Prometheus is a movie so out there that it’s enough to prompt a busy film-blogger who has been off the web for 5 months to finally return to business. The only thing I can think is that Ridley Scott decided to challenge 2001: A Space Odyssey for the title of most bizarre, incomprehensible sci-fi film. And though he may not have de-throned 2001, he sure came close.
Prometheus has some appeal. It’s visually stunning, in a dark, gloomy, and oppressive sort of way. It’s got a lot of atmosphere, and it at least tries to tackle some big questions. And it’s got something to say about the human quest to search for answers, the human need to believe in something bigger than ourselves, to cling to meaning even when meaninglesness stares us in the face.
At least, I’d like to think that that was what the movie was about, because if it was in fact about something else (which is entirely possible) then I completely misunderstood it. To be fair, that’s more Ridley Scott’s fault than mine, because this movie never really takes a second to step back and explain itself, ever. No matter how weird it gets. And it gets weird. So weird that one has to wonder just what the screenwriter was on when he made this stuff up.
A group of astronauts (and a creepy android named David), searching for proof that human beings were created by aliens, instead stumble upon a room full of black goo. What exactly the black goo does sis up to interpretation, but it seems to have the power to turn whatever it touches into some sort of randomly generated weird space monster. Whether that space monster is a squid, a zombie, or a giant penis-shaped snake with acid blood seems purely up to chance. There’s no real reason or logic to any of it–but that’s ok, because there’s no real reason or logic to anything in this movie.
Characters get face-raped by tentacles, burned alive, beaten, and dismembered, and it’s hard to care about any of them because they don’t feel like real people. Everyone in this movie says and does things that are so bizarre you have to wonder if they’re all secretly androids like David. They seem to have no instinct for self preservation, taking off their helmets and refusing to bring a weapon with them when they leave the ship. Maybe they WANT to die?
Later, a woman staggers into a room full of people, naked except for a few bandages, covered in blood and sweat wit ha huge gash in her abdomen. They all just look over at her and go back to what they were doing. No one says “are you all right?” or “what happened to you?” or “do you need medical help?” They all just go back to what they were talking about before. What callous dicks.
The worst part has to be when one character deliberately poisons another with black go, apparently for no better reason than “that he can.” Was this just some sort of sick science experiment? Why infect an innocent man with some unknown alien substance that, for all you know, could turn him into a giant squid monster? Surely there must be some hidden plot afoot. Well, if there is, we’re never going to get a scene that explains it.
As the film progresses, we learn that the goo is some sort of weapon that the aliens who created humans were planning to use to wipe out earth. For some reason, they decided their own creations needed to be destroyed. Why? We never learn. Luckily, before the aliens could destroy earth, something wiped them out and left their little anthill of horrors abandoned. What wiped them out? We never learn. Why did the aliens (who have bases on other planets) not just send another ship to wipe us put when the first one failed? Did they change their minds? Maybe, but again–it’s never explained. This movie isn’t about to answer any questions for us, which is irritating, because it’s a mystery movie that derives its very plot from the existence of these questions.
Sure, it’s possible to explain all of this, if you work at it. There are some pretty deep thinkers on the internet who have done a decent job of it. I’ve heard that this movie is actually about how Jesus was an alien, and it was the murder of Jesus that prompted the aliens to destroy earth. I’ve heard it’s all a metaphor for some Persian mythology. But the thing is this–the movie forces you, the audience to write its script for it. It leaves you grasping at threads, instead of weaving the threads together into something resembling a satisfying story.
Somehow, despite its shortcoming,s Prometheus remains strangely watchable, even enjoyable. It’s just so weird you can’t help but be somewhat enthralled by it. The prospect of telling your friends that (spoilers?) you just watched a woman give birth to a giant squid with a toothy vagina-mouth that then raped a giant bald alien that looks like Voldemort and caused that alien to give birth to a cone-headed alien that came bursting out of his chest is enough to keep you going. Because really, who is ever going to believe this crazy sh–?