Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus Plot Review (Spoiler Alert)

I was very disappointed by Ridley Scott's first science fiction undertaking since Blade Runner more than twenty years ago. There was a lot of eye candy (I saw Prometheus in 3D) but not much else.

For starters, the opening sequence is never thoroughly explained to the point I wasn't sure what planet it took place on, when it happened, or what spaceship was seen flying away. Throughout the film, I hoped for answers. Instead, I had more questions leaving the film than when I went in, and they weren't good questions like I had watching the original Alien. Prometheus' questions were holes in the plot.

This was not a prequel, though at times it did have links to the Alien film. We see Engineers yet learn nothing about their culture other than the fact they're rather large, our creators, and they liked to design planet-eradicating weapons to destroy planets they just created...apparently. In a particular scene, we find a high-tech map room identical to the one in the original Alien film, the room above the alien eggs where the first facehugger derives. Eventually, we see the facehugger's ancestor, which is gigantic and spawned from a C-section. We see the first alien that is only similar to what they eventually evolve into.

Yet, is this the same planet where aliens are discovered? Maybe. I really don't know. If it is, it's not the same ship that's discovered, for the pilot does not die in its chair from a chest-burster; it dies on Prometheus and spawns a fully-grown alien, rather than a baby. There are no eggs. There is no hive. Rather than eggs there are vases that contain an ooze, which (I guess) rapidly evolve DNA turning normal organisms such as insects and people into mindless beasts with acidic blood. Another disturbing fact is that the Engineers on the planet are pretty much wiped out prior to Prometheus' arrival, so how did one get into a pilot's chair years after aliens evolved into a species that overran the planet? It would have to be visited again by another crew.

There was also no mention of the warning signal Ripley's ship first receives in Alien. A message is left, however it's the main character speaking in perfect english, not in the Engineer's language. Also, how did Ripley's crew receive that transmission without knowledge of the planet's location, Engineers, etc. when Prometheus is funded by a corporation and recording everything that happens? Especially since Prometheus' mission takes place 50 to 100 years prior to Ripley's encounter? Also, because the film has been made 30 years after the original, the technology is better onscreen yet should be chronologically less evolved. It's not. Part of the charm of the Alien franchise is a rundown future, and part of what threw me off about Prometheus were pretty colors in a universe Ridley Scott first created as dark and eerie.

Because of the eye candy, the scenes were not scary. I did not jump or get chills once. I'm not even sure Prometheus was intended to be scary, though it did have horror-esque parts. All of these scenes were predictable as well. Oh, two men are left behind because they got lost, despite having mapped the area already and being in contact with their ship; obviously, they're dead. An android drops ooze in a man's cup. See ya. The female main character has sex with a contaminated man...I know where that leads. And so on until one uber religious character remains (body count 16+ with a crew of 17 and at least 4 stowaways, 3 that are seen once and never seen again after grooming their employer).The main character then decides to pilot toward the Engineer's home planet for the final scene, setting up a sequel I doubt I will pay to see in a theater. And why is she seeking out a race where one of them just slaughtered a bunch of her crew and tried to do the same to her?

Questions left unanswered include: why did Engineers leave humans a map to find their military base when they intended to destroy us? And if humans made the map, how did they know the location of the base without contact with Engineers? Why does Ripley's crew in Alien catch an Engineer transmission, not the one left by Prometheus, if it is the same planet, and why would an Engineer leave a warning when they already know the planet is dangerous, abandoned, and they appear to want all other lifeforms dead? How did an android sneak a rather large vase in his backpack onto Prometheus through a contamination scan? Why did an android poison a crew member when he already knew the contents of the vase was not a cure for death, which his stowaway maker was seeking? It wasn't for an alien to take home and study; they left the baby ignored in the lab. Why were there insects in the vase room, nowhere else, and not picked up on the life scans? Why did the insects not effect the vases until the arrival of people? Why was the Engineer so violent when released from its hypersleep chamber, when spoken to in its native language? Again, what was the point of the opening scene? Was that meant to show our origins, an Engineer poisoning himself, breaking apart, and polluting water that humans evolved out of? Weren't we already created and meant to be destroyed? Why was that Engineer left behind to begin with? If there was no life on the planet until then, what was the hurry? Why did betrayal, death, murder, lies, and sabotage roll off the backs of every single character? How was the main protagonist running around after a C-section that was healed with staples (pointed out by my friend that watched with me)?

Too many questions and none of them thought-provoking. That sums up my experience with Prometheus, regardless of some clever lines that gave a chuckle and decent acting. If I had to give the film stars, I would go 2 out of 4. It would be a great rental but definitely not something to watch over and over like the original. I'm feeling very letdown this morning as I type the review, thinking of my expectations for the film. While I knew it wasn't technically a prequel it did shed light on many origins of the aliens seen in the trilogy, but I wish it hadn't. The truth, as it was portrayed in Prometheus, was disappointing, mishandled, and inconclusive. A real shame, as I hoped Prometheus would revive the franchise.


  1. I agree with almost all of what you say. Why, oh why did Scott not just have the engineer return to his vessel? The poor first victim in "Alien" revived and was able to move, why not the engineer? He was not where he was when found in Alien! This was our first hint into the nature and method of birth of the alien. The engineer had to die in that chair. To me this was a major error!

    Another question, why are we to believe that these engineers created us? Why, because the DNA match! Well, let us think this over. Doesn't a man in Brooklyn have the same DNA sequence as a man in Hon Kong? Ok, but the are more advanced and have the same DNA sequence! Hmmm, Weren't the Spanish more technologically advanced than Indians...and had the same DNA sequence. I am sorry, I need a little more evidence than that.

    The alien itself was disappointing. What was this c-section thing about. The alien (which is just a weapon of mass destruction) evolve into the one we know and love? There was nothing to evolve from. Step back to the destructive agent. Who needs eggs, a queen or hives when you have vases? These vases carry a special alien making special destructive carry destructive agents of mass destruction in screw top vases? We are all DOOMED! Leave to the military...oh, that was not our military was it.

    As to the opening segment, what was that? The engineer being abandoned idea could work, but I suggest that they issue their people something other than methods of a powdery suicide. Hmmm, I don't know...maybe something like...hmmm...a radio! Also his powdery remains fall into a large body of water, being divided and mixed into a large mass(premordial?) ooze. The critters crawling out should have been endless in number. To destroy himself he consumed a mix that contained stuff a lot like the slime from that vases so why did the unlucky ingestors turn into some sort of mindless creatures instead of poofing to their powdery deaths.

    You are absolutely correct about the signal as well. Ridley needed to re-watch his original alien creation. All in all this was a disappointing movie. There was plenty of action (without reason, filler?) and special effects to enjoy, but little substance for the fans of Alien. Um, was the large skull kind of an engineer warning of "Stay out, military installation"?

    1. Thanks for commenting. I found the Engineer architecture baffling as well. Glad you pointed it out. They also had zero defenses or security measures for a high-tech military installation made my an evolved, super-intelligent race. Also, you made me think: if the Engineers already had an outbreak before Prometheus got there, meaning they were infected with ooze, where were the creatures they should've spawned? It wouldn't be the Alien ancestor, because that had to come from humans making facehuggers, but there should have been something. Instead, the planet was desolate.