Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prometheus

Prometheus
seen @ Jamaica Multiplex Cinemas, Jamaica NY
6.12.12

The movie Contact, which I've written about here, is based on a novel by astronomer Carl Sagan about humans encountering extraterrestrials for the first time. A major theme in the story concerns whether or not alien life can tell us anything about our own, in the spiritual sense: whether or not alien life is proof of the existence of God. When I first saw the movie (which I liked), I wasn't convinced there was a connection and didn't see how so many people could make one, especially since different cultures interpret the concept of a Supreme Being in different ways. (The movie, of course, sticks with the Christian version.)

I'm still unconvinced. Even if aliens had anything resembling religion, who's to say what they think of as a "god" has anything to do with ours, or that it's any proof of divinity? After all, you and I, with our cell phones and our cars and even our superior health and intelligence, would seem like gods to primitive man.


If alien life is any indication of the presence of God, then this also implies the presence of a moral code of some sort that guides their actions - after all, they say God created man in His own image. Think of Klaatu and his warning and ultimatum against humanity if we don't change our warlike ways. Unfortunately, so many other cinematic aliens are depicted with hardly any moral code at all, especially in recent years, when it seems like all they wanna do is blow us to smithereens.

Give Ridley Scott credit for trying to provide something more with Prometheus. There's a genuine sense of exploration, of looking for answers to the Big Questions through the search for alien life, however that sense is fleeting. the film doesn't delve as deeply into the implications behind this search as much as I had hoped it would, and while it was an entertaining movie, it still left me wanting a bit more.


Prometheus is set within the same continuity as Scott's sci-fi masterpiece Alien (and its sequels). There were definitely moments that attempted to recall moments in the rest of the Alien franchise. They weren't a big distraction, but they did remind me that the characters here didn't have as much personality as those in the other films, beginning, of course, with Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley.


In the movie, we see an alien race (though not the Alien race, sometimes referred to as the Xenomorphs), one of whom kills himself on either Earth or an Earth-like world in order to provide the spark of sentient life. Does this make him, if not the Christian God, then a god at least? I understand not wanting to provide direct answers, but the vague clues we're given don't even suggest an answer - at least, not in this installment. The ending leaves the door wide open for a sequel, which felt unsatisfying because I didn't expect that.


To be honest, I'm getting kinda tired of seeing aliens as inscrutable bad guys bent on destruction. Ever since Independence Day, it seems, Hollywood has mined this concept for all its worth and more, and it's lost its luster for me. Not that I'm comparing Prometheus to Independence Day, mind you, but I'd like movie aliens to have a little more thought put into them (and not just the world-conquering types, either). Prometheus, at least, was a step in that direction.

2 comments:

  1. Y'know it's funny you brought up Independence Day as towards the end when Idris Elba drove their space ship to destroy the alien's in a suicide mission reminds me of the ending of ID4. I only gave this movie a 3/5 as the giant plot holes prevents me from giving it a higher score.

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  2. Perhaps he didn't do it with quite as much flair as Randy Quaid. :-p

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