This article contains spoilers.
Prometheus. The film that left Noomi Rapace at the mercy of a claw crane arcade machine, and put cinemagoers off griddled octopus for a week. Love it or loathe it (and Ridley Scott’s movie really does appear to have polarised opinion), there’s little doubt that, so far, Prometheus hasn’t done too badly for an R-rated movie.
With its box-office takings currently hovering around the $140 million mark and rising, a sequel is by no means assured at the time of writing, but assuming the numbers don’t fall too sharply over the next few weeks, it’s possible that Prometheus will earn enough to entice Fox into making a follow-up.
Prometheus concluded with a stapled-up Elizabeth Shaw flying off in an Engineer ship with little more than a magic flute and Michael Fassbender’s head in a bag. Has she gone off on a mission of peacemaking with her makers, or with revenge in mind?
Prometheus’ credits rolled with a legion unanswered questions – more, perhaps, than any other Hollywood film of the past decade. This leaves Damon Lindelof with left plenty of avenues left to explore in a sequel, certainly, but it also gave Prometheus an unsatisfying air for some viewers. And to make matters worse, the sometimes illogical plot leaps and character decisions merely added to the confusion.
What was the point of the exploding, decapitated space jockey head, for example? How did a character who’d earlier established himself as a navigator (complete with floating GPS orbs) become so easily lost in LV-223’s temple? Why did his otherwise cowardly colleague suddenly decide to pet an obviously dangerous-looking alien snake?
Such facetious questions aside, there are plenty of things that we’d like to see a Prometheus sequel address. And here are some of them…
Inarguably the most compelling character in the film, David was the engine that moved Prometheus’ strange plot forward. While his human colleagues stumbled about in the dark, petting snakes, getting lost and becoming overwhelmed by space goo, David quietly got on with his own private agenda.
If we’re reading the movie’s events correctly, it’s David who’s indirectly responsible for the dolphin-like alien (dubbed the Deacon by Prometheus’ designers) seen at its conclusion. David snuck the canister containing alien DNA back to the ship. David, apparently at the behest of Peter Weyland, then fed some of it to Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green), presumably to find out whether the substance would have a rejuvenating or destructive effect on the human body.
Charlie in turn fathered the squid creature which later emerged from Elizabeth Shaw’s belly, which in turn grew to a huge size and inseminated a rampaging space jockey. From that space jockey’s lifeless corpse arose a new entity, a kind of alternate Giger alien with a familiar elongated head.
Whether he intended to or not, David has created a new, probably deadly creature. Is David secretly looking for interesting ways of destroying the human race? In the scene where he comes face to face with a revived space jockey, he says something in the alien’s mother tongue.
What did he say? Was it something provocative enough to prompt the creature to kill everyone he saw? Damon Lindelof has said in interviews that Ridley Scott knows what the English translation for David’s line was, but didn’t want the subtitled line to appear on the screen.
David’s true motives – if he isn’t merely driven by naïve curiosity or the orders of his maker – will surely have to be made clear in the sequel.
With this new alien threat providing the concluding shot of Prometheus – and looking disturbingly akin to the final scene of Alien Vs Predator, as others have pointed out – what possible effect can it have in the sequel? It is, after all, now trapped on LV-223, which is completely devoid of human life. That is, unless Vickers is actually still alive, or another group of neurotic astronauts turn up for the creature to feed on.
There’s a clue in the name Deacon, too, perhaps. The word is derived from Greek (tying in with the film’s mythical title) and can mean ‘messenger’ or ‘servant’. Is this monster a forerunner to something even more grotesque and horrifying? Something closer to Giger’s alien, perhaps?
With Shaw soaring off to another planet entirely, it’s difficult to see how the Deacon can catch up with her – unless, in true Alien franchise style, there’s already some other hideous creature onboard her escape craft. Perhaps David, crafty to the end, secreted something nasty on it earlier in the film as a back-up plan…
For a film that once promised to answer the questions surrounding the mysterious space jockey glimpsed in 1979’s Alien, Prometheus is frustratingly enigmatic. If anything, we left the cinema knowing little more about these gigantic beings than we did when we watched the first trailer. Even the possibility that the space jockeys created life on Earth isn’t a foregone conclusion; nowhere did the movie clearly state that the planet seen at the start of the film was actually our own.
What the film does appear to imply, though, is that there is more than one class of space jockey; the ones seen in Prometheus appear to be some kind of soldier or warrior class, with the true creators presumably lurking on the planet Shaw rushes off to visit at the end. There are further hints of this in the Art Of Prometheus book, where concept visuals show an alternate take on the film’s opening sequence.
Here, a second, very different kind of space jockey is shown handing a cup of black goo to the muscular, pale form of space jockey we’re familiar with. Is this second form of space jockey a more benevolent form of alien, or as cold and violent as the former breed appears to be?
With the rest of the Prometheus crew apparently dead, Prometheus 2 will presumably begin with Shaw flying around with only David’s head for company. Even if David can repair himself, that only leaves us with two earthly protagonists to follow through the sequel. Will its writers find a way to introduce other characters for us to root for? If so, will they be human or alien?
Some have suggested that Prometheus 2 will flash back in time to show a young Peter Weyland, which would certainly explain why a 40-something Guy Pearce was brought in to play such a decrepit character; surely, he wasn’t hired solely for the purpose of that TED viral video, was he? Or did the young Peter Weyland enjoy a greater role in the original cut of the film, since Ridley Scott has admitted that at least 20 minutes were taken out of the theatrical version?
Whatever form the Prometheus sequel takes, we’re hoping it’ll be populated with some more interesting and sympathetic characters next time around. How many of you were secretly glad, for example, when the whooping, sulking Charlie finally kicked the bucket? Quite a few, we suspect.
If there were only one thing we could put on our wish list for a Prometheus sequel, it would be this: a more coherent script. Even the film’s biggest fans would surely admit that, for all the love and effort that went into the production design and cinematography, the sense of scale and occasion was savagely undercut, time and again, by obvious dialogue, illogical character choices, and ideas that were introduced and left hanging.
The gigantic, glowering space face is a prime example of Prometheus’ habit of showing us something and then swiftly discarding it. A striking image which appeared all over Prometheus’ advertising, the space face provides a dramatic backdrop in one or two key scenes, but is never seen or mentioned again. It looks magnificent, but serves no dramatic function.
Compare and contrast this piece of set design with the space jockey in 1979’s Alien. It’s a striking piece of sculpture that could theoretically been left out of the film for budgetary reasons, but it nevertheless served a purpose: something horrible had burst from this huge being’s chest – something we’d meet face-to-face later in the film. It posed secondary questions which would long remain tantalisingly unanswered, but this huge dead creature also served a clear purpose: it foreshadowed what would happen later in the film.
Prometheus, on the other hand, was less lean and focused. Such story elements as the giant space face, the exploding severed head, the magic flute, the pink alien snake creature and the mutating mural were all paraded across the screen and then forgotten. While it’s possible that Prometheus’ makers fully intend to return to these in a sequel, it’s a little alarming to see so many ideas left dangling with no obvious connection to the first film’s wider story.
What a sequel surely needs, then, is a story as well as themes. Characters who, David aside, properly affect the narrative instead of being carried along by it – that have more of a purpose than to simply stand around and talk until it’s their turn to die.
In its best moments, Prometheus is atmospheric and technically well-crafted, and its attempts to drag big themes and a genuine sense of cosmic awe into blockbuster cinema are admirable. But if a sequel does get a green light from Fox, there are many things that need to be addressed before a truly compelling sequel can be made – not least in the script department.
Prometheus is a flawed yet intriguing puzzle box of a film. Let’s hope Prometheus 2, if it ever happens, provides some satisfying answers.