The return of Spoiler Corner brings you all the juicy and gory science fiction horror goodness of Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS. The film is in theaters now and is prompting a lot of debate in regards to the mysteries and questions the film has put forward. If you haven’t seen the film yet I strongly recommend doing so before reading this, which I would think is self evident by the title of the post.
I will do a brief spoilery plot rundown and the rest of the post will be very much like presenting questions I had about the film or stuff things I had problems with. Hopefully together we can dig up some of the answers to these questions or at the very least just have some fun exploring the film’s mysteries.
Noomi Rapace plays a scientist, Elizabeth Shaw, who along with her boyfriend discovers ancient hieroglyphs that point to a system of planets that they believe hold the key to who created the human species. Shaw heads out to space to find the planet along with a crew of scientists to find answers to our lifelong questions. Once there they discover beings, Engineers, that resemble humans that have been killed and around are thousands of canisters containing some kind of black goo that transforms anything it comes into contact with into some new life form altogether. It becomes evident that these canisters were in the process of being used to destroy Earth’s current inhabitants- namely humans- before they were thwarted in their efforts, until one wakes up and the crew (at least the ones still alive) must fight to stop him from leaving to destroy our planet.
On the ship there is android by the name of David (Michael Fassbender) who was created by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the CEO of Weyland Corporation. In a hologram message Weyland says that he is dead, but a reveal later on shows that he is alive and has been on the ship the whole time and is intent on talking to the Engineer in a belief that he has the key to saving him from death. David spends the majority of the movie hiding his motives, but there is always a hint that he is somehow surpassing his own programming so much so that he appears to start having thoughts and feelings of his own, evident in things he says that hint that he kind of wants Weyland to be killed and secretly knows that the Engineer will murder the crap out him, then later expressing his fear that Shaw may have been killed when the Engineer came to kill her after she convinces Janek to crash their ship into his to keep the Engineer from flying to Earth and destroying it.
Once everyone else is dead except for Shaw, David reveals to her that there are many other ships hidden underground on the planet and he can operate them in order to take her home. Shaw decides she doesn’t want to go home, but wants to go to where the Engineers came from to find answers to why the Engineers created life on Earth then decided they wanted to destroy us. As she flies off we cut back to the Engineer that lost a battle with the giant face hugger that Shaw was impregnated with by Holloway after David had poisoned him with the black goo and Shaw let loose during the fight with the Engineer in order to escape. The Engineer is convulsing on the floor as his stomach bursts open revealing the early iteration of the Xenomorph and the credits start to roll.
I’m going to use the rest of this spoiler space to address questions I have and follow the question with details as to why I asked the question or my theories as to what an answer could possibly be. Feel free to provide your own questions and answers in the comments below.
Why did David poison Holloway?
After PROMETHEUS was over this was one of the first things I wanted to ask the first person I saw. However, gauging the couple’s conversation behind me I really don’t think they would have been much help. David brings ones of the canisters filled with black goo on to the ship and somehow studies it with no interruption which is where we see the scene from the trailer where David says, “Big things have small beginnings.” He then goes into the billiard room where Holloway is drinking away his frustrations about finding the dead engineers, David offers him a drink and right before he gives it to him you see David quickly put his finger in the drink, which eventually gets Holloway extremely sick and before he dies he has a chance to have sex with Noomi Rapace’s character and getting her pregnant with an alien baby.
One theory I heard was that it was just part of David’s programming to test what the goo does to see if it holds the key to sustaining or extending human life, obviously for the use on Peter Weyland who is being hidden on the ship during the majority of the movie. I don’t disagree with the theory, given there was no way he could have known Vickers would burn Holloway to a crisp, what it would do to Holloway let alone that he would have sex with Shaw and that that union would result in a alien pregnancy that would risk Shaw’s life.
The impromptu surgery that Shaw performs on herself is one of the most horrifically glorious scenes of the film, but presents its own issues given that David doesn’t mention another word to her about it once he sees her again even though he suggest putting her back into sleep. She lays out two crew members and leaves an alien to run amuck in the surgery room that no one notices until the end. There just seem to be quite a few loose ends in scenes such as this that get lost in the shuffle with all the different ideas that are being tossed around.
Guy Pearce? What the hell?
I really just don’t understand why it was necessary to cast him as the old Peter Weyland. I get it he was used in the viral marketing and he’s a great actor, but the old age makeup that they implemented on him was distractingly bad- comical at times. The movie’s success obviously isn’t hinged on that aspect being all that believable given he’s only there to say how bad he wants to not die and then get pummeled to death by the Engineer at the end. I think they could just as easily found a decent older actor to slip into that role that at the very least fits Pearce’s build and it would have been just as effective if not more.
Who pissed in that Engineer’s Wheaties?
The Engineer that David wakes up in the cargo hold at the end doesn’t appear too angry at first, but after David says whatever he says to him and the thing just loses his shit- rips off David’s head and just starts beating everyone in sight to death. This begs the question of just what exactly these guys hate humans so much. The question is asked several times before the end and the film ends on that same sentiment when Shaw decides to go off in search of the answer.
So the one living Engineer in PROMETHEUS the only living member of his species that wants Earth destroyed?
An extension to the previous question- Shaw leaves the planet with David saying she wants to go find where the Engineers came from and ask why they hated humans and wanted to destroy us and start over. So my question is in reference to the fact that if there are more out there, why haven’t they already destroyed Earth? Was the Engineer in this movie the last left alive? Not likely because the planet here is not the same one in ALIEN, where they find the dead Engineer behind the steer of the ship and all of the face hugger eggs. So unless they are all stationed on a bunch of different planets and were wiped out simultaneously then something doesn’t seem quite right to me.
What was that spaceship at the beginning?
Right out of the gate during all of those gorgeous sweeping shots of landscapes we eventually see what looks like a more traditional alien spaceship design flying away as one of the Engineers pulls out a small cup of the black goo. The Engineer proceeds to drink the substance and almost immediately his body begins to decompose and fall apart- but more on that later. What is that spaceship at the beginning? It looked nothing like the ship the Engineer is taking off in at the end. The only theory I have is that maybe this is the Engineer creating life on Earth so that is just an Engineer spaceship 1.0 and the ship at the end is just a newer design- aside from that there isn’t enough information to say for sure in my opinion.
Exactly what are the physics of this black goo?
Back to the black goo the Engineer drinks at the beginning and that we see throughout. The Engineer at the beginning drinks the liquid that almost immediately breaks down his DNA and decomposes his body before he falls into the water. After he falls into the water we see a microscopic view of DNA molecules re-bonding in the water implying that new life is taking shape.
Before I state the following issue let me first say, I am not a scientist, I have no expertise in the area of DNA let alone am I all that trustworthy when it comes to exact volumes of liquid on the human body. That being said, the black goo kills the DNA in the Engineer’s body and reforms in the water- correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the human body contain a significant amount of water, why would the DNA break down so quickly if at all? We are made to believe several times that the Engineer’s DNA is an exact match to human DNA so there’s no reason to believe that the Engineer’s body is not exactly the same as ours.
Some other nitpicks I have on this subject is the fact that the black goo when ingested by Holloway as mentioned in a previous question does not immediately decompose his body, which is human and again we are to believe the Engineers are as well so by that logic Holloway should decompose as well. Instead, he just gets sick after first planting an alien baby in Shaw and then getting burned to a crisp. Maybe he was on the verge of decomposing but if that goo breaks down the body as effectively and quickly as it is depicted I doubt his body would have what it needs to impregnate Shaw’s character.
It seems as though we are to believe that this goo is so complex and advanced that it can create just about anything it wants. There doesn’t seem to be any relation to the creatures that keep forming from this stuff- there’s the cobra-snake-worm guys, one crew member just turning into a zombie, Holloway implanting the squid looking baby inside of Shaw that when it gets to full size is basically just a giant version of the face hugger that when it implants its baby in the Engineer breeds what is essentially Xenomorph 1.0. Is there a science to how these different yet semi similar species are being created or was it just a way to try and fit in as many alien creatures as possible?
Lastly, the black goo apparently needs some form of host to create a life form, so where did those cobra-snake-worm creatures come from? They were not there when the crew investigated that room initially and were there shortly after the other two crew members got stuck down there during the storm.
So did the filmmakers mix up the Geologist and Biologist characters that got stuck in the cave?
So that scene where the biologist, Millburn and the geologist, Fifield encounter the cobra-snake-worm, Millburn gets attacked while Fifield attempts to save him. In the process Fifield cuts the creature sending out the acid blood (hello, more ALIEN ties) that burns Fifield’s helmet eventually collapsing in on his head thus killing him- so we think. The creature on the other hand gets into Millburn’s helmet and eventually into his mouth, infecting him somehow- or so we would think. Later on in the film Janek notices that one of their helmet cameras turns on outside the ship- I thought I heard the name Fifield, which was the one being eaten away by acid. So Millburn should have been the one attacking but the scene happened so fast I couldn’t make out the face. So if somehow it was Fifield and he was now some super strong zombie like guy, how did that transition take place he had ingested any of the black goo- that we see anyway. It seems more likely that Millburn would attack after whatever the creature does to him which I assume would have been more than turning him into a zombie. Maybe it’s a case of mistaken identity and I heard the wrong name.
Also, the way the body of Fifield/Millburn was all contorted outside the ship, did anyone else get kind of an eerie Dead Space vibe out of that or even shades of THE THING.
How did that circular probe pick up a life form at the end of the hallway when the door was closed?
Fifield sends off those orb probes that digitally map the area for Janek on the ship and after Fifield and Millburn get stuck in the caves he says that one has stopped and has detected a life form before saying that the signal disappeared and then back on every so often and assumes it’s a glitch. When David goes to investigate there is no life form around the immediate area for it to pick up because the probe essentially can’t read what is behind the door it is stuck at until he opens it and probes the inside of the ship where the Engineer is in cryostasis. I don’t think the probe could have been picking up the Engineer as its life form as it had no way of knowing it didn’t hit a dead end and it doesn’t really explain why it would drop the signal for a short period of time and then read a life form again.
The scene where Janek tells Fifield and Millburn that the probe picked up a life form is pretty tense as well as kind of funny, but after it is revealed there’s nothing there until David opens the ships door I questioned how or what the probe could be picking up. I have no real answer to this one.
Wow, that “father” line…am I right?
Not much to say about this really, just that it is easily the worst line of the film. There’s no reason for it to seem like some sort of reveal that Peter Weyland is Vickers father since I pretty much had that feeling leading up to that line. It wasn’t shocking though the delivery made it seem like it should be and nothing significant comes out of the discovery. Moments later Weyland is brutally beaten to death and eventually Vickers is crushed under the crashing Engineer’s ship- oh, well thank God we knew she had a father I guess.
That Xenomorph at the end was almost the same size as the Engineer, how did he even fit in his stomach?
The finale leads up to the giant face hugger attaching to the Engineer and eventually the last scene shows something bursting out of his stomach. Given it was giving off the obvious “here’s the really on the nose tie in to ALIEN” vine I was picturing the more worm looking Xenomorph in its early stage of life. Instead it’s basically an already grown Xenomorph, but an early incarnation of its evolution. It didn’t have the long snake like tongue with the mouth at the end of it, but it did look to have something somewhat similar to it which just nailed home that it was more the Xenomorph origin and that the species must undergo a bit of change over the years.
The Xenomorph that is born from the Engineer’s stomach is not small. It looks to be fully grown so it’s no wonder that it bursts out of the stomach, but that it bursts from the stomach only. Judging by the size it seems as though the Xenomorph should have burst through the whole body almost as though it was wearing a full body Engineer Halloween costume. Am I alone in this assumption?
How can you misinterpret those hieroglyphics as an invitation?
Again not much to say, but Shaw and Holloway do not explain why they think this is an invitation, but do point out more than once they can’t read all this ancient language on the walls on the planet once they get there. One trillion dollars is a hell of a lot of money to spend on a hunch- let alone a complete waste once everyone is dead except the person who didn’t have to spend a penny on the trip.
How do people still argue that this wasn’t in some way shape or form a prequel to ALIEN?
Seriously though- acid blood, the Weyland corporation an android with a secret agenda- what else do you need. How about I just throw the obvious Xenomorph hybrid at the end and if you try to deny that it is not a Xenomorph I suggest you check yourself into the nearest drug rehabilitation center. All of these aspects combined then yeah it has the “DNA” of the ALIEN franchise, but DNA that may as well have ALIEN tattooed on it somewhere.
This expedition was horribly unprepared despite costing a trillion dollars, no?
Not only is the exploration based on a hunch, but there seemed to be massive confusion amongst the crew as to who exactly was in charge. Let alone the fact that Fifield and Millburn couldn’t find their way back to the ship even though they have a means of communicating attached to their suits to Janek back on the ship who can see the layout of the caves due to the probes that have been mapping it out. Shaw is able to pull off a bloody c-section after viciously beating two crew members, she doesn’t hide the alien that was removed from her body and no one ever notices or says a thing to point out a potentially dangerous alien being on the ship, but not too long before that Vickers would rather burn Holloway to death than risk letting him on the ship even in quarantine.
Apparently Naomi Rapace and Charlize Theron’s characters couldn’t comprehend running 20 feet to their left or right to avoid being crushed by the crashing ship?
Now one last quick bit of nitpicking- after Janek crashes Prometheus into the Engineer’s ship, Prometheus is basically vaporized while the other ship comes crashing back down to the planet. Both Vickers and Shaw are in the back as the rounded ship starts to roll their direction once it hits land. The two proceed to run in the same path the ship will eventually have to hit in order to stop rolling instead of making a B-Line out of the ship’s trajectory. Shaw gets her wits about her long enough to roll out of the way when she falls while Vickers is not so fortunate and then when the ship comes to rest its weight then starts to make it fall again. The ship has a horseshoe shape and Shaw is again in the line of impact and instead of employing the same strategy to avoid being crushed she just sits and waits for it to hit her- lucky for her she was laying just lower than land that is apparently immovable even as a massive ship with tons and tons of weight smashed on top of it.
At this point you might be asking yourself how I could have liked this movie so much with all of the snarky logic questions and comments I had about the film’s logic and mysteries. Well I wish I had a more elaborate answer, but the fact of the matter is that despite the failures in the script, I found the film to be extremely interesting, well acted and visually stunning. You can check out my review if you need a more detailed reason for liking it, but to generalize it even more I’m a believer of first impressions. My first impression of PROMETHEUS was that of respect and wonder at the ideas it tries to present rather or not they make full sense to me and the skill at which it was put together including the breathtaking visuals. If you want a more smart ass answer then here- I say and do ridiculous things on a daily basis yet I’m married and I have friends that all seem to like me quite a bit despite not agreeing or not understanding the gibberish that comes out of my mouth. In the end it all comes down to what you’re able to accept and I choose to accept PROMETHEUS for its ambition rather than write it off as mediocre and mindless.
That’s all I’ve got for now- thought I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something. Either way, feel free to weigh in with your comments below, maybe spill your thoughts on my questions or provide your own. All theories are welcome and might even be more coherent than what I had to offer. Have fun!
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)