"Muddled" and "confused" are two words that seem to be ubiquitous in even the positive reviews for Prometheus, Ridley Scott's first venture into science fiction in more than three decades. Now that the film has been out for a couple of weeks in the UK, and made its debut at the weekend in the US, bloggers (including my colleague Ben Walters), fans and other assorted people with rather too much time on their hands have been delving into the film's mysteries to offer up their own explanations.
**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD**
Why did the nasty black goo affect different members of the Prometheus crew in different ways? What was David the android up to? Why did the engineers turn on mankind after apparently devising our creation?
These are just a few questions being posed about a movie which does very little to answer any of them. Has the much discussed "Alien DNA" in Scott's film finally raised its head above the parapet? Rather than attempting to develop a traditional prequel to his 1979 space slasher flick, the veteran director seems to have picked up on the aspect of that movie which had people talking the most in the three intervening decades, its very inscrutability and enigma. If the presence of the apparently fossilised "space jockey" on the planetoid in the earlier film left you wondering what exactly was going on (Scott seems to be saying with a twinkle in his eye) be prepared to wind up drooling dead-eyed into your popcorn when the full mind-boggling intergalactic ramifications of Prometheus hit you.
Screenrant's Ben Kendrick has a crack here at explaining the Alien connection. I would attempt to summarise it, but even an abridged version would run to several pages. WhatCulture even posits an equation to explain the biological events of the movie: "infected host + impregnating another (via good old intercourse) = the creation of a facehugger (or indeed 'body' hugger) and body hugger + host = Xenomorph." Even celebrities are getting involved: James Franco has taken to the Huffington Post to offer his own take:
There is an interesting prologue that is supposed to explain how the aliens could be our creators: they came to our planet and melted one of their own so that his DNA entered the water. And from this, I guess we can assume that the process we understand as evolution took place? Seems a bit funny that the engineers, as the aliens are called, wouldn't just inhabit the planet as themselves. Why boil themselves down into bacteria in the water? And it is also a bit strange to imagine that we descended from these creepy humanoids (they look like pale, hairless body builders) and then evolved over the course of millions of years to become humans. I guess this is a scientific explanation for a god-like figure making us in his image, but it is all a bit mixed up. I don't know much about Scientology except for the abridged version I saw on South Park, but the origin story in Prometheus reminded me of that. That said, I'm the first to acknowledge that the film doesn't need to be religiously or scientifically sound; it just needs to tell a good story, and it more or less does.
Some of Scott's own views on the film's ramifications are detailed in the Screenrant piece to which we linked above, and screenwriter Damon Lindelof has also had a go at clearing a few things up. Why did David poison poor Logan Marshall-Green's Charlie, and did he know what would happen to Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw as a result? Lindelof has this to say:
In the scene preceding said "poisoning" (but WAS it?), David was chatting with someone in cryo-sleep via headset that we can safely assume is Weyland [Guy Pearce]. If I were a betting man, I'd say something happened in that conversation that very specifically directed David to spike Holloway's champagne. And yes, it was a safe bet that Holloway would have sex with Shaw soon after. Which is why in space, you should always wear a condom!
Lindelof also had some views on Charlize Theron's character Meredich Vickers, and specifically whether or not she was an android herself.
Vickers. Yes, she does look like David. Yes, this was intentional. What better way to piss off your daughter than to build the male equivalent of her? But enough about daddy issues (seriously, Lindelof, we get it!), allow me to answer your question. Is she a robot?
She is not.
But did Vickers somehow survive being smushed by the gigantic rolling horseshoe that was the derelict ship? Could her scantily-clad push-up training have saved her in that final moment of crushitude? And more importantly, WHY DIDN'T SHE JUST RUN ZIG-ZAGGY OR SIDEWAYS TO AVOID IT?!?
Once again, more questions than answers. While critics have been divided about exactly what Prometheus' muddled logic says about Scott's talents as a film-maker, one cannot fault his talent for creating hype. The movie was one of the most talked about tentpole movies of the year even before it arrived on the big screen. Now that people have seen it, its enigma is spreading like wildfire across the web and long ago went viral. Where will it all end?
A comment made by Scott at a recent junket about the ongoing travails of quantum physicists perhaps offers a frustrating clue. "I get to a wall and sometimes wonder 'who the hell thought of this one?' and I can't get through the wall," he recalls one telling him. "When I get through the wall more is revealed and I still see another wall, so who is making this shit up?"
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