Watching Prometheus at my local movie theater at the 11:55pm showing on Thursday, June 14th 2012 was my first exposure to the Alien series. The exact time and date was easily found after a quick search of my OCD life notes which I began recording sporadically early in 2012. A little less than 5 years later I saw Alien: Covenant, the sequel, or pre-sequel to Prometheus (there are rumors of 4 more Alien movies being made). After watching Covenant last Saturday, I watched Prometheus again.
As I said, Prometheus was the first Alien movie I saw so the inconsistencies with the cannon universe didn’t sway my initial positive opinion of the movie. I was enthralled with the space exploration with the intentions of meeting the makers of the human race. The predictable and stale alien killings that were rehashed from many other Alien movies were freshly terrifying to myself.
The biggest flaw of Prometheus is the characters. They don’t inspire much empathy so when they perished by the hands of the alien creatures I felt nothing. Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, and Idris Elba were great in portraying their characters it just felt like the ambitious movie tried to cover a lot of ground in a 2 hour span which sacrificed much of the character development.
Guy Pearce wasn’t bad in his role as Peter Weyland, but he looked terrible. Pearce, a man in his mid 40’s at the time played a character who I assume was over a century old. The prosthetics that Pearce wore to age 50 some years was way over done and was highly unbelievable. It has been uncovered that Ridley Scott had several scenes in mind where a younger Peter Weyland would make an appearance making the Guy Pearce casting more understandable, but all of those scenes were cut from the movie (a young Peter Weyland played by Pearce is in Covenant).
Michael Fassbender played a believable robot named David which was the driving force in the movie and the prequel, side-quel, or whatever the current series of Alien movies is being called. Every action and everything he says is significant to the story forcing the viewer to closely pay attention to everything that he does. David was created by Peter Weyland and the highly alert and functioning artificial intelligence gave Weyland a god complex, hence the journey to find the creators of humans (called Engineers) hoping they would grant him eternal life.
Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green (looks like Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect video game series) played Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway respectively. Shaw and Holloway were scientists and lovers who discovered a star map in a cave drawing in Scotland, a map that was found in several ancient cultures around the globe. They discovered that the map lead to a distant moon called LV-223 which was in a habitable zone and likely hosted life. Shaw (a person of faith) and Holloway (a person of science) believed the maps were an invitation from the Engineers, the creators of humans on earth.
Charlize Theron filled the role of the unlikeable Meredith Vickers. The daughter of the dying Peter Weyland ran a tight ship via a emotionless and cold leadership style.
After traveling to LV-223, the crew discovered a military base for the Engineers. The base was filled with organic creatures that were designed to quickly reproduce and kill everything in sight. The Engineers used the vacant planet to test the organic weapons of mass destruction to prevent any outbreaks on their home planet. David discovers that the Engineers were planning to travel to earth to unleash the alien killers to eliminate the humans 2000 years earlier. Before they could destroy the human race they were killed by their own creation and never left LV-223.
One Engineer remained on the planet in stasis whom was woke by David. The Engineer then decapitated David and killed Weyland and most of the remaining crew. The Engineer started up the ship filled with the aliens with intentions of completing the task that he started 2000 years before. The pilot of the Prometheus ship, Janek (Idris Elba), and his co-pilots grounded the Engineer ship by suicide bombing it with Prometheus. Shaw was the only surviving crew member after the ordeal and with the help of David (he was still operational despite being just a head) operated the second Engineer ship on the moon and left in search of the Engineer civilization.
That is a dope ass plot filled with underlying themes of god, religion, and meeting your creator. The only tie Prometheus had to the Alien series was an explanation of where the alien’s came from and who the space jockeys are. This space horror movie focused on existential topics with gnarly alien deaths mixed in.
The flaws with Prometheus that contradict the Alien cannon and create major plot holes have been credited to Damon Lindelof by the harsh internet. The original script of Prometheus written by Jon Spaihts was given to Lindelof by Ridley Scott for review and a rewrite. Lindelof is most famous as a show runner of the good but plot hole filled Lost, brought his polarizing and mystery filled story telling techniques to Prometheus. After watching the other Alien movies and reading the abundant criticisms, I now understand why Prometheus is a flawed movie.
Even before I saw Interstellar which explores this concept, I asked why a couple of lovers would be the leaders of a hugely expensive mission. The judgement and conflict of interest involving Shaw and Holloway is the source of unnecessary conflict that all real space explorations would avoid.
I can look past the romantic relationship between Shaw and Holloway in an effort to suspend disbelief in watching a Hollywood movie, but I can’t look past the incompetence of the other scientists. All but a few of the deaths were a result of scientists doing non-scientist things. First, even if the air within the Engineer ship was breathable, any logically thinking person would keep their helmet on to keep the integrity of their spacesuits. Second, the biologist and the geologist who were trapped in the ship due to the sand storm could have easily survived if they just stayed still and didn’t interact with unknown life forms without precaution.
The scene of the Engineer ship rolling on its side after being brought down by Janek and crew was amazing. The CG looked incredible and the falling debris surrounding the fleeing Shaw and Vickers created a perfect level of anxiety which all thriller movies try to achieve. What doesn’t make sense is the running strategy of Shaw and Vickers. The skinny and long ship was falling vertically and Shaw and Vickers ran away directly under the long shadow of the ship. If they had only ran either to the left or right, Vickers would have survived.
The sole surviving Engineer on the moon was in stasis when David found him. Why was he in stasis? Why didn’t the alien’s kill him?
After being grounded the Engineer chased after Shaw in an attempt to kill her. Why? Since there were two ships on the moon he would have known about the second ship. He could have gone straight to the second ship and escaped without issue as the crew had no way of stopping it.
Science vs. Religion
Shaw wore her cross during the entire movie and claimed to be a person of faith while Holloway didn’t believe in god. Even though she learned that god didn’t create man, the Engineers did, Shaw still believed. Am I missing something? Does she believe god created the Engineers?
The religion vs. science theme between the couple offered nothing to the movie and I am confused to as why it was a part of the half assed characterization.
Searching the Unknown
Who created humans and why? The exploration across the universe in search of the Engineers to answer life’s biggest question creates a fun sense of adventure and wonder. I am engrossed every time I watch this movie despite the plot holes because the premise is so strong. Good space movies have a story in which a likeable crew go off into the unknown in search of something. Prometheus doesn’t have the likeable crew, but it has the journey.
The Alien series is famous for its horrifying gore and killings at the hands of the ruthless aliens. I believe Prometheus has the most disturbing scene in the entire series; the abortion scene. After David infects Holloway, Shaw and Holloway bang it out. This leads to Shaw getting impregnated with alien filled sperm and an alien starts to form in her womb. As the alien rapidly grew in size and began its trademark exit strategy, Shaw frantically went to the medical bay and consciously endured the impromptu alien abortion. What a fucking gnarly scene.
Prometheus ended on a strong note. Shaw and the head of David departed in the second Engineer ship to continue the journey they originally embarked on. They confirmed the Engineers created humans, but they also learned that they had intentions of exterminating them. Why would they create humans and then tens of thousands of years later kill them? Shaw was not satisfied in what she learned and wanted those questions answered. The movie ended like it began, on a journey to answer questions.