Prometheus (2012)


"We are now three months into the year of our Lord, 2023. At this moment of our civilization, we can create cybernetic individuals, who in just a few short years will be completely indistinguishable from us. Which leads to an obvious conclusion: WE are the gods now."

In January of 2012, I was asked by a friend if I knew of any big budget films that were coming out that year that were not either reboots, prequels, or sequels. In other words, did last year give us any original films, at all? Well yes, but they were pushed aside by all of the superhero flicks, new installments in the Bond and Bourne franchises, an adaptation of The Hunger Games, and the conclusion of The Twilight Saga, a film which was long-awaited by both teen girls and their boyfriends alike. There was only one film that I had seen a trailer for that appeared to be a fresh, new film. Prometheus (rated R), the mega sci-fi horror tale from none other than Ridley Scott. This was not the case, of course; this film was actually Scott's prequel to his early hit, Alien, which as everyone recognizes now as one of the most popular franchises of the late 1970s and 1980s. Still, I was excited about this film until I discovered that ABC's Lost producer Damon Lindelof was on board as the screenwriter. And with the entire "questions shall be answered and secrets revealed" theme of the posters and trailers...well, you can imagine any fan's reaction.

However, most of the reactions from audiences were bipolar. Many lauded it for its return to the franchise as well as its revolutionary special effects, while the rest complained that they left the theater with more questions than they had going in, and that the film was replete with plot holes and errors. Many people asked after seeing the film, "What should we think about Prometheus?" and have received as many answers. Let's dig into it; and I really mean dig in, because there is no way to really talk about this cluster without getting into the nitty-gritty of the plot, so if you find this too much, presume you probably won't like the film.

The film takes place in 2093 and follows the actions of two scientists named Shaw and Charlie (Rapace and Marshall-Green) who were hired by a major corporation after discovering multiple wall drawings from ancient civilizations, all depicting humans looking at an unknown constellation of stars. After much research, they found a system of actual planets way off in the boondocks of space that not only precisely matched the constellations found in the drawings, but which were deemed inhabitable for life. So, being the sensible human beings that they are, they go on a mission for with a crew hired by their employer, Peter Weyland (who is actually Guy Pearce with a ton of bad make-up on to make him appear two hundred years old). They bring with them crew ready to be turned into alien food, along with Weyland's daughter (Charlize Theron) and the robot David (Fassbender).

The team finds out that not only are these humanoid aliens, called Engineers, the creators of the human race, but that the planet that they found was their military base. The Engineers kept stores full of containers that held sperm of a forerunner to the Xenomorphs, the traditional aliens from the Alien franchise. At least that is how it appears. As the film concludes, Shaw finds out that the Engineers had planned to infect Earth with the sperm in order to annihilate the human race, for reasons unknown to them. They find this out, after Charlie gets infected  by the Xeno-sperm and burned alive, two of the crew members get brutally killed by an alien, and Shaw conceives an alien from having sexual intercourse with the Charlie and is forced to perform surgery on herself to get it out. Woah.

So that's what we have with a plot. Confused? You're not alone.

There were three problems that I had with this film. The first was the whole presence of Peter Weyland. I felt that his character was completely unnecessary to the overall story, and even if he had to be included for some reason, why did it have to be kept a secret that he was still alive and in cryo-sleep? Would it have made Shaw and Charlie reluctant to go on the expedition with their employer breathing down their backs? Well, of course Weyland gives his reason, that he was days away from death, but wouldn't that be a cool theme to know from the beginning? A summary of the film could then be, "A dying CEO who is also a visionary employs a pair of scientists to take him to the planet that the Engineers inhabited in order to meet his makers before he dies." That sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me (*sarcasm*). And as I mentioned earlier, the make-up artists did a terrible job with turning Guy Pearce into an old man. If you have not seen Prometheus, just think of how bad Saito's aging process was done in Inception. I would say this was even worse.

The next problem was more of Ridley Scott trying to make yet another tense scene for his film, and have Shaw and Weyland's daughter run away from the rolling Engineer bomber shuttle. There really isn't anything to say about this, other than it was stupid.

The third and final problem I had is not exactly with the film itself, but how so many people criticized it for having David's plan appear impossible. I know, this sounds really strange, but keep reading.

So David takes one of the sperm canisters back to the ship (no one sees him do this), and he puts some of the substance into Charlie's drink while Charlie is watching him. But one could argue that in the context of the scene that Charlie was depressed and probably more than a little drunk, so I excuse this mistake that skeptics continue to bring up in arguments. However, the rest of his plan does work out, and is even logical in my mind. How did David know that Charlie and Shaw would have sex? Well he said not fifteen minutes later in the film that he knew that they were close, plus during the two year flight he was able to watch their dreams as much as he wanted, so I am sure he learned a thing or two about everyone on the Prometheus by the time they arrived. But how could he have possibly concluded that Shaw would get pregnant? Or, as one critic put it, is he some kind of expert in things that have never ever happened? My guess is that he did not, but he did know that all of the canisters in the caves were meant to be used on Earth. He is fluent in over two million forms of communications, remember, so reading the Engineers' writing on the walls wasn't too hard.

When Shaw then becomes pregnant with the Alien, David then discovers what the master plan of the Engineers really was: to infect Earth with the alien sperm so the women would conceive the Xenomorphs, who would grow and transform into an army of destruction. The plan is actually ingenious, for as David told Shaw, "Sometimes to create, one must first destroy." So in reality, David was not trying to kill off the crew, even though he seemed to want it sometimes, like when he said "Don't we all wish for our parents to be dead?" He actually is not doing this; rather he was experimenting on the crew to find out to learn more about the Engineers and their motives. However, it is disquieting to know just how dark David really is, because he had to know that bringing the canister on board the ship could possibly harm everyone on board, including Weyland, his "father," who was still in cryo-sleep. Michael Fassbender surely brought a lot to the table and added so much to David's character.

Prometheus is at its heart, a film about searching for the origin of man, and is a discussion of both philosophy and theology of the hierarchy of creators. The humans created the robots like David, but who created the human race? The Engineers. But were the Engineers created by someone? We shall see. I like Ridley Scott's feel for Prometheus better than that of Alien, although no one can deny that Alien is the better film. With a sequel being planned, Scott would be wise to learn from his mistakes and craft a new film with both the feel of Prometheus and the action and terror that will satisfy the older fans of the series, and definitely with more of the plot holes and questionable elements handled better. I see what Scott was trying to do, but it comes across as kind of a cluster, where the threshold of believability is at times stretched to the degree that it distracts the audience from really entering into the story.

One and a half tiaras.

Review by Goldenmouth.