Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Joining the club: My Thoughts on Prometheus


Yes, I finally, finally, got to see Prometheus this past Sunday. I know I'm a bit late on the uptake. I know that plenty of other people have already reviewed and/or dissected this film. In case you can't tell, I could give less of a shit about blog traffic - that's not what this is about. This is really just me gathering my thoughts about Prometheus in a single, easily accessible place.

My friend Nicki over at Movie Critical called Prometheus "the thinking man's sci-fi film", and honestly she couldn't have been more correct. In fact, before I even read her Prometheus review, my close friend Mike and I came to the exact same conclusion. And I'm not just talking big Alien/Aliens fans vs. people who weren't that into those movies - I'm probably in the latter category (I didn't dislike Alien/Aliens, but because I was born in the early 80s I didn't actually see them until I was an adult) while my friend Mike is in the former category. And both of us really liked Prometheus. So.

Now, this is not a review. I'm not a movie reviewer...nor should I be, for that matter. Really it's just my opinions on what the heck went on in Prometheus...so take everything I'm saying with a grain of salt. Because I could very likely be wrong. About all of this. Of course *I* don't think I'm wrong, but hey, you know... ;)

So we're going to start with the big "WTF?!" that so many people seem to be confused about (or at least, many of my friends)...the beginning sequence.

This isn't Iceland or anything. No, seriously, it could be anywhere. A N Y W H E R E.

Now, I can totally understand how the opening scene of Prometheus would confuse you...if you don't pay attention for the entire rest of the film. I'll start by noting that this Engineer - and in fact, all of the Engineers - are male. Not androgynous at all. Downright masculine. I've heard that Ridley Scott said that the opening scene could take place on any planet, including Earth; where it is doesn't really matter. It merely serves to show how the Engineers create life - that being, they have to drink the squirmy black goo and sacrifice themselves in order to do so. This also serves to show that the specific type of "squirmy black goo" that the Engineer is drinking breaks down his body.

Unknown planet Earth black goo, courtesy of albino body builder Sacrificial Engineer
Because, not to get ahead of myself, but ^^^ that goo ^^^ is completely different from this goo >>>

LV-223 black goo, courtesy of David's sneaky finger
Okay, maybe the pictures don't do it justice, but I swear they weren't the same. Or at least they didn't look the same to me. The goo in the beginning of the movie seemed to bubble, and also had an oil-like quality in that it had sheens of other colors, specifically gold...while the goo that they find on LV-223 seems more slow-moving and goopy, and is distinctly black.

But anyway, I digress.

So the Engineers can only create life through sacrifice, while we, the humans they essentially constructed, can for all intents and purposes beget it freely. Now, even if the two black goos are one and the same, it still makes sense that despite the closeness of our DNA to theirs, the goo would have different effects on those who can create life through procreation vs. those who cannot do so.

Now, the religious aspects of this film are obvious. Or rather, some of them are and some of them I suppose you have to dig a little deeper to find. I'm going to stick with the more obvious ones - the fact that the good ship Prometheus arrives at LV-223 at Christmas time, and the fact that they date the death of the Engineers on LV-223 at about 2,000 years prior to their arrival on that planet. See what I mean by obvious?

There has been some speculation (and okay, some comments by Ridley Scott) about the fact that, well, of course the Engineers decided to do away with humans...after they sent one of their own to Earth to check us out and we, you know, crucified him. I actually don't like this idea because compared to the rest of the movie it's just too obvious, in my opinion. I guess I have to go with it, as it came straight from Ridley's mouth, but before I read that interview I was thinking more along the lines of the fact that by that time, what with the Romans running around everywhere "conquering" and just the general state of humanity as a whole, perhaps the Engineers had gotten a bit tired of our silly games and decided to cut the chord. I suppose they could have sent someone down for a "one last chance" type of situation, in which case I would still be able to hold to my original theory, but...meh.

Dear Earthlings: You think you're hot shit, but look at this awesome map we created. By the way, we're coming to kill you.
I think there are other things implied here as well. Perhaps the Engineers were jealous that we could "make" new people without sacrifice. Or perhaps they didn't care for our obsession with immortality, something that goes back basically to the beginning of time anyway. Regardless, they wanted to destroy us. I can't say I blame them.

It becomes pretty clear - early on, in my opinion - that LV-223 is not the Engineers' home planet. Finally the ship captain gives us the perfect explanation for what LV-223 is - a sort of scientific/military installation, far removed from the Engineers' actual home because hey, they're smart like that. I mean who wants to play around with biological engineering in their own backyard, hmm? HMMMMMM?

I mean really, why would the Engineers give a crap if some past creation showed up and destroyed this wasteland?
And I don't think Elizabeth Shaw was wrong to assume that the cave paintings were meant as an invitation. Because all the Engineers were doing was inviting us to said scientific/military installation...which, no matter how you look at it, would be far safer than them inviting us to their home planet. To give even more meaning to the supposed "invitation", well, shit, they could very well have been inviting us back to the very place where they figured out how to create us. Who says they were only there to create the goo-ological weapon meant to destroy us? They could have been using this planet as their scientific/military base for as long as they'd needed one, no? In which case, they were not only keeping their home planet safe but they were also bringing us back to our true birthplace.

As I said before, even if you insist on believing that the black goos in the opening scene and on LV-223 are the same, to me it makes sense that despite our DNA being very similar to that of the Engineers, it would have different effects on us, because we can procreate. It would especially have different effects on women - hence the fact that it basically took over Holloway's and Fifield's bodies yet "merely" impregnated Shaw.

Oh hai Fifield, I take over your body and mind and make you super crazy strong zombie type!
Shaw! Woman! Uterus! Weird alien octopus baby! OF COURSE!
Hokay, so, obviously when the Engineers created this "other black goo", things got out of hand and it turned on them. Or if it's not different, they did something that led to it getting out of hand. My best guess in regards to this latter theory is that they had humans there at some point (either brought them back from Earth or just created some more, either is plausible when you think about it) and were experimenting on those humans with the black goo...and realized too late that it didn't effect/infect humans the way it effected/infected themselves. Which makes sense period, but again it especially makes sense in the case of female humans as we women (!!!girl power!!! ???or...not???) can create life in ways both the Engineers and male humans cannot.

Honestly, I'm giving myself a headache just rehashing all this stuff for what is now probably the third time, so we're just going to skip to the ending. Because until we see the Xenomorph-type alien break its way out of the now-dead last Engineer on LV-223, we haven't seen a live being quite like that throughout the entire film. Which is probably why so many people are all "HUH WTF" as to how Prometheus is a prequel to the Alien movies.

Am I ancestor to the Alien xenomorphs? Or cousin? You may never know...
This is probably the part I'm most confused about, because my assumption was that previously the Engineers and their black goo had not created such a creature. If this was a non-Ridley Scott prequel, I would say that the Xenomorph-thing at the end is the predecessor of the ones we see in the original Alien. But because it is Ridley Scott, of course he had to throw that sort of temple room into the ship on LV-223, in which we see portrayals of Xenomorphs. Damn you, Ridley Scott ::shakes fist::

But all that said, I still can't not like it. In fact I like it a lot. And I still can't understand why people think it has nothing to do with the original Alien films, or think that it's disjointed, that it doesn't make any sense, or myriad other things that I've heard.

I mean shit, if anything it's at least *WAY* better than Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection. Come. On. ;)

And on a final note, I feel the need to link you to Prometheus in 15 Minutes, because, well, it's all kinds of hilarious. And also, because reasons. :D
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