Meeting Your Makers
What came first? The chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old question, with theories more convoluted than Glenn Miller’s involvement in the Soviet Union, allegedly. Here’s your red pill moment; what if I told you that humans are not a product of God or some evolutionary miracle? What if humans were engineered? Would you be the least bit curious as to who engineered us? It has been a long hiatus for Ridley Scott from the Alien series, a series that I have absolutely loved growing up. Prometheus is the prequel to Ellen Ripley’s four-film adventure, and it has kept us waiting.
Prehistoric cave paintings from different cultures around the globe hint at the alien awaiting the arrival of the humans, at least according to the Elizabeth Shaw. The film parallels a lot with Alien, since they are chronologically linked. Where the Nostromo used to be, the Prometheus ship replaces it. A trillion dollars was pumped into this gigantic ship, capable of faster-than-light travel, with one sole purpose. Elizabeth Shaw leads an expedition group into the furthest reaches of the cosmic universe, notable characters include Janek, Meredith Vickers, Charlie Holloway and David. The purpose? To test Shaw’s hypothesis.
We know the ship name from somewhere as well. Ah yes, Greek mythology. The OG Prometheus, is credited with having made the human race out of clay, so thanks a lot. Apparently, man discovered fire through the titan’s help, which greatly angered Zeus. His punishment for this treachery is to be chained to a rock and have an eagle eat his liver, everyday, because that’s clearly how mitosis happens. This serves as a cautionary tale for humans, the unintended consequences of an intended scientific discovery.
Sometimes to create, one must first destroy.
The journey from Earth to this forlorn and bleak planet was a long and sleepy one. David, an android capable of square-rooting extraordinarily big numbers and obsessed with his blonde hair, is the caretaker of the 17 cryogenic people onboard. Michael Fassbender does a phenomenal job at making this android as engaging as possible. Through him, we remember the differences between man, and some sort of HAL 9000 remake. So kudos to whoever had the idea to bring an android a bajillion miles away on a space cruise.
In 2093, the ship arrives at its destination. The expedition team is debriefed, and everyone sets about to find data. It is obvious that there was once life here in this desolate planet, and there is also mystery, since there’s a freaking doughnut-shaped spaceship already parked. We are intrigued, so is Shaw. This is her indication for her hypothesis. While all this curiosity is dedicated to the progress of science, there exists an ulterior motive. Weyland Corporation, the guys that funded this entire space voyage, couldn’t care less about who we descended from. Unlike our warm and gentle friend Elizabeth, Meredith Vickers, a representative of Weyland, is cold and sharp with her words. One trillion dollars was not spent to play hide and seek with the squidward aliens, but rather for an arms industry.
Again, Prometheus does well to bring back the Alien vibe without boring its audience as a complete copy-and-paste. Scott is a master at manipulating our adrenaline; he puts all of the disquietude about a foreign new planet into a pot of boiling water and waits for the lid to pop. We remember that ugly specimen bludger bursting out of John Hurt’s chest, and we are treated to something along the same wavelength here. The promise of another film in the franchise has to be fulfilled, but it cannot be repeated. Instead of the previous timid approach in Alien, this film goes gung-ho at the quandary. Coupled by a greater emphasis on disgusting CGI biology that can make anyone writhe in their seat, this is what makes 2012’s Prometheus a success.
From the beginning to the end, the film is consistent. It follows the urgency that “In space no one can hear you scream” threatens, and delivers horror without overwhelming us with unnecessary nonsense. It is sci-fi, but not too unrealistic, reminding us of man’s hubristic qualities often interfering with our inherent curiosity. You know, curiosity killed the cat? The relationship between life and the engineers is discussed in detail. Just because there is a strong genetic link between two species, does that mean that we have a moral responsibility to go check it out? Shaw questions the notion of god and the one who created life. Vickers’ weird daddy issues lead her to make slightly different choices. And my adorable David is outlandish when compared to his human counterparts, yet still interrogates others about his purpose and potential. After discovering those cave-paintings, there is a gaping question of “What next?”. Should we pursue the unknown, even when we have conquered ourselves, or should we be content with what we’ve got?
But seriously, chicken or the egg?