Let me just get this out of the way: I saw Prometheus before I saw Alien. I get why many people do love Alien, as it is a very chilling and smart movie. While I did like that movie, I did not love it. I will say that I loved Prometheus. I have no idea if that’s because I saw it first or not, but I will say that I connected way more with Prometheus and some of the big questions it asks. I am also aware that it does not necessarily answer most of the questions that it does ask, but really, there are no definitive answers to those questions. The film and director Ridley Scott leaves some of those answers open for interpretation. I preferred that way better than if it would have just went down the line and answered some of those universal unanswerable questions.
One thing that most people can agree on, even people who disliked this film, is that it is visually beautiful. That opening is jaw-dropping, requiring no dialogue but rather allowing the scenery to speak for itself. We see the formation of the Earth and these mysterious beings arriving on the planet and what looks like the being creating life on Earth while committing suicide. I imagine it’d be tough to explain what this film is about to someone who hasn’t seen it. I’ll take that approach and try my best. Sometime in the distant future, several scientists as well as a huge corporation want to know about human kind’s creation and believe they have found what looks to be the answers. While searching the globe, these scientists find what they believe to be is an invitation to the stars to go and find their creators, which are these mysterious beings or space engineers that we saw in the beginning of the film.
Suddenly, a couple years have passed and just like that we are in outer space and onboard the spaceship Prometheus. The crew of the Prometheus and the scientists are in hibernation and here we are immediately introduced to an extremely advanced android named David, played with such wonder and coldness by Michael Fassbender. We get another one of those beautiful scenes where no dialogue is shared nor needed as David wanders alone on the ship for an unspecified amount of time. David watched Lawrence of Arabia, then channels Arabia star Peter O’ Toole as he bleaches his hair blonde.
Soon after, the crew awakens as the head scientist Elizabeth Shaw lets the rest of the crew know what their mission is and why they are there. What really makes Shaw interesting is that yes, she is a scientist but she is also a woman of faith. She, more than anyone, wants to know the reason why we were created. We see the beautiful wonder as the Prometheus lands on the uncharted planet. Landing on another planet filled with so much mystery and wonder should be terrifying among other things, here we get that sense as well as when they first step foot on this new planet. I imagine that it would bring up so many emotions as you really have no idea what to expect.
I choose to ignore talking about certain things like the Xenomorph or the black goo and how the planet was not the engineer’s home planet but rather a military installation where they tested the black goo and how it backfired. Such complicated talk would take much longer to talk about and it’s not the stuff that I really like about the film nor personally interests me. So consider that sentence to be the most that I will get into those subjects. I do feel like this film is confused at times about whether it wants to be a straight up science-fiction film or some sort of hybrid involving horror, I guess pretty much what Scott originally did with Alien. I would have preferred if it avoided the horror stuff as it wasn’t really needed, but hey, it’s not my film nor my decision to make.
I love everything about David’s performance and never more than his discussion with Shaw’s boyfriend. The characters have just found out that we share DNA with these space engineers, however, they all seem to be dead. Needless to say, these are huge revelations and are treated as such. Shaw’s boyfriend however is only filled with disappointment since they are all long gone. David asks him why he thinks that David was created. Shaw’s boyfriend answers, “Because we could.” David then replied with, “Now imagine the disappointment of hearing the same thing from your creator.” I am always a fan of the smaller moments.
David later finds out that there is still one engineer remaining on the installation. The crew of the Prometheus then go to see him and plan on asking this being several questions. When the engineer is actually awoken however, he has other plans and a Q&A is not a part of that. The engineer immediately rips off David’s head and begins to chase the other members of the crew, namely Shaw. The engineer has plans to take his ship back to planet Earth and destroy humanity. Shaw focused on the question, why do you want to destroy us after you created us. It poses a thought-provoking, interesting question that is left to the audience to piece together and that even director Ridley Scott has hinted at, even going as far as to suggest some stuff including Jesus Christ.
Even knowing who created us and how they are trying to destroy us, Elizabeth Shaw retains her faith. Shaw instead focuses on the positive and asks, “They created us, but who created them?” Shaw has the opportunity to go home, but declines, “I don’t want to go to where I came from, I want to go to where they came from.” With that the film brilliantly ends and offers such a mind-blowing tease as to what a possible sequel, Paradise, could offer. I imagine that paradise is not quite what that planet would deliver, but I really hope Ridley Scott gets the chance to finish his vision and fully explore those mysterious questions that we all have. There is so much to play with in that area, and here’s hoping that a sequel would dump the horror aspects and instead focus on those science-fiction elements that made this such a great movie and would make Paradise a classic one.