Think about the title of the film PROMETHEUS.
Anywhere in there do you see the word ALIEN? The filmmakers have gone way out of their way to let us know that this is not an ALIEN prequel, but then we saw the ship from ALIEN and it was decided amongst a lot of film commentators that Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof were actively working to deceive us… but having seen the film and read the opening salvo from critics that seemed to carry ALIEN into the film, more than that though… I think folks have been carrying in the whole of the ALIEN mythology as they’ve come to know it via the sequels, comics and novels.
Well, Ridley has a different purpose for returning to science fiction. This isn’t a film where the flamethrowers are being used to fight biomechanical beasties coming out of solidified alien mucus sculpted walls. This isn’t a film that sets up ALIEN. The film isn’t set on LV-426. No ship in this film ends up on LV-426, nor are they headed there. There are no RIPLEY characters. This isn’t those movies.
For some, that’ll be a profound disappointment. To them, I can only weep for missing what is here. The movie they did actually make is absolutely wonderful, if you pay close attention. Don't look at friends, never take your eyes or attention from the screen. The master is playing.
I know – a basic nature of a geek is to compare and contrast. It’s how we classify and shelve our collections, we love playing what ifs with these films, but the reality is… sometimes we get so focused on the genre, the structure, the character arc types that we end up choking the love out of ourselves and the things that we used to be open to before we decided to be smug in the theater.
This film is a quest movie. One woman’s quest actually. Her name is Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and she’s searching for the answers to the biggest questions we flesh puppets have. Is Earth a miracle? Is it just the product of an all-powerful being that placed us here, gave us rules to live by and then abandoned us? Was that being magical or alien? Why do we exist? The meaning of our existence. This isn’t a woman thrust into an unexpected and unwanted situation. What she’s doing in this movie is exactly what she has dedicated her life to doing since her mother and father were taken from her as a girl. Answers to questions her father couldn’t answer. Pay attention to David’s dream monitoring, there’s answers in there too.
I’ve always found the search for these questions to lead to a lot of frustration, because the pursuit of those questions never ends in truth, but in beliefs. What we believe happened. That’s right now in the early 21st Century. If we found a cave with a star map to follow, it’d take more than any of our lifetimes to get a ship to take us there… But I wish intensely that humanity had that direct evidence of something out there for us to get to. We as a society, I feel, need to start moving out into the cosmos and stop fighting over the limited resources we have here.
PROMETHEUS is about this first mission into the stars with the express purpose of discovering our own origins here on Earth. In terms of Stardates, this is before Kirk & Spock & LBJ went to the God Planet in STAR TREK V. Remember, that didn’t work out well for folks. Like JJ’s STAR TREK, the tech of PROMETHEUS is relevant to today’s foreseeable tech. I like that. I love the evolution of Science Fiction and away from the green screen text of my youth. The reality is, the advancement of technology means that easily – upon a ship you could essentially have the whole of human civilization’s resources and history and knowledge to take with you on this journey across the universe.
This ship was built by Weyland with the intent of discovering the truth of our existence. Very noble for a company that seems to have a huge and significant monopoly, so far as we know, in Earth’s off planet enterprises. But the knowledge we would gain from these beings or whatever they’ve left behind… well that would be something really remarkable and valuable.
Very quickly we’re thrust into the journey of discovery.
The film begins with the initial seeding of the planet Earth, I believe. That’s how I took it. After that, we’re suddenly moved forward.
If you find yourself coming up with a LEAP OF LOGIC in the film, it’s probably due to you missing something. I’ve had friends that have hit me with a good 8 or 9 logic leaps and the answers are always right there on screen. If you pay attention. That means, don’t look at your friends with a cute face, you could miss the shot of the worms, which is a clue to what comes later. After the film opens domestically in the U.S. Feel free to send me questions on my Twitter and I’ll clarify to you what happened. Not because I’ve read the script, that shit was fake as fuck. However, whoever wrote it did have an awful lot of knowledge about the film. Way too many parallels.
Also – after watching the whole film – think about the story, don’t just circle up into bitching circles. Allow yourself to think about what you saw and think about what it means. THEN talk with your friends. Why do I love the hell out of this thing?
I haven’t been given any props, no posters, pins, no special screenings, never spoken to Ridley Scott – and generally I have a ton of nitpicks for Ridley. I think he usually over-edits his theatrical cuts, but here… I love the pacing. I love the cut from the cave to distant interstellar space, it reminds me of Robert Armstrong on the Beach at Skull Island pontificating about where they are all headed and then BAM! They’re there. Same here.
You don’t need to see them pitching Weyland. You don’t need to see years of development upon this ship. We know that Weyland spent a $1 Trillion making it. Gives you a clue about future inflation – or the exact holy fuck of the state of the art this ship is. Unlike in ALIEN, this isn’t a mining vessel. Unlike in ALIENS, this isn’t a military grunt ship. THIS is a team of scientists headed to a distant light in our sky, with the hopes of finding the origin of our species. They’re briefed on it. So are we. There’s Archeologists, Biologist, Geologist, Security, ship personnel, a Weyland high level executive and even more.
These are experts that the second they land, they're suiting up, because they didn't go faster than light for 2.5 years for nothing. They see a structure and they head for it.
The ship is in many ways – the most expensive lasting memory of a bigger than Steve Jobs Earth Personality. It is Weyland’s last dream to send this ship to the other side of the universe. Why? Well, what would you ask your creator? I sort of agree with Roy Batty’s answer to that question, and I think Weyland’s intentions were similar.
This film has a lot of symbolism, lots of FILL IN THE BLANKS situations where Ridley avoided needless exposition, when he could SHOW the answers, if you’re paying attention.
I’m so happy this isn’t a Bug Hunt film. This is very much what is going on with Kepler here on Earth and orbiting above us. We’re doing the surveying work that future generations will need when we move off this tiny blue dot for resources, answers and company in the universe. It is nothing that any living human today will probably see – but the great thing about scientists and innovators – they know what is needed for the future they foresee and they move in that direction.
At some point, we’re going to discover something out there. Then we’re going to head off in that direction. Whether it is a multigenerational mission or some sort of stasis chamber situation… there’s going to be bold missions. Ones that could end exactly as this does. Others that could end in a completely different fashion.
I no longer think of these notions as Science Fiction, but Science Eventuality. Ridley sees it. This is less ALIEN and frankly more of a corporate Star Fleet style mission. I went into this film having read interviews with Damon & Ridley. I read reviews. I was prepared to not see an ALIEN movie. For me, the notion that Ridley Scott has returned to the same universe, but a different planet, a different situation… That’s cool. I like that. I like that not a thing from this film ties to ALIEN directly. There’s no eggs, no classic Giger Biomech Alien. This is a different tale, perhaps the first Corporate Mission to discover the truth of our existence. Sure, it’s pure B-science fiction. The sort of things that used to be in WEIRD SCIENCE and INCREDIBLE SCIENCE-FICTION and WEIRD FANTASY comics of the EC variety.
It’s a modest proposal for an alternative origin of species. It is sacrilecious! At our screening we were told not to talk about two sequences. One is the best HOLY FUCK of the movie. The other is the last shot, which I felt was a pie in the face that should have been edited out. It is a terrible shot in my opinion and produces the worst reaction from the audience, which flavors the entire experience for some. That’s a shame, because other than that single shot… I can’t wait to return to this film. There’s a lot on this movie’s mind.
I would recommend not watching all 4 ALIEN films, I’d recommend not watching ALIEN before – nor immediately after. Get that series out of your head, that’s not what this film is about. This isn’t a prequel. It is a separate story decades before Ripley’s NOSTROMO journey. This is our first Science mission in a Weyland, not yet WEYLAND-YUTANI, universe. Can’t wait to take my sister to this, she’s gonna lose her mind for it.