After a long, long day at the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, I made the choice to see the midnight showing of Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel, Prometheus. Two hours and change later, I walked out of the movie with my mouth agape and lots of questions in my head about what I just experienced. In short: Prometheus is a great science fiction film that, despite a few issues, delivers in spades. This is the non-spoiler zone, please see towards the end of this review for the spoiler-area.

Again, without spoiling anything, Prometheus basically is a story of human beings finding what they believe to be an invitation of sorts in the form of a star constellation found in various, ancient pictographs from numerous dead civilizations. The lynch pin in this find is shown as two scientists, played by Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green, discover another pictograph and put it all together. The story moves VERY quickly and we find ourselves nearing the end of the starship Prometheus’ journey to this star system. This is where we we meet one of the two most-interesting characters in the film: David, a synthetic person (see: Android), as he tends to the various shipboard functions while the crew is in hypersleep. While David is talked down to throughout the film by various other characters as to having no feelings, emotions, etc, we can’t help but think that the Weyland corporation has indeed conquered this feat as well based on his actions. His identifying with a particular film and character so much during this short sequence is very moving and telling of this. He identifies with this film so much, he colors and styles his hair like its main character. His reactions to jibes also hide a subtle emotional response. College students will be writing thesis pieces on the character of David for a while – there is just so much “meat” to his character. David is played by Michael Fassbender, who does a tremendous job in the role. While we have seen great actors such as Lance Henriksen and Ian Holm play similar androids in other Alien films, Fassbender is “different”. I could have watched him as this character for days – his nuances, etc. – just terrific.

After the Prometheus lands on the planet LV_223 (Alien took place on LV_426), that’s where the real action of the film begins. Suffice it to say that, before the film’s end, there are plenty of creatures, mayhem, backstabbing, and other visceral punches that sometimes seem to reach out of the screen and slap you in the face. Aside from Fassbender, Charlize Theron plays the film’s other most-interesting character (who is very underused), in company-woman Meredith Vickers. Her character has a very intriguing personal dynamic to the mission and the company, which I wish we got to see explored a bit more. Again – she was tragically underused and, without spoiling stuff, I can’t go into all of that for now.

The biggest issues I have with Prometheus is in the actions of the rest of the crew. We see in today’s space missions just how slow and methodical our brave astronauts, cosmonauts, etc are in carrying out their duties. NASA does not rush anything – far from it. There is a lot of “cowboying” around in Prometheus which just doesn’t make sense given that it is the most expensive undertaking in human history (according to Theron’s character in the film). I am assuming this was done for the sake of time as, if the audience were treated to weeks upon weeks of scans, surveys, etc before any human set foot inside whatever they find on this alien world, it would not make for good cinema. Either way, I noticed and it bothered me. Also, while Noomi Rapace does a fine job as Dr. Shaw, and is meant to be the heroine of the film, I kept wanting to know more about David and Vickers. Their characters and performances are simply too amazing for their own good.

Seeing the film in IMAX 3D on opening night, I was expecting at least some playing to the technology. The 3D gimmicks kill me – I simply hate them. Even Cameron could not resist that floating, glowing flock of small creature scene in Avatar. Thankfully, Scott never seems to play to the technology. I could have watched Prometheus with our without 3D and been completely happy either way. More importantly to my movie-viewing experience was seeing it in IMAX. This film is grand in scope and the larger frame helps bring this home even more.

Overall, Prometheus poses several philosophical questions: Why are we here? How did we get here? What or who is “God”? What would happen if we met “God”? Should we meet “God”? Why does “God” need a starship? (okay, so not that one) While it might not answer everything by the end, it does a decent job of setting us up for these answers in a possible sequel which, apparently, Scott is thinking about after the Blade Runner follow-up. Prometheus is an excellent science fiction film that explores the universe prior to the Alien films and also sets up a whole new adventure. See it now – do it! Spoiler zone follows below…..

 

 

The Connection to Alien Discussion — SPOILER ZONE!

So after speaking with several people and reading other reviews and forum posts regarding Prometheus, I came to the following conclusion: It seems as though most people are trying to connect the various creatures in the film to the Xenomorph we all know and love. After all, most of the creatures look like they could combine into a Xenomorph eventually. The cobra-worms have facehugger bladder looking sides and a vaginal mouth part – as well as constrict their prey. The squid beast has several of these traits as well – including the ability to lay embryos down the throat of its victim. Additionally, and most confusing in the grand scheme of figuring it all out, is the big reveal Xenomorph-like creature that erupts from the Space Jockey’s body. It is clearly NOT a Xenomorph as we know them – it has smooth skin, a pointed cranium, and its jaws shoot forward as a whole instead of having a second set internally. It actually reminded me a bit of Gena Davis in Beetlejuice when she pulls her face forward to scare the new residents of their house, but I digress…

Quite obvious, this IS the Xenomorph

Again, most seem to be trying to link this particular creature with somehow giving rise to the Alien in the original movie. The problem with this logic, however, is that earlier in the picture, Prometheus glances over a full-on Xenomorph mural on the wall of the ampule room – including an out-of-place green crystal underneath it (looking like it contains something ala the amber in Jurassic Park). It is my personal belief (not the belief of our site as a whole) that this is the origin of the black goo responsible for mutating things into these creatures. This goo is a derivative of the Xenomorph itself. Aside from this, we know that the derelict craft on LV_426 has been there (according to the crew of Alien) for quite a bit earlier than the events of Prometheus. The Xenomorph already exists in Prometheus. What we are seeing is the outcome of using its DNA to alter existing life forms. It is a somewhat similar to the Ripley experiments in the not-so-good Alien Resurrection. Additionally, the Space Jockeys seem to revere the Xenomorph, hence its crucified (or Vitruvian) pose on the wall – either in some religious fashion or as a “perfect organism” similar to how Weyland-Yutani views the creature in subsequent films (another parallel between Humans and the Space Jockeys). Ridley mentioned seeing “the DNA” of Alien in Prometheus. LITERALLY, we are, in the black goo!

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • you totally hit the nail on the head! i’m excited to finally see discussion that sounds a lot like my own theory of the prequel and its relation to “Alien.” granted, we still don’t know shit, and must wait for the 2nd “prequel” to really see where Scott’s taking us, but trying to make sense of it all in the meantime is part of the fun.
    as the movie ended, i made up my mind that i wasn’t happy with the final creature being the precursor of the xenomorph. i feel that it was an intentional cop-out, to have people assuming that this is what would come to bring the Nostromo’s nightmare. it feels like a science experiment molded to fit the hypothesis. too easy, yet too flawed. i totally hope that this isn’t what Ridley intends!
    on one hand, it may explain the humanistic traits the xenomorph seems to have (its skeletal build, arms, neck, teeth, etc), but on the other, if it is the ancestor of a xenomorph, it seems to skip the issue of evolution. it’s only been a few decades between the Prometheus expedition, and the Nostromo mission. there’s no way i’m willing to buy that the xenomorph became that perfect that soon. i’ve always believed that the xenomorph was “perfect,” as Ash put it, because it’d been around for millions of years. the screen shot you provide was my biggest clue for believing that the xenomorph’s existence does indeed predate the time in the prequel, and perhaps, even the space jockeys. the hieroglyphic-like mural certainly seems to be a shrine to the xenomorph, whether they worship or fear it.
    but the stuff about the black goo.. if it came from the xenomorphs, then how did it not bring terror to Earth, when the defecting Space Jockey at the beginning sacrificed himself to create life on the bare planet? everywhere else, we see the black goo create disaster. it makes sense that it might have come from the xenomorphs, however. the life form bursting out of the space jockey at the end is probably illustrative of the DNA contained in the infectious goo trying to get its life forms eventually back to its original design…

  • i realize i should have referred to the Space Jockeys as Engineers when talking about the xenomorph possibly predating them, and when bringing up the one that defected from the rest to create life on Earth.

    • I have been wondering about the beginning scene myself. The only thing I can think of is that the stuff he/it/she ingested at the beginning of the film was not the same black goo. When infected by the black goo – we saw all those Engineers’ heads’ explode. The guy at the beginning just dissolved and did not “go mad” like the others.

  • it’s a brain buster, for sure. naturally, you want to assume that the black stuff the first engineer drank wasn’t derived from the xenomorph, as it didn’t wreak havoc on earth as it has everywhere else. you could argue that the life he created from his destruction is the havoc, but i’m siding with the unwritten argument that we’re precious, and therefore, not a disaster. but you remember what that black stuff looked like! it looked just like the goo we see in the rest of the movie. black, shifty, and utterly evil looking. and the engineer did not go in a benign way at all. in this case, i feel like there’s no choice but to accept that it could only have come from the xenomorph.. which is why my brain is busting! but who knows. they’ll probably establish that the DNA just had a different reaction on our planet. but i don’t buy that either… argh!

    • Yeah, on second thought, I have to agree that that was indeed the same black goo. Some other site had an interesting discussion where they asserted that the black goo took on the psychological state/will of its host. The Engineer who wanted to seed the planet, people who (like in the Michael Crichton book Sphere) are just too illogical to harness its will, etc. I am not sure if I buy the mental state idea, but it is something to consider.

  • something else i forgot to address. you brought up a complaint in your review about the crew “cowboying around” on LV_223. i do see how they were somewhat brazen, but in the script’s defense, the Prometheus expedition was funded privately, by an aging, selfish trillionaire desperate to turn back the clock. it’s also “the future.” by then, humans have most likely accrued quite a bit of space travel and know-how, especially with private corporations pushing the race. on the planet, their individual suits read the atmosphere and alerted them to what was safe and what wasn’t. they also had no reason to believe they would encounter hostile life upon arriving, and so weren’t adequately prepared. i hope that satisfies your concern somewhat.

    • I still have to hold onto this one and say it was done in the interest of time. I think this is no better shown that when the crew just removes their helmets and trusts that the air is breathable. The space travel had definitely become more commonplace but the Prometheus mission is supposedly the most expensive endeavor ever attempted by man – one would hope for a little prudence at least.

  • Ok Gaming Shogun and I will no doubt discuss this for hours the next time we see each other so I will just address a couple really quick points. I agree about azuredivina’s comment about why they were “cowboying” that by this point in space travel space is routine except the frontiers which much like the Old West attracted a frontier, cowboy mentality. Much as the ship reminded me of Serenity, the cowboy mentality seem to fit, almost pre-established (To a degree Cowboy Beebop does the space cowboy too as well as the first Alien movie). Here is just one more food for thought, the Xenomorph on the tomb was posed in a Christ like position with almost like disciples around it. Was the crystal the Xeno Grail containing the blood of the Xeno Christ? Was our Christ their perfect human designed specimen? Just more to think about, this could go on for hours.

    • Yeah, the pose is telling. I think Ridley is definitely trying to say that the Xeno form is important to the Engineers – for better or for worse (we just dont know yet). The Christ-like similarities in the pose are also interesting as we are not really sure how much additional contact humans had with the Engineers post-blue-guy-dissolving. We know they had to have some – hence the cave paintings.

  • Also, did you guys notice the date at the very end of the credits? 10.11.12.

    Now, in the Weyland timeline on the website, that is the date the company is initially formed. The Blu-Ray is scheduled for release about a week or so prior to this date. This website has also popped up based on the date (more viral marketing at work):

    http://www.whatis101112.com/

    I am hoping for some shocking reveal to talk sequel stuff or, perhaps, in my wildest dreams will be the revelation that the filmed both movies back to back and in secret. Ridley is not getting any younger and saving time would be beneficial for him as he is going to work on the Blade Runner sequel soon.