The one film that has seen many a writer’s internet forum go crazy with rage this year is Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe. I’d read slight bits of it, never really wanting to spoil everything for me just in case I actually went to see it. Thankfully, this Thursday gone, I had a night free whilst my wife and son were visiting the in laws so I went to the cinema with a good friend of mine. To get it out my the way first, I enjoyed the movie as a whole which is just about the main thing you want when you’re paying the best part of £7 for the ticket (you can tell I don’t live near any of them big city cinemas can’t you?). It also become the second movie in which I’ve nearly passed out whilst watching in the cinema due to my inability to handle much gore. I did however, have some very big questions to ask about the script in the end.
-THE FOLLOWING SECTION WILL CONTAIN MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR PROMETHEUS, STOP READING NOW IF YOU’VE STILL TO SEE IT-
1) So we have a group of people on a project which involves deep space travel. This means they’ll be frozen in suspended animation for the best part of two and a half years. I accepted this up until the point when they are awoken upon arrival and told what they’ll be doing there. Just to make that clear, the vast majority of these characters seem to have signed up for this without actually knowing what the hell they’re there for. Surely, at some point during the interview process/job application, somebody would have asked exactly what they were going to do?
2) On top of this, the representative from Weyland Industries, Vickers has absolutely no hope that they’ll find what they’re looking for. She sees Holloway and Shaw’s theory that human life began on another planet as complete bunkum. This might be true but then why, once again, would you be willing to spend two years of your life frozen if you thought this journey would turn up nothing?
3) The crew land on this far flung planet and go about business straight away by taking a whole team of scientists across to some ruins. During this first expedition the cave system is mapped out by Fifield’s system of flying orbs. This builds up a 3D map of the caves back on board the main ship. Upon seeing the body of one of the natives Fifield and Milburn leave the rest of the group to try and get back to the ship. Whilst the rest of the team rush back to the ship to get away from the storm Fifield and Milburn are left wandering the caves after getting lost. Nobody can go back and get them as it’s far too dangerous. Firstly, why does the guy who brought this mapping system along with him become one of the first to get lost? Secondly, why would they have a mapping system that places the actual map a mile behind you in the ship and thirdly, why does nobody else aboard Prometheus itself deem it fit to at least guide the two to somewhere safer than the mystery room full of oozing black liquid?
It’s obvious that Fifield and Milburn will be the first to go but it’s a flimsy way to separate them from the rest of the group. Would it not have been easier to just have the door to the temple close on them and them only, having David unable (or secretly unwilling) to reopen it and having them stuck there until they could get back? At least that way we wouldn’t have the next sticking point either.
4) Okay, Vickers is an ice queen and seemingly incapable of anything bar steely gazes at the rest of the crew. There’s zero evidence that she’ll drop her knickers at the nearest hint of a man so it’s quite a strange moment when she ends up having sex with Captain Janek on a whim. No mention is made of a relationship between these two beforehand and it’s never referenced again afterwards. It’s purely a method to get Janek away from the bridge so nobody is around to hear the screams of death over the comms system from Fifield and Milburn. A hint of a past between Janek and Vickers would have made it slightly better, even just a one liner or knowing wink between the two. As it is he gets her into bed with the chat up line “Fancy getting laid?”. If only it were that easy.
5) I was told before seeing Prometheus that the main problem many people had with the film was it boiled down to ‘intelligent people doing the most stupid option open to them at any given time’. Whilst I don’t personally agree fully with that verdict I would say that actions of one character are the driving force behind most of the movie’s strangest moments. David, played by Michael Fassbender, is an android who is designed to look after the crew. We know this in the opening montage as he goes about keeping the ship on course and making sure everybody is safe in their frozen states. He’s also seen learning languages that may be of use once they reach their destination (quite how they know exactly what language this far flung race would speak is another matter). David has been built by Weyland and is described by him as ‘the closest thing to a son I have’. So far, so Pinochio.
It seems that from the moment Prometheus lands on the planet David’s aim changes into wanting to screw up the mission as much as possible. For being an android with a preset list of objectives, he doesn’t half seen completely random at times. Firstly, he actives the switches in the temple which in turn plays out the holographic memory recordings which completely freak out the rest of the crew. He instills more doubt and fear as he opens the door to the main chamber. He then secretly collects one of the cylinders and brings it back for his own personal examination. Upon discovering the black oil coming out of the cylinders David makes his most bizarre choice yet in putting a droplet of it in Holloway’s drink, in effect poisoning him. It’s this that causes the mutation in Holloway’s body and the subsequent ‘pregnancy’ of Shaw.
It could be argued that David is carrying out the wishes on Weyland himself but in order to subscribe to this theory you need to think that Weyland would want to come all the way across the galaxy only to start a science experiment on the two people who had the theory in the first place. Weyland, in order for him to literally ‘meet his maker’, needs both Shaw and Holloway alive surely? If he wants to see exactly what the oil does to humans then why not pick somebody on the ship who is entirely expendable in the grand scheme of things? David just seems to be the android equivalent of hitting ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ on Google which the sheer amount of strange snap decisions. Despite all this sabotage, he then helps Shaw to leave the planet at the end.
I have no problem with Michael Fassbender’s performance, he’s fantastic in the role, but I do have a problem with keeping every single event in the movie triggered by the actions of one character.
6) Vickers has her own section of the ship with a self contained life support system. When Holloway and Shaw visit her in her quarters near the start of the film Shaw finds the medical pod, a large piece of surgical machinery designed to perform any procedure on the user. She’s told by Vickers to ‘leave it alone’ as it’s ‘very expensive’. Fast forward through the story to the section when Shaw is in need of surgery to remove an alien beast from her womb. She requests a C-Section from the machine but is told that it’s not set up for female users so she instead has to go for a simple ‘removal of foreign object’ option. This results in a rather gore filled close up game of Operation (and me getting a little bit ‘hazy’ in the process)
This doesn’t quite explain why a ‘very expensive’ piece of high tech medical equipment would only be set up for one gender. When were talking about a machine you can own which would instantly give you any surgical procedure you require then it seems a bit of an Achilles Heel for it to turn around at the vital moment and basically say “Hold on love, I don’t do vaginas”.
So if it’s only set up for males then why the hell does Vickers have it in her self contained life support room if it’s completely useless to her? Unless she’s hiding something from the entire crew? In which case surely Janek would have found out by this time?
I’ve heard plenty people say “Don’t be stupid Cam, the medical pod’s for Weyland”. Weyland, by his own admission, is by Death’s door so why would he need any kind of life saving surgery especially since he’s not even out and about until near the very end. Weyland’s main aim is to see the engineers, something which he achieves. He wouldn’t be betting on having a patch up job before he gets back to Earth.
7) So Weyland is alive and on the ship all along? Great stuff but why, if he’s frozen in a deep sleep in order so that his frail body can cope with the journey, is he still in a mental state to talk to David and pass comment on how events have transpired so far?
8) For just being the guy ‘who pilots the ship’ Janek seems all too willing to throw himself into a complete suicide mission to bring down the Engineer’s ship and prevent it from reaching Earth. It takes him five minutes to decide to risk his own life and that of two other members of his crew (who are so forgettable I’d have to look up their names on IMDB) in blowing a hole in the Engineer’s craft by ploughing Prometheus through it.
9) Vickers is Weyland’s daughter, an interesting twist it might be but it makes her behaviour towards the end more baffling. Surely, if the theory Shaw and Holloway had is proven to be correct and Vickers inherits the company after her Father’s death, she’d stand to be one of the most famous women on Earth? Her company may have spent millions but at least all that time and finance will have seen a return and shattered what the Human race thought was possible?
10) In the end only Shaw survives alongside David (all be it in two parts). The planet isn’t a homeworld, it’s a weapon store so Shaw and David go looking for other planets the Engineers might have frequented also. It might be a topic covered in any kind of sequel but I’d truly love to see the moment David says “Remember when you’re boyfriend had sex with you and you had t go in that medical pod and hack yourself open so you could remove that baby alien thing and then your boyfriend got fried with a flamethrower because his veins started turning black?”
“Why yes I do David” Shaw would say.
“Well guess what, I might have started that”.
Then we’ll see how she gets along with her robot pal.