Sunday, June 24, 2012

PROMETHEUS (film review by Julie Clarke - spoiler)

Space. 2093. A time that joins humanity with its distant past. A holographic future in which an android can watch human dreams and a wealthy, disabled man can wear a functional exoskeleton for greater mobility. Prior to that in 2089 two archaeologists notice a six star configuration depicted in a cave drawing, it is similar to imagery appearing in the artwork of other ancient human cultures and they believe that not only is it describing the constellation but is an invitation for humanity to return to the constellation to find their human creators or ‘engineers’. Exploration of the moon LV-223, part of this constellation would have to wait until humans had the technology to allow them the 2.5 years of travel in stasis, android technology and the hyper-equipped Prometheus star ship to take them on their voyage funded by the aging Peter Weyland who is not only interested in finding the human creator but in gaining vital answers to increased longevity; a desire I believe of all transhumanists.
Prometheus (2012) is a prequel to Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and all but explains early scenes in the film in which a large alien astronaut is discovered on a distant planet by the crew of the Nostromo and our own not so humble human evolution, which has (according to the films logic) nothing to do with Darwinian evolution and ‘natural selection’ and everything to do with our embryonic place in a vast and timeless universe.
Clues about our human/alien evolution are given in the opening scenes of Prometheus in which a humanoid creature, standing on the edge of a cliff within a vast watery expanse, drinks a surging black liquid from a vessel and begins his metamorphosis into something less distinguishable from the human form. Above him a star ship departs the planet. The viewer is privy to microscopic strands of DNA that dissolve from the humanoid’s corpus as he disintegrates and eventually collapses into the water; thus beginning a biogenetic reaction between human and alien genetics. It’s a scene, which refers to the morphing image at the beginning of Alien Resurrection (Jean Pierre Jeunet, 1997), which also underscores technological imaging, birth, death and transformation. Everything in these first few scenes of the film points to a narrative about evolution, human beginnings and our possible downfall. Prometheus is, in Greek mythology the creator of humankind as well as a figure who represents our desire for scientific knowledge and the necessary risks involved, so is an appropriate name for the star ship and their dangerous excursion.
The Prometheus crew discovers a dome-like building on the surface of the distant moon and whilst inside find thousands of containers, a gigantic statue of a human head and the corpse of a large decapitated alien. Carbon dating reveals the corpse to have lived several centuries before, so they decide to take its head back to the ship. After investigation they realize the head is covered by a helmet and once removed they stimulate the nervous system, which causes the eyes to open and the head to explode. Analysis of the residual tissue reveals that the alien’s DNA is genetically similar to that of humans suggesting to the archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) that the alien is indeed one of our human engineers. Paleo-contact and ancient astronaut hypotheses to explain the origins of the human date from at least the late 1960s when the Swiss author Erich von Däniken proposed that humans were descendants or creations of aliens who have visited earth and like the archaeologist in the film he used markings on land or other ancient structures as indicators or evidence of his theory.
As expected Prometheus draws heavily on the previous four Alien films (Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien 4: Resurrection) but with a twist because although in the later films the alien face hugger penetrates the unwilling subject by violating their opened mouth, in Prometheus alien DNA can be ingested and transferred through seminal fluid to impregnate the human. Which becomes evident when Elizabeth discovers that she is pregnant with an alien being after having sex with Charlie. She was (as he was) unaware that the android David (Michael Fassbender) had previously collected one of the alien containers and slipped some of its deadly, dark DNA into Charlie's drink. Soon after, when the crew returns to the dome the whites of Charlie’s eyes become bloodshot, his pupils dilate, the veins on his head darken and enlarge and his body begins to metamorphosis into an alien entity. He knows that he has become a dangerous contagion to the rest of the crew and pleads with Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), daughter of Peter and monitor of the Weyland Corporation expedition, to destroy him with her flame thrower, which she does. It is telling that Prometheus stole fire so that humanity could progress, however it is this very fire which will lead to their downfall and is necessarily involved in their salvation.  When Ripley discovers in Alien 3 that she is pregnant with an alien fetus she sacrifices herself in order to save the world from its destruction by the indefatigable alien when she dives backwards into a vat of molten liquid, however in Prometheus when Elizabeth discovers to her horror that she is carrying an alien in utero she able to enter a discrete, enclosed robotic surgery unit on the ship to have the entity removed by Cesarean section.
It becomes increasingly obvious that the lonely outpost on LV-223 is not the original home of our distant ancestors and in is in fact a depository for a deadly weapon, the DNA of which is held in the thousands of containers with oozing black liquid. It appears that our forefathers had created human beings but then decided to destroy them. It may be that what is being proffered in this film is the notion that our aggressiveness, war mongering and selfishness may be part of our genetic makeup inherited from a malevolent ancestor and it is we who have created the alien, who is in fact us.
There is much more in this spectacular film. The acting is superb, the CGI amazing and the storyline believable and coherent. It is I believe more interesting if you have already seen the first films in the Alien franchise, however you may enjoy this film even if this is not so.

No comments:

Post a Comment