Trying to answer the questions of Prometheus
SPOILERS: we try and answer the many questions left behind by Prometheus. Including the Prometheus ending...
It's probably fair to say that Prometheus has got people chatting more than any big blockbuster in recent times. Its assorted plot points are being dissected and distilled, and the fact that it leaves so many questions seemingly unanswered has intensified this.
This isn't a review of the film we've got here then - it's already apparent that many think it's brilliant, many think it's a disappointment. That's expected. However, instead, this is an attempt - with LOTS OF SPOILERS - to start digging into the questions Prometheus leaves behind.
We'll keep updating this, so please feel free to leave your thoughts and views in the comments (as well as corrections and suggestions!), and we'll update as we go...
It didn't end where Alien started!
It wasn't supposed to. Ridley Scott has been firm on the point that, come the final credits of Prometheus, we're still a film or two away from the start of Alien. That's why the creature we see at the end isn't the one you're used to. and also why the Space Jockey isn't yet in the place he's discovered in Alien.
But it's all set on the same planet isn't it?
No. A crucial difference, this. Alien and Aliens surround LV426. Prometheus is set on LV223. Very different worlds. 203 LVs apart, in fact.
Is it the same Space Jockey?
No. For reasons stated above. Also, in Alien, when we see the Space Jockey, it's clearly been the victim of a chest burster. Again, we're some way away from that happening.
Where are all the other hallmarks of the Alien franchise?
Well, many of them aren't there (although the staggering production design alone ties it to the best of the series). But then, Prometheus isn't an Alien movie. Its core idea is different, and it's a film more interested in exploring science and religion, and where they intersect, then leaving long periods of tension, and spending time with 'smaller' characters.
Granted, if you draw a Venn diagram, there's clear crossover with the Alien saga. But they made a distinct and deliberate decision to not make this a direct prequel to Alien, for better or worse.
Why couldn't they cast an older guy, rather than have Guy Pearce in bad make up?
Firstly, there's clearly a lot of footage on the cutting room floor. It's not implausible to suggest that younger Guy Pearce was originally in the film somewhere. Secondly, don't forget that Pearce's portrayal of Peter Weyland was an early part of the viral marketing, too. We have seen both the young and old version of Weyland, as played by Pearce.
Guy did look a bit daft in the make-up. though. we'll grant you that.
Milburn and Fifield: a bit thick?
Well, they don't come out of it too well, do they? For two seemingly reasonably intelligent characters, they're made to do the daft things. They went from not wanting to be there, to going off by themselves to get back to the ship without telling anyone (without anyone noticing), to getting left behind when everyone else got back to Prometheus. That left us in the audience counting off the minutes before they died.
It was baffling, though. They got lost, but were communicating with Idris Elba's Captain, who was sat in front of a big map of the place. At no point did it occur to them to ask where might be safe to go.
Appreciating that the Captain then went off to show Charlize Theron his collection of postage stamps for a while, the pair then walked straight into the middle of danger, having being clearly warned where danger was. As far as they were concerned, someone was monitoring what was happening with the stuck probe, so they could be alerted if anything started happening. Instead, though, they went against what they had done to that point, and off to the land of doom they walked.
Why does David infect Holloway in the first place?
Presumably because he's instructed to by Weyland. That said, there are vagaries here. It implies, if you buy that theory, that Weyland knew what the crew of Prometheus would find. How, then, does this further Weyland's desire for immortality? That's not clear either. David is clearly under instruction (although he's spent a couple of years learning a lot of things), but the motivation for that instruction is still open to interpretation.
Also: don't forget that David is the first to find black goo when they arrive. It's feasible that he works out what he's dealing with, and works out it can help meet the overall objective that Weyland has given him. Just a thought.
What does Weyland want?
Immortality. Not to die, basically. He tells us that. It doesn't entirely tally with some of his actions, though. We can't help feeling that there's a lot more Weyland in an earlier cut.
The black goo seems to do different things in different contexts. How did it cure Shaw's infertility, for instance?
No idea. If it was indeed the same goo. Who says it all has to be exactly the same stuff? Also: goo is a great word. Really enjoying using it.
We see the goo, though, being used as a way of committing suicide right at the start, and later, in theory, a way of creating life. Feel free to speculate this one below.
Shaw seems to get over the bit in the medpod quickly, doesn't she?
Again, there's a sense that a longer cut would fill in some of the blanks here. It does feel odd that she deals with the creature inside her, escapes, and then moves on in a more matter of fact manner than we would. But then, it's a movie, heading towards its third act.
Why does Shaw trust David at the very end?
We're not sure she does. She just doesn't have much choice. If there are lots of ships still there, and we've established that the engineers would happily head off to Earth with little explanation to destroy it (although exactly why is a question there in itself), then Shaw presumably knows that the future of the Earth is in a shaky position anyway. Presumably, she needs David to help stop the engineers. Shaw is in the middle of something much, much bigger than she first realised.
Plus: they want a sequel. Fassbender is box office.
Why would the engineers want us dead?
Interesting one. We'll have to play theories here.
Things we know. The human and engineer (from LV223) DNA matches. This reinforces the idea that the engineers created humans. It also leads to the theory that the engineers are humans in some form. One side question from that is wouldn't it affect the rest of the Alien franchise, but then, the engineers are still evolving.
Why want us dead? Well, maybe they don't like what they've created? Or we've become, in some ways, too powerful for them. After all, Peter Weyland, in the first viral clip released earlier online, declared "we are the Gods now", after all. In fact, it's worth taking a look at that clip now in the context of the film. Makes it even more interesting...
The film didn't give all the answers, did it?
It had no intention of doing, like it or lump it. Prometheus has big ideas, and excellent moments. The script, in parts, really does it few favours, certainly. But science fiction is a genre that's got a track record in letting people speculate, and fill in some of the blanks. It's little surprise that Prometheus went they way too.
Is there a longer cut coming?
In his interview on the BBC Radio Five Live Kermode & Mayo Film Review programme last Friday, Ridley Scott did confirm that there were things he'd left out that he'd like to have included. He hinted towards a longer cut in the offing. Presumably, he's got a fair bit of material that could, and perhaps should, have fleshed out the second half of the film.
Didn't we just end up, come the finale, with another take on Aliens Vs Predator?
Harsh. Rewatch Aliens Vs Predator and find anything as wonderful as the opening third of Prometheus. Just because elements cross over in the last few minutes, they're in very different leagues.
Isn't it just Phantom Menace again, then?
Even harsher. The parallel is that this is a prequel of sorts that's been a long, long time coming, with the original director back on board. Whether you like Prometheus or not, it has stunning big screen moments, and far more ideas - however well you feel they're realised - than any of the Star Wars prequels.
The monster at the end, then. WTF?
We'd argue it's not the film's finest hour, and it feels like it was tacked on a bit to satiate fans of the franchise. However, bear in mind again that we're still two movies away from Alien, hence this not being the beast we're familiar with. This is the evolution of the creature we're seeing, just as we get to see the evolution of the engineers. There's more of their story to go, before Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt get involved.
So will there be a Prometheus 2?
Ridley Scott seems keen to do it. The determining factors will be the commercial performance of Prometheus, and Scott's schedule.
The former we'll have a clearer idea on in a couple of weeks, the latter is more difficult. Scott is two months away from starting shooting The Counselor, which wipes out the rest of the year for him. Then, it looks like the Blade Runner sequel is after that. If it is, then Blade Runner 2 is likely to be a complex film, and again, likely to eat up at least a year. We'll see then if Sir Ridley has the appetite or desire for Prometheus 2. It's unlikely, but not impossible, that he'd hand it over to someone else.
Did reviewers not like it because they were expecting Alien?
You'll have to ask them. Two points on this, though. Firstly, the only opinion that really matters to you is, realistically, your own. Secondly, it is possible for reviewers and human beings to like or not like a film, irrespective of its hype, and franchise positioning (or otherwise). Whether you agree with a review or not (and this isn't just ours we're talking about), the vast majority of reviewers walk in every time simply wanting to see a good film. Our advice? Find a reviewer who's close to your taste, and follow them. But, even then, if there's a film you're even vaguely tempted by, make your own mind up. That's far more fun. Usually.