Prometheus: An Archaeological Perspective (sort of).
Chunky unconvincing CGI chap chases a departing ufo to the top of a hill. Drinks something the aliens left behind. Disintegrates into a nearby waterfall.
Cut to the Isle of Skye:
Archaeologist Noomi Rapace is excavating a crevice in a cave with a paintbrush. Shining a small torch into the crevice, she smiles, and tells her assistant to shout to Dr. Holloway, who is excavating a fair distance away down the hill. You can tell he’s an archaeologist, as opposed to another kind of doctor, because he is sieving soil. When his name is called, he instantly throws the sieve to the ground, and pounds up the hill to the cave. Because, as we all know, archaeology can be extraordinarily hard to catch.
Speed is of the essence. He is too slow however, as in the time it takes him to cover the distance, the crevice is now a large cavern, replete with cave paintings, which Noomi has already dated. They’re 35,000 years old. Possibly older. One bit shows a human figure pointing at some dots. It’s significant. They hold hands. Archaeologists are hot. Archaeology is cool.
Cut to some more dots, but these are stars. There’s a spaceship. Inside the spaceship people are in suspended animation pods.
A robot is checking the sleepers, a job which apparently requires him to wear a rather splendid sci-fi hat. We know he’s a robot, because it’s Michael Fassbender, the only actor who has been widely complimented for his acting in this film. He’s currently tuning into the thoughts of a sleeping Noomi Rapace who’s remembering witnessing a funeral by a river in India as a young girl, while her father gets on with a bit of archaeology. She asks questions about death in relation to her mother who is, apparently, dead. Dad tells her that dead people go somewhere beautiful, because that is what he chooses to believe. Is this supposed to foreshadow a deeply profound moment? Or are we being shown that Noomi will fall unquestioningly for any old flannel?
Fassbender cycles around the spaceship, throwing basketballs into hoops and watching documentaries. You get a feel for the size of the spaceship, and his lonely existence within it. For a crew of less than twenty people, the financiers and engineers behind the expedition have sensibly decided that creating a space-ship the size of a cathedral would be a good idea. Presumably neglecting to install an off switch for a robot was just one of those costs they had to cut to make the whole thing possible. To pass the time he likes watching old films and learning languages. We like him. That’s even before all the humans wake up and prove to be barking mad or arseholes. Or barking mad arseholes.
But wait – the balls on the pool table (yes, the pool table – what about it?) are all sliding over to one side by themselves – the destination threshold has been reached and the spaceship has, believe it not, put the brakes on at the last minute. Fassbender goes to the bridge, and fires up the computers to see what’s going on. Colourful displays shimmer into being – motion sensitive read-outs unfold and hover in front of him, their only goals in life are to provide him with information he needs, and to look great. Fassbender smiles, perhaps marveling at the possibility that one day in the not so distant future, all this glittering technology could be replaced by clattery keyboards, blinking LEDs and monochrome cathode ray tubes - almost like something out of a 70s horror movie. . .
He goes to check on the humans to find that one of the pods is already empty. Following a trail of wet footsteps we discover the Charlize Theron character. She’s proving she’s well hard by showing us that all she has to do to recover from two years in suspended animation is some push ups in her wet bra and wet knickers. Charlize barks for a robe and asks Fassbender how long they’ve been in suspended animation – to which he replies “2 years, 4 months, 18 days, 36 hours, 15 minutes.” Hang on. Shouldn’t that be 2 years, 4 months, 19 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes then? Or does Fassbender count days in blocks of 48 hours? Whatever. Everyone else wakes up and is a bit groggy, or throws up. The pussies.
The first duty of the captain is, naturally, to decorate the Christmas tree. Because it’s Christmas apparently. Charlize Theron reminds him that there is a mission briefing. He informs her that he has yet to have breakfast. He’s been asleep for two years, and decides to decorate a Christmas tree (while smoking a cigar in a closed environment) before he has breakfast. We realise that the crew selection procedure was yet another casualty of the cuts required to ensure that they had a sodding big spaceship (SBS from here on in).
At the breakfast table a rather nice biologist (played by Raef Spall, son of Timothy) introduces himself to a grumpy geologist, who is very rude. Later on, he confirms he’s the geologist, by shouting “I’m a geologist, I fucking love rocks!” as if that was the most pressing point that needed explaining. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The current point that needs explaining is the implication that these two crew members have managed to make it this far without actually meeting each other, and are plainly incompatible. It seems that at least one part of the crew selection procedure took the form of a raffle at an arsehole convention.
Cut to Mission Briefing.
The crew is gathered. Two of the chaps at the front are betting that it’s a terraforming expedition. Apparently they don’t know why they’re here either. You’d think they’d shown a little curiosity when, for instance, they were packing and saying goodbye to their loved ones. Or climbing on board the SBS. Or going into suspended animation. But no.
“Where are you going darling?”
“Ha ha. Fuck knows. I imagine I’ll find out sooner or later. Or not. Who cares?”
“When are you coming back?
“Ha ha. I’m coming back?”
Charlize Theron walks in, says hello to the people she hired personally, and then introduces herself to everyone else. Seriously? They hadn’t done the meet and greet before they got on board the SBS? Ok. Fine. Just leave it then. As Theron says; “On with the show.”
Big hologram scene – Guy Pierce hobbles on stage covered in unconvincing terribly old man prosthetics, and introduces himself as Peter Wayland (rumour suggests the possibility of Guy playing a younger version of himself in a preprequel – hence the make-up. If you see Guy, tell him. It’s only fair). He tells us that by the time the crew are watching this hologram, he’ll be dead. Possibly of latex poisoning.
He’s evidently a hardcore scientist – his company do terraforming, build Fassbender units and fucking big spaceships. He tells us Fassbender is the closest thing he has to a son, that he’s immortal but can never appreciate it because he hasn’t got a soul. Oh, one of those hardcore scientists. Anyway. He introduces the archaeologists, Noomi Rapace, and Dr. Holloway (incidentally, the reason I’m using the actor’s character name and not his real name, is that throughout the whole film I thought it was the English actor Tom Hardy doing a dodgy American accent, and not the American actor Logan Marshall-Green, who is easily mistaken for Tom Hardy doing a dodgy American accent. As things are complicated enough, I’m sticking with Dr. Holland). Anyway, anyway. The old Guy Pierce hologram also decides to choose this moment to tell the crew that the archaeologists are now in charge (I’m now guessing the selection procedure was his baby) because he thinks they can supply him with the answer to that old mystery, where did we come from, and where do we go? Questions, ironically, that demand a basic level of curiosity that his crew completely fail to display. They don’t even know each other’s names. Or what they’re doing on the SBS.
Dr. Holloway finally shows them why they’re here (not that anyone’s interested).
He flips up a hologram, showing artefacts from ancient cultures all over the world – Sumerian, Egyptian, Mayan, Babylonian, and so on. They are either stelae or plaques, and they all depict the same thing: a giant figure pointing at some beans (actually, he probably said beams) in the sky. He explains that none of these cultures had ever met, being separated by geography or time or both. But they all repeated the same image. Furthermore, the only ‘galactic configuration’ that matched the pattern of beans that was so far from Earth, that there was no way these ancient civilisations could possibly have known about it.
Ok, let Holloway have the galactic faux pas – he’s an archaeologist, not an astronomer. But we already know they’ve taken two years to get here. And the nearest star to Earth (ok, second nearest) is Proxima Centauri, at 4.2 light years away. So either he’s talking complete bollocks, in which case you’d think the navigator (if they had one) would correct him (if he could bring himself to be interested) or to get here they had to travel at several times the speed of light, and therefore have broken a fundamental Universal constant. If it was the first explanation then it would be plainly visible (even though there’s no such thing) and if it was the second then A) How did they find it themselves? And B) Isn’t the ability to travel faster than the speed of light the real story here?
Anyway. He then he tells them that the ‘galactic configuration’ has a sun. Aren’t galaxies largely composed of suns? It doesn’t matter. At this point even some of the cast are yawning. And that sun has a planet, which has a moon, which is capable of sustaining life. At which point Grumpy Geologist says;
“So we’re here because of a map you two kids found in a cave?”
Noomi and Holloway respond to this unexpected curiosity. One says “Yes.” the other says “No.”
Great. But then Noomi expands – she’s says it’s not a map, it’s an invitation. From creatures she calls the engineers. And what they engineered is our species. Nice Biologist implies that rejecting 300 years of evolutionary theory is somewhat mindblowing, rather than the contemptuous bullshit it plainly is, but he would, because he’s nice. When asked how she knows all this world shattering information is correct, she replies;
“I don’t – it’s what I choose to believe.”
Ah – right. Ok. That’s what her Dad said, remember? To shut her up when she asked awkward questions? It’s a classic. It’s right up there with ‘because.’ And because she’s surrounded by the least curious people in the galactic configuration, it’s fine. No one says anything boring like “You know, if you’d have said this before we signed up for this potentially fatal, mysterious mission, we might have thought twice” because they wouldn’t have thought twice. They’d have shrugged, and got on with it. Whatever ‘it’ was.
Ok, well this is an already ridiculously long review, and we’re only 20 minutes into the film. Time to speed things up a bit. We’ve established that the reason the crew don’t ask pertinent questions is because the film would grind to a halt. We’ll flash through to some memorable moments.
Obviously I’m just assuming anyone’s read this far. If you have, well done. Your stamina is the only reason I’m continuing. That and it’s raining outside.
///IMAGINED EARLY SCRIPT MEETING\\\
Damon Lindelof “So we’ll have this crashed ship, and a load of people who don’t know each other, and there’ll be loads of unexplained things happening, and life-forms charging about the place, and it’ll be hyper-confusing. Like Lost, but in space.”
Ridley “Lost. But in space. Hmmm. Lost. But in space. I like it. What shall we call it?”
Damon Lindelof “Prometheus.”
Ridley “Brilliant! But why? No, just brilliant! As long as it has lots of snappy informative dialogue.”
Damon Lindelof “I don’t really do that. I tend to just go with a baffling sequence of potentially interconnected events that looks as though it might be going somewhere, but isn’t. That way everybody on the internet can argue about it for ages. That’s the bit I like. People on the internet arguing about stuff for ages. I also love it when they say things like ‘don’t condemn it so quickly – this is maybe the first part of something bigger’. It makes me think ‘oh yeah. that could be it. Maybe I’ll write another one’ and then people will argue about that on the internet too. For ages. Because I like that.”
Ridley “People argue on the internet?”
Damon Lindelof “They do. But there’s one thing I don’t think they’ve argued about on the internet yet?”
Damon Lindelof “Intelligent Design vs Evolution. I don’t think that’s come up at all.”
Ridley “Brilliant! Cut! Haha no! I mean. . . Action?”
So they land the SBS on the planet. Moon. Whatever. After hitting the cloud layer the captain asks what the atmosphere is like. Fortunately for everyone on board, the reply isn’t “astoundingly fucking corrosive.” They could have performed a spectrographic analysis from a safe distance, but whatever. I’m surprised he asked at all. He was probably in a hurry to see if it was snowing, what with it being Christmas and everything.
So they land, after having found the alien spaceship by looking out of the window, and drive over to it in a secure looking all terrain vehicle, into which they could have all fitted comfortably. Instead of all fitting into it comfortably, however, two of them decide to ride over in space bikes, because if they hadn’t of done so, there’s no way they could have got separated from the main party. But before they get separated, they all go into the alien spacecraft. On discovering it has a breathable atmosphere, they all take their helmets off, because A) Who cares? and B) Nobody reads H.G. Wells any more. Then they chuck a few orbs in the air, which fly off and map the entire alien space craft, sending the data to the SBS where it is modelled as a 3D hologram. Not one of them suggests that it would have been a good idea to have done that before they strolled in and took their helmets off. It’s almost as if they don’t care.
The ship is huge, and very alien. There’s alien things everywhere. Almost right away we see giant holograms of the Space Jockey from Alien running around the corridors, scaring the shit out of everyone. Ok, so now they want to know what the fuck they’re doing here. There are hundreds of alien eggs too. No wait – they’re not alien eggs. They’re, um, Howitzer shells? I don’t know. There’s a bottle of green stuff too. They find some Space Jockey corpses, but before they can get well and truly stuck in, a massive storm descends – they have to get back to the SBS before they’re all trapped in the huge alien spaceship.
Noomi grabs a Space Jockey head to take back with her. They leg it outside, to see that the big all terrain vehicle has already gone. They assume the others must have got bored already and buggered off without them, so they jump on the space bikes and go back to the SBS. But Grumpy Geologist and Nice Biologist haven’t taken the all terrain vehicle. They’re still inside the alien ship. Oh no! So where did the other vehicle go? Honestly, I have no idea. After some storm based/space bike shenanigans which utterly fail to produce any tension, the others make it back to the SBS. The captain half heartedly raises the matter of the missing men. But, you know, whatever.
He contacts them though, possibly out of boredom. It’s Christmas, the Queen’s Speech may have been on. Perhaps he was trying to get out of doing the washing up. He tells them to stay put for the duration of the storm, which will blow out before morning. How he knows this is anyone’s guess – after all, he didn’t even see the storm coming, so perhaps he isn’t the most reliable of forecasters. But don’t worry. It’s not like anyone is likely to ask.
At this point he suggests that Charlize Theron has come all the way out here for a shag. She denies this, so he asks her if she’s a robot. This is possibly a belated part of the crew selection procedure, or it’s some kind of futuristic Christmas based guessing game. Either way, it works for him, because to prove she’s not a robot or here for a shag, she robotically orders him to her room for a shag. This leaves the bridge unattended, but everything will probably be alright for the two guys trapped in an alien spaceship in a storm on an alien planet won’t it?
Inside the alien spaceship Grumpy G and Nice B warm to each other, and start having a look around. Nice B notices some slime moving on the ground, which rapidly morphs into a snakey thing, a big, thick, snakey thing. He tries to pet it. Great time to get curious, Nice B. It kills both of them. I think. Nice B comes back later and tries to kill people, so perhaps it didn’t kill him. Or possibly it was the other one. Fuck knows.
Back at the SBS Noomi has got the Space Jockey head out and sees if she can ‘trick’ it into being alive again. It sort of works, but the head explodes in a shower of green slime. Never mind, eh? Dr. Holloway has fallen into a depression because he can’t talk to his engineers. Because they’re dead. As an archaeologist, one would imagine that this situation would not be wholly unexpected. Anyway, he’s all glum, and Noomi tries to cheer him up, but it doesn’t work because he says something insensitive about creating life, and it turns out that she’s can’t have children, so now she’s upset, but they have a nice cuddle anyway. In the morning he has a bad case of red-eye. Seriously though, if you can’t be bothered to read H.G. Wells, you could at least listen to the Jeff Wayne album.
So anyway. They go back to the alien spaceship and find the remains of Grumpy G and Nice B. Dr. Holloway’s red-eye gets worse, and Noomi has a sore tummy. More things happen, and when they get back to the SBS Noomi is three months pregnant and Dr. Holloway’s red-eye is so bad that Charlize Theron has to kill him with a flame-thrower.
Noomi doesn’t want the baby, assuming that it’s probably an alien or something. She begs Fassbender to operate, but he says no-one here is qualified for that. Noomi, with the aid of a very advanced operating table, manages to do it herself – it’s a horrible scene, which involves a fat squid being born through c-section. The operating table quickly staples Noomi’s wound closed (yes, staples. Metal staples) and traps the squid.
///IMAGINED PROMETHEUS STAGE DIRECTIONS\\\
Ridley: “You’ve just suffered the most intense emotional trauma a woman could possibly experience. You’ve also had the muscles in your abdominal wall severed and then crudely stapled together again. Honestly, in your condition taking a dump would be something of an adventure. So when you’re vigorously running around the place and jumping up and down, and wrestling enormous alien monsters, and running very hard across an alien landscape trying not to get rolled on by a large alien spaceship, and rappelling down a fifty foot drop, try to remember to say ‘ow’ a bit. No pressure. ”
:: Noomi vigerously runs around the place and jumps up and down, and wrestles enormous alien monsters, and runs across an alien landscape trying not to get rolled on by a large alien spaceship, and rappels down a fifty foot drop::
Ridley: “I said could you say ‘ow’ a bit?”
Noomi: “You did? Oh yeah. ‘Ow’. Wait – did you want me to say ‘a bit.’ too? Or is that just inferred?”
Ridley: “Briiliant! Cut!”
So I’ve pretty much given the game away there. After an extended sequence of events we shall classify as ‘shit happening’, everyone dies except for Noomi and Fassbender. A Space Jockey gets buggered in the face by Noomi’s fat squid baby, which has grown to gigantic proportions. Theron gets squashed by the rolling alien spaceship we all saw in the trailer. The SBS captain and his copilots took the decision to ram it as it was taking off, to prevent it from travelling to Earth and wiping out humanity. They destroy themselves and the SBS in the process. The captain, just before impact, tells his co-pilots to put their hands in the air – for a moment there is the possibility that he’s going to shout, Noddy Holder style, “It’s Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaas!”, but no. They none-the-less look animated and happy – they have, after all, just realised they’re getting out of this movie.
Oh yes – I forgot – before that happens it turns out that terribly old Guy Pierce isn’t dead at all, but was hiding on the spaceship. Someone mumbles that they thought he was dead, before losing interest. It emerges that Charlize Theron is his daughter. Nobody cares.
Noomi and Fassbender, (who is by now just a head, because that’s just what happens to robots in Alien movies), look for another ship to fly away in – not back to Earth, but in search of the engineers.
Nobody is left to ask why. Nobody is left to care. They wouldn’t have done anyway.
After Fassbender and Noomi leave the party, we learn that the Space Jockey who got buggered in the face by Noomi’s giant fat squid baby has survived. In a dimly lit escape pod he writhes and jiggles on the floor. His chest bursts, and a cone shaped pointy thing like a gnomes hat thrusts out, followed by the rest of the creature. It takes to its feet, looking for all the world like a green, evil version of one of Santa’s Little Helpers. All that’s missing is a little bell on the end of his pointy head. We’re glad the captain isn’t here to see this. This is the anti-Christmas.
It screams (naturally).
We’re being told there is more to come.
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If you’ve Prometheus: An Archaeological Perspective, then you may enjoy Dances with Sea Monkeys: The Highly Unlikely Life and Times of Harold Von Braunhut.
If you haven’t enjoyed Prometheus: An Archaeological Perspective because you were hoping to read about Sea Monkeys and the highly unlikely life and times of the man who created them, then Dances with Sea Monkeys: The Highly Unlikely Life and Times of Harold Von Braunhut is, in all likelihood, just the kind of thing you’ll enjoy. It could almost have been written for you.
If you haven’t enjoyed Prometheus: An Archaeological Perspective for any other reason, then all bets are off. You may like Dances with Sea Monkeys: The Highly Unlikely Life and Times of Harold Von Braunhut or you may not. There’s nothing that can be done either way at this stage of the game.
You could also cheer yourself up by watching this.
It was made in the same year as Alien.
Everybody cares in Starcrash.
Get it while you can – it sells out fast. (Of course it does).