Friday, November 16, 2012

Playing with Fire: A Defense of the film Prometheus (Part 2)

Playing With Fire: A Defense of the film Prometheus (Part 2)

[Warning: This is an in depth rebuttal to an in depth analysis, and is spoilers from beginning to end. If you haven't seen the film, then go watch it first and then come back later. If you've seen the film a dozen times, give or take, then I'll let you be the judge of whether or not JL's complaints are valid and whether or not my rebuttals adequately address and ultimately answer them. My responses to JL's complaints are in blue.]

Part 5 – Return to the Ship

36. Shaw and Holloway should be dead from sandstorm buffeting. Shaw is flung across the entire cargo bay, hitting the back wall hard, but even ignoring that, there’s no way the spacesuits would protect them from that volume of sharp, dangerous, fast-moving sediment.

Yeah, because the people in Dubai die every time a sand storm hits them. No, wait... they don't. Also, let's assume these are better spacesuits than the ones we currently have. We already have fabrics stronger than steel, so maybe these suits are made of really sturdy material? Their helmets are probably 9th gen Gorilla glass. So they're probably harder to dent than steel too. Apart from some nasty bruises, maybe a cracked rib, I don't see any reason to assume Shaw and Holloway would just die upon getting caught up in a sand storm.

The Prometheus story takes place in the future, so we can't expect that their tech will be equivalent to ours. They're most likely much more advanced. So if a viewer is going to complain about the tech, they have to think forward to the time the story takes place and then ask themselves whether it is possible that they could have, for example, sturdier materials for building state of the art space suits.

What JL has simply done is brought the futuristic space suits into the past, and then has made them equivalent to our technological status, thus degrading them to a more primitive state, then complaining because today's standard of tech don't pass the sand storm in space test. This is stupid. If you are going to gripe about something like this, you have to keep it within the context of the story, otherwise, you've simply raised a non-issue. Which is exactly what this is.

37. How does the Captain not know where the Geologist and Biologist are? He has a camera feed and a 3D map we previously saw him examining. For that matter, How can the Geologist and Biologist get lost at all if the Captain has this map to locate them?

They went off the charted region of the map. They state the probe stopped where it found life, and being the cowards they are, they headed the other direction, and subsequently walked off the charted map. Presumably all the other probes were busy or else finished. Maybe they automatically shut down? Harmonizations aside, all I know is that it's not a necessary point to drive the plot, so it's an unnecessary complaint.

38. Why, when analyzing the alien head, does the computer say “SAMPLE STERILE: NO CONTAGION PRESENT?” Not three minutes later, they will examine the head and see cells “in a state of change,” which would absolutely count as a contagion.

Because they scanned the helmet, not the head inside it. The chronology is right there in the film. First they scanned the helmet, opened it, found big face underneath, then they jammed the medical thingy into the head's ear, tricked it into waking up, then whatever infection it had awakened along with it, and pop-goes-the-alien. No confusion at all if you assume the scanners couldn't penetrate the helmet. If you assume they could penetrate the helmet, then this would kill the scene dead, because they'd never open the mask. They'd just freeze it or destroy it, and well, no suspense

So let's assume that the scanners couldn't get through the alien mask... at least not well... since the scanners detected a head underneath. But let's assume the helmet was interfering with the scan, or couldn't pick up the genetic mutagens because they weren't activated yet because they hadn't tried to revive the alien head yet. Again, this is yet another instance where the requisite to keep the story going trumps the "what ifs" which are all but unnecessary if there is no reason for asking them. Is there really a good reason for asking why the scanners cannot penetrate the alien's mask? No? Okay then. Moving on.

39. Why does Dr. Shaw have David just break the ‘helmet’ apart without doing any analysis on it? That would be a significant scientific and archaeological find, but they just destroy the helmet without batting an eyelash.

Actually, Shaw states they don't know how to open it, and David just comes over and figures it out. Again, without letting them have the opportunity to object. Just pay attention to the film next time, please.

40. “I think we can trick the nervous system into thinking it’s still alive.” But why bother? Dr. Shaw has the single most amazing discovery in all of human history in her hands, an actual alien head, and instead of investigating the bone structure, the organs, or the cells they see changing and multiplying, she decides to shock the head with increasingly powerful amounts of electricity. Why? We never find out. The absolute most that could happen is some facial muscles would twitch. Otherwise, dead is dead, and all Dr. Shaw accomplishes in going electro-crazy is blowing up this massively significant scientific discovery. It may be the stupidest thing any so-called ‘scientist’ has ever done in a movie.

Supposedly the helmet preserved the head and the face well enough to attempt a revitalization (using an unspecified tech). Maybe Shaw was hoping she could revitalize it long enough to talk to it? The bigger question is why is this scene even in the movie? Does it actually progress the plot? Not really. But it does add a suspenseful sequence where there is a lull in the storytelling and this helps pick up the pacing. In other words, this scene is necessary so the audience doesn't lose interest in the story when it shifts to character pieces after having been non-stop action sequences thus far. Watching scientists just do mundane lab work would kill the story dead. So instead, they make like Frankenstein, and get their freak on.

41. Dr. Shaw – and the script – do not understand how DNA works. When Dr. Shaw runs the exploded alien head’s DNA, she finds that it is a 100 percent match with humans. She then, in a later scene, concludes emphatically that they must have ‘created’ us. That is a faulty deduction. A 100 percent DNA match means that the Engineers are humans. Their physical features are different because they lived and evolved in separate environments than us, but make no mistake: Identical DNA means identical species. That’s still a massively significant discovery, of course, to find other human life in the universe, but it absolutely does not mean that these creatures ‘made’ humans through some sort of intelligent design.

Actually, yeah it does. Just as we have the technology to clone today, making a human clone would technically be intelligent design, and it would also be 100% human. These aliens seeded Earth with their own DNA, in this story at least, and humans arose. Which means, yes, the alien race is technically a more evolved version of humans. Thus, Shaw is right in both instances. She discovers the DNA is an exact match, and like the clone analogy, they *engineered us by using their own DNA to create us--that's the definition of intelligent design. So I don't get the objection here.

42. Why is Holloway so depressed? I hate this character so damn much, and this scene is the reason why. While getting drunk off his ass, he asks Shaw if she thinks they wasted their time coming here, which is a ridiculously stupid thing to say. They found ALIEN LIFE!!! It is literally the greatest discovery in human history, and Holloway wants to drink himself to death because he did not get to “talk” to them. Bullocks. For one, he’s still assuming they were our ‘creators,’ which Shaw’s little DNA test just scientifically disproved, and more importantly, nothing in Holloway’s previous actions indicated why he would be so obsessed with getting “answers.” He’s such a thin character that we have no idea what his motivations would be for wanting to know ‘where we came from,’ or anything else like that. His depression makes absolutely no sense, and it’s infuriating.

***This is probably the first gripe I agree with. I too didn't like Holloway's attitude, and I found it really did nothing for the character. I also stopped liking him after this scene, because before, he was a daredevil explorer! After this scene, he's just a douchebag. So when Holloway dies, I don't feel anything for him. If I would have liked Holloway until his dramatic demise, I'm sure his death would have made a bigger impact. So I fully agree, this depression of the character seemed out of place here.

43. Why does the Captain screw with the Geologist and Biologist, subtly convincing them to go look for the source of the scanner ‘ping?’ Does he get off on putting crew members in danger?

Maybe he's just giving them something to do? That's the vibe I got from the scene.

44. Why is Shaw trying to ‘figure out’ what made the alien head combust? Is pumping it full of electricity not a good enough reason? There are risks to reckless experimentation, you know.

See rebuttals to 38 and 40.

45. More faulty science: “Their genetic material predates ours; we come from them.” Shaw has no possible way to know this. We are told specifically how old the alien body was – “two-thousand years, give or take” – which means that 2000 years is the absolute furthest her equipment could ‘date’ anything in the body, and automatically nullifies her conclusion.

Again, it helps to pay attention to the film. These are separate issues entirely. Shaw dates the dead body to 2,000 years old. That means, this is how far back it was since the body had died. Their genetic material of the alien race is obviously older, since they are the Engineers of human life, and must have been technologically advanced 500 million years before life on Earth (seen in the film’s opening sequence). So Shaw can deduce that their genetic material predates ours. Again, these are two separate topics in the film. I don't even see how JL conflated these two points, because I sure didn't. I'd be interested to know if anybody else found this problematic, and if so, why?

46. Why does Holloway automatically assume that the Engineers would have been able to tell the humans about their own creators? The entire point behind the Prometheus mission is that we know nothing about our creators, so why assume the Engineers would be able to explain everything about theirs.

I don't actually understand this complaint. I don't recall any scene where Holloway talks about drilling the Engineers on their own creators? I even skipped to this area of the film and watched the scenes where this supposed dialog occurred and didn't find anything substantial. So without knowing what JL has in mind here, I’m just going to ignore it and move on.

47. What about Holloway and Shaw indicate that they want to have children? Never mind how awkward Shaw’s “I can’t create life” line sounds in context. Just consider how strange it seems for these two people, who travel around the world looking at cave paintings and are now on a multi-year space exploration, to think they could lead a parental lifestyle.

What? This isn't even a complaint.

The characters are obviously a couple, in an intimate relationship, and Shaw merely brings it up so Holloway doesn't get his hopes up. Obviously, it’s a discussion they've had before, but the real reason it’s brought up is to shock the audience by the fact that our barren female heroine finds out she’s pregnant a few minutes later in the film. Surprise! And it probably ain’t human either: queue scary cesarean operation scene.

So this back-story is necessary for the wow factor in shocking the audience, so we can make the revelation along with her. In mystery fiction writing this is called a closed mystery, where you find out along with the character at the same time the revealing secret or big ‘who-dunnit’. The opposite is knowing in advance, called an open mystery, and you know everything before the character finds out. What I particularly liked in this scene was the fact that the writers keep the Holloway mystery an open mystery while making Shaw’s mysterious pregnancy a closed mystery, even as they are overlapping with one another.

It actually this dialog that JL is complaining about that does the trick in deceiving the view and making Shaw’s pregnancy a closed mystery, but I doubt JL is actually analyzing the film on a technical level such as this—which requires genuine foreknowledge of film-making  It seems he is analyzing it like a fan boy would, which explains why he gets so much wrong, because apart from being a fan boy, he doesn't have anything else in his repertoire which would allow him to seriously break down the film in any way that would give us serious pause. In other words, JL cannot say anything we could not say better, which is why addressing shoddy reviews like this is necessary. Someone has to set the record straight. Again, I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I adequately address these issues, or not.

48. When Vickers and the Captain are awkwardly flirting, she says she flew “half a billion miles from earth.” That isn't just bad math, it’s criminally inept math. They flew across the galaxy, and 500 million miles would barely get you to another planet. Pluto, for instance, is over 3.5 billion miles from Earth. Vickers does not know what she’s talking about.

Maybe she's using billion facetiously? Metaphorically, perhaps? This is another instance of JL taking the dialog literally and getting confused by it in the process. The first instance was with the "casualties" scene. I'm beginning to think JL doesn't get sarcasm.

49. Why is the professional geologist smoking pot inside his helmet? How did he even rig that up? Moreover, why isn't his drug of choice cocaine, given his expressed love of rocks?

Irrelevant. He does it, however he does it, and it's a joke which lightens the mood of the scene right before it gets dark again. It doesn't matter how he rigged it up. Especially since JL doesn't think these space suits amount to much. So why would it matter how he did it? He just did, okay?

50. Why does the Biologist consider the white, mysterious snake creature ‘beautiful’ when he fled frightened from the dead body just a few hours earlier?

Maybe he just likes cute little phallic looking aliens better than giant, gut busted, monstrous beings the size of bloody elephants? Let's just stop trying to second guess the character’s every action and just enjoy the film. Like real people, these characters are flawed and often highly irrational. This is one of the things which makes this movie a nail-biting, edge of your seat, thriller. You can’t predict what the characters will do next. So why try and second guess them?

51. Why does the Biologist – again, a man who studies living organisms professionally – not consider that putting his fingers in the creature’s mouth might be a bad idea?

***Yeah. I agree. The thing flared up like a King cobra, so that sort of says danger right there. But maybe Millburn really was an idiot? Or maybe his curiosity just got the best of him? Who knows? But I wouldn't mark it as an official complaint, just a minor annoyance about the character. But since this sequence actually does move the plot along, I'm not going to fault it.

52. Back on the ship, why does Holloway tell no one about the parasite he sees in his eye? He’s on a ship full of scientists searching for extraterrestrial life. You’d think they would want to know, and I imagine Holloway would want to tell them out of fear for his own life.

Again, we don’t need to second guess the characters. They are flawed and highly irrational, just like real people. This adds to the unpredictability and excitement of the film. When you second guess them, all you are really doing is asking why didn't the writers write this character in a different way? Well, would any other way have served the story better? If not, then it’s not so much a valid complaint as just a fan boy stating he’d have done it differently. This fan boy approach amounts to 90% of JL’s critique so far, and it’s really why I don’t think he has a leg to stand on. At least, I honestly don’t see how he convinced himself the film was as bad as he thinks it is, apart from his fan boy mentality. I don’t mean to single JL out here (he’s just the one I am responding to, in this case). Most fan boys act in this manner though, with an “I could have done it better myself” type of an attitude. The fact that they aren't the one’s making the films says something right there.

53. How do the Captain and crew not know the Geologist and Biologist are dead? With all the info being transmitted back to the ship, including camera feeds and a 3D map that locates each crew member, wouldn't they know immediately if vital signs went silent? Or transmitters just disappeared?

The captain informs them they are signing off until morning. Maybe the computer silently monitored their deaths? I don’t know. But the script actually does account for why there were no transmissions, they turned it all off. I agree that an automated life-signs alarm should have probably gone off in the case of a crew-members death, but then this is just being a fan boy. Could have, would have, should have, but well, I’m not the one making the film. So can I really complain? So whereas I can see where JL is coming from with this complaint, the script deals with it, and accounts for why they wouldn't have received any distress calls—the system was turned off for the night. Since it’s accounted for, there is no reason for the complaint.

54. Why do the crewmembers examine the Geologist’s dead body without helmets on, making them susceptible to attack by the snake creature? That’s exactly what happens. No one is killed by it, but things could easily have ended badly, and wearing their damn helmets would have nullified the risk.

Questions like this are really beginning to grate. Just watch the film again, please. When they first discover the dead bodies of their crew members they don’t actually know what killed them. That’s why. Only when the snake jumps out at their faces do they get a clue. Okay, moving along.

Part 6 – Monster at the Gates and the Medlab

55. If the Engineers control their ships through music, why is music not the universal basis for their communications? It would not be outside the realm of possibility for music to serve as its own language, and in that case, David could actually plausibly understand their communication system and work with it, because music is a scientific and mathematical base that exists throughout the universe. He could study and learn enough about musical theory to reasonably confer with the aliens. It would be a much clearer narrative solution than just having David look at strange symbols and magically, impossibly know what they all mean.

Okay, I have to admit I laughed out loud to myself here. JL is basically asking why Prometheus wasn't made as a musical. You mean, like the Alien musical?

56. The Captain suggests putting the infected Holloway in the medical pod. Why don’t they do that instead of burning him alive?

Vickers is the one who pulls rank and burns him alive, not the captain. Watch the film again, please.

57. Are there no more humane ways to kill an infected crew member than live embalming? Yes, the flamethrower is effective, but couldn't you just as easily shoot him once in the head, humanely putting him out of his misery, and then burn the remains?

Guns on spaceships is a bad idea. At least with a flamethrower the ships automated sprinkler system could turn on and extinguish the flames. One little bullet through the hull though, and everyone is sucked out into the vacuum of space.

58. Why is Holloway suddenly ready to die? He offers himself up to be violently burned to death, but there is no clear reason for why he has spontaneously become the sacrificial type.

Unless he knows what evil is pulsating through his veins and doesn't want the infection to spread. Let’s assume he has some modicum of compassion and intelligence up until the end. He’s giving everyone a fighting chance.

59. Why does Shaw get over Holloway’s death so fast? There’s a cut to white as she cries on the ground, and then she wakes up, a little shocked, but hardly broken up about it. She doesn't even seem to acknowledge how much she lost until near the end of the movie.

It’s called being in shock. 

When my grandpa died, my grandma didn't come to terms with it for one full year. Granted my grandfather was the love of her life for the better part of their lives together, whereas Holloway and Shaw are just young lovers. But still, even young lovers experience shock when a loved one is unexpectedly taken from them—whether it is a car accident or cancer or death by alien disease and flame thrower.

60. Why does David say Shaw is ‘three months pregnant’ with the alien fetus? Three months ago, she would have been in cryostasis. I understand that David is just saying this as an analogy to demonstrate the size of the fetus, but as an android, wouldn't he give a more logical and accurate estimation of size, like ‘the baby is X centimeters large?” Saying three months just confuses Shaw and the audience for no good reason.

So it’s too specific when they use kilometers to chart their distance, but it’s not specific enough when it comes to the size of the fetus? Also, he states “You’re pregnant. From the looks of it, three months.” Thus he is qualifying that her fetus is approximately the size of a three month fetus, and knowing that a human fetus cannot grow that fast, the automatic conclusion is that the fetus is not human. Dun dun dunnnn! What I don’t get is why JL states that he understands that it’s just an analogy, but then proceeds to complain about it literally anyway? Talk about your glaring logical issues!

61. Is there no medical staff aboard the Prometheus? David seems to imply this when he tells Liz there are no staff on board equipped to remove the fetus. We never actually see a Doctor in the film, so there must not be any on board. And that’s just ridiculous. How could you spend a trillion dollars on a mission to an alien world and NOT bring medical personnel along?

Because real astronauts take entire teams of medical staff into space all of the time! Right? Um… wait… they don’t? You don’t say? Also, they have that super-duper state of the art medical machine that Shaw about has an orgasm over when she sees it. That machine effectively eliminates any need for medical staff. Additionally, if the astronauts must pass the same stringent tests and are trained as well as today’s astronauts, then they would be equipped to effectively handle most minor medical emergencies themselves.

62. “To lose Dr. Holloway, after your father died after such similar circumstances.” Um…what? David says this to Shaw, but how on earth could those words be true? Holloway died under the most bizarre, unique circumstances imaginable, infected with alien goo by an evil android and burned to death by a crazy woman with a flamethrower. How could anything ‘similar’ to that have happened to Shaw’s father? David says mentions Ebola, which is, for the record, nothing like being infected by aliens and burned to death.

David isn't making a distinction between the types of infections, just that both men were infected by a chronic disease which ended up killing them. That’s all David meant by it, and that’s all it was intended to mean.

63. Why is the medical pod “calibrated for male patients only?” Does this super-futuristic technology not have enough memory for programs on two different sets of anatomy? Moreover, why would Vickers have the medical pod calibrated for men if it’s part of her escape contingency? Is it possible that she herself is actually a man? Makes as much sense as anything else in this movie.

***Another instance of us agreeing. It doesn't make much sense. But Shaw effectively reprograms it in like 30 seconds toward the end to do her emergency C-section, so maybe it’s just a default setting on the machine? Or maybe it’s really pre-programmed for old man Weyland? But I agree, a machine that technologically advanced probably wouldn't have gender limitations.

64. How can this sophisticated machine work so sloppily? When performing this massive, invasive procedure, it just sprays on a little local anesthetic, cuts Shaw open, rips the fetus out, and staples her shut. There would be severe risks to doing things that way.

Umm… how else do you do a C-section? Teleport the fetus out? I think JL is thinking of Star Trek. (I have to say this… because although this assumption isn't backed by anything… it’s a lot nicer than stating the obvious.)

65. How would Shaw survive that procedure? Or at least not pass out? She’s cut open without any deadening agents around the incision area, gets the alien baby pulled out violently, which would assumedly tear apart her surrounding internal organs, and then, to cap it all off, the baby’s amniotic sac bursts, spraying goo everywhere, including into her incision, which is then stapled shut and would presumably infect her further. Alien material killed her husband like two hours ago, and now she’s filled with it as well. Seriously, how could she survive?

First of all, lasers burn too hot for the body to actually feel them cutting, so there is virtually no pain. Only 10% of LASIK eye laser patients, for example, complain of any discomfort—but no sensation of severe pain. Secondly, it makes sense that the gel spread on her abdomen was probably a regional anesthetic gel of some kind.

Also, to break the scene down, David stabs Shaw with a local anesthetic once. Shaw is awoken by the other scientists a few minutes later. She then escapes to the medical pod, having painful contractions as she runs down the hallway, and she proceeds to override the machine and reprogram it to do an emergency C-section. Next she hits herself up with another local anesthetic right before she hops in. She puts a second one in her mouth just in case, then jumps into the machine. Halfway through the procedure she doses herself with the remaining anesthetic—right in her abdomen. So she basically has four times the anesthesia, and the staples should hold if she doesn't do anything strenuous. Although, we all know that’s not the case.

But apart from the questionable strength of these futuristic staples, there is no indicator that Shaw should have died from the procedure. Women rarely die from C-sections anyway. Natural births are a different matter, however. Over half a million women die each year from giving natural birth.

66. How could Shaw move around freely after surgery? Wouldn’t running around with a freshly stapled cut open the wound, or cause internal bleeding? No way she could walk, let alone run. Not even close.

***Yeah, this is another area I think the storytellers got a little technically sloppy. Even if the SFX department would have made a healing laser glide over the wound I would have been satisfied. But maybe we’re supposed to think that Shaw is a total badass—cuz she ain’t got time to bleed. As the precursor to Ripley, this makes sense.

67. Why does the medical pod’s decontamination not kill the alien baby?

I thought it merely froze it when I watched it. Also, we don’t know anything about the alien squid creature. Maybe it’s resistant to whatever decontamination process JL thinks occurred. Anything we might say would just be guess work, so I don’t want to claim that we know what happened. The fact that it is left a little ambiguous is done on purpose, because we need to forget about the alien fetus until right toward the end. So I think this ambiguity plays rather nicely here.

68. Why is zombie-Geologist magically able to contort his body into impossible positions and attain superhuman strength? The parasite could maybe control his actions, but not his actual physical limits and abilities.

Maybe the alien physiology changed the way his body works? This amounts to little more than a total unknown. So it makes no sense to try and rebut this.

69. How is Shaw not completely stoned from taking massive amounts of painkiller shots?

Oh, so now you realize she took painkillers? When your question to a previous question negates that question, this is called a logical inconsistency.

70. Why does absolutely no one react when Shaw walks in on Weyland and company, naked and covered in blood and goo?

I wasn't thrown off by this scene at all. Weyland knows exactly what happened. Everything has been under his control since the mission began. Evidence for this is in his secret communication with David. Vickers confronts David in the corridor and demands he tell her what he said. When David informs Shaw she is pregnant, he suggests they put her back into cryostasis until they can perform the surgery. Obviously, this is a lie. The machine can perform the surgery, but David wants to preserve the alien, as we can assume this is his orders from Weyland. The fact that they let Shaw get to the machine, means they wanted to extract the alien and most likely study it. David himself says they need to study it. This is what led me to believe it was frozen after Shaw escapes. The freezing would preserve it.

The question I was thinking was, if David knows about everything going on in the ship, why doesn't he show up and stop her from extracting it? Well, it’s because he probably knew exactly what was going on, and Weyland probably ordered him to let it proceed. Thus when Shaw shows up, Weyland is of the attitude, “What took you so long?” Classic Weyland.

But that’s just my personal interpretation of the scene. I’ll let you decide which one makes the most sense in the context of the story. Just ask, does JL’s shock that no one reacted, and so it was strange, seem accurate to you? Or does my interpretation of the scene, given the previous clues, seem satisfactory? Again, it’s up to you to decide.

71. Why, in turn, does no one ever seem surprised about Weyland being on board?

Because it was never out of the realm of possibility that he wouldn't be on board. Weyland’s search for eternal youth would drive him to cryogenically preserve himself until he could find that fountain of youth and drink from the well with his own lips, so to speak. In the back of our minds, we suspected it, and probably so did everyone else.

72. Why, for that matter, did Weyland bother deceiving them? What did tricking the crew into thinking him dead achieve? When he comes back, we never find out anything about this, and it never comes into play. He doesn’t mind for a second when Shaw finds out, for instance.

When Vickers confronts her father, she asks him if he’s trying to take the company back. Basically she is second in control of the company, and will soon inherit her father’s legacy. Whether she knew he was on the ship isn't ever clearly stated, although she certainly figures it out if she didn't know. So Weyland appears, all of the sudden, and it’s uncertain whether or not he’s trying to regain control of just the mission—or what.

All considered, knowing the previous tension between them, and Vickers defiance of her father, maybe the mission couldn't have gone forward without her seal of approval. Maybe she’s begrudgingly allowing him to come along for the ride. Maybe she doesn't have any choice? But if she was required to get the mission rolling, if it was her approval that was needed, this explains the need for Weyland’s secrecy. Whether or not it accurately reflects what might have been happening in the background of these characters back-stories is anybody’s guess, but it seems that there is just enough hints of this type of back-story to sustain such an interpretation.

Again, it’s another question that it left ambiguous, and it’s up to the audience to fill in the details themselves. Good science fiction has a way to get you to think to yourself, “What is really going on here?” But again, these details are rather trivial. We don’t really need to know why Weyland is being deceptive. Maybe he’s just an old crotchety fart who gets his kicks, and maintains his power, by always being one step ahead of everyone. It could simply be that, but at least there is enough going on to make his mysterious arrival something interesting for the viewers. As such, I won’t fault it.

Part 7 – The Mission to Awaken a Sleeping Giant

73. “If these things made us, then surely they can save us.” Why does Weyland think this? Even in traditional human theology, all versions of God let their creations die, at least in body. Gods do not save their creations from illness or harm. So what would make Weyland think this?

Recent advances in medical science talk about nanite technologies which can preserve the cells and increase people’s longevity. We have stem cells which can become entirely new cells. Our understanding of the body at the genetic level is now possible. Genetic engineering seems to be a real possibility in the not so distant future. So given these factors, the question ought to be, how could we not achieve immortality 500 million years from now if everything progresses the way it has been? Weyland is simply making the same assumption. If they had the technology to create us 500 million years ago, then perhaps they are advanced enough to have the ability to prolong life almost indefinitely?  It doesn't even take a giant leap of faith. Just trust in the continued progress, and success, of science.

74. Why does Shaw not tell a single person about the alien fetus monster she just ripped out of her own stomach?

Dude! She just ripped an alien monster fetus out of her own womb! If you've ever seen a woman give birth in real life, you’ll understand the exact level of shock the body goes into. This is why I agreed with the previous complaint, about the staples. It just doesn't seem realistic, all considered. But her not telling anyone can *easily be explained by her current state of shock—and the fact that she’s a bit doped up on so many painkillers.

75. How could Shaw get into a super-tight space suit, zip it up as quickly and forcefully as possible, and not rip open her wound? Especially when she proceeds to run around like that for the rest of the film.

Now it seems we’re just fixating on the wound thing, which we already agreed is far-fetched  So this being the third complaint about the same thing, I am just going to skip it.

76. Why does the Captain suddenly know everything about the Engineers’ plans out of nowhere? He just barges in to talk to Shaw, says “don’t you know what this place is?” and proceeds to explain that it’s a military instillation, the pods were weapons, and the Engineers were killed by it. He has absolutely no reason to know or suspect any of this.

In my version of the film on Bluray, the scene does not play like this. So I’ll skip it and move on.

77. “You must care about something Captain.” Why, at this sudden point, is Shaw getting all moralistic and idealistic on the Captain? She just lost her husband, had an alien baby ripped out of her, and is running around covered in blood. What does she have left to stay up on her high horse about?

She’s talking about saving Earth! The captain has been on the ship nearly the whole time, and he only knows that the Engineer has been awakened via the video. But he doesn't know where the ship is actually headed. Shaw has a bad gut feeling (no pun intended) about all this, and having just experienced firsthand the genetic manipulation of the black ooze they found in the canisters on the ship, she puts two and two together—and realizes that the Engineer won’t just be satisfied with this groups destruction, he’s taking off to wipe out all of humanity by dropping entire canisters of the horrible black stuff on the planet. It is full scale biological warfare we’re talking about. Granted, it’s not at all certain. The Engineer could simply be craving a Doughnut and is flying to the nearest star diner to get his fix, after 2,000 long years? But given the story so far, I’m inclined to agree with Shaw’s hunch. But since it is just that, a hunch, she says, “You have to believe me!”

78. Why does Shaw not tell the Captain about the alien monstrosity in the medical pod, when it is now his explicit mission to protect the ship and not bring “any of this shit” back to Earth?

She’s a little bit busy running for her life. You honestly think she’s going to stop, take a few breathes, and be like, “Oh, by the way, I left you a little present in the lab for you all.” I don’t know, but I’d find that rather silly, at least too hokey to be a good alternative to the scene as we have it. In the middle of running away from a giant who viciously and violently tore apart half your crew, then getting blasted out of an exhaust vent, and barely surviving a death defying leap across a ravine on a rocky alien surface, as the underground hangar opens beneath her feet, it seems to me that Shaw was a little too preoccupied for any form of casual chit chat.

79. Vickers’ motivation for travelling with Prometheus makes no sense. She says she came along to be there when Weyland dies, so she would get control of the company, but if she had stayed on Earth, she would have four whole years, if not more, to gain control.

I doubt that was her motivation. From her conversation with her father, it is clear she already controls most of the company. To me, it never was made clear why she was there. I think maybe, and this is just a wild guess, that she was more like her father than she cared to admit. She probably secretly wanted the same thing he did… immortality. I only say this because of how viciously she sticks it to him that he’s old and, in all probability, will die on this mission, as if to say, she’s not. It could be read as her saying, because she’s younger, she’s going to have time to find the secret to eternal life that he so longs for, but Weyland is barely hanging together as it is—and won’t probably survive the day.

80. Why is everyone so sure the Canisters are weapons? Yes, they killed some crew members who messed with them, but why does that automatically make them weapons built to destroy humanity? There is no clear evidence to support such intent.

Everything that went near them or had direct contact with them died horribly. No clear evidence to support that the canisters contain some majorly bad voodoo? What movie were you watching bro? Seriously.

81. How can David actually speak the Engineers’ language? What roots would he be able to study to figure it all out and then speak in a way the Engineer, a being thousands of years older than him, could fluently understand?

***Yeah, this is a problem, but one a trained eye would easily understand as—not so much a problem with the writing or story, but an editing issue. The original sequence of the Engineer awakening had him speaking with Weyland through David. You can view this scene in the deleted scenes on the special features disk. David proceeds to translate Wayland’s questions. Upon informing the Engineer that he wants to live forever, the Engineer asks “Why?” And Wayland replies, “To be like you. To become a god!” Obviously, this was the wrong answer, as the Engineer proceeds to murder everyone.

This one of the things we have to be aware of when watching any form of cinema, or television, sometimes the continuity gets thrown off by what are called continuity errors—which usually arise because of editing choices and the inability to do reshoots.  So while I agree that it leaves the standard audience perplexed, the moment I saw it I realized that it was due to the editing, without having seen the special features. How did I know this? Well, I've studied screenplay writing and teleplay writing, and it just screams out at you—continuity error! And continuity errors can only be for two reasons, shoddy writing or unfortunate editing choices. Well, the writing up until this point was par to none, so it seemed to me that it was probably an editing issue. And it was.

That said, it plays as a much more ominous scene when you don’t know the motivation for why the Engineer started killing everyone. His silence is genuinely eerie. As for how David might know his language, he did hear them speaking in the hologram room.

82. Why does Shaw assume and assert that the Engineers hate them? Yes, a lot of bad things happened to the crew, but almost all of it was because the so-called ‘scientists’ took stupid, destructive actions, or because David enjoyed messing with things. Yes, we find out later that the Engineer does seem to have bloodlust for them, but at the point Shaw asks him why he hates them, everything that happens has still been their own fault.

Woman’s intuition perhaps? Or the fact that the black stuff which David infected Holloway with, and which impregnated Shaw caused her to give birth to an alien squid, nearly taking her life in the process—all gives Shaw a unique perspective. Every instance that she has come across the Engineer’s tech has ended in horror. So Shaw is traumatized, and in her mind, all this points toward something pernicious, evil. Inhuman. Personally, I felt that she was just coming out of shock in that instance, and wants answers. So she stands her ground and accuses the Engineer of being a hateful being… and well, is she wrong? The Engineer ends up killing nearly everyone, and continues to pursue her even after his ship crashes, so he either hates the puny Earthlings or he has a hard on for mass murder.

In the back of my mind I keep thinking, maybe this is how the Predator race evolved. If they were seeded, like humans, but perhaps had more contact with their Engineer overlords, maybe this brutal sort of—survival of the fittest—translated into the warrior culture of the Predators? It’s just a fan boy speculation, but it seems it would fit within the universe and back-story  It would also give humans interesting ties to the Predators. Whether or not this will be explored in the future will remain to be seen, but it seems one logical direction worth taking the Engineer back-story.

83. Why was Weyland in this movie? He dies with absolutely no fulfillment of his arc, no one mentioning how weird it was that he was on the ship the entire time, or any clear reason for his existence.

Even without seeing the deleted scenes, I understood that Weyland wanted to live forever. Again, the conversation with his daughter reveals as much. But he states it to Shaw directly when he’s suiting up to go revive the Engineer. Weyland says, “You convinced me that if they created us, they could save us. Well, me, at any rate.”

“Save you? From what?” Shaw asks.

“From death, of course,” Weyland answers.

It’s all right there in the film.

Part 8 – All Good Things Must Come to an End

84. Why does the Engineer decide to just go to Earth by himself? We saw that this ship had a crew. How could he fly it all alone, and why would he want to?

Again, there is no limitations on the Engineer’s tech, being 500 million years more advanced than us. Automated pilot or fully computerized co-pilot would just be primitive tech to him. Obviously his ship is capable of flying itself. Maybe the destruction of Earth only requires one ship? David says there are other ships on the planet toward the end. Maybe there are more Engineers too? All of these questions can be good plot threads to follow up in any future sequels.

85. Why does everyone know the black goo is bad? Since David was the guy who infected Holloway with the black goo, and Holloway is so far the only character to directly die from it, David should therefore be the only one who knows what black goo does. So why does everyone else know it’s dangerous, and then assume it’s been weaponized for use on Earth?

See my answer to 82.

86. Why does the crew assume that the Engineers are A – going to Earth – and B – going to Earth to kill all the humans? There has been no evidence for this conclusion, especially to characters like Shaw, who are just making massive logical jumps at this point.

***Agreed. Apart from David, the only one who actually sees the hologram system locked onto Earth’s coordinates, nobody else technically knows the ship is headed for Earth. Shaw just has a gut feeling that it is. So while I agree with objection A, I don’t agree with objection B. Why is it meant to kill all humans? Well, the Engineer just about darn near killed the entire crew. So that’s a big clue right there.

87. At the point where Shaw is running and jumping over massive holes in the Earth as the big plates come apart, they have just abandoned the idea that she just had horrible stomach surgery, haven’t they?

Planet. Not Earth. Earth is the name of our own planet, third from the sun. At any rate, Shaw is constantly shown being in pain and out of breath. So they haven’t forgotten. She’s simply in survival mode—adrenaline pumping.

88. When escaping, why does Vicker not use her big lifeboat she prepared for this sort of scenario, and instead jump into the little escape pod? For that matter, why does the Captain eject and destroy the lifeboat?

He launches the lifeboat before Vickers even leaves the bridge. He doesn't destroy it. It lands and crashes into a rock. The captain tells her she has 40 seconds to get to an escape pod, and she does. That’s about it.

89. Why do Shaw and Vickers start fleeing from the big rolling alien ship by running in perfect tandem with the length of the ship, instead of moving a few meters horizontally and being perfectly safe?

Maybe the mass of the ship is just too big to actually predict which way it’s rolling at first. The same thing happens when cutting down large trees. Measuring the lean and predicting where the tree will fall actually takes more time than simply looking to see which way an object is falling. The ships strange shape probably made it difficult to predict the lean and which way it was rolling at first. The rest is them just getting caught in the path of the ship as it crashes.

90. Why was Vickers in this movie? You literally remove her from every single scene she’s in and the movie would not be different in the slightest. She did nothing over the course of this film, and in the end, was killed for a brief ‘shock’ moment. Totally unnecessary character.

She’s just the equivalent of a Redshirt, sure. But I wouldn’t say she was completely useless. Here character arc is simple, short, and uninteresting, sure. But she provides sorely needed eye candy and acts as the fantasy of every young male’s wet dream, because it’s freakin’ Charlize Theron!

Part 9– The Crash and Final Confrontation

91. How is the rock that saves Shaw strong enough to hold a massive, city-sized alien spaceship at bay?

It’s a very strong rock, maybe? It could be the rock provided just the right about of resistance to create enough of a bounce back to stop the inertia—since the more massive and object the greater the inertia it will have. It’s not actually a big deal.

92. Why is there is a giant axe, curved and spiked on the ends like a horror movie weapon, on the lifeboat right when Shaw needs it? It can’t be to break down doors, because the doors on the ship aren’t wooden.

The heft and throat on many modern fire axe designs are actually curved for a reason. It provides angular momentum on an otherwise ordinary grip, so that you can swing the axe with a greater force. It also provides a better grip, and unique shape can be used for leverage when prying the axe back out.

93. How did the alien baby grow many times its original size in just a few short hours? There is no food or energy source in the room for it, which means this is a total betrayal of the Law of Conservation of Mass.

Actually, no it’s not a betrayal of the Law of Conservation of Mass. Look it up. Organism growth does generally follow a universal law of growth, but it depends on cell turn over. Meanwhile, certain organsims, like the giant tube worm, can feed on surrounding bacteria as their primary means of nourishment. What the squid creature uses for food remains a mystery. That said, its cell turnover rate is actually equivalent to certain cancerous tumor growth rates. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could grow that big in a few hours. Remember, the Engineer’s are masters of genetic and biological manipulation.

94. How does David know the Engineer is coming for Shaw at the exact moment he comes for Shaw? For that matter, how does David know where Shaw has gone? How can David even still communicate after being decapitated?

He has built in Wi-Fi maybe? How else could he communicate over the receiver? How does he know? Well, he was in the same room as the Engineer. So presumably, after the ship crashes, and David is tossed around like a ball, he probably sees the Engineer get out of the chair and run out of the room. Where else could he be going but to find Shaw, who he let run loose moments earlier? It’s all pretty straight forward assumptions based on how the scenes were set up and then unfold. No rocket science here. Just the simple practice of paying attention to the film will help answer such questions.

95. How did the Engineer even survive the ship exploding and crashing?

He was sitting in an armored chair, perhaps? Maybe the chair has airbags? Again, it’s not an important enough of an issue to even gripe about. Moving on.

96. How could David operate the alien ships? What base of knowledge does he have to be able to operate massive alien vessels? All he’s done is see and interact with them for a day or two, so how does that makes up both for his gap in knowledge and the lack of a crew? He doesn’t even have a body at this point.

He’s technically a computer. The ship is a computer. They probably can communicate on a binary level. Just plug David in… and he can work the system. He doesn't need his body to understand the basic codes of zeros and ones, that’s all in his programming. Since he’s a thinking computer, it makes sense that he could manipulate the spaceship’s code and gain access to its systems.

97. David says he knows where the Engineers came from, and can take Shaw there. How does he know this? What knowledge would or could he have amassed in the course of the film to answer a massive celestial question like that?

Nope. Again, watch the film more closely. David says he figure out the navigation system and can plot a course back home, to Earth. Shaw says she doesn't want to go back to where we came from, but instead, go to where they came from. She asks David whether he thinks he can plot a course to their home world. He actually takes a few moments to think it through, then says, “Yes, I believe I can.” The last scene is of another ship taking up and then jumping away—presumably David and Shaw are headed toward the alien home world.

98. “They created us. Then they tried to kill us. They changed their minds.” There is slight evidence for one of those statements, but none for some of them, and not enough to strongly support any of them. All she knows for sure is that the Engineer did not like the Prometheus crew, the Prometheus crew was incredibly stupid and got themselves killed, and that the Engineer has a ship to go….somewhere. Could have been Earth, could have been the Restaurant at the end of the Universe. Who the hell knows?

Again, this is Shaw’s belief. David even questions her on it, stating that the answer is irrelevant, but she just says the reason she needs to find out is that she’s human. David doesn't seem to understand, and she says he wouldn't understand because he’s not human. So in this conversation, it seems she isn't entirely certain herself. But she wants to find the answers to the questions she has. She’s still looking for answers. So she decides going to go to their planet to ask them personally is the best course—even if it means her death (presumably).

99. Who is Shaw making her final log to? How is she making this log? How is she transmitting? Who is she transmitting to? Why is she doing it? Good lord, none of this makes sense anymore…

She states it’s a transmission. Between the time she rescues David, gets on the new ship, etc , we don’t actually know her whereabouts or goings on. We don’t know what equipment she has. Maybe she sent the broadcast using the lifeboat’s receiver? Maybe David’s utility belt had a receiver in it which, like a wi-fi device, or a smart phone, could communicate directly to the computer on the lifeboat. We can speculate numerous things given the details of the film. One of the things I liked about this film, Prometheus, is that it doesn't have this obsessive need to show us everything, or hold the audiences hand the entire way. It takes its audience as intelligent, as all good sci-fi does. So for that I give it kudos.

100. Why does Shaw use the phrase “Year of Our Lord” at the end, when she now firmly believes aliens created humanity, thus rendering Jesus, Christianity, and all other earthly religions null and void?

It doesn't really matter why she said ‘the year of our lord,’ it’s a made up story. So just calm down already.

Oh yeah. Because she’s an idiot, and this movie is stupid.

Well, that’s one opinion. But I think I thoroughly smacked down any such notion of the film being stupid. As it turns out, there is ample scientific support that makes this film believable. Still, let’s not take it overly serious, it’s still just a movie.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against a wall.

Knock yourself out.

A More Enlightening Review

Meanwhile, if you want to read an excellent review of someone who totally got the film, check out the article Stealing Fire: In Praise of Prometheus by M Morse over at

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