Plot: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green and Michael Fassbender
(spoilers in the article and the images)
“This man is here because he does not want to die.
He believes you can give him more life.”
- David, speaking to the Engineer.
Why are we here? Who created us? Why did they create us? Why do we die? Why do we live? These are all the questions people were asking themselves for as long as there was human life. If you think Ridley Scott's Prometheus, movie set in the same universe as Alien but with the events preceding those shown in classic science fiction.horror will answer these questions you will be wrong. Nobody can answer them, can they? But Prometheus offers some theories and ideas that are very thought provoking and not necessarily completely impossible.
The film opens in 2089 when Dr Elizabeth Show and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway discover curious cave paintings. Soon they are part of the mission sponsored by powerful Weyland Industries to the distant planet - they know how to get there because Shaw and Holloway found several of such cave paintings, each containing pictograms which put together create a star map. They are going there, because as the paintings are from many centuries set apart, spread through the history of human existence they believe they are being led to the beings that created us. They call them Engineers.
The travel to the planet takes 2 years during which the crew, which also includes icy Weyland Industries rep Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), ship's captain Janek (Idris Elba) and several others, is in hyper sleep. But there is someone watching over them - android named David, created by Weyland Industries. He spends his time playing basketball, watching "Lawrence of Arabia" over and over again, learning languages, eating and drinking. He also peeks into the dreams of Elizabeth Shaw, being so curious of people, as he can mimic human emotions, but can't feel them himself.
After the crew awakes the ship lands on the planet (in actuality a moon) and goes for an expedition to one of the temples they find there. The temple is filled with otherworldly bizarre writings and murals as well as surprises along the way. That expedition will end with each of the participants finding something - some will find the desire to play the part of creators themselves, some will find death, some will find more questions than answers and others will meet our maker. In quite shocking matter too.
Prometheus is not a new version of Alien, it's not even a prequel to Alien the movie, it's more of a prequel to the creatures we saw in Scott's masterpiece. The film is not a monster movie like Alien was - it is more focused on this group of people seeking answers in the worst possible place and on the evolution of the creatures that are inhabitants of the planet. There was a lot of criticism directed towards the script - it's very bizarre seeing how clever the script is - there are many theories out there after the movie premiered - not because there are plot holes but because so many things are left ambiguous, so many things hang on us choosing what to believe in - much like the characters in the movie.
For example there is one scene where David speaks to the Engineer. Until recently it wasn't know what he said (see this) all we knew was that the reaction of the Engineer was caused by that. It forced me to think about what David could possibly say, especially that he was met with the admiration of God at first.. All of the allegations of underdeveloped characters fall flat - David, Shaw and Holloway are great characters, Janek and Vickers also get some nice moments and develop curios chemistry. There is also a pair of others - Fifilied and Milburn, who do not share others curiosity and will be featured in one of the film's scariest moments.
Noomi Rapace is excellent here - both as a delicate and a little naive scientist who doesn't even want weapons during the first trip to the temple, being so sure that "Gods are good" and as a strong, determined woman who will do everything to rescue her home planet and herself. In the third act of the movie, as Shaw is holding the axe and something is chasing her, the look on Rapace's face was as fierce as her work as Lisbeth Salander. She composes herself, holds the axe and waits - incredible moment for her character. She also has great, very touching scenes here, as Shaw goes through psychological torment and has to face impossible situations.
David, the android. He is by far my favorite android in Alien universe. He is a machine that can mimic human emotions, but is said not to feel them. Yet when Peter Weyland says he doesn't have a soul you can see pain and anger on David's face. He is a mix of Pinocchio, who wants to be real boy with all the scenes where he is trying to behave like human and a mischievous robot who has his own agenda ("I'm sorry we are not equipped to carry on such procedure"). He seems to have desires of his own, although he says he is being programmed by Weyland.
He appears to want to be a creator himself and he is fascinated by the Engineers - it is quite clear that he himself feels superior to human race, people who after all created him. Because he doesn't fear death as he will never die he is devoid of their biggest weakness. In the film's pivotal scene it is unclear what his motivations are and there are hints throughout the movie that he knows more there he is telling others - especially in the temple where when Holloway asks him if he can read the writings he says "Perhaps".
Michael Fassbender delivers astonishing performance as he looks very innocent - especially as David is watching the holograph created by Engineers, being mesmerized by it - and as he acts like the most clever and manipulative part of the crew - with his condescension for humans, elaborate planning and his ability to keep secrets and strategically withdrawn information. His relationship with Weyland is also interesting and as a lot of things in the movie it has religious connotations - the thing David says about every child wanting his parents dead and the scene where David washes Wayland's feet.
Vickers also has great chemistry with Janek, ship's captain who as she doesn't care about the expedition, "he just flies the ship". She has quite the complex relationship with David, at whom she looks down upon as she seems to hate androids and is visibly hurt when Janek asks her is she is one. The reason why she hates David so much is unveiled later on in the film and her final scene along with hints throughout the film suggests that she may be more like David than we are led to believe.
The film tackles great issues and forces us to think about them - Ridley Scott himself says that "Both NASA and the Vatican agree that it is almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today, without there being a little help along the way. That's what we're looking at: we are talking about gods and engineers, engineers of space. Were the Aliens designed as a form of biological warfare, or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?"
It is clear that the opening sequence contains the look on Prometheus of the story, but the thing is that he is not the only one - the story is also about the sacrifice and we see many instances of it throughout the film, both from the people and the Engineers.
Another interesting thing are the new creatures we see here and the most fascinating aspect of them is when we see them evolve. There is one creature in particular that has four different forms and the steps to its evolution are almost always shocking and very gruesome. The creatures are meticulously designed and as in Alien it all revolves around disturbing sexual imaginary, resulting in the film's most incredible and chilling sequence that is definitely going to make some people cringe and feel uneasy long after the film is over. What makes it even more disturbing is that most of the designs are actually based on real life creature - the final one has one very distinctive similarity to the goblin shark.
One of the most ambiguous things in the story is what happened to Engineers 2000 years ago that caused them to conclude with a certain plan and also over lapsed with the death of many of them - that is the point where I think the movie links to the Engineer we see in Alien - there is also a pile of dead engineers with holes in their chest and holographs that show Engineers running away from something. Oh my, what could that be? I think we all know what it was. As for the choice of the date - 2000 years ago - I applaud Scott and the writers for this courage. There are some links to Christianity as well in the film's most creepy moment as this scene takes place on Christmas time. Considering the prior medical condition of the person we see during it and what is happening in the scene the film really puts a sinister and bold spin on one of the most revered religious events in the society by drawing such parallels to it.
Of course there is the big question Elizabeth Shaw asks - why do they want to destroy us? Are we also Prometheus who became to powerful? Does it tie to beginning to Christianity? Scott said the following - "But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, “Lets’ send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him."
The film goes beyond that - Shaw keeps asking her questions, never missing the mark - if they created us, who created them? It's a bottomless pit, something you will probably never discover answer to. In comparison to the eternity, the vastness of time and space, we are almost like parasites and if there is God out there who created us, our attempts at getting our answers must be a real source of amusement for him. What if he simply doesn't care or worse yet - wants us gone? Just like David does, another "being" that will never die and doesn't know fear.
I mean really what the hell was that. "Hands up!"? What? Oh Yey, we are going to die so let's cheer? Apart from Janek there are two other guys in this moment and that scene made me think of Avatar and it's just horrible that it happened. It seems so out of place in this movie, many people complain about the scene with the snake-like creature, but honestly "Hands up!" takes the freaking cake.
I do not know what happened but keeping in mind what happened to David Fincher with Alien 3 I am inclined to blame FOX. They most likely forced Scott to keep the movie close to 2 hours of run time. As with all Scott's movies I'm hoping Director's Cut which will include more than 20 minutes of additional material will remedy the situation.
Also - there is something very memorable that happens to Shaw - the Christmas related thing I mentioned before - and after it happens nobody mentions it. What? Things go so fast in third act of the movie, the film lacks reactions and interactions between characters. The pace is racing and that's good as it makes for entertaining scenes, but with set up like the one we see in the wreckage of Prometheus I really hoped for longer conclusion.
The film's visual effects are great and the design of the ships is fantastic - I do not know much about this stuff as I never pay much attention to things like that in science fiction films but Prometheus looked fantastic. The scene with David in the holograph is simply stunning, as is the sand storm approaching Prometheus at one point and the debris after the collision which really astonishes with its scale and the masterful effects.
The concept art for the film reveals certain things that only show how much detail is hidden everywhere in the movie - the murals changing in the temple, the very images on them, even the design of the Derelict - Engineers' ship - all have deeper meaning, one that is very easy to escape the viewer upon the first watching of the movie. In the spirit of Alien the creatures were not just made with the CGI but also using the puppets - in the film's most memorable scene the creature - while still being locked after being removed - is CGI but when it breaks free and starts moving its numerous tentacles to the main heroine's horror - it is a puppet, much like the one used in the infamous chestbuster scene.
|1) concept art from "Prometheus - the art of the film" 2) the same image hidden in the mural in the movie|
|CGI creature that is replaced with practical effects in the next shots|
|The ship in the movie and the symbol - The Ouroboros which represents eternal return, the cycle.|
What we can expect from Dirctor's cut: