Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for Prometheus.

Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone.

Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, Dan O'Bannon

Actors: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender

Release Year: 2012

Read more about on IMDb.

Scott Hardie | June 3, 2012
Before the movie comes out: Any speculation about how this will connect back to Alien? There are certain elements shown or hinted at in the trailer, but the biggest opportunity seems to me to be the "space jockey," the giant skeletal remains of the pilot whose vessel contained the alien eggs. His (her?) identity was never discovered in the earlier films, arguably the biggest unexplained mystery in the series, and it seems like the kind of thing that would fire the imaginations of Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof as they prepared a prequel.

Erik Bates | June 4, 2012
Having never seen any of the Alien movies (blasphemy, I know), I am at quite a disadvantage to be able to make comparisons. Regardless, this does look like a good movie.

Scott Hardie | June 4, 2012
It should be fine whether you've seen the earlier Alien pictures or not. From what I've heard, it was originally conceived as a prequel, then morphed into an original story that had only "strands of DNA" from the Alien pictures, and then the marketing came out and was very evocative of the original. I don't really care how close to the original series it is; I'm just hoping it's a good show.

The originals are all worth seeing sometime. The first is a great thrill ride and a classic. Like the Terminator movies, they pivoted from horror to pure action-entertainment in the second. The third and fourth are much less essential and popular, better understood as two distinctive directors putting their personal stamps on the series. I haven't bothered to see the non-canonical Alien vs. Predator movies; like Ridley Scott and Jim Cameron, I lost interest in the series at that point and hoped something better might come along someday. Here's hoping Prometheus is it.

Evie Totty | June 5, 2012
I think it is funny how Scott kept saying 'it just has strands of DNA...' and then the trailer(s) come out and either it is OBVIOUSLY a prequel to Alien (Weyland Industries? Egg... things?) or the trailers set us up to naturally draw that conclusion.

I'm thinking that the space jockey will end up being one of the crew members sent on the Prometheus who had undergone rapid mutation/evolution.

Scott Hardie | June 5, 2012
Yep! I had the same reaction... Didn't Ridley Scott insist that this movie was only a little bit related to the originals? Either he was being deceptive, or the marketing department is doing everything they can to pretend there's a connection. Like I said, either way, I just hope it's good. :-)

Good idea about the space jockey.

Scott Hardie | June 12, 2012
Just saw Prometheus. Commence spoilers! :-)

Overall, I liked it a lot. The visual design was incredible: So vivid, so lifelike, so specific. Walking out of the theater, the trees and people around me looked better because of two hours of looking at the design in the movie. I also really liked how Dr. Shaw discovered her own toughness, in one of many echoes of Alien; the Caesarean birth scene was brutal, the hardest thing to watch in the movie (in a good way). David was the breakout character and it was very neat seeing things from his perspective, which the movie established early and didn't let go of.

However, I wouldn't say that I was satisfied. Ridley Scott notoriously makes long original cuts, so maybe there's a three-hour version in a studio vault somewhere that feels much more complete than this. This movie is light on action (the big finale amounts to Shaw pressing a button and running), and doesn't do justice to its biggest ideas about the engineers' relationship to humans. This interview with Scott spells out why the engineers decided to attack us, but if that detail is explained in the movie, I missed it. The ending's obvious preparation for a sequel feels unjustified, like this movie should contains its own answers.

There were other weird decisions, too: Why not hire one of many great elderly actors to play Old Man Weyland instead of a young actor in terrible makeup? How could this movie series have such great designs for alien life forms but make the originators of life be big white humanoids? Why bother showing us a classic xenomorph in the unnecessary epilogue when the movie otherwise went to such pains to avoid including them? And how did that lumbering mohawked idiot become a geologist? ("I like rocks!" he exclaims, in a comprehensive summary of his qualifications.)

Topic for discussion, since Janek the pilot brought it up: Was Vickers a robot? Judging from her terror during her moment of death, probably not, but it's interesting how she acts just as cold and distant as her android "brother" David. The lack of affection from their father presumably made them this way (he's ruthlessly obedient in search of Dad's approval), but I thought it was an interesting question. File it in the same drawer as the old debate over whether Deckard was a replicant in Blade Runner.

Scott Hardie | June 13, 2012
The more I think about it, the more bothered I am by the engineers turning out to be basically human in appearance, just twice as tall and bone-white. If they're the originators of all life on Earth, why don't they look like scorpions or pelicans or mushrooms or something else entirely? It's just kind of a let-down that in a series with really wild monster designs, the villain here turns out to be essentially a ripped MMA fighter, in terms of his physical presence. He's an intelligent humanoid and he doesn't even use tools or guns to attack; he just hits people. That's really uninspired.

Kelly mentioned that the point of the movie is supposed to be how the heroes see themselves reflected in the engineers, the same way that David sees himself reflected in the heroes, so I guess I can see some reasoning behind it. The theme wouldn't have played out as well if the engineers had turned out to be giant squids or something.

Samir Mehta | June 18, 2012
Scott: Just saw the movie and I loved it. I think Kelly's point is right. Although I'm ambivalent about it (I think it gets a little boring how often sci-fi relies on Judeo-Christianity in its religious explorations) there were pretty clear parallels to the Christian notions of creation through the movie. (Wrathful Gods, Jesus as a potential Engineer, constant Christian iconography.) So "made in our image" would be important.

There's one HUGE interesting riddle to me about the movie: what was David's angle? (Note that David is a crucial figure in either creating or telling about the Messiah in J-C theology. I don't think it's a coincidence that he has this name.)

So, by David's first claim, he's working for Weyland Corporation. But that's quickly discredited based on his "talking" to Weyland in cryogenesis.

Then we assume he's working FOR Weyland himself. But his line to Shaw predicts this is a lie. (We all want to kill our parents, or something like that.) And his "experiments" on Shaw and her boyfriend/lover/colleague are almost certainly not helpful to Weyland's stated goals of immortality. (I'm assuming Weyland doesn't have ANOTHER ulterior motive).

So what was David doing? Well, the alien (monster) creation is basically likely to kill lots of humans and "free" David. Alternately he was just experimenting with being a creator himself. I favor the former for two reasons.

There are two odd plot points that are brought up early in the movie and then left ignored. I don't think they're stray details.

1. David was on the ship awake and alive as a steward for 3 years. One of his duties was to try to contact the "Engineers". He says they didn't respond. But we only have his evidence to rely on.
2. David seems to be able to read thoughts/dreams when a person is in cryo. I don't think this
is a feature of the tube - I think this is something David can do. (Notice how freaked out Shaw is when he tells her he read her dreams.) I think David read the Engineer's dreams and learned all about their plans. I think he knew they'd try to kill the human mission and led his "father" to his death.

Other evidence to support this: David knows a LOT about how the Engineer ship/caverns work. How? He researched, sure. And he's a fast learner. But is that it? I think he picked up knowledge from the sleeping Engineer. He was alone and studying him a while.

Also: we didn't get subtitles on the words David says to Engineer. That means David could have said ANYTHING to him, including "We're here to kill you", or "I'm the new creation of your creation. Free me and kill them."

I understand your concerns about the Engineers - I found aspects of them to be... uninspired too. (As a non-white person, I'm surprised skin color is so often white. Can't they at least be like a weird/non-traditional color?)

Another detail: Why did the aliens give us maps to a world of death? I think this might be an emergency switch - if we get too powerful and smart we could threaten them. So when we figure out what the map means, they'll be able to wipe us out.

Evie Totty | June 18, 2012

Now I'll go back and read the discussion.


Evie Totty | June 18, 2012
Gosh! So much discussion!

- the dreams: IIRC the machine they slept in itself was able to project the dream to the interface for David to watch. I thought her shocked reaction was not about the ability that it could be done but rather that he did it (like an invasion of privacy)

- 'human-like' engineers: I agree with Kelly. 'Made in His image' kind of thing

- Vickers being a robot. She called Weyland her father. He was well over 100 years old by this time (the exact-ish age can be found on the Web) and although it is possible he could have actually fathered her a la Larry King, it is also reasonable that she is a robot. Couple of points though: She awoke from one of those containers AND she was in her quarters. If she were a robot there would be no need for that ruse. The sheer terror she displayed while running on the surface of the planet. And why bother with the suit?

- What was David's motivation? He has a responsibility to humans, period. His first responsibility was to his 'owner'. Once Weyland was dead, his responsibility went to the survivor: Shaw.

- Why did he spike what's-his-name's drink? That's a good question. All I can think of is that Weyland told him to do it. But why did Weyland do it? No idea - to me it made no sense.

- Another thing and it only bothered me as a gamer: When the ship was falling, why didn't they strafe or run at a 90 degree angle? Made no sense to me to try to outrun the collapse when it would be clear that you could make it to safety by going sideways. (And other argument against Vickers being a robot as she would have known what to do logically)

Samir Mehta | June 18, 2012
Evie, but that's the thing: Davids actions don't make any sense if you believe hes working for Weyland. That's why I'm certain he is not. I think he was trying to get the humans killed.

Scott Hardie | June 19, 2012
Great points, all. And I like the comic, Evie. :-)

When I watched the movie, I assumed David was initially working for Weyland -- he could have poisoned Holloway's drink as a means of forcing alien contact, his interpretation of the "try harder" directive -- but soon rebelled out of frustration, envy, and self-determination, allowing his maker to die. The movie makes a point of showing us things from David's perspective early and keeping it (even after he cuts off his video feed to Vickers in the alien ship bridge), so I think he's supposed to be a sympathetic character to us. If the engineers decided to wipe out humans because we had become so dangerous and self-aware as to become a threat to them, well, David exists to mirror that idea right back at us. All of the androids in the series have been creepy but ultimately benevolent to humans, or at least certain humans.

The name David could well be an intentional Biblical reference. Then again, it could just be a nod to the alphabetical androids from the other movies (Ash, Bishop, Call). Or both. Or coincidence.

How does David admitting a desire to kill his father make it impossible that he's working for Weyland? A lot of people have terrible employers that they might wish dead, but they still do their jobs as instructed.

Did the engineers leave cave drawings as a map on purpose? If you follow that same interview with Ridley Scott that I linked above, which is not canonical but at least illuminating as to his thought process, the engineers left behind some of their own as leaders to early man. Perhaps early man drew a map of the homeland that the engineers described without realizing the trouble it would cause a few millenia later? Just speculating here; I don't really consider that likely.

The direction that Shaw and Vickers ran away from the rolling ship bothered me too. I've thankfully never had to outrun something collapsing behind me, but I've seen enough movies like this that my instincts are to run laterally. Shaw does (eventually) and survives; Vickers doesn't and gets crushed. Also bothersome about that scene, at least in my potentially faulty memories: The ship seemed to fall out of the sky and then roll in slow motion. From the moment the Prometheus rammed it, that ship should have come to a halt on the surface in no more than twenty seconds. But hey, artistic license.

Samir Mehta | June 19, 2012
Interesting. I guess I'm in the minority, but I see Shaw as the unambiguous sympathetic character and David as her foil and ultimately an untrustworthy ally. I think he would kill her if he could.

Scott Hardie | June 19, 2012
Agreed. I don't think David is the hero or anything. He's amoral and does what suits him, following orders as long as that suits him. I think he helped to rescue Shaw at the end because she was his own way off of the planet, but I don't think he would immediately seek her death as soon as they reached safety, either. I'm impressed that Fassbinder's performance allows for such varied interpretations.

Evie Totty | June 21, 2012
Just an article about what David might have said to the engineer:


I still hold my own view that David's allegiance was simply by 'order' - something we do in our own jobs. If the President of our company tells us to do something, we do it. If the President is no longer there, we'll look to the next person to 'serve'. :)

Samir Mehta | June 21, 2012
Heh. Ok. I guess the lesson is that Evie would make a good employee and maybe I wouldn't?

Scott Hardie | November 13, 2012
Kelly found an amusing video that asks good questions about why the characters behaved so foolishly. Prometheus may be the dumbest smart movie of the year.

Scott Hardie | October 20, 2013
If you're looking for creepy Halloween music, try the Prometheus soundtrack. Spotify has it. Good stuff, quite chilling.

Erik Bates | October 21, 2013
I should mention that I finally got around to watching Promethius a couple months ago. It then sparked me wanting to watch the rest of the franchise (excluding Alien vs Predator, which just looked like pandering to an audience).

I realize I watched it out-of-order, so a great deal of my confusion was probably a result of not knowing the back-story (forward-story? I dunno... what do you call it when you're talking about a prequel?). Of course, I went and watched all the other movies, and I was still just as confused and unimpressed. By the time I got to Alien Resurrection I felt I was watching it more out of a sense of obligation because I had forced myself to watch the first few.

Evie Totty | November 6, 2013
Aliens is definitely the best of them. Alien is classic horror.

Scott Hardie | November 6, 2013
Yeah, I skipped Alien vs Predator too, because it looked really cheap and crappy. Maybe I'll get around to it someday.

That said, I'm a big fan of all four films in the proper series. I like each of the four directors for different reasons, and each brought their own sensibilities to the series. The latter two had some problems -- David Fincher didn't have the clout to resist studio meddling with his bizarre Alien3, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet was stuck with a dumb script for Alien: Resurrection that his visual flourishes couldn't fix -- but were good films nonetheless. Alien deserves its status as a classic. And Evie is right: Aliens is the best. (Sorry Samir -- I know how you feel about Jim Cameron.)

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