A side story, not a prequel
I set out to write a review, but this is more a discussion and recommendation. It holds my thoughts on the film, the story, and its relation to Alien.
Ridley Scott’s Alien was a game-changer in terms of science fiction and horror storytelling. It featured a unique look and atmosphere that made it believable and all the more terrifying. The design of the Alien (or Xenomorph as they’ve been called), has become iconic in pop culture and might be one of the most popular science fiction monsters, if not the scariest.
Prometheus has been called a prequel by the movie masses, but I’d like to suggest a different term – side story. I’m a huge fan of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime franchise, which specialized in creating short side story series that took place during the main story line, had elements of the original plots, but were isolated from the main characters. That’s what this movie feels like.
If you go into this movie looking for a direct link to Alien, you’re going to be somewhat disappointed. Not completely disappointed, because it’s there. There are clear representations of who the Space Jockey was and how the ship he was flying worked. There are no scenes on LV-426, the planet that the first movie took place on, and this movie doesn’t end with that ship crashing there. What we do get are the implications that the Xenomorphs exist and that the may come into play later.
The story has confused some people, but I’m going to go ahead and give my take on it in the broadest way possible so as not to spoil it for everyone else.
Many moviegoers feel like they weren’t given enough answers as to who The Engineers were and why they created us. We do learn that its’ the race that the Space Jockey belongs to, and that they’re wizards when it comes to creating new life, but no answer to “why” is ever presented. My revolutionary theory – there isn’t one.
There are some vague hints as to what was really going on, but the thing that I instantly thought when watching the opening of the movie was that we were a mistake. It’s easy to completely compare this movie to the myth of Prometheus, hence the title, but I think it’s easier to compare it to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.
This is somewhat spoiler territory, so I apologize. The opening scene has an Engineer, on a planet, making the ultimate sacrifice to create life on that planet. He’s not dressed like the other members of his species, and he seems to be much more gentle in nature. My best guess is that he sacrificed himself in the name of science to try and create life on a grand scale. This would include all life on Earth, but especially humanity.
When the other Engineers find out about his creation, which has been abandoned by its creator, they decide it must be destroyed. That’s where the Frankenstein comparison comes into play. We were like that Engineer’s monsters that he left unattended and was shunned by the rest of society. Instead of being welcomed into the arms of our creator race, we’re objectified as a mistake of science that needs to be wiped clean.
That’s my take anyway.
In terms of the actual movie it’s very stunning, has wonderful performances from Michael Fassbender (David) and Noomi Rapace (Dr. Elizabeth Shaw), and feels like a good old-fashioned science fiction movie. It’s got that creepy discovery tone that’s really lacking from modern movies.
We’ve been trained to think that science fiction means exploding buildings and giant robots. But this movie proves to us that a science fiction story should always be about the “what if” and the horrors of the possibilities of technology and humanity’s decisions.
I really enjoyed this movie and recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Alien franchise or science fiction in general. It’s not a Xenomorph story, but it’s successful on its own. It leaves a ton of unanswered questions, but that’s what most of the really riveting science fiction stories always do. If you’re not talking about what happened, then the movie isn’t worthwhile.