Those of you who follow my blog know I’m a big sci-fi fan and have seen all the Alien movies: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, and Alien vs. Predator. So of course I had to check out the Alien prequel, Prometheus. My father is the one who first got me into sci-fi as a kid, and his one request for Father’s Day was that I go see this movie with him. (He took my mother to see the original Alien, and all she can tell you is what the ceiling tiles in the theater looked like, LOL).
Spoiler alert: I’m going to blab about the movie now, so stop reading if you want to be surprised.
Maybe I got my expectations up because Ridley Scott directed Prometheus, but the best I can say is that the movie was okay. My main complaint is that it was confusing. The movie opens with a scene of mountains, rocks, streams, and waterfalls. Unless I blinked and missed it, there was no subtitle for this part to give the audience a clue as to whether this was Earth or another planet and what year it was. Then again, I might have been too impatient. It turns out this is Earth prior to humans, and an alien space ship drops off a cloaked figure—an alien man who’s part of a race called the Engineers. This Engineer walks to the edge of the cliff overlooking a waterfall, removes his cloak, and wow! Very, very cool-looking alien. I thought the impact was spectacular. Beyond that, I was also impressed with the makeup artistry that went into this guy. Maybe I watch too much of SyFy’s Face Off, but I couldn’t help but dissect all the appliances and makeup needed to create this alien’s full-body makeup. Bravo!
All right. Here’s where the story starts to get convoluted. I’ll give you the summary as best as I was able to understand it, but I’m telling you up front that I had trouble following along.
The Engineer on the cliff drinks something that ultimately makes him disintegrate, fall into the water, and spew his broken-down DNA everywhere. This DNA eventually leads to humans appearing on the scene, so this part is a creation story. Ages later, archeologists look at cave paintings, hieroglyphs, etc., from around the world and find similar pictures depicting an Engineer pointing at a galaxy/constellation. An exploratory ship called the Prometheus sets out and arrives at a planet in this galaxy in 2093. The scientists onboard think they’re there to search for the Engineers, but Mission Director Vickers has another agenda she won’t divulge. Peter Weyland, the wealthy old man who funded this trip, is supposedly long dead back on Earth, but he sent his weird, creepy android, David, along. It took me a while to be absolutely sure David was an android because he does a lot of sinister smirking throughout the movie. (I preferred Ash from the original, who was played by Iam Holm, who you might better know as Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Ring movies).
The ship lands, the scientists go to explore an underground structure that’s really a buried ship, and they set out probes to map the area and search for life signs. All but one Engineer (who’s in stasis) is dead, and a bunch of containers start leaking black ooze as soon as the humans arrive. The ooze is basically a biological weapon that morphs anything it comes in contact with into a homicidal predator. Small worms turn into three-foot long eel-like creatures that break one explorer’s arm and shoot through the face of his helmet. The guy who tries to help his buddy gets killed with a face full of acid when he cuts the creature. Back at the ship, the probes pick up a life sign that keeps appearing and disappearing, but the movie never gets around to following up on that to tell us what it is. Are we to assume the probe is detecting the worm creatures burrowing in and out of the ground? Or did the resolution to that mystery end up on the cutting room floor?
The android, David, spikes another man’s drink with the black ooze. That guy then sleeps with the heroine, who says she can’t have children. At this point, my father and I turned to each other in the theater and said, “You know she’s pregnant with an alien baby now, don’t you?” Predictable. Her infected lover starts looking moldy so Vickers burns him to a crisp with a flamethrower. That’s all right because he later reanimates a-la-The-Thing and kills a bunch of crewmembers. Meanwhile, the heroine is rapidly moving along in her pregnancy, which David wants her to finish to term. I guess David is a sadistic mad scientist at this point.
The heroine makes a break for it and does a cesarean on herself with nothing but topical anesthetic. That was really impressive. What was even more impressive was her washboard stomach before she hopped up on the operating table. I have to admit I was envious. Once she’s on the table, though, that same stomach bulges, and she has to hurry. She pulls out a bouncing baby squid. Immediately afterward, she hops off the table, races down the hall, and runs right into the old man who financed the mission. Evidently he’s been in stasis in a secret part of the ship. No amount of beauty sleep, however, can overcome the fact that this actor is a younger fellow wearing poorly done old-age makeup. Disappointing. And why is he there? He wants the Engineers to keep him from dying. Oh-kaaay.
The heroine suits up and follows the old man, David (who spontaneously speaks the Engineer language), and his entourage back into the alien ship to wake the Engineer. In response, the Engineer rips David’s head off and kills everyone but the heroine, who makes a break for it. The Engineer then starts up his ship, hell bent on making a run on Earth to destroy all mankind. Fortunately for Earth, the captain of the Prometheus is a stand-up guy who decides to make a kamikaze run on the alien ship. Mission Director Vickers escapes to the planet just before the Prometheus succeeds in taking down the ship, but she is promptly smashed by the falling wreck.
Left with thirty seconds of oxygen, the heroine makes it to a lifeboat vessel and discovers that her squid baby is now ten feet tall. The Engineer, who survived the crash landing, comes to kill her, so she opens the door and releases her squid, which now looks like a giant starfish. The starfish implants an egg in the Engineer’s chest, which later emerges as a fully grown alien (more like the type from the previous movies except that it has a pointy head in back). The heroine magically has more oxygen in her space suit and uses it to grab David’s severed head and body. She takes him to another Engineer ship that David suddenly knows about and flies with the talking head not to Earth, but to the planet of origin of the Engineers. Why? So she can ask them why they’re trying to kill mankind.
Um…yeah. I think that about sums it up. On the plus side, the special effects were great, and I admit I wasn’t bored. The plot moved quickly, and all the actors did a competent job. As a fiction writer myself, I can’t help but wonder if this movie could have been really great if they hadn’t bothered with the humans. Maybe something more like The Island of Dr. Moreau, where the Engineers have their genetic experiments turn on them. What do you think?