Prometheus - The Cool Black Review AND Explanations
Prometheus Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Ridley Scott, David Giler & Walter Hill
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Editing by Pietro Scalia
Released: June 8, 2012 (USA)
Starring: Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw Michael Fassbender as David Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers Idris Elba as Janek Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Synopsis: Set in the late 21st century, the story centers on the crew of the spaceship Prometheus as they follow a star map discovered among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Led to a distant world and an advanced civilization, the crew seeks the origins of humanity, but instead discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human race.
Review By Cool Black: I thought the below tweet would suffice as my review and save me the time of composing a full review,
Ridley Scott is the master
of the slow build. Jus like '#Alien' you're wondering where all this is
going, but by the end it's FREEKIN INTENSE! Excellent picture!
but alas that was not enough as the film has been the widest discussed movie since Inception and that’s a good thing.
Yes the movie has about an hour of set up about “the Engineers” the people behind the whole plot.
As stated in the synopsis “the crew of the spaceship Prometheus as they follow a star map discovered among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures” and the film in its first hour does just that. The whole time you are wondering where it’s all going and I feel by the end you knew exactly where. The story is about exploration NOT an action/adventure piece even though it has tons.
Bolstered by another outstanding performance by Michael Fassbender as “David” the film deftly makes you wonder what exactly David is up to as he doesn’t seem to have the same motives as everyone else. The rest of the characters don’t really matter as David is the most intriguing character in the whole film, even outweighing Noomi Rapace as the film’s protagonist.
The overall plot about the Engineer’s true motives is also the main story. You wonder what is exactly on the planet they’re going to and what exactly it is that they discover. The film explains that as well. I really can’t say more without getting into spoiler territory WHICH I WILL…in the commentary.
The first hour about the exploration, while having its visually stunning facets is slow and tedious and I too was bored, but when it got into what the threat was and how to stop it is where the film really took off to me.
The last hour is as pulse pounding as you can get. After it was over the guy next to me said “that was intense” and I agreed because IT WAS! When a film can make you feel that kind of anxiety it has done its job. Again the film wasn’t just pulse pounding moments, it had a purpose as I will explain later.
In the end, the film as a whole starts off about space exploration and ends with a desperate race against time to stop the extinction of mankind as we know it. It set you up as one thing and ends as another. It did it well so I’m fine with that.
UPDATE: June 12, 2012: 8:11 AM:I was remiss not to mention the EXCELLENT direction of Ridley Scott & cinematography by Dariusz Wolski! I was so rushed to explain what a lot of people were missing in the story I forgot to recognize the stupendous job they did in crafting the film.
Cool Black’s Mad Commentary: This Mad Commentary will be unlike any other because I tend not to talk about any spoilers in my reviews because if I take the time to write the review you probably should see it because I don’t write reviews for films I didn’t like. I also don’t like to spoil the viewing experience for anyone. The best moments are the ones you don’t see coming.
Having said that DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN PROMETHEUS
FIRST you must start with the man behind the whole thing Ridley Scott. I don’t like reading much about any movie I want to see, but the blurbs I did read had him REPEATEDLY saying that this was NOT a direct prequel to Alien…and it wasn’t.
Damon Lindelof is credited as a “co-writer” of Prometheus because the script was originally written by Jon Spaihts and Lindelof was brought in later to rewrite the script.
Lindelof clarified, "If the ending to [Prometheus] is just going to be the room that John Hurt walks into that's full of [alien] eggs [in Alien], there's nothing interesting in that, because we know where it's going to end. Good stories, you don't know where they're going to end." "A true prequel should essentially proceed [sic] the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world." Damon Lindelof Explains How Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ is Connected to the ‘Alien’ Films". /Film. June 28, 2011
Under Lindelof, the script began to divert from Spaihts' Alien prequel into a more original creation that you see in the final film.
It is definitely in the “Alien wheelhouse” as they say. The Engineers are THE SAME race as the “Space Jockey”, but not the space jockey seen in Alien.
So in the film the crew discovers the same race of creatures from the one seen in Alien.
Space Jockey in Alien
Pictures of an Engineer in the Space Jokey suit from Prometheus
Also, if you paid attention they clearly stated that they were going to the distant moon LV-223 NOT the planet in the first two movies (Alien & Aliens) LV-426.
So if you accept that you’re off to a good start.
To understand “The Engineers” it is also good to know what the Prometheus of mythology is. “Prometheus is a Titan, culture hero, and trickster figure who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization.”
At the beginning of the film it shows that an Engineer helped start “the creation of man” on Earth.
When he "dissolved" his genetic material was in the same genetic material that created humankind and it seems "jump started" evolution.
Idris Elba as "Janek"
In the film the Prometheus' captain, Janek, (Idris Elba) speculates that the structure was part of an Engineer military base that lost control of its biological weapon, the dark liquid. To me that CLEARLY explains the plot.
It also kind of explains the set up for Alien. While NOT the same planet and NOT the same ship, the ship and Space Jockey in Alien also seemed to be carrying biological weapons (the Face Hugger eggs).
My speculation is that the alien that bursts out of the Engineer’s chest at the end of Prometheus is the FIRST actual queen alien and several generations later became the alien queen we love to hate.
I also think the creature that Shaw “aborts” is a first version of a Face Hugger and maybe The Engineers somehow captured and experimented on that as well.
I think the Engineers capture the alien creature in Prometheus and that leads them to reproduce it and then several generations later the Face Hugger eggs and put them in that ship we see in Alien and of course the Space Jockey was infected thus the hole in its chest.
My speculation is that this “dark liquid” was a separate form of weapons or a precursor to the Face Hugger eggs in Alien. It seems like the accident on the planet in Prometheus (that killed all those Engineers) led them to discover that the “dark liquid” can mutate other organisms like the worms and maybe THAT led them to develop the Face Huggers.
Again it is all in the “what came first the chicken or the egg”.
Michael Fassbender as David in Prometheus
The whole David storyline was all about finding a fountain of youth for Weyland (the really old dude) with David doing some experimentation along the way. Again somehow David’s experimentation seemed to lead to the “first Alien” creature at the end.
So in a nutshell “the story centers on the crew of the spaceship Prometheus as they follow a star map discovered among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Led to a distant world and an advanced civilization (The Engineers), the crew seeks the origins of humanity”<~pretty much the first hour of the movie.
“but instead discovers a threat (the canisters & the ship) that could cause the extinction of the human race.” <~They discover all the dead Engineers, the holograms that showed them some of what happened. The hibernating Engineer and then everything leading up to the end.
What IS NOT really explained is why the Engineers wanted to destroy Earth, but I guess they weren’t happy with what they created so it was a “reset button”.
What also helped me figure out the plot was that the whole “Engineers creating mankind all around the galaxy” reminded me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Chase" (pictured below)
Synopsis: Four competing expeditions — Federation (Enterprise), Klingon, Cardassian, and Romulan — attempt to solve a genetic puzzle that proves to be the key to why Star Trek's version of the galaxy contains so many humanoid life forms.
Alien "engineer" in Star Trek: The Next Generation
At the end one race of unnamed “engineers” (pictured above) claims to have seeded several planets with their genetic material, just like the Engineers in Prometheus, to start civilizations across the galaxy in their image. (You can read more about that Star Trek episode here)
As far as all the unanswered questions in Prometheus Damon Lindelof said this to Film School Rejects:
FSR: You mentioned the danger of searching out answers, and I was wondering, how does that apply to you as a storyteller? When you’re raising questions, like with this film, what do you see as making for satisfying answers?
DAMON LINDELOF: The short answer is: I’ll let you know when I figure it out. This is going to be, sort of, the bane of my existence. I’m very quickly finding myself branded as the guy who asks questions he’s not particularly interested in answering. I don’t look at myself as that guy, but when I take a step out of my body and look at my work, I go, “Oh, yeah, of course, that’s completely fair to categorize me that way.” At the same time, that’s just the storytelling I’m drawn to. Some people might think that it’s ambiguous storytelling or not clearly defined, but, for me, it’s… I get very excited and categorized by stories where I have to fill in the blanks. It’s sort of like Mad Libs, in a way; it’s custom made, for the viewer.
When you go and look at a piece of art you’re going to take something away from it that’s entirely different from the person who was just standing in front of that canvas five minutes ago, and I think that’s the kind of story I want to tell. I do have an intention, and I’m not just throwing stuff out there in an arbitrary way and don’t have the answers for those questions. I have answers for all those questions, but I don’t want to force my answers on the viewers, as if they’re the only possible answers. At times, that’s going to blow up in my face, and that’s the price I have to pay. I won’t say I’m glad to pay it, but I will say, I am willing to pay it. (You can read the full interview here)
So those unanswered questions were meant to be that way. And as a long time fan of his work (on Lost) I know that is his writing style.
I’m fine without knowing ALL the answers as long as the general ones are answered and I think in Prometheus they were.
I also think it left it open for more interpretation and explanation in a sequel. I mean Shaw said she was going to find the Engineers to find answers at the end. You can't get a more sequel hint than that. But THIS movie Prometheus is a separate story not really about the Alien franchise, but definitely related.