Directed by Ridley Scott
Prometheus marks not only the return of the Alien franchise, but also Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction after thirty long years. While proclaimed to be a prequel to the highly successful Alien (1979) which was also directed by Ridley Scott, the movie stands on its own – it merely exists in the same universe as Ellen Ripley and the xenomorphs, the main characters of the 1979 film. Prometheus pleases newcomers to the franchise, but old fans will not be left hanging – there are numerous tie-ins and reoccurring motifs that play out in Prometheus similar to other films in the Alien franchise.
The most apparent tie-in between Ridley Scotts 1979 piece and his 2012 one is that we discover the origins of the xenomorph aliens that terrorized our heroine in the original series.
As well, we can find another similarity with David – the maliciously vague android with more ulterior motives than a femme fatale. David has a professional disposition that isolates the poor and misunderstood robot. However, throughout the film he displays a strong yearning for companionship, approval, and humanity. He – like all the other infamous androids from the Alien franchise – raises the question of what it means to be human.
And finally, Weyland-Yutani – the corporation that hired the crew of the Nostromo space-ship in Alien – is also funding the science expedition in Prometheus to find humanity’s origins. As a result, many things like the ship’s design, quarantine protocol, and heavy usage of flamethrowers are found in both movies. While the Prometheus (as in, the ship) is admittedly much better looking than the Nostromo and stuffed with high-tech goodies, remember that the Prometheus is a trillion-dollar expedition while the Nostromo was a mere space truck doing its rounds.
The movie follows a group of scientists that touch down on LV-223 (a distant moon) to uncover what they believe to be humanity’s origin. Unfortunately, what the team finds are not their creators waiting with open arms, but a deserted hanger loaded with biological weapons. Then, these “greatest minds that humanity has to offer” rush into the caves without any forethought, planning, or attention to protocol minutes after they land. Once they do the scientific thing to ensure the preservation of the archaic ruins that they find themselves in (that being to forcibly blow several doors open) they all take off their helmets because foreign microorganisms and alien diseases apparently have no effect on humans. Or maybe they all got their space shots before leaving Earth.
After demonstrating that being a professional, safe scientist entails touching everything that you can find, the inevitable happens and alien beasts show up. The rapidly diminishing group of explorers are attacked by bizarre alien snakes, black goop (no relation to the black goop of Spiderman 3), an alien octopus fetus, and the large albinos that supposedly gave us life.
Various members of the crew die horrifically – they are asphyxiated by snakes and crushed by a ship. And in one case a man has his helmet melt onto his face, is forced to crawl for hours on end, and then is shot repeatedly, run over, and set on fire.
By the end of the film, the only survivors are scientist Elizabeth Shaw who went so far as to cut an alien octopus fetus out of herself to stay alive, and android David who got his head ripped off. While being a healthy and happy disembodied head has done nothing to dampen David’s morbid sense of humor and cool temperament, he can no longer press every button that he can find.
However, Prometheus isn’t about the deaths of a wayward crew – it’s about the longing for parents. Shaw, who lost her father at a young age and is infertile but desperately wants children, has her fair share parental grief. David, who is loved as a son by the nefarious corporate tycoon Peter Weyland, is constantly reminded and told that he is a robot and can never truly be anyone’s son. He often displays small signs of hurt at these comments and shows an unyielding desire to be accepted as a human being. This in turn brings up the question of what we can accept as part of our species, such as intelligent robots created in a lab. The workaholic straight-shooter Vickers, who is also the biological daughter of Peter Weyland, silently seethes as she watches her father dote over his new robot toy. Finally, the human race as a whole suffers from the conspicuous absence of their creators who left them early on in human civilization and now have plans to wipe them out entirely.
While these characters do have a strong tendency to pass around the idiot ball, this movie tells a meaningful story. It is very similar to the original Alien when looking at the characters, storyline, and aesthetic. The two movies even take place on the same moon. While staying true to its fellow films in the Alien franchise, Prometheus tells an elaborate origin story with visuals as breathtaking at James Cameron’s Avatar. Prometheus openly discusses what it means to be human, what it means to be a creator. It is a prime example of a science fiction story and does Ridley Scott and the Alien franchise justice. Prometheus will entertain, entrance, and best of all, eliminate the sour taste left in our mouths from the last two movies in the Alien franchise. Whether you’re a casual viewer looking for some eye-candy and action, a fan of the series, or a science fiction junkie, Prometheus should be on your to-watch list.