientists grab the head, David grabs a canister and they all head back to the ship. After shutting the door the worms end up in the black liquid.
The remaining scientists barely make it back to the ship and discover that the two who left early have not arrived and are lost in the bowels of the big tit. The captain tells them to stay where they are because of the storm and oh yea the automatic probes that were released into the structure are detecting nonhuman life signs. Cue freak out as they then try to run away from the life signs. These two yahoos have now lost their sh*t twice over the possibility of alien life inside the structure.
Meanwhile back on the ship the scientists bring the space jockey head into the laboratory and begin checking it out. The examine the head and after it explodes in a stasis chamber they discover that the space jockeys, now called engineers have human DNA, in fact it is a perfect 100% match. What? Really 100%, cue ideas of CSI West Virginia where everyone is related. Meanwhile David has opened the canister that he snuck on board and found it full of that black goop. He takes a small amount and deliberately tricks Charlie Halloway into ingesting some. We learn that Shaw is sterile and unable to have children and then Halloway and Shaw have sex.
Meanwhile inside the enormous tit, Millburn and Fifield return to the chamber with a giant head and the leaking canisters. The black goop now has larger living things swimming in it. One of the creatures lifts itself out of the black muck and Millburn sees it. Instead of freaking out and running away Millburn kneels down and starts cooing at the thing. In the space of one reel he has gone from pissing his pants over the possibility of encountering aliens to speaking baby talk to this unknown creature. He and Fifield are quickly killed by the snake like creature.
Things start to rapidly spiral out of control.
The scientists return to the engineer’s structure. Halloway is showing extreme signs of alien contamination. They find the bodies of Millburn and Fifield, David has wandered off somehow and discovers a familiar looking room with a star map leading to Earth and an engineer in stasis but still alive. Halloway’s condition is rapidly deteriorating and they return to the ship with the bodies of Millburn and Fifield. Halloway is not allowed back onto the ship and is killed by a flame thrower, at his request. His body, along with the bodies of Millburn and Fifield are left outside of the ship.
Once back on the ship Shaw starts feeling poorly and is examined by David. She is pregnant with an alien life form and David wants to freeze her to send her back to Earth. She escapes and enters an auto doctor and has the alien removed from her womb. The auto doctor staples her up and other than being a bit woosy seems no worse for wear. –ok this is getting retarded. What was the purpose of all that. 1. David just had to try and send the Alien back for what? Old time sake? 2. Now that Ripley is well not born yet, Shaw needed to be a bigger badass than Ripley? This whole plot point is suddenly dropped and forgotten. It came from nowhere and went nowhere.
Shaw stumbles around the ship a bit and runs into Peter Weyland being revived by David. Peter was hidden on the ship all along. He wants to meet the engineers in hopes they can extend his life. She says nothing about what David had just tried to do to her, or her condition. David then explains that he found an engineer that is alive and they are going to talk with it.
Suddenly Fifield goes all walking dead outside the ship, wakes up and kills several crew members before he is killed again. Once again this came from nowhere and went absolutely nowhere.
David, Wayland, and other crew members go back into the engineer’s structure where David wakes up the engineer and says something to it. The space jockey responds by ripping David’s head off, and killing everyone in the group except Shaw, she escapes and runs back towards Prometheus. Meanwhile David, who is headless but still active, explains that the engineer is going to earth to release the liquid. The engineer then proceeds to activate the alien space ship. Shaw informs Prometheus of the situation.
The Prometheus takes off crashes into the alien ship. Prometheus goes boom, and the alien ship crashes. Shaw goes into the surviving lifeboat of the Prometheus and discovers that the alien that was removed from her is not only alive but very large. David informs her that the engineer survived the crash and is headed for the lifeboat to kill Shaw. Shaw escapes the alien catches the engineer and give him a big ol face hug.
Shaw recovers David’s remains, and with his help activates another alien craft and they go off to find the engineer’s home world. Meanwhile back on the surface the alien attacked engineer explodes and out pops a creature similar to the alien we are familiar with.
Yes I ignored Vickers…. I am not even sure why she was there.
Oh and a sequel is already being written.