Fri
Jun 8 2012 10:30am
Ridley Scott Brings The Light: Prometheus

Android David in Prometheus

It’s been quite some time since there was a big-budget Hollywood movie as thematically and intellectually ambitious as Prometheus. Not content with anything other than the biggest questions, Prometheus asks, “Where did we come from? What happens when we die? What is the purpose of all this (i.e. life on Earth and the human race in general)?” That it asks these questions with the aid of Ridley Scott’s trademark visual flair (now in very-not-bad 3D; I’m starting to come around to the thinking that 3D is okay as long as the whole movie is shot in 3D and, more importantly, I don’t have to pay a zillion dollars for it) makes it a little easier to process. That it does so in the context of being a kind-of-sort-of prequel to Alien makes it more than a little ominous.

[Read more. Some spoilers for the early plot.]

Some spoilers for the early plot.

To be perfectly clear, Prometheus is not Alien, and should not be approached as such. It’s a story set in the same universe—the pre-Yutani-merger Weyland Corporation looms large, as do their trademark androids, and their destination planet LV-223 suggests the legendary LV-426—but the events of Prometheus’ story do not lead directly—note, directly—to the events of Alien. If anything, there’s quite a bit of deliberate distancing from the earlier movie at work in Prometheus: where everything about Alien suggested dark, grungy enclosed spaces, Prometheus is bright, clean, and expansive from its first shot, a massive landscape of a primordial, ocean-covered planetscape, on which stands a solitary cloaked figure, revealed to be a large hairless humanoid with gray-white skin, who ingests something and begins to disintegrate.

We then jump forward several eons to the late 21st century, on Earth, where scientists find a series of ancient cave paintings depicting what they determine to be a message from extraterrestrial visitors to Earth, and what protagonist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) believes to be an invitation to said extraterrestrials’ home planet. Elderly industrialist Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) sponsors an exploratory voyage on the spaceship Prometheus to find the extraterrestrials, whom Shaw refers to as Engineers, as in, they engineered human life. As in, they created us. Upon landing on LV-223, the expedition finds it deserted, though there are signs that the Engineers clearly were there some millennia hence. As for why the Engineers aren’t there anymore, that’s when the expedition starts getting the sense that they’ve gotten a bit more than they bargained for on this trip.

Probably the most impressive thing about Prometheus, in light of how the anticipation for it was so inextricably tied to Alien—I’d have said “fastened to Alien’s face with a tentacle down its throat,” but that would be excessive—is how unlike other movies it feels. Per the opening paragraph, visually and aurally Prometheus is as spectacular as we’ve come to expect from Ridley Scott, whose command over the technical aspects of cinema is as total—and whose touch with that command is elegant—as just about anyone who’s ever made a movie.

Its script stumbles in places, though the central questions it asks are genuinely profound and universal. A story built around questions is certainly allowed to not answer them all, but it’s not always confusing in the right way. All the stuff about the aliens is fine, because aliens are supposed to be inscrutable and unknowable: they’re aliens. The relationships between the people are a little muddled. We’d never know Shaw and her love interest Holloway (Logan Marshall Green) were boyfriend-girlfriend unless the movie repeatedly told us, due to their complete lack of chemistry.

The supporting cast, though, are universally pretty awesome: spaceship captain Idris Elba and corporate functionary Charlize Theron are terrific (and terrific together; there’s one scene where, contra the Shaw/Holloway non-starter, you can taste the sexual tension). Michael Fassbender walks away with the movie as the android David, who models his hair (and I guess level of radness) on Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Fassbender is truth and light and even triumphs over moments where the script undercuts David, because that’s what movie stars do. In an odd way, the actors making more of things than what they’re given in the script is Prometheus’ most fundamental connection to Alien. In the latter it’s because the script was a minimalist template and the actors filled in the outlines with emotional color, and in the former, the script is a maximalist puzzle on top of which the actors coast. Still, structurally, it’s an example of Prometheus both being and not being Alien.

That kind of duality is a little troublesome in writing about the movie itself as well. I had a very difficult time watching Prometheus and didn’t personally enjoy the experience very much, primarily because of the artificiality of the character relationships, but also because of a tendency to over-explain things better left ambiguous and under-explain things that needed explanation. It would be tempting to just complain about all that for a couple thousand words, but I’d be doing the movie’s considerable assets a disservice by approaching it that way. Not only does Prometheus look and sound magnificent, any artistic endeavor that takes on questions and themes this large deserves a lot of credit. A sincere attempt at greatness beats a rote recitation of the safe and proven, any day.


Danny Bowes is a New York City-based film critic and blogger.

31 comments
a1ay
1. a1ay
Reposting from the Alien3 thread:

It's a great film but there's too many notes, Herr Scott, too many notes. Ever read a description of the original plot for Alien? Where there's a pyramid with cryptic sculptures, and a mysterious culture that worships the xenomorphs, and a love affair subplot between Ripley and Dallas? All that stuff got cut before shooting started, mainly for budget reasons, and the result was a tight thriller with a pretty much linear plot and a single (albeit evolving) antagonist - the only time you get a subplot or a twist is the "Ash is a goddamn robot!" moment and that's brief. You could describe the plot to Alien in thirty seconds.

They should have done the same cutting job to Prometheus.

Too many threats for one thing. The black stuff and all the different things it does to people, the worms, the squidbaby, the giant... there's no consistency, it jumps from one threat to another. I liked the simplicity of THERE IS AN ALIEN WITH TEETH, IT HAS EATEN YOUR CAPTAIN'S FACE, AND IT WANTS TO EAT YOUR FACE.

Too many characters and not enough time taken to introduce them. Watch Alien some time and notice how long it takes for Kane to encounter the eggs. It's a long time - about half an hour of showing the crew waking up, chatting, having food, preparing to land, landing, going for a scout, finding the ship...
Same with Aliens. Ripley's recovered, thawed, gets interrogated, meets Burke, talks to Burke again, then we meet the Marines, they banter, they have breakfast, we meet Bishop, they get a briefing, they land, they secure the colony building, search it, find Newt, and only then - forty minutes at least into the film - do they go on down to the basement and meet the bad guys.

The result is that we get to know the characters and the tension builds up. Prometheus just jumps right in there. It has no choice: there's so much plot to stick in inside the dome on LV-223 that there's no room to have any character development.

And that wonderful prologue: what exactly was happening there anyway? Was that Earth? LV-223? Was the stuff he was drinking the same stuff we see later? Why did it have a different effect? Why did he do it? Who was in the disc ship? WTF generally.

... it looks amazing, though. As you say, it has a sense of scale that was completely lacking from the other films in the series - because it's filmed almost completely in daylight. Think about that - how many other monster movies don't have shadows for the monster to hide in?
a1ay
2. michael1234567890
I thought Prometheus clearly highlighted all shortfalls of today's big blockbusers:
- Visually interesting and high quality: yes, but clearly Scott can - could - do better. Ok, maybe like Spielberg and Lucus he gets senile and shouldn't make any more movies.
- Storyline: well yeah, as Alien movies, or Blade Runner for that matter either bad scripts are chosen or good ones tortured until they are a shadow of what they could have been. I think we've got to thank the big production companies with their misdirected understanding of good / successful movies. Seriously, the Prometheus plot was confusing and thin at least. Why can we not spend at least 15% of product budget on script writing. Oh we do? Well, something seriously wrong then... If this was a book, no publisher would even read more than one line...
- Actors: Well, Fassbinder is good. Ok, but an easy role to play. The others? Hell, I can't even remember them. Apart form that annoying geologicst, and of course Noomi Rapace, who looks like some botox treatment gone wrong.
- Big themses: fair enough, but seriously, just throwing them randomly in doesnt indicate intelligent movie making. You have to work with them. Clearly the authors weren't up for coping with such grande schemes or maybe there were just too many of them?

For me, this was just another movie which was hyped through advertising and big, previously successful names, and which turns out to be really disappointing. What a shame.... So much lost potential... Tiny changes and it could have been great.

Just to reply / add to a couple of things Danny said"

"I had a very difficult time watching Prometheus and didn’t personally enjoy the experience very much, primarily because of the artificiality of the character relationships,"
Indeed they were non existent. David infecting whats-his-name boyfriend: great scope for deep topic, but hey, they just leave us hanging. Of course, proponents will always say that ambiguity was intended, my a****, I've heard this too much from colleagues who have no ideas, and hide behind 'leaving it to the audience'...

"but also because of a tendency to over-explain things better left ambiguous and under-explain things that needed explanation."
exactly my point

"Not only does Prometheus look and sound magnificent, any artistic endeavor"

Yeah, some very pretty shots, like medieval paintings, but a lot of week ones as well. It felt like a mix of 2001 and Star Trek interspersed with medieval paintings, the former boring, the latter great. I'd have expected more from Scott, not maybe, shadows&light patters as we know them, man has to move on, but something 'different'...

"that takes on questions and themes this large deserves a lot of credit. A sincere attempt at greatness beats a rote recitation of the safe and proven, any day."
See, here I disagree. Or, I agree, if you are strong enough to make it, they clearly didnt. I'd rather see an honst reduction, than taking on a task too big out of hubris...
a1ay
3. little_liminal
I actually loved it, but agree the plot has holes. While the alien part is actually interesting and let's you put together the engineer's inner politics (for my part far out scientests terraform a planet, military back home brews up bio-weapon, scientests sabotage military expedition) was fun, however the first scene with the engineer only makes sense towards the end of the movie, at the beginning I would have liked that little bit of tension as to if these being had really engineered us or not. Secondly, finding cave paintings in 2089 seems a little dicey, perhaps a better explanation would that the indexing and googling of pre-historic art lead to the discover of such correleations between these ancient commentaries... and if the aliens were coming back to kill us... then why leave a message with directions to the weapon? but that is alien politics and open to numerous valid ponderings. The problem I think is that the movie had to much plot and was probably cut down to a mininal tabaleu, for instance in Ebert's review he mentions the engineer climbing a mountain at the beginning, that shot was cut from the theatrical release. So maybe a director's cut can add a good 10 - 30 minutes of exposition to make it all stick, but aside from that really enjoyed it even though it doesn't quite make sense why the geologist comes back as he does or how exactly Noomi's boyfriend's infection spreads (did not know facehuggers bred like that), the fight scene with the geologist also went uninvestigated which was strange, but over all promtheus worked as a prequel to the Alien world and Michael Fassbender was just AWESOME as the android, I know the other android guy was good and made a decent tv show post-x-files later, but Fassbender does such a good job and Noomi Rapace does well too that a sequel is a possibility is a challenge, but Scott has done eons better than other prequels especially the Star Wars ones.
a1ay
4. ira_gaines
I don't get all this stuff about "big themes". What big themes? It's not enough to briefly throw out a proposition like "Human Beings creation had no purpose" and not actually explore it. That doesn't take any talent or creativity. If you don't actually develop the implications of a concept through the story, you're just being pretentious by even bothering to include it. Any writer can insert random philosophical musings in the mouths of their characters, and Prometheus didn't even do that very much. Ridley Scott definately shouldn't get any points for this aspect of the film.
a1ay
5. miriam_indrg
I would like to ask you guys a question I came across on IDMB: Prometheus seems to have a quite dark undercurrent suggesting that David might not work in favour of humans in general. There are big discussions about whether he does it because he works only for his boss, he is inquisitive and nothing else, or that he wants to kill his father / maker. As such parallels to Blade Runner have been drawn.

My question now is, whehter the choice Shaw in the end makes. Ok, I understand she wants to meet the 'engineers', but ultimately, she wants to save earth. Now; by teaming up with David she has to trust him to guide the space ship to the right plane, I presume there is no way she can learn to fly that ship, nor can she stay awake all the time, that actually is quite interesting, would we assume the deep-sleep-cabinets can adapt to humans, let's assume yes, but can she really trust David?
a1ay
6. a1ay
Ok, I understand she wants to meet the 'engineers', but ultimately, she wants to save earth.

That's really not the best way to go about it. The engineers tried to wipe us out once already, but their plan backfired: goo escapes, everybody dies. Either all the engineers are now dead, or the survivors have just decided to leave well alone rather than have another crack at the genocide of humanity.

Now, if they're still alive somewhere else, they're going to see the arrival of one of their hated creations who has a) got hold of one of their ships b) got hold of enough goo to kill a world full of engineers c) knows where the engineers live and d) has figured out what the engineers were up to.

A scary sight for the engineers. I don't think they'll be happy to see her.
Mike Conley
7. NomadUK
I've already posted a rant on this film in another location, but I'll append it after this prequel, in which I just want to comment on a couple of points:

- Sexual chemistry between Charlize Theron and the captain? You're joking, surely. Charlize Theron has the sexual chemistry of a department store mannequin (and the captain is a non-entity, really). Her function in this film is to stand and look flawless, and to perfectly fill out a form-fitting jumpsuit in close-up shots. I really don't understand anything other than a physical attraction to this actor, and her character (like all the characters except for Shaw and David) is boring.

- The incessant mention of the 'big ideas'. There are no big ideas in this film -- certainly nothing that hasn't been covered far better and for much less money in any number of Star Trek episodes. And I can watch those for free. People who prattle on about big ideas in this film must have missed 2001, not read much science fiction, and must not think terribly deeply.

So, to save myself some typing, here's the rest, copied and pasted.

==

I'm going to be a curmudgeon on this one and say that I was pretty disappointed. I thought the CGI and other effects, and the photography in general were great. I liked that they got the distance right (10^14 km is, in fact, about 100 lightyears, so that shows that someone can actually use a calculator, which I consider a big plus in film). And I really liked Noomi Rapace's Shaw, who stands up well in comparison to Ripley, I think. And Fassbender's David is brilliant; I love the Lawrence of Arabia touches, and the air of complete indifference to his human charges. The technology aboard the ship was cool; the autodoc was well done, and the scene in which Shaw uses it is absolutely riveting.

Everything else about this film sucked, I'm afraid.

This is meant to be a scientific expedition, but with the exception of Shaw, the bunch aboard this ship make the crew of Nostromo, who were basically prospectors, look like Nobel laureates. I don't think I've seen a dumber, less impressive bunch of people aboard a spaceship in a long time. They have no protocols for dealing with alien contact, no safety rules, the only way on and off the ship is to open it wide to whatever is coming at them, and they have no weapons more sophisticated than flamethrowers. The other 'scientists' on the expedition are completely worthless and serve only as alien fodder. There is, in fact, virtually no 'science' on display on this scientific expedition.

The whole business with the ancient star arrangements would be interesting if it made any sense at all. Charlie, the 'archaeologist' (and I use that term extremely loosely, as he appears actually to be a surfer on spring break), makes some vague reference to 'galactic configuration', which is rubbish, as one can find a 'configuration' exactly matching any star pattern you like anywhere you want, unless there is something more specific about those stars that identifies them (distances from known pulsars, for example), and in any event stars move; after thousands of years those stars are not going to be in the same position.

But those are all technicalities, and I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. But the characters, other than Shaw and David, are boring. Nobody is developed. What makes Charlize Theron's character (whose name I can't even remember) really tick? Who knows? What is Weyland really looking for? Immortality? Why? How would he know to expect anything from this expedition at all? Nothing he says makes any sense at all. What is Theron there for? We'll never know, as she gets mooshed because she's too stupid to run off to the side, out of the path of a rolling spaceship, instead of directly along its path. Where is the background, the binding, that leads the remaining crew to join their captain in one final, desperate attack? I sense nothing in these characters that justifies this kind of camaraderie, the love and loyalty that would allow men to give their lives for each other or a greater cause. Nothing. Brett, Dallas, Lambert, Parker, and Ripley (and, yes, Ash) showed more charisma, more development, more interesting personalities when they were sitting around the fucking table eating breakfast than this lot showed during the entire bloody film.

And don't get me started on the soundtrack, which was insipid in its saccharine main theme and its bombastic, omnipresent hollowness.

You know, I started this writeup disappointed in this film. As i finish, I find that I really hate it. And that's just a crying shame, because it really could have been something special.

If I want to watch a good Alien film, I'll just have to go watch Alien and Aliens.
a1ay
8. politeruin
Cannot add much other than to strongly agree with the criticisms here and elsewhere - weak characters, inconsistent-confusing-swiss cheese story, cringeworthy dialogue etc... but it looked good! Massively disappointing. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being the most disappointing big film of the year. Was the reviewer watching something else?

I just wanted an excuse to post this excellent write-up...

http://digitaldigging.net/prometheus-an-archaeological-perspective/
a1ay
10. sofrina
have to agree with nomadUK on so many points: why was dr. holloway doing pretty much nothing? shaw had to keep begging him to help with the bag when they decided to run for it. after that he sits around drinking. straight up goldbricking. why is vickers, apparently the head of the weyland corp., along on this 4-year mission? (you already spoke to her poor choice of escape.) i eventually understood why she was so bitter and suspicious of david, and also why she has the demeanor of an android herself.

one of the biggest problems is the lack of cohesion in the group. it makes it impossible to come inside the film and root for anyone. the nostromo were all comrades, even the newcomers ripley and ash. they believed they were in it together. the sulaco was a team of marines who had a long history together. and the fury 161 prisoners were united in their devotion and history of incarceration. we're told right off that prometheus' crew doesn't even know each other. beyond the flight crew it's unclear who even met before departure. the geologist doesn't know the other scientists. and the other female? she's in on the weyland secret too. the guys in the hangar may be a part of the flight crew? or security? how many of those guys were there? because they died in droves. if the two bridge guys at least had freaked out, ranted for a minute about what they were being asked to do, i could have felt for them. that was a momentous decision and it just doesn't feel heavy and intense like it should.

and no one asks why shaw is covered in blood and all freaked out. and she never mentions this insane organism she barely managed to remove. shouldn't people know that's onboard?! what a thing to forget.

and then there's david who is clearly more than anyone realizes. why they're so disdainful of him is unclear. but he offers up plenty of subtext and passive-aggression. i think his experiment on holloway and shaw was completely his own perverse decision.

and the movie certainly doesn't answer the question it presents in the prologue. alien is dropped off on earth. alien drinks organic ooze, is destroyed and his dna is washed into across the planet. ...so this race is seeding planets with their dna for what purpose? just 'cause? to create races of potential organ donors? to create a compatible slave race to harvest later? and when david mentions lots of other ships under the surface... um, all with dormant crews? loaded down with more black ooze? shaw's still wanting to know? stupid. she's suffered enough to know not to ask.

(also, weyland's nasty feet. ugh. would have been cool if peter o'toole had played him, though.)
Soon Lee
11. SoonLee
Visually gorgeous.

But. All the characters were so stupid (that's the only explanation I can come up with for the sheer number & variety of really dumb decidsions they made) they all deserved to die.
a1ay
12. Kaos No Kamisama
Oh... finally some people with common sense pointing out all the weird-wrong stuff on this MEDIOCRE movie.

I totally support that there are actually no questions, no themes here. What was all this crap about "life after death" and "it's what I choose to believe"? Tere's absoluteltly no follow up of these topics that where just randomly thrown in so the movie could sound deep and inteligent... but it isn't.

All the acting is crap too, as are the characters. Saying that they are two-dimmensional would be giving them too much credit. As said before, they have no protocols at all, but even more painfull are their non-existant reactions. These are the people that supposedly discover the traces of the first non-human inteligence and they seem to be as excited (and carefull) about it as about their breakfast (and I could bet their breakfast seemed more exciting than finding some bloody alien ruins). There are ballatant failures, like the whole helmet remove thing - for spaghetti monster's sake, chemical composition of air isn't the only bloody threath to health!!!- and there are some that come trough a seccond (and let's be honest, a bit nit-picking) look. When they land the map all of the exterior of the DOME (because it's round... and pyramids are NOT round) but NOBODY seems to find it odd that the top of it looks like a friggin humanoid skull!!!! And they even show it. They point the existance of the skull out to the audience and it's obviously evident for the crew (since they have a 3D map of it)... but, of course... why should it matter at all?

There are SO manny wrong things with this film on so manny levels that it's hard to point them out all, but one that I found particularly bothering is the very existence of life on the planet. Appart from the life created (or mutated) by the goo and the ingeneer there isn't a single trace of life on the planet.... and suddenly, worms. Where the hell did they come from? Why are they there? Did David put them there? If so, whre the hell did he get them? WHY? In my experience they are a SO ballatant deus-ex-machina that it's painfull. If you aren't going to show life on a planet you are elling the audience there isn't life. If there's life, show life... if not, it's just a cheap trick to start a chain of events.

As some have pointed out allready, there's stuff that's underexplained (and should have been clearer) and stuff that's overexplained (and should have been misterious), as well as the problem with the overabundance of threaths. What the hell was all that thing about the dead-man-rises-and-attacks!?!?!?! Never before and never again do we see anyone comming back from the dead and turning berserk. My veredict... cheap resource to have a fight scene against the oh-so-popular (and damm boring) undead.

And back to the one-dimmensional characters (sorry for my dissorganized writing and crappy english, it's my dissapointment mixed with my non-native language), did anyone else find it incredibly unbelievable that the something-like-boyfriend archaeologist guy that was super excited that he would find alien life-forms (that eventually would prove his theory) and is happy enough about all the fuzz to forget all the safety protocols to take of his helmet, goes all depressive-alcoholic in less than one hour? The guy has an alien head in front of him that thousands of years old... and he just get drunk? Seriously? So, unless they are alive and you can talk to them, your findings are junk? How depressive must have been all the archaeologist that found the Valley of Kings so full of not very talkative mummys instead of living pharaos... (insert facepalm here).

Gosh... there's so much wrong here. What about Weyland himself? What did that character really bring into the plot? Nothing! Not even the "twist" of him being alive and on board was done interestingly... Hell, not even the characters seemed to be surprised to se him (of course, after extracting a tentacled-face-hugging-happy alien from your uterus and leaving it there for dead without telling anyone, it's unlikely that a badly-maked-up old guy impress you very much). What was Weyland thinking he woild get from the ingeneers? Inmortallity? Seriously? After David clearly stated that they where on their way to wipe life of the surface of the Earth just a seccond ago? Why the hell does Weyland freak out because Shaw asks questions the alien is most probably not even understanding (instead of just letting David translate his own question)? Why the hell does he even let Shaw go with him?????? She wasn't even usefull to carry boxes after her surgery (and she was HOSTILE to him!!!!)?.... ARGH!!!! This film is probably allmost as painful as having an alien inside.

A lot of the "errors" (personally I can't believe these are errors comming from an experienced director) actually can be traced back to Lindelof. A lot of the pitfalls this film falls are suspiciously simmilar to the ones Lost fell into (and never came out of). Actually... the whole film kind of feels like the pilot for some huge-budget tv show rather than a feature film.Nothing is trully asked, nothing is trully answered and all the hopes for getting answers are put on the second eppisode. The whole prologue thing only makes sense if we could get a follow up that gives us a context. Was that Earth or another planet? Was the guy abbandoned on the planet of he went there (the ship clearly was leaving without him)? Did he commit suicide and failed to ellimiate all of his DNA or (as someone theorized) did he use his body to "seed" DNA (by stupidly killing himself)? In the light of this, did the engeneers even WANT to create us or were we just a failed experimet or even a failed suicide (like a millitary helicopter crash that failed to self destruc in order to erase it's traces)?

If they wanted to make a serial, a Prometheus show, they should have said so instead of pretending they were making a movie. Even a first part in a movie series has to be a self containing story (while leaving connecting links for the follow ups). This feels like a collection of poorly written and poorly acted loose ends.

Once again, sorry for my english.
a1ay
13. seth e.
I agree with some of the comments above: looks good, and terrible in every other way. The characters are all morons, their actions are reprehensibly stupid, the "my cross necklace represents faith" Deep Thoughts are asinine, and the worldbuilding makes no sense at all. In fact it makes negative sense, it was sucking sense out of the theater. It might be because I'm the child of archaeologists, but right from the scene where the scientists are all, "this is the most important find in human history, so let's take off our helmets and poke things with our fingers!" I was no longer giving the movie any credit at all, and it never earned any back.

SPOILERS for this terrible movie: I did my best not to think any about this movie after we saw it, but this thought snuck in: if that star map was an omnipresent pointer to our source, then why did it actually point to a military/technical installation that wasn't the source of our forebears at all? So it's like our descendents following a trail back to the cradle of American civilization, and ending up at a missile silo in Idaho, or at Guantanamo Bay?
Mike Conley
14. NomadUK
if that star map was an omnipresent pointer to our source, then why did it actually point to a military/technical installation that wasn't the source of our forebears at all?

Brilliant. Just goes to show that even when you think you've plumbed the depths of its stupidity, there is more yet to be found. A veritable cornucopia of bad filmmaking.

And to think awhile back I was suggesting that Ridley Scott might be the one of the few people who could do Rendezvous with Rama justice. And now he's busy putting together a sequel to Blade Runner. I am filled with a sense of deep foreboding ...
Seth Ellis
15. seth_e
Apparently I can't let this go. "Where do we come from?" isn't a big idea, it's a lazy imitation of a big idea, and the movie doesn't go any further into it than a sixteen-year-old who's just discovered pot--and the movie's less interesting. Female scientist defends her scientific position by saying "It's what I choose to believe" as though she were about to break into a Journey cover, and for the rest of the movie Scott uses her cross neclace as crude shorthand for believing in anything at all. She could just have well said, "I choose to believe that dinner today will be tikka masala," and clutched her daddy's cross to show how meaningful her thoughts are. It's a very common, trite ploy in contemporary movies, and it undermines both science and faith as ideas. I can't stop writing this paragraph because this movie MADE ME SO ANGRY. Somebody send help.

Also, Guy Pearce in old-man makeup looked exactly like Old Biff from Back to the Future 2.
lake sidey
16. lakesidey
Elizabeth Shaw? As in....the companion of the Third Doctor? Well, she ought to know how to handle a few aliens...;)

~lakesidey
Danny Bowes
17. DannyBowes
@lakesidey -- Uh oh. David regenerates as Ian Holm >>> connection to the beginning of Alien.
a1ay
18. ira_gaines
Does anyone remember if an explanation is given as to why the scientists believe aliens created humans? The cave drawings just showed aliens visiting earth.
a1ay
19. Lary9
I quite agree that the speaking script is the film's weakest element. It is wooden and, as you said, it's somewhat inorganic in its treatment of relationships. I became quickly frustrated from being beaten over the head with ham-handed talking points in the script. To me it felt like bad commercial TV ad redundancies. No doubt, Ridley Scott is the premier visual maestro of the cinema, undoubtedly because of his extensive training and background in fine arts. I liked the film and this review. Never been here before..."tor.com"...very nice site.
a1ay
20. Lary9
Afterthought:
Ridley Scott often takes historical license with things both in the past and the future as he creates his characters and props. He describes Idris Elba's 'Captain' character as "an old salty seadog type", which I find ludicrous since, as a veteran, I believe that this type of command persona has long since departed the military scene. So it would require resurrection to still be around in the future as an archetype for space command.
I hasten to add that I'm one of the original Ridley Scott fans going back to Alien and Blade Runner.
a1ay
22. Jwright
I do feel after this movie .. That the human race was lead to the military location to protect the earth ... It was clear to me in the opening scene that it was an engineer wanting to infect the water system..then i realized the water was the main source for life support in the ships ... great way for a rebel or " scientist who changed their mind about earths destruction" to wipe out a military base.. I agree the film could of been much more .. But it was ok to a degree..I think the engineers were trying to stop the spread of "ALIENS" by eliminating hosts... kind of like you burn part of a forest to stop the spread of fire ... Just a thought ..
Bill Stusser
23. billiam
Saw Prometheus last night. The movie was visually stunning. I saw it in Imax 3D and it looked and sounded awesome (and when I say sounded awesome I mean the stereo system in the theatre, not the soundtrack. The main theme song sounded like a rip off of the Star Trek theme song).

I just wish that the movie had been as good as it looked. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, after all, most of Ridley Scott's movies are problematic in that he prefers visuals over story. Still, I had high expectations going in and was left disappointed.

Since the question has been asked several times here, in my opinion the engineer at the beginning of the movie drank the goo and dissolved into the water to create or jump start life on earth. The engineers were then making a biological weapon (the xenomorphs) to wipe out the life they had created. As to why the engineers would leave a map to the millitary installation where they were developing the weapons, I have no idea what so ever.
a1ay
24. SF
@23: I was under the impression that the ancient carvings showed a group of stars, and not a single star system. That seemed to be one of the points made in the lecture about the ancient carvings. The group of stars was far enough away that they appeared to be a single star to the ancient astronomers, but could (with late 21st century telescopes) be seen to be a group of stars.

So it wasn't a map to their military installations, it was a map to where their civilization was located, which would include military installations amongst other things. The Prometheus expedition then went for the first habitable world they found amongst those stars, and had the bad luck of landing at the military installation.
Theresa DeLucci
25. theresa_delucci
I want a movie that's just about David hanging out by himself while everyone else on the ship is in hypersleep. That's the best part of the movie, to me. Fassbender was great.

I did enjoy the movie, despite frustrations. It looked gorgeous and had some interesting questions, good scope, but the characters were weak and lacked charisma (and the ability to run sideways in some cases.) I don't think Charlize Theron was very good. She's so stiff and I hate her "important voice;" her voice is very stagey or something. Dr. Boyfriend was dull. I feel like Scott aged up (under silly makeup) Guy Pearce to cover his tracks in case he wanted to make a prequel or something. It can't solely have been for use in those promotional viral TED talks, right?

Shaw was too cliched. The one true believer on a ship of scientists. I found the movie a bit preachy. Yes, we get it, she wears a cross, so that's shorthand for she's spiritual and somehow more deserving to live than others on the ship. Or to be experimented on. Either way, her character was very thin.

It's cool that the engineers were handly in a truly alien way, I guess? I had no freaking clue what their motivations were. If that was the intent, the movie succeeded.
a1ay
26. Joeh42
I just don't understand why Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie and apparently gets its scripts from some sort of $5 discount bin. It's so very rare any more to see a movie with a big budget AND a good script, I can only think of two in the last year. Why??? It's not that hard! *sigh*
a1ay
27. Makonakins
NomadUK I applaud you!
a1ay
28. KnightRadiant
For those who were confused by the different affects of the ooze, I agree it was unclear and poorly done. My theory is the weapon is not intended to make xenomorphs at all; it clearly is intended to kill you if ingested and make you kill everything around you if touched. The boyfriend had an extremely small dose and the geologist fell into a pool of it face down. It was never an airborne disease they just thought it was. And the weapon canisters only started leaking when David changed the atmosphere in the ship.

Notice that the worms are not face huggers and do not reproduce. The squid baby can, but it was produced via Shaw's reproductive system, and may have learned how along the way. Hence the first face hugger is born, which then creates the first xenomorph queen. Regular xenomorphs cannot reproduce in the Alien movies either.
a1ay
29. KnightRadiant
@#12: The worm the boyfriend finds in his eye after ingesting some of the goo may suggest why there are worms inside the ship, but not life on the planet in general. That's assuming at least some of the Engineers died from ingesting the weapon, while the ones in the first "recording" were probably running away from an Engineer zombie who had touched (but not ingested) the goo.

I don't understand why the goo has such different affects, but it is a potent weapon as it has at least 4 ways to decimate the population of a planet: 1) poison you, 2) turn you into the rampaging undead (or be killed by one such), 3) rupture you from the inside if impregnated by someone who's poisoned, 4) rupture you from the inside if impregnated by a facehugger resulting from 3, or...

5) kill you via an apex predator bred through scenarios 3 and 4.
a1ay
30. twisteddman
I believe the goo has different effects because of two possibilities
1. It is a genetic bioweapon that hypermutates cells into the things we see including the snake thing. The snake thing evolved from cells left by the humans who took of there helmets like idiots. it does not have a specific end mutation built in to it but generates mutations within some kind of parameters.
2. there are more than one type of goo. There are many canasters around they could have different gentic modifiers in them

it seems that the engineers use some kind of gentic-bio-organic technology for everything from weapons to shipbuilding. at least the visual aspect of there constructions lead me to beleive this.

the story in the movie makes more sense when veiwed from a sumerian/ annunaki point of veiw. I beleive that the engineer in the beginning is indeed seeding life on earth. you will notice that the ship does not leave untill he has done his deed and that the ship is not of the same make as the engineers. In the sumerian story the 'pilots" are suplanted by humans as the annunakis favorite pets/slaves and the "pilots" were forced to use there own dna to create the humans in the first place. This explains why the engineers might create us and then want to kill us off. there are other corrilations in the two stories.
Joe Morrison
31. Argonel
Visually stunning, but otherwise pretty bad.

If Fassbender's performance as David is a symphony. The geologist Fifield occasionally rises to the level of an elementary etude for trumpet, while the rest of the characters are in the back corner of the class making farting noises with their armpits.

David is the only fully developed character in the entire movie. I wonder if this was due to the script or due to the level of acting beyond what was written in the script. Half to two thirds of the main characters should have been removed to give room for the remainder to have some character development. Same with the "plot" points that results in a bunch of different character deaths. Tighen up the plotting and bring it down to two of three hazards and the movie would have been better.
a1ay
32. skywriter
I don't understand all the rage surrounding this movie. Yes, the characters were poorly developed, and the movie could have done with an additional 20 mins of 'real acting'.

However it was visually stunning and I felt that it set up some really interesting mythology to the Alien series. We watched the first 3 Alien movies before Prometheus - it was refreshing to see Prometheus deal with much larger plotlines than just crew members getting knocked off one by one. I also felt that it fit right in with the vibe of the first Alien movie.

I think Lindelof is getting overly criticised for this script - he did what he does best - set up the building blocks of a huge mythology which raises many many questions (which may never get answered!). But the point is it makes people think and talk, and that's what makes the movie worth watching.

Anyway - kudos to Scott for not simply rehashing an old movie but for taking things in a new direction in an elegant (flawed, but elegant) way.

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