Sunday, June 10, 2012
Contemplating "Prometheus." WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!
So "Prometheus....." I have a love/hate relationship with it. I went into this movie expecting an "Alien" film. Well it isn't.... and yet it is. I think for that reason alone, it kind of turned me off. It's not a bad movie but it wasn't what I was expecting and because of that, I think I need to give it another look. So what do I mean by is and isn't? Well it takes place in the "Alien" (and supposedly "Blade Runner") universe, featuring the Weyland Corporation before it merged with Yutani. It also has some strange mutations that will instantly forge a connection between the creatures in this and the Xenomorphs that we are all familiar with.
With that said though, this movie is its own beast entirely. Though the origins of our beloved penile-skullled Xenomorphs are briefly touched upon (more on this in a minute), the film is mainly focused on a group of scientists seeking out the truth behind humanity's origins. After discovering, what basically amounts to a "star map" at various archaeological sites, scientists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) manage to get funding for a two year trip through space to find out the secret behind the ancient "invitation." (Courtesy of a one, Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce.)
Things naturally do not go well for the doomed expedition once they discover a chamber within an alien ship, full of jars that contain a black sludge. Said mystery goo turns out to be a powerful and fast-acting mutagen that can corrupt and mutate any lifeform it comes into contact with.
Now rewind to the opening of the film where an alien being, a pale-skinned humanoid (with the body of a Herculean demigod) stands above a raging waterfall on an undisclosed planet. (Most likely Earth.) The being (later referred to as an "Engineer") drinks some of the aforementioned black goo and suffers a cellular breakdown. The creature falls into the water and melts away to a cellular level, and we get a quick glimpse of some DNA strands coming together underwater. Though it has given its life in the pursuit of ... something.... (science?) the being has now created new life! The DNA code was transferred to other living organisms through the water, and theoretically jump-started evolution on Planet Earth, which eventually leads to us becoming the dominant species on the third rock from the sun.
This opening scene, coupled with the theories of the film's main scientific protagonists, suggests that The Engineers created humanity. Naturally, Charlie and Elizabeth want to know why, but as the opening scene dictates, humanity's very existence may have just been a fluke; a side effect of testing a dangerous substance that may or may not be a bio-weapon.
Also, according to various cave drawings across the world, humanity worshiped these advanced beings, who left at some point early in our history and never returned.They left our prehistoric ancestors to their own devices and left behind a map to a far off galaxy.
While the map is guessed to be a sort of invitation, the crew of the Prometheus eventually discover that A.) black goo = horrifying death by transmogrification and B.) that there is still an Engineer alive on LV-233 and it is none too happy when awakened from its cryo-sleep. It is also discovered that the angry being plans on taking a trip to Earth with a stockpile of black "muta-goo." For some reason, the extraterrestrials who made us now want to eradicate us?
After taking all of this in, I came up with a theory. The Engineers did not mean to make us, and perhaps at first, were elated that they had created a life form in their own image (some "God was an ancient astronaut" themes going on here). However, perhaps THEY were the dominant species out in space and worried that one day, humanity, their darling little mistake, would gain the ability to leave Earth and colonize other worlds and become their equal, or at the very least, challenge their power. Therefore, they left coordinates to their stockpile of killer muta-goo behind as a test. If humanity could figure out the map, and travel to LV-233, then that would mean that we as a species have evolved enough to pose a problem. The only thing left to do after that would be to visit Earth and contaminate the water supplies with the mutagen and keep us in check, either by complete extermination, or by turning us back into primordial beasties. This would be the Engineers' final solution in maintaining their power across the galaxies.
That was the main thing that has been buzzing around my skull since I saw the movie, but I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss the portions of the film that directly figure into the "Alien" mythology. First off, like humanity, the Xenomorphs are definitely a genetic mistake. In the film, some worms get coated in the black goo that causes all the trouble and woes for the film's intrepid scientific team. The mutagen causes the inch-long critters to become two foot terrors. The monster worms latch onto their prey, and constrict their muscles so powerfully that they can break bones. They also like to hop into open orifices (particularly mouths) and have acid for blood.
Later in the film, Charlie Holloway is infected with the muta-goo by David, partially done out of scientific curiosity, and partially done out of spite because Charlie was always being a dick towards the android. Needless to say, things do not go well for Charlie (flamethrowers are involved) but he does manage to make "the sex" with Dr. Shaw before he is incinerated. By doing this, he genetically passed some mutant genes into his lover, causing her to get super-pregnant, super fast, with a four-limbed squid monster! Using a surgical machine, Dr. Shaw removes the fetus from her belly and supposedly destroys it. Later in the film, when she is trapped on a "life boat" with the enraged Engineer (made all the angrier after his ship was knocked out of the sky), she discovers that her dead "baby" is now a very alive and HUGE vagina-faced sex-topus, which she cunningly unleashes on the attacking Engineer.
Dr. Shaw escapes but we get to watch as the mighty "space jockey" grapples with the grotesque mutant until it finally manages to shove a huge ovipositor down his throat. Incapacitated, the Engineer collapses to the floor with the enormous "proto-facehugger" on top of him. Now this is where I think they screwed up with the movie.
At the very end, we get to see the FIRST ever (?) Xenomorph burst out of the Engineer's chest. This is cool and all and firmly ties it into the rest of the "Alien" universe but.... the creature is fully developed?! It doesn't go through the weird snake/tadpole chestburster stage, but comes out whole with all its limbs intact. (And judging by the way it opens its mouth.... it's a queen?)
I know this is the proto-Xenomorph, but it kind of upset me that they skipped one crucial part of its developmental process. Also, its appearance at the very end of the film is sort of pointless. In my opinion, the creature should have come into play earlier, or just been left out altogether. Word on the street says that this will be a trilogy, so they definitely could have left the proto-Xenomorph out of the proceedings altogether. Then again you gotta cater to the fans and get extra butts into those theater seats, right?
Also, the existence of the proto-Xeno opens up new questions and possibilities. Seeing as how Dr. Shaw and David commandeer an Engineer vessel and go to seek out humanity's creators/destroyers (not to wipe THEM out before they can destroy us, but to ask why they are so keen on our destruction), one has to wonder that if there are other ships, (according to David, there are many) then are there any more surviving Engineers on them? If there is, and if the newborn Xenomorph is a queen.... then we may have our setup for "Alien." What if there are more Engineers, and what if they are systematically impregnated by the latest bastard child to be created by their toxic muta-goo? And what if one of them manages to pilot a ship out of the atmosphere and crash land on a godforsaken rock that will eventually be labeled as LV-426?
This is all pure conjecture on my part, but I had to get this out there because I've been thinking (i.e. obsessing) over this movie all day. I didn't care for it, but damn it.... "Prometheus" really got my synapses firing. I'm thinking of giving it a second go in another week or two, mainly because it seems like everyone else loves it. Will my opinion of it change now that I know what to expect? If it does, you can find out for sure by following me on Facebook or Twitter.
If you saw "Prometheus" (which I'm assuming you did if you got this far) feel free to post your thoughts on the film (and on my ramblings) below. Also feel free to share any insights and theories you have about the film, the "Alien" universe, and what FOX's next move with the franchise is! Thanks for reading b-movie fans!