Sunday, June 17, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott. Cast: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce. 124 min. Rated R. Sci-fi/Thriller.

Making prequels has become an art, and the successful ones are those that build a world which illuminate the original in a new light. That's exactly what Prometheus does to the 1979 Alien, ingeniously connecting loose ends 33 years later, and throwing in new philosophical questions about the origins of life and existence to ponder upon. There are a few wobbly narrative moments here, but the setting is so mesmerizing, the concepts so well-orchestrated, and the visual effects so enhancing, I'm waiting to see if any 2012 movie will impress me more. Highly demanding a sequel to this.

PS #1: I ran into a few great articles, such as here, here, and especially here. Also, there's a very interesting back story interview with Ridley Scott himself. Prometheus already seems to be positioning itself as one of cinema's sci-fi masterpieces.

PS #2: Ebert interestingly notes that compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey's opening sequence, Prometheus' jump from prehistoric times to the year 2089 has now grabbed the record for the longest-spanning flash forward in movie history. Cool.

PS #3: Thank you, Mohi, for recommending to watch the original Alien again before watching this movie. It was definitely a prerequisite, especially to see the "space jockey" scene again.

Mo says:



  1. Actually I didn’t get the points entirely at first... Thank you for articles. Comprehensive & awesome.How long they took my time?a few hours I guess ! But They worked well.
    I came out from theatre in a confusional state ! .With some questions like (may contain spolilers! Warning ) whether the primary human seen in the first scene was the origin of Alien, or the alien is the origin of life or human or whatever? Who Was that giant engineer at the final scene who killed all crew including David? He was an ancestor of all Aliens in the next parts like that mother whom we know very well for that fantastic fight of Ripley with her?This planet is the same planet in “Alien 1979” they arrived and were infected? Or many other questions I saw the similar in these articles which were asked by people .I didn’t get what some points means ?...Why those included in the plot ?: So what ? like the relation of Charlize Therone with that old man who had the worst make up of elderly I ever seen ! What’s the aim of such show what ? or why the final scene for Captain & 2 other crew went through that end! I got shocked...they did the same with relaxed and cheerful faces? Among these articlse i guess I read this is Scott ‘s routine that everybody must die at the end just one must survive !
    Anyway , there is no doubt the movie was stunning. Combination of excitement of Archeology and beauty of discovery of ancient symbols or seeing those pyramids in unknown places in Space along with art of holography with high-tech images ,....all were brilliant. I like the question aboutwhether nature of Charlize Theron as a machine or human? same as Blade runner was mentioned in one of the articles. , Noomy Rapace was good but to me she never reaches to Sigourney Weaver ! Although I still think “Alien” & “Aliens” were truly masterpieces , Prometheus is remarkable too for having such stunning scenes and bringing the controversy of origin of life as you mentioned and other critics as well .Bringing sexual concept is really amazing as you said it once before , about that famous scene in “alien” when that creature attached to the face of that guy,remember ? one article again the concept was brought ...the feeling of watching such scenes make men to crossing their legs and for women cause a disgusting feeling of having alien baby in their body!
    At last, I still get surprised how myth and some philosophy and theory either scientific or religous can be interpreted by fantasy/sci-fiction genre in Cinema and it really works...exactly the title of one of Articles that “Symbols more real than reality”

  2. Dear Maryam,

    This is how I understood the sequence of events:

    Millions of years ago, a human-like forefather of humans (called the "Engineers") arrived on Earth (although Scott says it's not necessarily Earth), and performs some kind of sacrifice ritual because of what he has done (created an unruly being on another planet?). He commits suicide by drinking the dark fluid, dissolves into the waterfall, and his DNA becomes the origin of life and humans, on Earth. Later, for whatever reason, the Engineers decide the human race should be destroyed - maybe because of something disastrous humans have done (crucified Christ? nuclear war?). They go to another planet, make a military instillation, and research to create an intelligent biological weapon (as Ian Holm said in the 1979 "Alien", a "perfect organism devoid of conscience or morality"). They create the Alien monster, and plan to send a spaceship full of thousands of Alien eggs to Earth. But then, they change their mind about destroying the human race. But it's too late - the Aliens overpower the Engineers and kill them all.

    At the end of "Prometheus", Noomi Rapace sends out a signal into space to warn people to never come near this planet. Then, she leaves with David to find the Engineers, and find out why they changed their mind about destroying the humans. The Weyland corporation knows about the meaning of the signal, but sends Sigourney Weaver's spaceship to bring a sample of the Alien back to Earth - without the crew knowing what they'll be finding on that planet.

    That's exactly why I find "Prometheus" the work of a genius. The story is so completely different and unexpected, it's a whole new world in itself. It says human forefathers are the creators of the Alien species! How much more original can a prequel story get? That's why I really don't mind the story shortcomings, and I'm content to believe maybe Ridley Scott and the story writers are telling us this story is so vast, numerous explanations are possible for all these story holes. What's important to me, is that the connections to the 1979 "Alien" are an entirely new world.

  3. Here's another good one, from NPR, explaining the story. Apparently I wasn't too far off! Spoilers abound:

    "When (Alien) Gods Err"

    by Marcelo Gleiser

    It is fitting that I watched Prometheus, Ridley Scott's grippingly gross blockbuster movie, this past weekend after having just written about how ultra-advanced aliens would be indistinguishable from gods. In Prometheus we learn, among other things, how the fearsome human-eating alien of the classic 1979 sci-fi movie Alien came into existence. But before we begin, a heads up: do not read this if you intend to watch the movie, as I will spoil it for you.

    From what I could understand of the plot (why must key narrative lines be spoken so fast in these movies?), the "thing" was a bad mistake, a genetic experiment gone wrong. Prometheus is a modern-day Frankenstein tale of scientists losing control of their creation. But with a twist: the scientists are ultra-advanced aliens who are also our creators. (The movie's title is no coincidence, given that the subtitle of Mary Shelley's horror classic was "The Modern Prometheus." The Titan who created humans from clay and stole the secrets of the gods for the benefit of humankind comes in many guises.)

    The story goes like this: a long time ago, aliens that look a lot like an overgrown albino Woody Harrelson with black foggy eyes came here and created the first humans. We know this because a pair of intrepid archeologists cum cultural anthropologists found evidence of alien visitation at sites around the world once inhabited by ancient civilizations: Egyptians, Mayans, Mesopotamians and even in 30,000-year-old cave wall paintings on Scotland's Isle of Skye. They all pointed to a particular planetary system located somewhere around 15 light-years from us, if I recall the numbers correctly. The pair, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), had an outrageous hypothesis: the drawings indicated the location where the aliens came from and, more importantly, "they" had created us.

    Fortunately, this is the late 21st century and not only exoplanetary astronomy but also interstellar travel have reached amazing levels of sophistication, thanks in part to the privatization of space exploration, another topic we just treated here.

    A dying billionaire tycoon, possibly inspired by Ray Kurzweil, hires the archeologists to go to the planetary system featured in the ancient documents. His reason was simple enough: if "they" created us, as the pair proposed, they could also keep him alive indefinitely: our creators must be immortal, just like gods.

    Soon after arriving at the awful barren moon, the crew discovered the horrible truth. The satellite was not the aliens' home but a laboratory, a "storage place." What was stored there? Some kind of biological weapon, a killer disease apparently designed to be shipped to Earth and kill the human race.

    In a perverse twist of fate, our creators wanted to destroy us. We will get back to why later.

    As the crew quickly discovers, the aliens made a terrible mistake. Somehow, their biological weapon morphed into horrendous monsters and they all got killed before launching their mission to Earth. The scene, as one of the characters remarked, was like that of a "holocaust," as the biological creations destroyed their creators. In another twist, we owe our existence to the horrible monsters that destroyed our creators.

    The alien "gods" were "not immortal after all," as remarked the movie's most interesting character, a humanoid robot with advanced intelligence called "David." (Just like the hero in 2001: A Space Odyssey, certainly not a coincidence.)

    Continued ...

  4. David was the tycoon's protector, and the only one who knew of the mission's true objective. Even the tycoon's daughter and leader of the expedition, played by coldly beautiful Charlize Theron, didn't know.

    The tycoon's plan doesn't work and, after a lot of horrifying gore, only two creatures survive: the heroine, Elizabeth Shaw, and the famous human-eating alien from the 1979 movie, whom we learn is a hybrid of the sole surviving albino alien from their original crew and, shockingly, an octopus-like baby that Shaw conceived with her archeologist lover after he had been tainted with the alien disease. So, the original alien is actually Dr. Shaw's offspring, twice removed.

    If you are still with me, we now go back to what the movie is trying to tell us. First, that messing with the making of new life forms can be very dangerous indeed. (Dr. Shaw's father, we learn, died of an Ebola experiment gone awry.) Second, that even highly advanced life forms, capable of creating things like humans, are still prey to their mistakes, a humbling lesson indeed. Apparently, the intentional mixing of genes doesn't satisfy a predictable pattern. Third, and here we come to the question as to why our creators would want to destroy us, be careful of what you create, as it may destroy you.

    Although the answer is not given (the movie ends with Dr. Shaw and the A.I. David's head going to the albino aliens' home planet) — Prometheus 2?, we may speculate. Is it that the biggest fear of a creator is to be overcome by their creation? The amazing humanoid David surely represents the culmination of A.I.'s current aspirations: a robot indistinguishable from a human but "without a soul," or at least without the all-too-human weakness that comes from having feelings. David wanted to learn from the albino aliens, and, like the computer HAL in 2001, no doubt was pursuing his own agenda: on a doubling of the story, our own creation could be bent on overtaking us. Possibly this was what the aliens feared, that we would overtake them, dominate them, and ultimately destroy them.

    If this is the case, the story really does revert back to the Frankenstein archetype: a creature may supplant its creator and attempt to destroy it. Artificially creating life and mind, although crucial to our future, is not without risks.

  5. So, Thank you...I'm starting to understand! but the story is really complicated and Scott has no choice but going through to next part for answering these questions,even for himself! I felt in his interview that he is challenging with the plot too! I'm wondering where is their source for writing these stories?..probably some theory that think human originate from another planet but you know that entering to such fields need a special courage and knowledge as well to face such delimma and brainstorm made in Audiences’ minds.
    After reading your note and articles I tried to see what I got at last .
    1. The creator can be destroyed by their creations and are not immortal(Frankenstein Theory),another controversy ...religion think that GOD is immortal.
    2.. There are more than one creator for human race (& Alien indeed!)because there are multiple engineers not just one , and the man who commit suicide at the first scene is one of them, so till now multiple GOD we have and this is against holly religions who believe there is just one intelligent designer……and next point : if they created human then probably one or more of them did the same to create Alien and his/Her DNA must match with Aliens as well, right ? the question if the creator is able to create a killer creature like Alien intentionally and with aim just for destruction and murder, (like GOD of War in aboriginal or ancient people belief )then maybe he/she has same nature …because good one can not create bad one ,otherwise he is bad in nature as well ,This is another controversy because religion think GOD is absolute goodness (Kamale motlagh).Of course there is another question : why GOD as an absolute goodness in religion created Devil....I think if we look at this way that GOD created angles at first base on a basic DNA that was not as perfect as Human’s genotype and that’s why he ordered all angles should bow in front of this new creation and Devil didn’t , because his genome was mutated already and it caused he changed to another thing and deviated from the others way ! ( this is a new theory !.a mix of Evolution & intelligent designer ..but no kidding : I believe the Evolution Theory can explain some questions very well)
    Go back to movie : if we think that Alien is not bad itself just an enemy (, it seems bad because of our POV.Human kills animals , strong animals kill weak ones and humans for survive and the circle is continuing through the world and none of them are not bad itself), then we reach to this point we became bad ! human did something wrong that made GODs unhappy and disappointed and created aliens for destruction of human race and what is that reason ? you mentioned above : Chris as an enginner was crucified by humans and focus on Shaw’s necklace in the movie maybe is a sign….or why the creators changed their mind of elimination of human’s race ,maybe human did good thing for Mohammad!-)) or engineer found out this creature is a prodigy ,worths to be survived ….I don’t know ….so confusing but I love the movie brings such ideas even I didn’t get enough through watching at all and got oriented a little bit after articles by your help !

  6. In terms of believing in a God, the movie brings up an interesting point. When it becomes known that the Engineers created humans and Aliens (which make me concerned that humans and Aliens share some genes!), Noomi Rapace asks: "So who created the Engineers?" This loop can go on forever.

    But as far as we as humans are concerned, what do we define as a "God"? If an extremely complex and powerful entity shows up, wouldn't we call it a God? After all, when Columbus and the Spaniards came ashore to America, their simple tools were so complex for the Indians, they were called Gods. So if an entity that is complex beyond our wildest imagination introduces itself to us as our God, no matter what it is, we may willingly follow it as our creator.

    So this creates a huge problem. Gods are not Gods because of what they are, but because of what we "perceive" they are. They may be weaker than the Wizard of Oz, but we will follow their command just because they are more powerful than us. So any discussions regarding their holiness or goodness or immortality would be totally insignificant and irrelevant. We think they're holy or good or immortal or infallible, just because we feel weak before them - and not necessarily because they have these qualities. The movie shows the big mistakes these "Gods" make by creating the Aliens, or change their minds about destroying the human race, which means their previous actions were a mistake, even though they were Gods.

  7. با سلام
    با اجازه نظرم را مختٌصرا می نویسم.این فیلم را حدود 2 هفته پیش در سینمایی در بریزبن استرالیا به صورت سه بعدی دیدم و واقعا تجربه جالبی بود.به عنوان یکی از علاقه مندان فیلمهای علمی – تخیلی باید اذعان کنم که در ژانر خودش فیلمی عالی بود و کاملا بیننده را تحت تاثیر قرار می داد و به دفعات غافلگیر می کرد.من فیلم
    Alien 1979
    را ندیده ام و در نتیجه کل تجربه برای من کاملا نو و غافلگیر کننده بود.به نظرم از نظر کارگردانی – گریم- سوژه – تعلیق و دکور و جلوه های ویژه نمی توان ایرادی به فیلم گرفت و همه خوب بودند.من نمره بهترین بازی را ایتدا به هنرپیشه نقش الیزابت شاو یعنی
    Noomi Rapace
    می دهم و بعد به بازیگر نقش دیوید یعنی
    Michael Fassbender
    نکته مبهمی که نفهمیدم این بود: چرا دیوید با قرار دادن ذره سلولی که از غار به دست آورده بود داخل نوشیدنی
    Logan Marshall-Green
    اورا مبتلا کرد؟
    در کل شخصیت دیوید جالب بود و به عنوان یک سوپر روبوت پیشرفته بدون هیچ گونه احیاسی مسیر صحیح را با استفاده از دانش سرشارش دنبال می کرد و زودتر از همه مهندس را پیدا کرد.فکر می کنم در آینده با توجه به باز بودن انتهای داستان باید منتظر فیلم دیگری در راستای موضوع همین فیلم باشیم.از دیدن این فیلم لذت بردم.

  8. شهریار جان، اگر فیلم سال 1979 "ببگانه" رو ندیدی، پس می تونم بگم کمتر از 50% مقدار لازم از "پرومتیوس" لذت بردی! چون تمام زیبایی کار مربوط به نحوه ای است که ریدلی اسکات بعد از 33 سال، بین این دو فیلم ارتباط برقرار کرد. شاید باید بهت توصیه کنم فیلم سال 1979 رو ببینی، و بعد "پرومتیوس" رو دوباره ببینی! تا متوجه بشی اسکات چقدر زیبا کار کرده.

    اما مقدمتا در پاسخ به سوالت، برخلاف فیلمهای علمی -تخیلی مثل "استار ترک" که هدف از رفتن به فضا اکتشاف دنیاهای نو و پیشبرد علم بوده، ابتکار سری فیلمهای "بیگانه" در این بوده که مثل دنیای واقعی امروزی، تحقیقات و اکتشافات رو در دست یک سری شرکتهای خصوصی خودخواه و پول پرست نشون داده، و در همه فیلمهای قبلی یکی از زیرداستانها این بود که شرکتی که خرج این پروژه فضایی رو متحمل می شه، بمحض خبردار شدن از وجود یک موجود هوشمند بیگانه در فضا، سعی می کنه کارمندان خودش رو بی خبر از همه جا قربانی کنه تا نمونه ای از این موجودات بیگانه رو به زمین بیاره و ازش استفاده بازاری بکنه. علت گذاشته شدن ذره سلولی توسط دیوید روبات در نوشیدنی دقیقا همین بود: که یکی از سرنشینان "حامل" موجود فضایی بشه. در واقع می شه گفت دیوید توسط شرکت فرستاده شده و از کل ماجرا خبر داره - و در قسمت بعدی (که باحتمال بسیار بالایی ساخته خواهد شد) نقش خائن ماجرا و دست نشانده شرکت رو بازی خواهد کرد - همونطور که در این فیلم هم چنین نقشی داشت.

  9. I had to see the movie a second time; it's one of those movies that too many questions remain after only one viewing. Here are a few points I picked up:

    1. The Engineers "created" humans in the process depicted at the beginning of the movie. Why? The reason may be trivial, as evidenced in this dialogue (from IMDb):

    Charlie Holloway: What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers, to get answers why they made us in the first place.

    David: Why do you think your people made me?

    Charlie Holloway: We made ya 'cause we could.

    David: Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?

    2. By studying the remains of the Engineers, the crew of the Prometheus determined that the Engineers "changed their mind" about their creation and decided to destroy humans about 2,000 years ago. Is the fact that Christ was allegedly crucified about 2,000 years ago a coincidence? By reading the articles you recommended, apparently not.

    3. When one of the Engineers was awoken from hypersleep by the crew of the Prometheus, he decided to continue on the mission of destroying humans on Earth. That's why we have this dialogue:

    Meredith Vickers: Take us home!

    Elizabeth Shaw: If we don't stop it, there won't be any home to go back to!

    And that's why the Prometheus had to crash into the Engineer's ship to prevent it from continuing its mission to destroy humans on Earth. So I don't think the Engineers ever had a change of heart and changed their mind to not destroy mankind. They changed their mind once to destroy humans, and that was about 2,000 years ago.

    4. Also, according to David, the ship they were able to shoot down was only one of many ships on the planet, since he and Shaw eventually took off with another ship after placing a warning beacon, probably the same one picked up by the crew of Nostradamus decades later. So that would probably explain why the crew of Nostradamus found the space jockey with its chest exploded outwards where they found it: it was probably another ship on the same planet.

  10. Two scientific errors (that we forgive for an otherwise great movie):

    1. Someone in the movie says that since there is 3% CO2 in the atmosphere, it's not breathable. That would been have true of CO, but not CO2.

    2. The engineers couldn't have "created" humans by just dumping some humanoid DNA in the water. If that was the case, there would be humans walking out of the sewers every day!


  11. Dear Mohi,

    Thanks for watching it again! Here are my opinions on your points:

    1. Worst case scenario, the "Engineer" of the opening scene created life on Earth accidentally. Best case, he was performing some kind of self-sacrifice (for what he had done) and was creating life on Earth intentionally - so his genes would not be lost forever.

    2. Yes, apparently the 2000 years ago thing is not accidental.

    3. I'm assuming the Engineer group on the planet was given the assignment to destroy the human race, but failed because they were overpowered by the alien race. That one Engineer was able to stay protected for thousands of years, but as soon as he woke up, he wanted to continue the assignment of killing humans. He maybe didn't get the memo that headquarters had aborted the mission - although I forgot how Shaw got the idea that the Engineers had changed their minds about destroying humans. I guess she's in for a surprise when she meets the Engineers in the sequel.

    4. That would only be correct if the ship they found in the 1979 movie wasn't fallen and stuck upwards to the sky as it was in the 2012 movie. I believe Scott is trying to say this is the same ship. The other ships should be neatly sitting underground.


    1. Agree. I remember thinking at the time something didn't make sense here, but the info was coming at me too fast to focus.

    2. There are!



  12. I hope Scott gets to working on the next part of the saga soon!

  13. I must have watched a different movie! I enjoyed parts of it but overall have to give it a thumbs down. I thought Most of the dialogue was awful but the major flaw for me was the totally ridiculous way the crew acted. They were supposed to be professionals at the absolute top of their game. I don't believe for one second they would have taken off their helmets just because the air in the cave was breathable. I didn't find the Prometheus's captain at all convincing.
    Yes there are many interesting questions regarding the origin of mankind but I feel they could have been made in a more interesting way.
    I may be more relaxed when I see it again and enjoy it more now that my expectations are so low. My friend Paul really enjoyed it while the other guy I went to see it with did not.

    I love Alien although it had many foolish elements too but it was by far a better film than this. There will be a sequel but I doubt Ridley Scott will direct it.

  14. Dear Toast,

    I predict "Prometheus" will become one of those movies that will divide the world into people who love it and people who hate it. There will be no in-between. And such an effect goes hand-in-hand with the power of a movie to motivate its viewers. Not many "bad" movies can do that.

    But if you're interested in counting the movie's many holes (some probably intentional, others non-intentionally intentional - if you know what I mean), I bet you'll get a kick out of this clip, which was imbedded in one of the reviews I posted above. It's hilarious:

  15. Thanks for the clip it was brilliant, I never noticed half the stuff that these guys did. I think my brain turned off half way through the movie.

    I would not have hated the movie so much if it hadn't been the prequel to Alien and directed by the usually brilliant Ridley Scott. It was promoted as a smart SF epic but was really just another bug hunt movie.

    The most pointless scene in the movie was between Elba and Theron. He was trying to get her to sleep with him and she was not interested, until he asked if she was a robot. She then asked him to meet her in her room in ten minutes??? DUMB!

  16. I thought the most pointless scene was towards the end, where the pilots (especially the two co-pilots) suddenly decide to ram their ship into the alien ship and kill themselves - solely based on the lady scientist's word. They didn't even know this girl until two days ago, and now they're committing suicide and joking and laughing while they're at it.

  17. I think comicbook Girl sums it all up rather well in her two part dissection of the movie. She does take about 25 minutes to do it but she is very entertaining and swears quite a lot. I like swearing ;D

  18. PS. I would eagerly commit suicide after appearing in this trash ;D

  19. Toast,

    Thanks! I just watched the clips, and I think ComicBookGirl19 is AWESOME! I've subscribed to her weekly video clips.

    But what she said made me think: Is Charlize Theron really a man in the movie?

    Anyway, I know you might have thought the movie was trash, but be prepared: I might end up calling "Prometheus" my favorite movie of the year! It's all about the entertainment value, and the sense of wonder the movie created in me. And to be honest, all these discussions that are happening about it on the web would never occur if it was a bad movie. It just shows that it's important - important enough to talk about.

    But let's see what Christopher Nolan has in store for us in a few weeks, in the new Batman movie.

  20. Prometheus has spawned hours of youtube debate some of it more entertaining than the movie itself. Comicbookgirl19 is indeed awesome!
    I'm not looking forward the the new Batman movie, I'll probably catch it on DVD eventually.