Prometheus

Before I start to write about the movie, Prometheus, released June 8, 2012, I’ll start by writing about my fascination with the Aliens films in general.  Those films, each of them, have stuck in my brain ever since I remember seeing the first one (though I think I saw the first one second), and with good reason.  What those films had was a driving force, an attempt to understand something about mankind through understanding how we react to monsters (perhaps the monster within us?  That’s what I think that creepy/silly Alien/human baby thing at the end of the 4th one, yes I liked that one too, was supposed to suggest), and even further how we see ourselves in our future.

Prometheus will definitely be one that keeps the trend of being fascinated with this series going.  If I could have, I would have watched all four films again, then re-watched Prometheus as soon as I’d finished seeing it the first time.

I’d not really planned on going to the theater to see the movie until my friend over at Twenty Thousand Roads suggested that the movie was worth it.  He was right.

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Another prologue to the film review:  I am often disconcerted by religion. Religion is often based on the idea of knowledge and life and traditions and culture staying the same — believing in the same ideas for a really long time– but the world is so full of change.  My great-great-grandmother would find tales of my daily life to by so mystical that if I were to transport into her life when she was 35, she’d probably think I was insane and put me away.  So, how do we put two opposite ideas about absolute change (the times, they are always a changin’) and absolute stasis (god is god is god) together?  I think this idea is one that Ridley Scott has been asking himself since 1979 (before, really, since that’s when the film was released).  Since I was born in 1977, I’ll just say that Ridley Scott has been asking this question since I came into being and will, therefore, endow my birth year with great significance.  I should also note that 1977 is the year that Elvis died (or did he!), which may, really, be very significant to the Aliens franchise (or completely insignificant).

Finally, in Prometheus, Scott brings the conversation that has been occurring, about the interplay between humanity, science, technology, corportation, and religion, into focus.

And, while I’m often unsettled by the idea of religion, I love to know, at least a little, about the stories that make up religions.  The Prometheus story that undercuts this film is one of the better religious stories and metaphors, especially since we’re supposed to wonder what we’ve (humans as they are represented in the film) to piss off our makers (the Engineers).

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Now, onto the movie review part of this blog.

Things I didn’t like about the movie:

  • That Elizabeth Shaw is infertile.  It’s insulting that we’re supposed to think that the only thing that infertile women can do is birth monsters.  That scene where she almost cried while looking at her (we know that he is infected with Alien DNA) boyfriend made me want to throw popcorn at the screen (if I’d had popcorn that is).
  • That Vickers is crushed by the Engineer’s space ship at the end.  It seemed anti-climactic.  I guess we’re supposed to think that she didn’t have the same level of survival instinct as Elizabeth, so she therefore wouldn’t have thought to ROLL AWAY from the GIANT SHIP that was about CRUSH HER.  It was a silly way for her to die and felt like a cop out, like the writers said to themselves that they needed to get rid of her, so yeah, we’ll just have her get crushed at the last second.
  • That the super-villian of Weyland Industries was started by a guy who wanted to be immortal.  There hasn’t really been any suggestion or question of immortality in any of the other films, nor does it make sense that the magic god people from the stars would be immortal.  Obviously, they aren’t since none of them seem to be still around.
  • That the best character was, again, the Android. Really, the humanized robot character has been a staple of the Aliens film so I guess I shouldn’t complain since it worked for every other film in the series so far (well, except Winona Ryder, who was really annoying but if a different actress had played that part, then that android would have been the best character).

Things I liked about the movie:

  • That the best character was, again, the Android. I know.  I just said I didn’t like it.  But I didn’t and I did.  This android, David, was not just the best character in the film, he may be one of the best characters in the series.  I mean, he can’t upstage Sigourney Weaver,  who is the ultimate in badass Alien fighter, but he was amazing.  Plus, I’m not sure if his name is meant to be an allusion to Michelangelo’s David or David from the Bible, but since those are related…  I’ll carry on.  David, the Android, is like David and Goliath, in that he is meant to slay the giant, either the giant in the form of the Engineer or the giant in the form of Peter Weyland.  Instead of using a slingshot, though, he has to overcome the programming limitations of his creators, who see him only as a tool.  Sound familiar?
  • That human kind was shown to be like a science experiment of some kind, started by the Engineers.  Yes, I’ve watched most of the National Geographic series, Ancient Aliens.  Obviously, so have the writers of Prometheus. I think it’s interesting to think of humanity as some big experiment, though the ideas that were put forth about this concept in the Douglas Adams Hitchhiker series were a bit more amusing.
  • That Noomi Rapace was given another role where she gets to kick ass, like in the Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies.  She’s a wonderful actress, and her scene in the robotic surgery was one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen.  Even if the idea of someone having extreme abdominal surgery, then just walking around is a bit far-fetched, I can totally believe that Noomi Repace could do that.
  • The Engineers.  They were the right mix of awesome and scary.  Their ship left much to be desired, but I liked that the architecture of the ship matched the rest of the Alien films and the aliens themselves.
  • That Elizabeth Shaw chose to go and find the Engineers instead of going to Earth.  I’ve always understood why Ripley went back home, but I wouldn’t have understood if Shaw did.

Things I’m left pondering:

  • What was that Engineer doing at the beginning,with the canister and the river?  Where was he and what was he poisoning? Have they, the Engineers, decided that the alien species is so superior that all others should be wiped out?  How does that make sense, given that the aliens need a host in order to replicate?
  • Are the Engineers supposed to be good or evil?  I know that the easy answer is that they’re evil — they’re carting around ships full of viruses that make creatures whose entire intent is to kill and eat everything in sight.  Which is pretty bad.  But, as Janek, the ship captain, points out, what they find is the equivalent of a military outpost, where they developed weapons of mass destruction.  Maybe there’s some giant super-galactic war going on, and the aliens are going to end that war?  Would that make them and the aliens less evil?

I really need to go see the movie again.  And, I need to see all the other movies again first.  Then I need to re-watch Ancient Aliens.

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4 thoughts on “Prometheus

  1. I think it makes a certain sense to have Shaw choose to go to find the Engineers. She’s come all this way to find answers and she’s just been through a traumatic event. But really, it’s just a sequel tease.

    I thought the ship was pretty badass.

    I have two theories on the Engineer at the beginning:
    1) That’s earth and he’s seeding the planet with his DNA. The back story would then be that the Engineers created life on earth in their own image, were worshiped as gods for a while and then decided for whatever reason involving intra-Engineer politics to destroy the human project. This led to a schism between the Engineers, which brings me to my other theory…

    2) The beginning scene takes place on the planet in the movie. The Engineers have created the black genetic slime that ultimately bears the Alien creature as a bio weapon to wipe out humanity. Some of them think this is a terrible thing to do, and the one at the beginning of the movie puts a stop to it by sacrificing himself to unleash the bio-weapon on his own people.

    • I think it makes sense for Shaw to do that as well — I re-wrote my point so that is more clear. I wouldn’t have understood if she’d just gone back to Earth.

      The ship was boring. It looked like a turd from the outside and a weird dead alien inside… except for the smooshie buttons that reminded me of that game (Boggle?) that had the dice under the bubble.

      Okay onto your theories:
      1) I thought of that, but I don’t think that’s right because he breaks apart. Plus he had that stuff in the canister that looked like the ones on the ship. And, the goo was black, not green. When David found the Engineer DNA on the hieroglyphic button on the ship, it was green and sparkly, not black and sparkly. But maybe you’re right since I’m basing my objection solely on the color of goo.

      2) I think this idea makes more sense, except that he’s outside and there are regular clouds. On the movie planet, he would have had to be in a suit and there wouldn’t have been clouds,right? I like the idea that some of the Engineers are better than the others.

      Speaking of Engineers, how come the ones we’ve seen are all men? Is that significant?

  2. I think it’s a mistake to assume the atmosphere of the planet is the same millions of years before.

    • Who said it was millions of years before? If it’s the movie planet, it would have only been 10,000 years before. And, 10,000 years before, the atmosphere was so bad that they had to terraform, and the atmosphere was still like that when Prometheus landed, which leads me to believe that the atmosphere hadn’t changed in 10,000 years.

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