This will be the first review I’ve written from my new little studio, so now you know. Also, I want to mention that I took notes while watching this movie so I would be able to write a more accurate and involved synopsis, but have you ever tried to write in a dark theater? It does not go well. I’ve looked back at my notes before starting this and they resemble a bunch of pencil-colored string, put it in a knotty ball and thrown on a white ground with a few decipherable words like “ABORTION!” and “David saves them plus head.” So I am going to write this mostly for memory.
Let me start by talking a little bit about the title of this movie. From my brief skim of Wikipedia on the mythological figure, Prometheus was the dude who created humans out of clay. Then he stole fire from the heavens and gave it to his new little clay friends, us. He was punished for it (the most famous myth of his) by being stuck up on a mountain where every day an eagle comes and eats his liver. The next day he grows his liver back, so the eagle comes and eats it day after day. Constant suffering. Some other things about Prometheus: he has come to be the symbol of striving for scientific knowledge, a sort of Lone Lab Ranger that is forced to suffer for the progression and advancement of humankind. And (thanks again, Wikipedia) one of my most favorite novels, Frankenstein, is also titled The Modern Prometheus. This later association with Prometheus is sort of more along the lines of what the movie is all about. Because you know what? This movie is a freaking MONSTER.
It’s all very confusing and intense and the film does this lovely job of not holding the viewer’s hand. It also does this thing where its pretty calm and chill and then it GETS INTENSE AND DOES NOT STOP UNTIL THE END. I will continue talking on a more general level because I just can’t stop gushing.
Some reviews have said this is a combination of “ALIEN” and “2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY.” They obviously haven’t seen “SPLICE.” I would say this movie is a three way combination of these three effed up and awesome movies. Sorry, one more thing I want to say before I start actually synopsizing. Eee! Me and UT were walking around Lincoln Square before going into the sturdy old Davis theater (which smells better and costs more than my childhood visits), and we ran into Brian and Lindsey–who are moving to a really up and coming little town, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, called Cleveland?–and they had just recently seen Prometheus. All they could say about it was that it was very gory and graphic. That was it. They said they would make these freaked out faces during the gory scenes and look at each other with open mouths and “what the eff” expressions on their faces and then turn back to the movie. When I heard this, and when I heard that this was all they could think to share with us, I was so excited. Those are my most favorite kinds of movies; where your face makes freaked out expressions because you just can’t help it, because the MOVIE did that to you. The MOVIE manipulated your face like that. That’s the power of cinema.
Okay, so Prometheus opens with pans of some beautiful, large and heavy landscapes. Stuff that’s sort of like these pictures, but more gray, more ominous, and more empty and expansive. A scary guy who is also huge and quite gray and not human
(though now that I think about it, reminiscent of muscular marble statues of Prometheus) stands at the edge of a waterfall (also gray) and above him, a spaceship hovers in the slate sky. He is not human. He gets naked and drinks this bubbling black liquid and then he just screams and disintegrates and falls into the waterfall. His DNA floats all around. Now, this is VERY confusing because the black liquid seems to be destroying him and screwing with his DNA, but there are a few different theories about the function of the black liquid in this anomalous opening scene. I concluded that THIS black liquid was used to break up this alien dude into little tiny DNA particles that then evolve into us: Human Beings. Although the black liquid is destructive and toxic, I believe they were attempting to create a species with their DNA, but one that would somehow be more immune to the black liquid–that we will meet in many different forms–from later in the film.
The next scene takes place in 2089. Some scientists are looking at a cave in Australia or something and they see a cave painting of a dude pointing to six dots in the sky.
This, unfortunately, has some conflicts with my earlier hypothesis about the opening scene. First of all, how would humans know about this star formation that is light years away if they evolved from the river DNA? Second, if the aliens painted these images, why do they look like cavemen did them? The only possible explanation then, is that the aliens came back and visited earth and this symbol is one that was particularly snappy that early humans grasped on to. Either way, scientists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie have been discovering these paintings all over the world. This is the earliest one that they have found. They gaze at it and hold hands. Next scene.
Now it is 2093 and we are in space on the Prometheus, their flying vessel. David, a well coiffed robot, takes care of the ship while everyone else is sleeping. He watches movies and plays basketball on a little bike. He throws the ball up while riding his bike in a circle and makes a basket. Then he also does this thing where he puts his hand on the glass where Elizabeth Shaw is sleeping and reads her dreams. She’s in India or somewhere like that with her father observing a funeral. They talk about how her mother is dead, too. Kind of a shitty thing to dream about. Elizabeth’s a tough cookie, though. David also drinks lovely milky neon liquids from rounded cups. Then he makes his way back to check on the passengers and finds that one of the pods is open. Charlize Theron is already up and about and doing push ups. When I went to google image search this, “Charlize Theron push ups” automatically came up. It is clear that she has done this kind of travel before. Everyone else begins to wake up and Elizabeth is puking a lot because her body is in shock. The captain, who is Stringer Bell from The Wire, is smoking and making a little Christmas tree. Charlize Theron is like, “What. Is that?” she is disgusted. It also seems like she might not have ever seen one. She’s wearing an impeccable futuristic suit and is very clean while everyone else around is coughing and smoking and puking. Then they have a meeting where we find out that the mission of the Prometheus and the crew is to explore this planet where Elizabeth and Charlie believe we will meet the people who created humans. One guy says, “why would we want to do that?” and the answer was met with quizzical looks. We also see a video of this guy named Peter Weyland who is funding the voyage, and says by the time the crew sees the video he will be dead. (Or WILL he?) He has a little dog in the video which I thought was cute and he says some rather insensitive things to David. Basically that he has no soul and he cannot die. Do we see a shadow of saltiness cast a dark spot over David’s brow? We may. He may be more conniving than androids should be. But I guess we can talk about that later. There is a rather hostile exchange between Meredith Vickers (Charlize), who represents the company that is funding the expedition, and the scientists. She basically tells them that they will function as her employees. Also, she orders a “vodka, up.” Elizabeth sees a med pod in Vicker’s residence. She ooohs and ahhhhs explaining that there were only about 10 made in the world. Vickers tells her to please not touch it.
They arrive at the planet, and there is a bit of Phillip Glass inspired music that plays while they land. Charlie, who is kind of a douche-bag through the whole film, and who is always very disrespectful to David, says he wants to go explore the planet. He says something dumb like, “I don’t want to wait to open my Christmas presents.” So they go to check out this hill-like structure. The scientists are very excited and have these great bubble heads that they keep bumping on people. Also, Charlie does this intimate little excited head butt on Elizabeth, because they have been researching this their whole lives and finally get to see the planet from the drawings, and maybe meet their maker.
At this point UT turned to me and said, “those scientists are so young! I don’t believe they did all that research and are still so young!” this is true. I totally agree. We will just have to suspend our disbelief.
One guy, the geologist I think, sends out his “pups,” which are little computerized flying balls that create a map of the space for captain Janek to see back on the ship. Inside the cave, water is falling and Charlie, like a total idiot, takes off his helmet. Everyone else, like total idiots, follow suit. They explore. David sees some carvings in a stone, and since he has studied tons of ancient languages, is able to open a door sort of. He also fingers some green goo. (?) Then these sort of hologram figures run past everyone and the crew freaks out. Everyone dodges the apparitions except for David, who sort of absorbs one as it runs right through him. In my notes, I wrote “David gets a soul.” And it’s sort of true, because from this point on David is a tough one to read. His motives are mysterious and not completely robotic. So anyway, they follow the trail of the holograms to another sort of door where a real dead body is lying, decapitated, by the closed door. Without asking for permission, David just opens this door. Elizabeth and the other lady are examining the decapitated head of this creature and David explores the room a little. There are things on the ceiling that look like paintings, but they change during the time that the crew is in there. There are also a ton of things that look sort of like bowling pins all set up on the floor.
There’s a storm coming in, says the captain to them from the ship, they’d better get back on board to wait this thing out. There is a question as to what sparks the storm. It might be their presence in that room that messes up the atmosphere. So Elizabeth and the other girl bag the head and David, like a wierdo, packs up one of the bowling pins and they make a run for it. Oh, I forgot to mention that the geologist and another guy left earlier because they were freaked by the dead alien body. Unfortunately, they go the wrong way and get lost so they have to wait out the storm in the cave place. Vickers threatens to close the doors of the ship if they don’t get back in time. The crew is racing against a giant cloud of storm. They are all in except the head gets blown off the car, and Elizabeth, like a dumb person, runs after it and is swept up in the wind. Oh and then Charlie, like a dumb person, runs after her. Luckily David goes out with a cable tied to him and saves them and the head from imminent death. Whew!
Inside Elizabeth and the lady scientist are playing with the head. It looks like this. But they find that it is only a helmet and inside is the head of something resembling a human! They trick the head into believing it’s alive and it starts making really scary faces and twitching. They cover it in glass and right as they do that IT EXPLODES!!! Whoa. But Elizabeth finds out that this head’s DNA matches human DNA. Pretty huge discovery. At the same time, David has conveniently slipped away to play with his bowling pin. He takes a bit of the black liquid and meets up with Charlie, who is sitting at the pool table and drinking heavily. Why is he drinking heavily while his girlfriend plays with an alien head? I do not know. It does not seem characteristic of a scientist who has spent his life studying this alien “engineer.” But anyway, he says mean things to David and David dips his finger WITH A BLACK LIQUID DOT ON IT in a drink he gives to Charlie. But I have something to say here. First of all, it was pretty obvious that David dipped his finger in Charlie’s drink. If I were Charlie, I would immediately be like, “That’s gross. Why did you dip your finger in my drink. What the eff, android?” but instead, Charlie drinks it because he’s a jerk. Then he goes back to the room, visibly wasted, and for some reason, Elizabeth does him, even though he accidentally talks shit to her about how she is barren and can’t create life. What a jerk. I was so glad when he got sick from the black dot of liquid David slipped him.
Meanwhile Janek is hanging out and in a bit of communication with the two guys who were left in the hill. He tells them to try to stay warm and wait it out. One of the pups occasionally picks up traces of life, but Janek seems convinced it’s malfunctioning since it’s very sporadic. But he tells the lost crew down there and they freak out. They also see a bunch of alien corpses. Not too pleasant. So they go back to the room with the bowling pin-like structures and now there is sort of oozing black liquid around. Also they see some slithering. Then some crazy shit happens: 1 this little snake-like thing that also looks a little like a penis twists itself around one guy’s arm and breaks it, 2 the other guy tries to cut it off, but the black goo that comes out of it burns his helmet, 3 he falls down screaming and the creature slithers into the dude’s mouth. This is where things get intense and don’t stop. Meanwhile again, Vickers wanders into Janek’s area and Janek asks if she’s a robot. She’s pretty offended by this and so to show she’s human, she acquiesces to having a quickie with him. That’s how he doesn’t hear the screams of the two guys back in the cave.
The next morning Charlie has red, messed up eyes. They all go back to the caves to find the other two guys. Oh man, they are dead, and the slithery thing slithers out of the guy’s head. David has, yet again, slipped off to do some other shady things. Vickers asks him to feed directly into her special room which is also a life-boat. But guess what David cuts her off when he gets to a very interesting room. Vickers says, “that son of a bitch cut me off.” Meanwhile Charlie is pretty busted up. He can’t really walk, he’s really sick. Things are bad. So the crew hurries him back to the ship for medical treatment. Meanwhile David activates another hologram and stands in the middle of a whole space hologram situation and sees the aliens doing their own thing. We begin to realize that they are in some sort of vessel and that David is standing in the main operation room of the vessel. He sees that there is an alien with a beating heart in a little pod. OMG! So they all get to the door of the ship, but Vickers won’t allow Charlie on the ship. She’s afraid he will contaminate everyone. So Charlie, who is clearly in serious pain approaches her, and says, “Do it.” And she blow torches him. Elizabeth is totally horrified and is put under sedation. She wakes up and David says that she’s pregnant which she can’t believe for a couple reasons: the first being she knows that she is physically unable to have kids, and the second reason is because she was in stasis for a couple of years and the only time she had sex was last night. But SOMETHING is inside her and it is developing fast. Very, very fast. He gives her another shot and tells her he’s going to but her back into stasis. She then lies on this table while they are about to put her under, then she kicks them away and runs to the med pod in Vicker’s suite. She’s in major pain and her stomach is moving all weird. She types “ABORTION” into the med pod. And the med pod replies it is designed only for men. (Which deeply annoys me. I think that is the dumbest little detail and it makes me angry that that would be the case for such a state of the art machine) so she types “FOREIGN OBJECT, LOWER ABDOMEN” and gets in. The machine cuts open her stomach, and she’s screaming and her stomach is about to explode (think ALIEN) but the machine is able to extract this: And the thing is squirming and growing as it is being held up in the pincers with which it was extracted. Oh man, it’s so messed up. Then the machine staples her stomach closed and she runs off and looks like this: And she stumbles into a room where she finds David tending to…Peter Weyland! What the hell? He should be dead! But he’s not! He wants to find the aliens so that they will show him how to live forever! Of course they will show him how to live forever! David sees Elizabeth and in a very blase tone, says, “Your survival instinct is very powerful. I didn’t think you had it in you. No pun intended.” If I were Elizabeth I might have attacked him because that was a snarky thing to say to someone who just had an alien violently removed from her uterus. Old man Peter and Vickers have a moment and she calls him “Father.” So that’s a thing is also don’t get because she’s super young and he’s super old. Is it because she does so much space travel? Possibly.
So anyway they all leave Vickers on the ship and go back to the main room and David wakes up the one alien from its little pod. David talks to it in this ancient language, and it looks at them all quizzically. Then it effing WHACKS OFF DAVID’S HEAD and KILLS the old man, and Elizabeth, who has just given herself an abortion, runs away. Oh also? Charlie wakes up outside the ship and attacks a bunch of people. He’s very powerful. Janek is able to destroy him, but not without some injuries and mayhem.
Janek and the rest of the crew (besides Vickers) realize that shit has gotten very real. Elizabeth communicates to Janek that they can’t leave because if they do, they will have no home to go to; earth will be destroyed. The aliens are carrying a biological weapon and are VERY VIOLENT. They are headed to earth to destroy it. I don’t get how she came to this conclusion, but the black liquid shit in there is VERY POWERFUL and VERY DESTRUCTIVE, and the thing that we thought was a cave or mound of some kind is actually a space ship. Janek makes a serious decision and tells Vickers that he’s going to fly into the alien ship to stop it from getting away. Vickers makes a run for her separate pod and just barely breaks off from the ship as it collides. She gets out and gets smooshed by the falling ship. Meanwhile, Elizabeth wakes up with her suit saying she only has two minutes of oxygen left. Elizabeth is so bad ass. Vickers, Charlize Theron’s character is a wuss with Daddy issues compared to her. So anyway, she makes it back to the “lifeboat” part of the ship that broke off from the main thing. She gets inside and realizes that the thing she took out of her body IS EFFING GIGANTIC AND ABOUT TO BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!!!! David, who is decapitated and lying somewhere in the ship (that should have exploded and he should be destroyed but he’s not somehow) warns her over the intercom or whatever that the alien is chasing after her. So she turns right as he’s about to attack her and opens the door. Her alien child wraps its tentacles around him and puts a creepy thing down his throat. It’s very phallic, but guess what else!? It’s also vagina with teeth a little bit. Private parts are so so so freaky. She makes it back outside and is lying on the ground crying. She’s saying she can’t do it anymore. But David starts talking to her, saying, yes she can. There are many other ships and David knows how to control them. They can go back home. Elizabeth makes her way back to David, and asks him for her cross back (she was wearing a necklace with a cross on it and he took it off when he sedated her.) She then puts his head in a bag and says sorry and he says quite alright. Oh, but before that she says she wants to go to the planet where these people are from, not home. David asks, why? and Elizabeth says, maybe that’s what makes us different. Maybe that’s what makes me human. That’s the end. But here’s a question: What will she eat on her journey? I don’t think their ships have food. Just horrible destructive black liquid.
After a couple beers at Simon’s, Charles and I meandered back to his lovely Foster apartment and looked through a box of movies. Charles said we should watch this Identity movie. I had never heard of it, but I was totally, totally blown away. It was so good! It was so well-done! Man, what was Martin Scorsese thinking when he made Shutter Island!? He could have just watched this and been like, “Oh man, my movie sucks compared to the complexities and nuanced acting of John Cusack.” Shutter Island is a “punch-line” movie, as Charles puts it. So is this one. But it is so, so much more! So here’s what happens. There is a crazy guy who killed a bunch of people a while back. He’s going to be executed tomorrow, but there is a middle-of-the-night hearing and it is shrouded in mystery. The hearing part of the movie is spliced with many different people in different forms of distress who all end up stranded at a motel in the middle of Nevada. The circumstances are strange but what is really going on is all the crazy murder guy’s personalities are getting together and have a face-off. They are dying one by one, but THE AUDIENCE DOESN’T KNOW THAT IT IS IN HIS MIND!!! They just think the movie is about a bunch of people in a rainstorm stopping at a hotel who keep dying. One by one, they die, not necessarily in the order that I will list them: the escaped convict dies with a bat shoved down his throat, the recently married yes-pregnant-no-pregnant couple die, the movie star- diva lady dies and her head is found thudding in the dryer. The evil cop-actually-convict dies in a face-off with John Cusak who is the had-emotional-trauma-and-had-to-quit-but-still-has-strong-crime-instincts-cop. John Cusak also dies. So everyone is dead except for the prostitute who made a bunch of money and is on her way back home to Florida to grow oranges. The prostitute is played by Amanda Peet. She wears a knock-off juicy hoodie, and other types of clothes that I wear on a regular basis. But I guess she’s a prostitute. The funny part is, when she comes to the motel, she is immediately pegged as a prostitute by the motel-manager-who-lost-all-his-money-in-las-vegas-and-found-real-manager-dead-and-took-over-the-job. He says mean things to her. And it was her shoe that caused an accident with the (seemingly) happy family driving in their mini van. They get a flat tire after running over the heel of her shoe which flew out during the crazy rain storm. THEN the dad goes out to fix it and little Timmy hangs out in the car. He does some weird communication with a hand on the glass window with his mom, and the mom, who is outside, get whammed by a car driven by….JOHN CUSACK! Whoa. So that’s how those guys all end up at the Motel. The mom is doing ok, until she DIES! The dad is doing OK until HE DIES after getting hit by a car driven by Motel manager-not-manager who is in a temporary state of hysteria. He is a casualty of the earlier face-off and then it’s just Peet. By killing all of his personalities except for harmless Peet, the-orange-prostitute-getting-a-second-chance, the people defending the killer say that he is now harmless.
So the guy, the killer is driving with his psychoanalyst and he is Peet, who has made it (in his mind) to her orange grove. She’s, like, taking things off the clothes line, and is about to start doing some hoe-ing (no pun intended. I really wrote that and then realized what I had done) but what does she find in the dirt? A KEY!!!!! AHHHHHH!
I should pause here, at the climactic moment to tell you the significance of the key. Each person who died in the Motel had a key on them. It was a sort of count down: each key found was in consecutive decreasing order. Then, in the middle of a Florida orange grove, Amanda Peet hoes up a key with the number 1 on it. OMG SHE’S THE LAST ONE TO DIE!!! Then she looks, and IT’S LITTLE TIMMY! IT WAS HIM ALL ALONG! HE WAS THE ONE KILLING EVERYONE!!! He says, “whores don’t get a second chance.” And then he kills her. Meanwhile in the van where the killer and his psychoanalyst are driving, the killer whispers, “Whores don’t get a second chance.” “What did you say?” says the psychoanalyst and he turns around and opens the protective window. Then the killer kills him. We see the van swerve off the road. The end.
I just thought of this. This movie is what would happen if Final Destination and Shutter Island had sex and had a baby. This movie would be both the sexiness of that couple and it would be the shiny part of their baby’s eyes.