Welcome to Part 2 of my Prometheus rant.
Please be warned that this will be spoiler heavy.
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10. The MediPod Sequence
This scene is obviously the film’s main set piece and it doesn’t disappoint, until actually think about what is going on. Despite its flaws, it’s a great scene and invokes memories of the original chestburster scene from Alien. Unfortunately, what happens directly before it, some of the things in it, and then everything that happens after it is so ridiculous that it threatens to ruin it completely.
The sequence begins with Shaw in the medical bay, coming out of unconsciousness after watching her lover die right in front of her. David is there and scans her. He tells her that she pregnant and that it’s “not exactly traditional,” (meaning that she has an alien growing in her). He asks if she and Holloway had sex earlier, implying that it is a result from his earlier infection/poisoning. As soon as she is told this, she starts wincing in pain (she hasn’t shown any signs this discomfort before hearing this information, and which actually caused me to say WTF while watching). She demands a cesarean to remove it but David refuses and sedates her unconscious. Presumably he then locks her in, because in the next scene she uses a metal bar to knock two other crewmembers unconscious when they come to check up on her, and runs to the MediPod. No one sees her mad dash to the other side of the ship, leaving the viewer to ask ‘where the f@#k is everybody?’. She arrives at the MediPod to find that it has been calibrated to only operate on Males (presumably for Weyland), but with some quick re-programming manages to start a surgical procedure close enough to a cesarean, strips and gets in.
The machines laser slices her across her entire abdomen (no blood gushes out), reaches in with a clunky looking mechanical claw, and, ridiculously easily, pulls out a large egg sac from her body. All of this without cutting anything inside, like the womb itself! Where was the hell was this embryo? How did she not notice it was in her until David mentioned it to her?
Once removed the egg sac bursts open (spilling alien embryonic fluid into the large, open wound in Shaw’s stomach) and the MediPod staples her shut. The embryo looks like a mutated squid (but there is speculation that it is a mutated human sperm). Shaw then slithers out of the MediPod, trapping the alien fetus inside.
Then Shaw becomes super-human….Not really, but this is the only explanation for how she is able to do the things she does for the rest of the film. Despite just undergoing the kind of surgery that would require anyone else to become bedridden for at least a few hours, she somehow manages to run around for extended periods, leap what looks like to be over ten feet through the air, outrun a crashing spacecraft as well as a very physically fit Vickers, and withstand being slammed with a rifle in the stomach area, while still having her abdominal muscles severed from a cesarean only moments earlier. How is this possible?
No human could do what she does and it ruins anything else that may be happening during it all, because you are too busy sitting there thinking ‘No f#*king way’. I don’t need my science fiction to be entirely real but it shouldn’t strain credulity either.
Now lets propose that the alien placental goop left behind in her body grants her temporary enhanced abilities. This would of course help the film makers explain Shaw’s new found abilities, but unfortunately nothing like this is shown and therefore doesn’t happen. So all we are left with is a woman with what looks like a 20cm long incision through her abdomen, with only staples holding it all together, performing actions more suited to an action hero. I know she injects herself with what is presumably adrenalin a couple of times, but that just doesn’t seem to be enough. The blow to the gut along would have been enough to pop her staples and taken her out, but no, she can still leap over giant holes and outrun crashing spaceships. You don’t have to be a doctor to understand this.
On another note, the aborted alien fetus is still growing in the MediPod, which is in Vickers’ lifeboat, goes completely unnoticed by all. We’ll get back to this in point #12.
11. Why do Weyland, and his staff not react to a bloody Shaw coming into their quarters?
When I first saw this scene I was quite perplexed. Like most people I thought it was strange that no one seems all that disturbed by Shaw’s appearance or condition. And lets face it, if a half naked woman covered in blood and goo and with a row of staples across her abdomen came stumbling into your room, you would react.
But let’s look at this a bit more closely. Who is in this room? Weyland, David, and Weyland’s personal doctors/nurses. None of these people (or android) give a crap about anyone but themselves and/or Weyland. All are focussed (even worshipful) of Weyland. Shaw should think herself lucky one of the nurses even bothers to cover her with a coat when she falls to her knees in front of them.
I’m not saying this is ok. It is very bad writing and something should have been done to clean it up, but I don’t think it is as completely out of character as some people claim. These people are bastards, and this scene reinforces that fact.
12. Why doesn’t Shaw tell everyone about the alien in the surgery machine so they get it off the ship?
I can understand that Shaw is too distraught to mention the alien fetus at this point, but David knows full well what happened, yet does nothing other than tell a lame joke. His main mission was to find a cure for Weyland, and even infects Holloway with the intent of possibly also infecting or impregnating Shaw, yet when offered an opportunity to claim the alien fetus he seems completely uninterested in following up at all. I understand that he has Weyland to tend to, and he is eager to show him the Engineer ship, but surely he could find the short amount of time it would take to investigate the MediPod?
Obviously this isn’t done so that we can get the group to the Engineer ship, and have the confrontation with the fully grown Squidhugger at the end, but this is screenwriting writing at its worst. It’s all in service to the plot, not to good characterisation. And it isn’t even that interesting a plot anyway. By this point I was just bored.
13. Why does the newly awakened Engineer want to kill the humans?
This is perhaps the most perplexing scene in the film. Weyland, Shaw, David and a couple of others enter the cockpit of the Engineer ship and David awakens the only surviving Engineer from suspended hibernation. At first the newly awakened Engineer appears curious but soon turns to annoyance when the humans starting talking to him, especially Shaw yelling. Weyland tells David to ask the Engineer for more life. We never know what David then says to the Engineer, because it is in their language and isn’t subtitled, but the effect is apparent. The Engineer reacts in outrage, ripping off David’s head and battering Weyland with it (I did like the irony of the Engineer killing his people’s creation, Weyland, with Weyland’s creation, David). As Weyland lays dying the Engineer then proceeds to kill the rest of the humans, except for Shaw, who escapes.
Why would Scott and the writers bring us all the way out there and leave that central motivation unanswered (the reason for why the Engineers did everything they did)? It was the whole purpose of the journey! All it would have taken was a bit of dialogue between Shaw and David later in the film, but it has either been saved for the sequel, or ignored all together.
Personally, I think David did ask the Engineer what Peter wanted him to say. The Engineer however, wasn’t pleased about inferior beings making demands of him and reacted accordingly. Or as one person put it in an excellent comment I saw online – WHY THE F*#K IS HE ON MY SHIP TALKING TO ME? SECURITY BREACH! KILL THEM ALL!
But it’s not in the film and that’s the problem. In the film, the Engineers are utterly unknowable, which then allows the filmmakers to make everything feel like it is very important while never actually committing to any sort of explanation, and that is bad film making.
14. Vickers’ death
Unable to convince Janek of his insane idea to kamikaze the Engineer ship, Vickers makes a mad dash to an escape pod (I can’t remember why she doesn’t go to the lifeboat, but whatever the reason it was obviously so she didn’t find the Squidhugger), and frantically jettisons from the ship. She is safe and sound on the ground until the Engineer’s ship comes crashing down directly at her. With a speed born of desperation she tries to outrun it but is eventually disappears under it and is apparently squashed like a bug.
When the rest of the crew died I didn’t really care. They were fodder to be dispatched. Some of them didn’t even have personalities or made ridiculously stupid decisions, so how could you care about their demises? But Vickers was a bit more fleshed out and brought some much needed drama to the film and deserved a better death scene than what she got. Her escape from the ship is tense and pretty cool but that is all undone with a death scene straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Once again the writers get it wrong. If a giant spaceship is rolling towards you why wouldn’t you run sideways? Dodge girl!
As stupid as Vicker’s death is, it is nothing compared to what else happens in this scene. I’ve already mentioned that the wounded Shaw manages to outrun the perfectly fit Vickers, which is ridiculous enough, but when the ship keels over and threatens to squash her too she crawls up next to a rock, which manages to hold the weight of this massive spaceship and provide her enough space to survive. Unbelievable? Definitely. But what makes this even more annoying is that we not only just saw similar sized rocks disintegrate under the weight of the ship as it rolled over them, but also under the MUCH smaller lifeboat as it crashed into them! I don’t care about the rock holding the weight of the Engineer ship and saving her life. I’ve seen far more ridiculous situations in films before, but come on writers, at least be consistent with your crap.
15. Why does the Engineer go after Shaw? Why not just go to one of the other ships and escape?
After escaping death by squashing and discovering the Squidhugger, David warns Shaw that the Engineer survived the crash and is coming after her. How he knows this is unclear, like most of this film, but could just be a guess on his part. However, he turns out to be right and the enraged Engineer smashes his way into the lifeboat to attack Shaw. However, she manages to escape by unleashing the Squidhugger on the Engineer, who puts up a good fight but is out-matched and eventually succumbs (more on this in the next point).
Ignoring how David knew the Engineer was coming for Shaw and not just heading to one of the other ships, I want to know how he was able to make it to the lifeboat without a helmet? It has already been established that the atmosphere is toxic and that the Engineers need oxygen to breathe. Obviously one very deep breath J
Also, why go after Shaw at all? Yes, he’s pissed, but surely the knowledge that she is trapped on this planet is enough for him to continue his mission and wipe out her species, or even just get the hell out of there? I guess not. Just like humans, the Engineers can be blinded by rage.
As I mentioned above, the Engineer loses his fight with the Squidhugger and is impregnated. In an epilogue we see a sequence all Alien fans are familiar with, as a xenomorph bursts from the Engineer’s chest. Dubbed the ‘Deacon’ by the production crew, this xenomorph is different to the one viewers are familiar with, with a similar body but a pointed skull and a mouth clearly inspired by a goblin shark. It is ‘born’ fully grown and doesn’t go through the chestburster stage.
Despite what some people think this isn’t the Queen that lays the egg that eventually gets Kane, as I believe I have already established that this planet is not LV-426. It is also not the first of the xenomorphs, since the engravings on the idol room walls clearly shows one.
But this scene does offer some tantalizing information about the xenomorphs, and despite its obvious inclusion to appease the fanboys (which I admit I am :)), I’m glad they included it. I would have liked the planet to have been LV-426, and the events of the end of the film to tie directly into Alien, but it doesn’t detract from it because that it doesn’t.
However, I would have preferred a film that answered some of its questions instead of ending unfinished and clearly setting up a sequel.
I’m glad I saw this film. I was floored by what Scott and his production team accomplished visually and I’m glad to have seen Fassbender’s performance as David, precise, methodical and beautifully nuanced. And I believe that the makers of the film wanted this to be a provocative experience, and generate discussion. I just wish they had done a better job.
Too much of what the characters do in Prometheus makes no sense, and that is simply not good enough and is why a lot of people are annoyed. Hopefully Scott and crew will learn from their mistakes and do better in the sequel.
I hope you enjoyed my little rant. All comments are welcome. I would really love to see what you think about the film and my opinions 🙂
NOTE: To assist in certain points I used some excerpts from an email interview conducted by MTV News correspondent Josh Horowitz with Prometheus scriptwriter, Damon Lindelof.