My Verdict on Prometheus
I finally got to see the much maligned so-called “prequel” to my favorite movie franchise (Alien/Aliens) – Prometheus. Although not without its flaws, I do feel that the amount of criticism it is taking is unfair. It is by far not the best in the franchise but it’s not the worst.
To start with, my opinions on all the Aliens (and AvP) movies are pretty varied. I loved Alien and Aliens. I absolutely HATED Aliens 3 with a passion, partially because they killed off Hicks and Newt unnecessarily but also the poor writing and story. It had so much potential and they killed the series then. As for Alien: Resurrection, it was a conglomeration of ideas not used in Alien 3, and although a little better than it’s predecessor, it was still pretty bad. The final act was just horrible and the new born alien was stupid looking.
I thought the first AvP was OK but the second one was pretty bad. I hate that they brought the Aliens to earth in modern times. Although that ties better into the Predator franchise, they should have used the comics as an inspiration. That would have been a better story.
Prometheus started out to be a prequel to Alien but as they wrote it and filmed it, it took a different direction. I was not all that excited about the “different direction” when I first heard about it but it was Ridley Scott and I had faith in him to do a good job. It took me a while to finally see it. But when I do, I had already primed myself by reading a few reviews and criticisms about the film. I know that’s not a fair way to go into it as people who went to see it when it premiered had no idea what to expect, but I wanted to get an idea of what people were complaining about. Visually, I loved the movie. It had all the feel of an Alien movie with updated special effects. The ship was very cool. I did feel like the character introduction was a little shaky and weak. 17 crew? That was a lot to deal with when the crew of the Nostromo was 7. The story line deals with one of my passions – ancient aliens. This is a great storyline to pursue and is very much in the theme of the Alien franchise. I have heard a few questions from some of the critics and here are some of my answers. [SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]
What was the black goo? Was it different from the green sparkly goo? Was the goo always intended as a weapon?
It’s alien! They are thousands of years older than us and much more advanced. Go with the Arthur C Clark’s third law.
The black goo, David and Holloway
That whole situation on the surface seemed contrived but I think David knew a lot more than he was telling folks. This is the part of the narrative that kept us in the dark as much as the characters. Like the android Ash in Alien, we never really knew how much he knew about the derelict ship, the alien and the planet they found it all on.
After giving Holloway the goo, everything else was a series of convenient coincidences or it could have been in the goo’s design. The fact that Holloway and Shaw had sex could have been driven by the goo. What’s easier than to make two human have sex? Again it’s alien. We don’t know.
And that black worm in the eye… again, it’s alien. Don’t try to figure it out.
On the overall subject of David and his seemingly endless knowledge of the Engineers, their language and their science… David had 4 years alone on the ship to study intelligence, some of which was secrets Weyland found. Another ongoing theme with all the movies is the question of just how much Weyland knew about these aliens and ships. We don’t know. That and somehow the Engineers are connected to ancient Earth civilizations, the android could put together enough data to at least know some semblance of the language to know how to open doors, and all the other things he did while in the pyramid.
Questions about the Weyland’s hologram? How did it know where people were standing?
It could have been choreographed or there was enough intelligence in the AI of the projector to manipulate the image enough to know where people were standing.
Getting lost despite the elaborate 3D map?
This was kind of goofy too but I think it is a combination of the storm interfering with the communications between the guys and the ship, as well as the way the map was relayed. You can have an elaborate map but if you don’t know how to read it, you can still get lost. Happens to me in the car all the time. The more complex the map gets, the harder it is going to get to follow.
General character issues
Stupidity of the characters?
There were some very stupid moves made by characters. Taking off the helmet while inside the pyramid was just one of them. For that particular instance I am willing to give them a little pass with a little thought. Even though there was the right mix oxygen/nitrogen/carbon dioxide, there were other things to consider, I admit that. We do know what kind of readings they were getting on their suits. He may have gotten enough readings to assume there were no microbes or other cotangents. We do not know.
Another instance of character stupidity is the biologist. He seems to be afraid of everything dead but when faced with a living creature he’s never seen before, he thinks it’s cute. This is poor character development, yes. I was glad when this dude died because he was just a bad character. But this did not hurt the story for me.
Another example of stupidly was running in a straight line away from the circular ship rolling after them. Yes, this was stupid. I admit that. Again, this is character stupidity and nothing else. I am not overly pleased with how stupid the writers made these characters but it may be his way of making it easier for us to deal with their deaths. I don’t know.
Why go on a mission you know nothing about until you get there?
Money. They were getting paid to do it.
The Engineers, ancient alien story line, etc
The question of ancient aliens, their DNA in ours and how that all worked?
That’s the major issue with ancient alien theory in general. There are some wonky things in it all and I am not going to figure all that out. I am not sure if they identified when and where the Engineers came down to seed our planet but it could have have been after the dinosaurs. Most ancient alien theories just say humans were from alien DNA and everything else was already here. Or at least that is my understand.
The motivations of the Engineer they found alive?
Again, alien motivations. We don’t know. One idea I thought of is that the Engineer sees humans as an infection, which is why they loaded up a ship with biological weapons to destroy Earth. He saw two humans and fears us as much as we fear the Alien. So he saw Shaw and Vickers as infections to be destroyed. He also probably knew they were going to try and stop him and destroy the ship. You know those meddling humans.
Why make a map to the Engineer’s Weapons facility?
We don’t know what else was on that planet, for one. But if it was just a weapons facility, maybe it wasn’t an invitation. Maybe it was a warning. Just like the first movie. Either way, I did not see a big deal about that.
Why do the Engineers want to destroy Earth?
Again, this goes back to “They are alien.” Their motivations are alien to us. They could see us as an infection or a mistake. You never know.
What were the recorded Engineers running from?
There is much more about that installation we don’t know. It’s HUGE! I am not sure where they were running from or running to. It was some kind of contagion because they were wearing suits. We don’t know. IT’S ALIEN!
Why didn’t any of the goo make any sense or display any kind of consistent mythology, like the Alien did?
This is an Engineer facility. They probably had a ton of projects all over the place. The Alien was probably just one of them. They probably had a wide range of versions of the alien (thus you get the alien you saw at the end of the movie). When you introduce foreign biologies and foreign contaminants, you get new reactions that the Engineers probably never thought of. I did not think those worms were just there. Notice they only appeared after a human stepped on the goo. That can be explained by contaminants from the bottom of the person’s shore rapidly mutating and creating whole new life forms. Of course, while I was watching them go through all these biological containers and storage rooms, I kept on thinking they should put their helmets on but that’s just me.
Weyland pretending he was dead?
There is probably some back story that we are not aware of. Perhaps Yutani was on its way to take over once Weyland was dead and he was trying to avoid that. Through out the franchise, established in the first movie, the narrative was that corporates can’t be trusted and they have underlying agendas. This is one of those cases. I think the writers, Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, stretched that part of the story a little with Weyland and his secret goal to meet hsi makers but still, it creates an air of intrigue. You have to believe that in 2090-something a trip like they are making is not cheap and probably unprecedented. So to find out that it was all because of a guy’s vanity should have been someone shocking but I think we are so desensitized to stuff like that, it was no big deal.
But then when he was revealed as alive, why didn’t anyway care? Well, Shaw cared but she had suffer through so much, she was pretty much done. Most of the other ship’s crew were either dying or in on the deception. We know Vickers and David knew. The Captain probably knew. The rest were just following orders.
That’s just a few things I thought about when watching this movie. I may be giving it a wider latitude than many other have because I am a big fan of the series. If so, oh well. These are my opinions and I do not expect everyone to agree.