At the time, I was a member of a message board for a website that specialized in horror films and one of the most popular threads was, "What you thought of the last horror film you saw." That thread was where I posted my initial thoughts on Prometheus, which I believe began with the statement, "Ridley Scott can seriously eat my cock." I just didn't understand what all of the people who absolutely loved this movie were going on about. I thought it was a visually impressive movie, as his often are, and I liked the creature effects, but I didn't care about the story, as well as 99% of the characters, and I also couldn't believe how this supposedly "brilliant" film fell victim to so many idiotic, decades-old horror movie tropes. I didn't watch it again until early 2017 and, after a third viewing for this review, my opinion hasn't changed much. I'm not going to make this an entry of Movies That Suck, which I originally thought I was going to, as I don't think it's completely without its merits and it is a technically better movie than either of the AVP films that came before it, but I can't call it a good movie either. It's nice to look at and I appreciate the use of real locations and practical creature effects instead of relying entirely on CGI but those criticisms I listed still stand, as does my agreement with the criticisms of others that it's not nearly as smart as it thinks it is and the way it goes on about the ideas and themes that it's trying to explore make it come across as very pretentious.
Millions of years ago in Earth's past, a tall, pale, humanoid alien is left behind by his spaceship and drinks a type of liquid that causes him great pain and ultimately dissolve his body, his remains falling down a waterfall and his DNA mixing within the water. In the year 2089, archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway are working at an excavation site on Scotland's Isle of Skye, when they discover a cave containing a type of star map painted on the wall. They interpret this as an invitation by the creators of mankind to come and find them. Four years later, around Christmastime in the year 2093, the scientific research vessel Prometheus arrives at the location indicated on the map out deep in space after a two year voyage. The crew are awakened from hypersleep by the ship's android, David, and are introduced to their mission by a hologram of Peter Weyland, the elderly founder of the Weyland Corporation and source of the voyage's funding, who talks about his interest in the origin of man and what happens after death; he also tells them that by the time they're seeing this message, he will have died. Shaw and Holloway then show the team their findings: ancient pictograms found at various sites throughout the world, from civilizations that existed centuries apart from one another, that depict the same large, humanoid beings pointing to the stars and that one system in particular matches. Their destination is the moon LV-223 and Shaw explains her belief that the map is actually an invitation offered by the "Engineers," which they've dubbed the creators of mankind. Upon landing near a structure that is clearly not of natural origin and investigating, the team discovers the inside of a pyramid-like temple, full of interesting evidence like a holographic recording of Engineers running down the corridors as a result of some type of situation, the decapitated body of one with the severed head still intact, and an enormous room full of strange canisters and an enormous, carved head. They take the head back to the ship and, in spite of its exploding when they experiment on it, they discover that its DNA is 100% human. Unbeknownst to everyone else, David has brought one of the canisters back and intentionally puts a drop of a black fluid excreting from it into a drink he hands Holloway, apparently acting on orders from a source only he and mission director Meredith Vickers know of. As time passes, things begin taking a horrific turn, as the black liquid from the canisters begins spawning bizarre and deadly creatures that attack anything in sight, Holloway's health begins to deteriorate rapidly from the infection, and he unintentionally impregnates Shaw with a hideous creature that she's ultimately forced to remove in a grisly way. Shaw soon realizes that this place isn't what she originally thought and as more secrets are revealed, the crew discovers an insidious threat that could mean the end of both them and human life in general.
Speaking of Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), I don't like him at all because he's both stupid and, moreover, an egotistical dickhead. He doesn't start out as such but, after they awaken from hyper-sleep and he and Shaw have briefed everyone on their assignment, he acts like such an ass when David says he thinks he'll be able to communicate with the Engineers, "Provided your thesis is correct," chuckling in a very condescending manner and saying, " 'Provided it's correct.' That's good," not mention that he ignores the warning to stay strapped in his seat while they're landing. I understand that he's excited about the prospect of finding something so significant, saying when they've landed, "It's Christmas, Captain, and I want to open my presents," but his statement, "God does not build in straight lines," beforehand, again, makes me roll my eyes at the pretentiousness. Where I really start to lose my patience with him is when they're exploring the inside of the structure and when he sees that the air in there is breathable, he decides to take his helmet. Shaw tells him not to be stupid and he tells her, "Don't be a skeptic." Her concern is not mere skepticism! You may be able to breathe in there but there are no telling what kind of bacteria and toxins are in the air that you don't know about! But, no, he takes his helmet off and lets out a yell like a complete jackass, making you wish he'd immediately start coughing up blood, bleeding out of every orifice, before finally choking to death on his own bodily fluids. And you'd think that what they find down in the lower part of the structure would make him happy but, no, after there doesn't seem to be any Engineers left alive and the top of the severed head of the one ends up exploding during their tests, he acts like a pouting, spoiled child, telling David, "What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers. To get answers. Why they even made us in the first place." Boo-fucking-hoo! You've proven that your theories about the cave painting and the star map were correct and you have plenty of physical evidence (most of the head was still intact) to back it up, but you didn't get to meet your maker and find out why you were created. Whaa, whaa, whaa! And just to add insult to injury, when David asks him why mankind made him and Holloway simply says, "We made you because we could," he then asks, "Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?" Holloway answers, "I guess it's good you can't be disappointed." That statement and the way he said it is so deserving of a middle finger, as is a comment about David not being a "real boy" earlier. In any case, David gives him the chance to find out the Engineers' true purpose when he unknowingly puts some of the liquid from one of the canisters in his drink and he slowly begins to mutate (ironically, after this, he starts to come around a bit when Shaw shows him her findings on the Engineer's DNA). And despite waking up the next morning and not looking or feeling so hot, he decides to go out with a search party to try to find two people who disappeared at the site regardless and his condition quickly deteriorates to the point where he does the only decent thing in the entire movie: allow Meredith Vickers to burn him alive so as not to infect Shaw (too late!) or the ship.
The one part of the cast that just about everybody who's seen this film seems to love is Michael Fassbender's performance as the android, David; me, I'm kind of mixed on him. On the one hand, I can appreciate how he is a very complex character. As polite and helpful as he is to those around him, never once raising his voice or becoming physically violent towards them, save for the scene where he forcibly sedates Shaw, it's not hard to detect a disdain towards humanity in a lot of his dialogue. For instance, when they're suiting up to explore the structure on the planet for the first time and Charlie Holloway asks him why he's wearing a suit and helmet since, being an android, he doesn't need air, David explains, "I was designed like this because you are more comfortable interacting with your own kind. If I didn't wear a suit, it would defeat the purpose." Holloway then says, "They're making you guys pretty close, huh?", to which David responds, "Not too close, I hope." And although David, technically, shouldn't be able to feel it, when he's talking to Holloway later on about imagining the disappoint he would feel if the Engineers told him that they created mankind simply because they could, the way he talks about it gives the impression that he does have some idea of said emotion, as he's responding to Holloway's statement that that's the very reason why they made him. By extension, when Shaw asks David what would happen when Peter Weyland dies and is no longer around to program him, he says, "I suppose I'll be free." Shaw then asks him if that's what he wants and David says that the notion of "want" is not something he's familiar with, although he does then say, "That being said, doesn't everyone want their parents dead?", which makes me think, "Oh, so you do understand it." Plus, there's no denying that he has a childlike curiosity about the place they're studying, as he's touching and messing around with everything inside the structure, despite being told not to, and when he finds the control room of the Engineer ship, he's absolutely delighted and full of wonder about it.
But, on the other hand, I don't care for how sinister they sometimes make him, with how he sneaks a peek at Shaw's dreams while she's in hyper-sleep and much later, after Holloway has been killed, throws the horrible memory she dreamt about and what's just happened to her in her face in a manner that also mocks her faith: "It must feel like your God abandoned you... To lose Dr. Holloway after your father died under such similar circumstances." He very nonchalantly tells her that he knows this because he watched her dreams, something else I didn't care for. And while I know a lot of what he's doing is because he's following orders from a source that we eventually learn is Weyland, who's hiding aboard the ship, he's clearly very interested to see what'll happen when he tricks Holloway into ingesting some of the liquid from the canisters. He may not know exactly what the results will be and whether or not he's doing this on his own or per Weyland's instructions is up for debate, but his lines, "Big things have small beginnings," when he looks at a small drop of the substance on his finger, "How far would you go to get your answers?", before slipping Holloway the contaminated drink, and, "Good health," when he finally drinks it, give me a rather unsettling feeling. And do I need to say anything else when he tells Shaw that he figured out that the Engineers were preparing to leave for Earth because, "Sometimes to create, one must first destroy," with a smile, no less? Finally, I don't like how just downright intentionally antagonistic and prickish some of his lines and actions come across, like when he's fooling around with the door in the structure, trying to figure out how to open it, doing so just as Shaw warns him that they don't know what's on the other side and he sarcastically says, "Oops, sorry," or when Shaw elects to come with them to meet the Engineer at the end, after removing the creature from her abdomen, and he says, "I didn't think you had it in you. Sorry, poor choice of words." I honestly feel that, after his head is ripped off by the Engineer, he warns Shaw about the creature's wrath towards her simply because he'll have some way to get off the planet, which is the very reason why he asks her to help him: at that very moment, they have no choice but to help each other to survive. Damon Lindelof said that another one of David's motivations at this point is genuine curiosity, which is one of his last driving forces since Weyland is now dead, and that's probably true, although I think he's mostly just trying to save his own synthetic butt. So, in the end, I can understand why people praised Fassbender's performance but the character himself isn't one I like all that much.
One thing about Vickers that's often discussed is whether or not she herself is an android like David. It's brought up off-handedly by Janek when she initially rejects his advances and never mentioned again but it is an interesting thing to think about, given how, if you look at them both closely, they look, move, and gesture in a very similar way, their squabble in the Prometheus' hallway over David's not letting her in on Weyland's directions is like that of a brother and sister, and they are both, in one way or another, Weyland's children. Indeed, when Weyland himself described David in his holographic briefing as the closest thing to a son he'd ever have, he could've meant that in the sense that he'll never be able to have any real children, aside from possibly Vickers, or that, unbeknownst to anyone else, he already has the closest thing to a daughter, as he specifically said "son" rather than "child." This could also explain her animosity towards David, as Weyland clearly prefers him over her since David is far more obedient, which might make the other reading of that previous line plausible, and also explain why the personal surgery machine that she has in her quarters on the ship's lifeboat is meant for men only, as it wouldn't matter if she's actually a robot (I'd hope that's the case; otherwise, that's a massive and really glaring oversight on the filmmakers' part). One thing's for sure: since she did invite him to her room, it's very possible that Janek is the one who knows the truth about this, which he's not telling. In any case, as interesting as she can be, like David, I ultimately can't say I like her that much, as her personality, while pragmatic, is very harsh and her attitude towards the infected Holloway in that scene, despite being understandable as it was with Ripley, veers into being ungodly cruel when she comes at him with a flamethrower and before then, was threatening to just leave him out there (at least Ripley was willing to let them stay in the airlock until they're fully decontaminated). During the climax, she also refuses to listen to Shaw's warning that they need to stop the Engineer from getting to Earth with his deadly cargo, angrily telling Janek to take off, and she's forced to use the lifeboat to save herself from dying with him and his co-pilots when they use the Prometheus itself to ram the Engineer's ship. Too bad she gets crushed by said ship when it crashes because she's too dumb to get out of its way when it rolls along the surface rather than just running directly in front of it.
The supporting characters (that is, those are actually named, as there others who are pretty faceless), despite sometimes being memorable in their own ways, are still pretty much cannon fodder for the most part. Fifield (Sean Harris), the expedition's geologist, is memorable for his crazy Mohawk, tattoos, and rather nasty attitude, telling Millburn when he's trying to be friendly after they awakened from hyper-sleep that he's there to do a job, not to be his friend. Sneering at Shaw's theory about the Engineers, the biggest contribution he brings to the expedition is mapping the structure they find with some probes he calls his "pups," and he, inexplicably, becomes freaked out at the sight of the decapitated Engineer that they find, raving, "Look, I'm just a geologist. I like rocks. I love... rocks. Though it's clear you two don't give a shit about rocks but what you do seem to care about is gigantic dead bodies. And though I don't really have anything to contribute in the gigantic dead body arena, I'm gonna go back to the ship, if you don't mind." Okay, what they find is bizarre but I don't think it warrants freaking out in this manner (I'm surprised he's not raving about the holographic recording of the Engineers that they saw before that). But what's really mind-blowing is that, even though he mapped the place, his probes didn't send him his own personal version of the map, as he and Millburn get lost while trying to get back to the ship and he has the gall to act all pissy towards Holloway and Shaw when they get trapped there by a bad storm, even though it's their own fault. Speaking of Millburn (Rafe Spall), the expedition's biologist, I don't recall him doing anything significant other than giving some theories about the phenomena they encounter within the structure and acting like a moron when confronted by a clearly hostile, snake-like creature generated from the canisters' liquid (even though Fifield has been revealed to be toking it up inside his helmet at this point, Millburn's the one who's acting baked), calling it beautiful and fawning over it until it predictably attacks and kills him, along Fifield when he tries to help. Going back to Fifield, whom Millburn seemed awfully anxious to get to know, as a result of being exposed to the liquid during this scene, he mutates like Holloway and attacks and kills some of the crew before being killed himself. The only thing notable about the Prometheus' medic, Ford (Kate Dickie), is that she sounds like a female version of Scotty from Star Trek and helps Shaw in the disastrous examination of the severed Engineer head; I don't even remember how she died at this moment. And the Prometheus' two pilots, Chance (Emun Elliott) and Ravel (Benedict Wong), don't have much to them but they come across as likable as their captain, making bets about the outcome of the expedition, right down to their sacrifice, and are more than willing to stay with Janek to the bitter end, even though he gives them a chance to escape with Vickers in the lifeboat.
Before we go any farther, I want to make it clear that I'm not at all against a thinking man's science fiction movie, as there are a fair amount that I enjoy: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Dark City, Christopher Nolan's Inception, even Ridley Scott's own Blade Runner, just to name a few. And I don't mind a movie that explores major themes, such as the origin and purpose of mankind, as this one does. I just don't think it did it well. Besides being so pretentious and as subtle as a mallet to the head with its themes, particularly in the dialogue, I don't think the movie is that good at integrating its intellectual side with the tropes of sci-fi/horror and action. Not only do a number of the characters have little to them and are lacking common sense, as often happens in the horror films that this movie is trying to be a step above, but it often feels like it can't make up its mind whether it wants to be thoughtful or just a gruesome, thrilling creature feature, as in the monster attacks and mutations, the scene where Shaw has the squid-like creature removed from her abdomen in a grisly manner, and the climax that's all about stopping the Engineer from bringing a ship full of death to Earth. Blade Runner may have had some chase scenes, including the climactic one between Deckard and Roy Batty, but the movie felt more cohesive to me, whereas Prometheus feels like its mindset is constantly shifting from "let's ponder where we came from and our purpose" to "monsters, slime, and gore!" Plus, as many before have said, the film ultimately creates more questions than it answers. By the end, all we know is that the Space Jockey from the original Alien was one of a race of beings who, seemingly accidentally, created mankind, and now hate us and want us wiped out completely, and we also have an idea of how the Aliens were created and why. But, that's it. We still don't know what the Engineers are, how that black liquid that mutates people and creates hideous other creatures works, why they want us dead, what exactly happened to those stationed on LV-223 (we're given speculation but nothing concrete), what was going on at the very beginning of the movie with the Engineer who drank the liquid (I know there are deleted portions of this opening, as well as other scenes, that flesh it out but I'm speaking specifically of what we see in the theatrical version which, like Alien, is Scott's preferred version and why he refused to do an extended cut of it when Fox asked him to), why Holloway and Shaw even think that they're the creators of mankind, or how exactly the vague star "map," which is just random planetoid shapes being pointed at by the figure of the Engineer, led them to this specific galaxy. I'm not saying that science fiction movies, or movies in general, should lay everything out for you but when you promise to answer questions, right down to where it's one of your film's taglines, it's probably not a good idea to leave so much unanswered. I agree with Variety's Justin Chang when he said that it felt like they made it under the presumption that they'd make a sequel, especially the ending, when they should've just focused on making a movie that stands by itself.
On top of not being as smart as it thinks it is, Prometheus is also hardly groundbreaking in its plot and presentation; in fact, when you get down to it, it's little more than a tweaked remake of the original Alien. You have a spaceship that's sent to an uncharted planetoid to investigate something, they land on this barren, desolate landscape, they find and explore the inside of a strange, alien structure, and they unknowingly uncover a dangerous threat inside that begins to infect and threaten them, forcing them to fight for survival. There may be differences, such as the main threat being the Engineers and the creatures that their black fluid spawns, the crew having more of an idea of what they're investigating and why when they land (they're still unaware of the big picture, though), and the main story taking place entirely on the moon rather than just a small section, but for the most part, little about this feels fresh, right down to the piece-by-piece way the title comes up and Shaw's closing line being a bad rip-off of Ripley's). It feels especially so when we, yet again, have people bumbling around and running from monsters in dark tunnels and corridors and with a good majority of the drama taking place in the claustrophobic confines of a spaceship. What's more, the plot shares some similarities with another film in the series. Think about it: discoveries made at the sites of many different ancient civilizations that are similar, even though there's no way they should be, a briefing of which takes place in a large room aboard a ship inbound for a destination unknown to most aboard, and their big find there being a large structure that's basically a pyramid. If you haven't guessed by now, let me spell it out for you with just three letters: AVP. It could be mere coincidence but, when I thought about it, my jaw dropped when I realized how much the plot reminded me of the first Alien vs. Predator, right down to the captions that tell us of the Prometheus itself and its classified situation being very similar to the first look at the ship in that film, the introduction of Vickers being similar to Alexa Woods' in that they try to show how tough she is, and the Engineers looking an awful lot like Predators when you see the hologram of their running in their armor (and remember, they're behind the Aliens' creation), and in case you haven't read my review, that movie is not a good model to follow.
The movie also suffers from the Star Wars prequels syndrome in that it looks like it should take place decades after Alien rather than before because of how advanced the technology is. Ignoring the very advanced capabilities of the Engineers, since all we saw of them before now was their crashed, damaged ship on LV-426 and we have no clue what it was capable of, the stuff they have onboard the Prometheus makes you wonder why the Nostromo, Gateway Station, the Sulaco, and all of the other ships and installations in this franchise didn't come with it. Sticking strictly with Alien given the more concrete connection between the two, the Nostromo had simple computer screens, monitors, buttons, and flight controls, while the Prometheus has a bunch of radically advanced hologram recorders and touchscreens that are shown off enough during the briefing seen, as well as a very sophisticated surgical machine in the lifeboat that Shaw uses to remove the squid-like creature from within her body and hyper-sleep chambers that, through the use of a special helmet, allow you to actually look into someone's dreams and apparently communicate with someone through them, if David's talk with Weyland in one scene is any indication. And while it's not exactly smooth, the Prometheus has a much easier time getting through the atmosphere and landing on the surface, as well as flying through space itself. In addition, those aboard are equipped with spacesuits that, while cool-looking, are definitely more advanced and practically-designed than the big, bulky, NASA-like ones Dallas, Lambert, and Kane used to explore LV-426, which is to say nothing of the probes Fifield uses to map the interior of the structure, creating a 3-D model of it on the Prometheus' bridge. Even the flamethrowers and vehicles that they use feel more advanced than what the Nostromo crew was saddled with. Now, you could make the argument that the Prometheus is a scientific research vessel, so they'd need this kind of advanced stuff, whereas the Nostromo was just a commercial towing vehicle that was sent out to gather minerals, akin to how, even today, cargo trucks can hardly be called advanced, going on the "truck-drivers in space" motif of Alien, as well as the fact that this mission had $1 trillion behind it, and it is plausible. Still, I think the crew of a ship that mines ore and minerals would need better equipment to make their job more efficient (maybe we just didn't see that kind of stuff that was on the Nostromo). Regardless, it doesn't feel right to me, as it often does with prequels like this.
Finally, as much as I don't mind a movie that tries to explore the big questions that this one does, was it really necessary to link the backstories of the Space Jockeys and the Aliens to the creation of mankind? For one, I, like a lot of people, think it should've been kept ambiguous, with a lot of possibilities but no definitive answers. But even if you were going to reveal the truth behind the Space Jockeys and its connection to the Aliens, is it really that compelling to make them big, white humanoids who are able to create new life-forms through the use of this black liquid they've developed and accidentally created mankind itself through it? It's been speculated before that they created the Aliens as a type of biological weapon but this just feels far too overdone. Moreover, I find it so disappointing that the bizarre, haunting face that we saw on that dead creature in the first Alien, with that long, trunk-like extension from where a nose would be down to its chest, is simply a helmet that it wears when piloting its ship (especially since it seemed like it was made of flesh and bone there). I know some will excuse me of simply being upset that the backstory wasn't what I wanted it to be but that's just it: everyone who has seen Alien since it was first released back in 1979 has come up with their own backstory for the Space Jockey and so, it didn't matter what was presented as the truth in actual, canonical movie. It was going to be disappointing, regardless, and it also didn't matter who did it. There's a guy on YouTube named LittleJimmy835 who, back in 2010, began a series of video reviews which chronicled the gradual downfall of both the Alien and Predator franchises (I encourage you to check them out, as they're great stuff) and when he finished the series off at the time, he talked about his excitement about Ridley Scott returning to the series for a prequel to Alien. He acknowledged the disdain people had for revealing too much about the origins of the Aliens and Space Jockeys but said that, since somebody was going to do it eventually, he'd rather it be Scott than someone like Paul W.S. Anderson (which is ironic given the aforementioned odd similarities this film has with the first AVP). I never watched his eventual video on Prometheus, so I don't know what he ultimately thought of it, but regardless, I still feel that it didn't matter who made it; the problem was expectations. It'd be like if John Carpenter himself directed the prequel to The Thing that explained the events at the Norwegian base: even if it were amazing, there'd still be some disappointment. It's the same thing here, and it didn't matter if it were Scott, James Cameron, or any of the accomplished filmmakers who've been involved with the franchise doing it. While I know there's no getting around it, for me, movies like this are a testament to how some parts of a beloved mythology are best left speculative.
All of these criticisms aside, Prometheus is not without any major merits, particularly in its visuals. It's very well-made on a technical level, as Ridley Scott's movies tend to be. It's a good-looking movie, shot very well by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, with a wonderfully rich, lush color palette that gives even the barren landscape of LV-223 a type of beauty, and the way the interiors of the pyramid and the Engineer spaceship are just dark enough to keep an air of mystery while, at the same time, not being so dark that you can't tell what you're looking at (unlike certain Alien movies), was a nice touch. The production design by Arthur Max is also top-notch, especially the sets used for the interior of the Prometheus and the Engineer's pyramid and ship. While the former merely makes me think of a much cleaner and more clinical take on the Nostromo (some of the lighter-colored hallways look very similar), which I like a lot more because of its more "used" and overall uncomfortable feel, it's still very pleasing to look at, with its cool-looking, cutting edge bridge and flight deck; the lifeboat, whose interior is a luxurious, fancy living area, with that advanced medical pod in the back; the big briefing room with that advanced holographic message from Weyland that just about fills the entire space; and the look of the hyper-sleep chambers, which have a nice, yellow glow about them, as well as how the hallways sometimes become a very deep blue, which I like. In case you haven't picked up on it, as much as I don't like how the technology doesn't feel like it should be in a movie set several decades before Alien, I can still admire the skillful way in which it was executed and how great it looks (although to be fair, they do show that they haven't yet worked out the kinks in hyper-sleep when Shaw is seen puking relentlessly after being awakened). That brings us to the interiors of the Engineer's environments, which are just as breathtaking. Initially, the insides of the structure look like little more than darkly-colored, rock corridors with hints of technology here and there, and then they find that enormous chamber that's filled with the canisters containing the fluid and that big, carved humanoid head overlooking it all. Comparisons to the egg chamber in Alien are unavoidable but this is designed and shot well enough to where I feel it has its own unique flavor that can be admired. Plus, you also have some notable murals on the wall, depicting creatures that seem to be the Aliens, which were designed by H.R. Giger himself, and the holographic recordings of the Engineers running down the corridors during some type of emergency. But that's nothing compared to the cockpit of the Engineer ship, which I think Giger also had a hand in reverse engineering and, while it's not shot as creepily as the original one, it's still a spectacular set, particularly when David activates the holographic galaxy maps that fill the room. Personally, if you were to ask me to boil science fiction down to one particular image, I might I have to go with that, because it's jaw-dropping in how it looks.
The exterior of the Prometheus looks good, with a nice, if not exactly original, design and it looks good when you see it flying through space, descending through LV-223's atmosphere, and such (I still like the look of the Nostromo better, though). It comes equipped with some futuristic land-rovers and big, armored personnel carries that the crew use to traverse the surface once they land and while there's nothing that special about them, they get the point across. The costumes and spacesuits of those aboard the ship are also worth mentioning, as I like how they all have their own unique looks, with some being dressed fairly casually, like Holloway and some of the other members of the expedition, others wearing working-class type uniforms, such as Captain Janek and his co-pilots, and others wearing very fancy, tailored-like clothes, such as David and particularly Vickers, with her gray, silk suit. I especially like the design of the spacesuits, which have a nice look and aesthetic to them, as they come across like they'd probably feel like little more than a second skin rather than a heavy, cumbersome suit. The helmets are the best part, as they're completely see-through, with no blind spots, and a cool-looking glass texture to them. The Engineer ship looks good as well, although I always thought that U-shaped design that it has didn't look very practical for flying when I saw it back in Alien and, yeah, when the thing takes off at the end, it feels a little awkward to me.
Scott and Wolski also know how to shoot real locations to make them look breathtaking and to mesh them rather seamlessly with digital effects. The opening credits themselves can definitely be described as "scenery porn," as the camera pans over spectacular landscapes, culminating in the amazing Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland (where many of the real location work was filmed), which looks even better when they put in the shot of the ship hovering over it in the sky and the lone Engineer standing on the cliff against it, his pale skin blending in with the water. The short scene that takes place on the Isle of Skye off Scotland after the opening also looks pretty good, with Scott again showing off as much as that nice-looking location as he can, and the landscape of LV-223, despite being a very barren place, has a certain beauty to it as well in the way it's photographed and it does have an alien quality to it as well. Like the opening, it's made even more amazing-looking when the elements of the storm that threatens the characters, the exterior of the structure they discover, and that shot of a skull-like carving atop a ridge, as well as digital extensions, are added to it.
Like everything else, the creatures and everything involving them were achieved through a combination of both practical and digital means, which, again, I appreciate. They could've easily done the Engineers completely digitally but instead opted for good old-fashioned prosthetics attached to the actors (one of whom is actually Ian Whyte, who played the Predators in both of the Alien vs. Predator movies) and used computers only in order to enhance them ever so slightly to make them come across as godlike. As a result, as much I didn't care to learn that this is what the Space Jockeys are, I can't deny that the Engineers look really good and have a simple but striking look to them, with their chalk-white bodies, dark eyes, and muscular physiques, making them akin to statues of Greek and Roman gods. Their spacesuits definitely have that Giger influence to them in the way look and in their color (they actually make me think of behind-the-scenes footage and photos of Bolaji Badejo in the original Alien suit without the head). But as I said earlier, character-wise, we don't learn much about them other than their being very technologically-and scientifically-advanced, with the ability to both create and destroy life through this black fluid they keep in these large canisters, which are definitely meant to be this film's answer to the Alien eggs, that they unintentionally created mankind when one, for whatever reason, drank some of the liquid and his dissolving remains and DNA mixed in with the water he fell into, and that they now want mankind dead for reasons that also remain unexplained. And for such an advanced race, they're pretty brutish, as the only response the one that they find alive has to seeing them is to rip off David's head, kill Weyland and the others, and try to kill Shaw by charging and ripping into the wreckage of the Prometheus like a bull.
Again, we don't know what this black fluid is or how it even works but what is clear is that it's bad news, especially when it starts oozing out of its containers and covering the floor of the chamber, as it's able to create hideous life-forms and mutate other creatures into diseased abominations, as it does to Holloway and Fifield (I never got into The X-Files but I know there's something on that show called "the Black Oil" that's very similar to this stuff). Holloway's mutation is quick but pretty simple, as he wakes up the morning after having had sex with Shaw and looks at himself in the bathroom mirror to find that he's not looking too good, with blood-shot eyes and a small, worm-like creature wriggling around inside of one of them. Despite this, he decides to go out with the search party to look for Fifield and Millburn after they've disappeared within the structure and his condition worsens until he looks very gaunt and unhealthy, with exposed, black veins (it looks like they achieved this through CGI enhancement of practical makeup), and is in so much pain at this point that he begs Vickers to fry him with the flamethrower, which she does. However, despite his mutation, he's still in control of himself, which is more than can be said of Fifield who, after being exposed to the liquid while trying to save Millburn from the snake-like creature they run into, shows back up at the ship, lying on the ground in a contorted pose before rising up to reveal that his skin is now diseased and mutated, his forehead swollen in a Frankenstein monster-like manner, his teeth looking very disgusting, and his eyes looking absolutely inhuman (there was also a much more monstrous, digital version of him that was created in case the prosthetics weren't satisfactory but, fortunately, decided to go with the practical version, which is not only more real-looking but also isn't as over-the-top). He's also a complete mindless monster now, viciously attacking and killing some of the crew before he's stopped and proving to be dangerously strong, quick, and agile to boot. As for other effects the liquid has, there's the snake-creature, dubbed a "Hammerpede" by the filmmakers, and while it only appears in a couple of scenes, I kind of like it, as it has a memorable design, with a head that opens up into a shape like a cobra's hood to expose its mouth when threatened (its face is rather Freudian, though) and is a good use of puppetry. It's likely the result of the liquid mutating some small, worm-like creatures that were seen on the ground in that chamber in an earlier scene. And I also like that, rather than being malevolent, it's just a wild animal that warns Millburn not to mess with it by hissing and when the moron doesn't take heed, it attacks, showing how strong it is by wrapping around his arm and twisting until it breaks. And when Fifield tries to help by cutting it off, it proves to have acidic blood that melts through his helmet, as well as the ability to instantly regrow severed parts of its body and a knack for burrowing into the bodies of living creatures as it goes down Millburn's throat and shoots out later.
In having sex with Shaw, Holloway unintentionally impregnates her with something that, when she removes it from her abdomen using Vickers' surgical pod, originally looks to be a big glob of flesh but reveals itself to be a tentacled, squid-like creature that she keeps contained within the medical unit. This creature, officially called a "Trilobite," grows to an enormous size by the time the film's climax rolls around, becoming larger in body size and mass than the Engineer. Unfortunately, while the infant stage of the creature was done through puppetry, this adult version is created completely through CGI and it doesn't look that great, making it the movie's least effective creature in terms of its look. Regardless, this is where Prometheus develops its most concrete ties to the Alien films, as the Trilobite proves to be an enormous facehugger, grabbing onto the Engineer and shoving a tube down his throat as it forces him to the floor. This comes to fruition in the very last scene when a prototype-esque xenomorph bursts out of the Engineer's torso. While it's much different from the classic Aliens, with a bluish skin color, a small, scrawny appearance (although it's much larger than any of the other chestbursters as it's about half the size of its host), a much more pointed head, and a protruding upper jaw rather than a tongue with an extra pair of jaws on the tip, all of which is undoubtedly due to how it was conceived, you don't have to look hard to tell that it is of the same family. And fortunately, like a lot of these other creatures, it's done practically and looks all the better for it.
While this film is definitely not a gorefest, it does have some impressive makeup and prosthetic work for some of the deaths and more violent scenes. The well-preserved, severed Engineer head that they find and take back to the Prometheus to experiment on does look really good and life-like, particularly when they experiment on it and it reactivate its nervous system but it begins to deteriorate and bleed before the top of it blows, splattering slime all over the inside of this small compartment. The same goes for the moment where Fifield's helmet gets splashed with the Hammerpede's acid blood, which burns through his helmet and gets to his face, as well as the effects for when the Engineer rips David's head off during the third act, leaving him as such for the rest of the film (the way they did his headless body and severed head, the latter of which you can tell was probably Michael Fassbender doing some green-screen work to remove his body, looks quite good), and the massacre that the mutated Fifield inflicts on those he attacks in the Prometheus' hangar. However, that's nothing compared to the surgery scene, which is uncomfortably realistic in the effects they created for when the Trilobite is moving around inside her abdomen, when the pod uses a laser to cut into her flesh and pull this bloody mess of a creature out, and, worst of all, when you see it literally staple the wound shut. I have to give it to the filmmakers there, as that scene is very effective all-around, and is helped by Noomi Rapace's convincing, pained performance.
Following the opening montage that begins with shots of the Earth and the camera descending through the atmosphere, leading into pans across beautifully shot landscapes like volcanic craters and mountains, fields, and lakes, culminating in the shot of the spectacular waterfall, the film truly begins with the shot of a ship, whose shadow was seen rolling across the landscape several shots prior, hovering above the fall. A loan, cloaked figure, an Engineer, is seen walking across a cliff beside the falls, watching the ship as it departs (said ship, by the way, is perfectly circular, unlike the established U-shaped one that'll feature later on), and he then places a small, metallic cup on the ground. He removes his robe, revealing his pale, muscular form and that he's wearing nothing but a white, loincloth type of garment underneath, and bends down, removing the top of the cup to uncover a small bit of a moving black liquid contained inside a smaller container within. Looking at the pulsating, moving substance, he drinks it, exhaling air and sighing as he watches the ship completely leave the atmosphere. Standing there, he suddenly recoils in pain, dropping the cup and sending it tumbling down the falls, and groans and seethes, as we see the liquid moving through every part of his body, eating away at his very DNA. He screams in agony as his body is slowly dissolved by the liquid, falling down the front of the waterfall and landing in the water at the bottom, where he disintegrates completely. What's left of him mixes with the water, creating new strands of DNA and beginning the creation of life on Earth, as the title appears bit by bit as it did in the original Alien.
After the following scene that introduces Elisabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway and their discovery of an ancient cave painting depicting the Engineers on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, we get the establishing shot of the Prometheus as it approaches its undisclosed destination. David, in a sequence similar to how Lance Henriksen suggested Bishop be introduced in Aliens, is introduced roaming around the ship while everyone else is in hyper-sleep. Showing particular interest in Shaw, he walks over to her chamber and peers into her dreams, apparently through the use of a special helmet he's wearing, which is a memory of a moment that happened between her and her father (Patrick Wilson) when she was a little girl, joining him on an expedition to a primitive tribe somewhere in what looks like South America. The two of them talk about the tribe's god being different from theirs, how everyone dies sooner or later, making special mention of Shaw's mother (a holographic image of her appears briefly in the middle of the scene), and that everyone has their own ideas of what happens after death. He tells her that he chooses to believe that whatever it is, it's something beautiful, which is where the dream ends. Next comes a montage of David doing various things aboard the ship: walking around, dribbling a basketball; sending some type of message involving an image of a girl playing the violin(?), which he gets no response for; riding around on a bicycle while making shots with the basketball; brushing up on learning an ancient language while eating; and watching Lawrence of Arabia and reciting its dialogue to himself. Suddenly, the ship jeers to a halt and the voice of its central computer announces that they've reached the "destination threshold." Walking to the bridge, he opens its exterior shell and looks out in wonder at the enormous, ringed planet they're approaching, their destination being one of its moons. When he goes to check on Meredith Vickers, he finds that she's already out of her hyper-sleep chamber and doing push-ups, in spite of the less than pleasant side-effects it has on one's body. He confirms to her that the others are all alive and well and she tells him to wake them up, which he does. Later comes the briefing scene, where the hologram of the "deceased" Peter Weyland introduces himself, talks about his interest in the expedition, and introduces Shaw and Holloway as the ones in charge before turning it over to them. Holloway then uses a device akin to a silver Rubik's cube to show them their findings about how all of these civilizations were depicted as worshipping large, godlike figures pointing to the stars and that it's led them to a very remote galaxy with a sun similar to our own and a planet with a moon, LV-223, capable of sustaining life, which is their destination. Shaw also explains her belief about the Engineers and that the map was actually an invitation.
Soon, they begin their descent down through the moon's atmosphere, with Captain Janek telling everyone to brace themselves for it. As the Prometheus heads down to the clouds, Janek is told that the atmosphere is 71% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, with traces of argon gas, and the captain then sees that they're coming through an apparent storm, as there's a lot of flashing lightning below them. Ford, the ship's medic, also comments that there's so much carbon dioxide in the air that someone without a suit would die in only two minutes. Breaking through, they see an enormous peak that's much larger than Mt. Everest, which Janek says they'll use as their point of entry, and they fly past it, down towards the surface, revealing it to be a mysterious but strikingly beautiful place, with lots of hills, mountains, and barren plains. Flying through an enormous canyon, Holloway becomes excited when he sees a large, straight path at the mouth of it, getting up out of his chair and telling them to land there. Janek jokes that he wouldn't be any good if he couldn't and once they exit the valley, over the path, they straighten the ship and begin landing procedure, coming down very easily in front of a large, unnatural-looking structure. Holloway is ecstatic when he sees it, kissing Shaw on the head, and telling Janek to inform the survey team to suit up. Janek tells him that there are only six hours of daylight left and that he should wait till morning but Holloway is insistent.
Once the team has suited up, and we have yet another callback to AVP when Shaw tells one of the mercenaries, Jackson, that they're not bringing weapons with them on a scientific expedition but he ignores her, they load up into a couple of small landrovers and an enormous personnel carrier (not unlike the APC from Aliens) and head out onto the landscape. On their way towards the enormous, dome-shaped structure, Fifield tells Holloway that, according to a small device he uses, it's hollow, and they then drive up to it, parking over to the right in its shadow. Disembarking with the others, Shaw looks up at it and asks those back on Prometheus if they're seeing it through her suit's transmission feed, which Janek confirms they are, as he and Vickers watch from the bridge. After everyone gets a chance to look up at it in awe, they head in through an opening in the base and venture into its depths, with Shaw leading and Fifield bringing up the rear. Finding a corridor in the back, Holloway tells Fifield to begin mapping the structure and he takes out a couple of pairs of small, circular probes he calls "pups" that float off in various directions and begin using red lasers to build a grid of the structure, while he howls like a wolf. The data is relayed back to the Prometheus, with a holographic grid of the structure's interior slowly building on a table in the middle of the bridge. The team then heads down the tunnel that's the best one to take, according to the pups, and find a large, dripping chamber with a large hole in the center of the floor that one of the pups flies down and another in the ceiling above it; the sun is heating the water through the hole, making it very humid inside. That's when Holloway notes that, unlike outside, the air is perfectly breathable, prompting him to theorize that the Engineers were terraforming and stupidly take off his helmet, telling Shaw not to be a "skeptic" (God, this moment makes me wish his head exploded when he does take it off). Once he does and he's proven to be perfectly alright, whooping like a jackass, Shaw and the others follow suit, with those back on Prometheus having to switch feeds to their suit "terminals" to continue monitoring them. Continuing to explore, they find another tunnel where the temperature is -12 and yet, the water down there isn't frozen. As they look around, David finds some carvings on the wall coated with a sticky substance that is revealed to have floating particles within it when he stretches it between his fingers. He then finds that some of the carvings are actually buttons for a type of interface that seems to still function when he presses them. A bright light streaks through the tunnel, accompanied by a bizarre, digital sound that puts everyone on guard, and as they look back down the tunnel, it's filled with holographic images of a group of large, bipedal beings running. While David just stands there and lets them pass through, the others, not knowing what they are, jump out of their way, Fifield grumbling about them not bringing any weapons, and they chase after the images. They turn a corner following them and see them run through the image of a door, with one falling forward and getting his head slammed down on by a large door.
Once the hologram has dissipated, they walk up to the wall and find the creature's actual body with his head cut off by it. Shaw and Holloway realize that they've just found their Engineers, while onboard the Prometheus, Vickers incredulously murmurs that they were right, Janek responding, "What, did you want them to be wrong?" Holloway asks David if he can read the inscriptions on the door and he simply says, "Perhaps," while Fifield loses his nerve, wanting to go back to the ship. Asking if anybody wants to join him, Millburn volunteers and the two of them head back down the tunnel, while Holloway, Shaw, David, and Ford stay behind. The three humans examine the body, with Shaw using an instrument called a "carbon reader" to find out how long the Engineer has been dead, which turns out to be around 2,000 years, as David puts up a ladder on the wall and climbs to another control panel, pressing buttons. He says that he's attempting to open the door and Shaw warns him that they don't know what's on the other side of it, just as he manages to make it slide up. Air escapes the room as soon as it opens and one of Fifield's pups flies in with them, mapping the room, which turns out to be another gigantic chamber. Immediately on the other side of the door, they find the Engineer's severed, well-preserved head, and deeper in is a large, carved, humanoid face overlooking a floor covered in large, dull-colored canisters, as well as small, worm-like life-forms that wriggle around after they take a step. They see a bizarre mural painted along the ceiling, while David bends down to inspect one of the canisters, although Shaw tells him and everyone else not to touch anything; David then notices condensation atop the canister, as the others find another strange mural in the back. Black liquid begins oozing out of the canister, which David recognizes as organic when he touches his finger to it, when Shaw sees that the murals up in the ceiling are beginning to change. She believes that they've affected the atmosphere in the room by opening it, and she and Ford run back to the head to bag it before it begins to decompose.
Outside, the moon's weather begins to deteriorate rapidly; onboard the Prometheus, Chance tells Janek that an incoming storm front of silica and static is approaching rapidly. Janek sees it from the bridge, as it menacingly rolls through the valley behind the structure, and he contacts the team, warning them. Shaw and Ford quickly bag the Engineer head, depressurizing it, and the former says that they need more time to finish up. Vickers, however, tells them that she's going to close the ship's outer doors in fifteen minutes, regardless, and Shaw tells Holloway and David that they need to leave. After declaring the chamber to be nothing more than a tomb, Holloway heads back to join the women as they try to get the head out as carefully but quickly as they can, while David covertly puts one of the canisters in a bag of his own and joins them, unaware of the fluid leaking out of the bottom of the others in the chamber. Running outside, they see that the personnel carrier has gone and that they'll have to use landrovers, as they're warned over their intercoms that they're running out of time. They take off across the landscape, with the camera panning up to reveal a skull-like face carved into the side of structure as the storm engulfs it, and head back to Prometheus, the front right behind them as they catch up with the other vehicle on the path. They gun it towards the ship, the front now only about twenty feet away from them, and head up towards the hatch leading into the hangar, when Shaw's landrover hits a rock, causing her to drop the bag containing the head. Once the vehicle is parked, Shaw ignores the danger and runs back outside to grab it, only to get blasted along the side of the ship with it when the storm hits. She gets caught along the side of one of the landing legs, while Holloway drives the rover back outside, the hatch closing behind him, and around the ship towards her, telling her not to move. He parks the rover and gets off of it to reach her, only for the vehicle to get swept away by the winds, with him not able to do anything to help her and becoming just as defenseless. He grabs her hand and they hold on to each other, when a door on the side of the ship opens up to reveal David, who attaches a hydraulic line to his suit. As Shaw is almost blown away, her and Holloway having to grab onto the bag with the head to keep that from happening, when David is blown along the ground by the wind, helps Holloway secure Shaw, and attaches them both to him. Indicating that everything's alright, he pushes a button on a controller, the hydraulic line pulling them both back to the ship, where they're helped inside by a couple of mercenaries. In the hangar, Shaw is admonished by Holloway for her recklessness, while she thanks David for saving her. Janek then asks over the intercom where Millburn and Fifield are, with Shaw being surprised that they didn't come back before them. Sure enough, they're still inside the structure, having gotten lost as it all looks the same, and Janek contacts them, telling that they can't come after them because of the storm and that they'll just have to wait until morning. With no other choice, and Fifield delivering an angry message for Holloway and Shaw, despite it being his own fault, the two of them then try to decide where to go next.
In the med-lab, Shaw and Ford sterilize the Engineer head in a special chamber and then bring it out on a conveyor belt attached to it. As the two of them use small brushes to get rid of the dirt, Shaw answering Vickers' question of whether or not all of the Engineers are dead with, "I don't know. We just got here," David activates a scanning device attached to the conveyor belt. Once it's passed over the head, the two scientists look at the readout of the scan and realize that, rather than an exoskeleton, what's on the head is actually a helmet. With Holloway watching nearby, they try to lift the helmet off but when they're unable to, David walks over and figures out how to open its front and lift it off, revealing the pale, human-like head underneath. Everyone is quite amazed by the sight of it, and the two doctors notice some movement and changing of color beneath the flesh on the head, Shaw theorizing they're new cells going through a state of change. Wanting to explore more, Shaw asks Ford to attach a stem line into the head, saying that she believes they can make the nervous system think that it's still alive. She attaches said device into the base of the head and, per Shaw's instructions, use a device to run 30 amps through it. They get no response from that, so they turn it up to 40, which increases the speed of the changing cells on the forehead. They go up another ten amps and the facial muscles begin to contort and the eyes blink, but Shaw then thinks it's too much voltage and tells her to go back down ten. Ford does so, then goes down twenty, but the head begins to deteriorate, making a pained expression as blood oozes out of the sides and the cranium bubbles. Ford stops the machine and even pulls the stem line out but it doesn't stop the process, a horrific smell filling the room as the head decomposes. They quickly put it back in the decontamination chamber to contain it and they try to sterilize it again but the top of the head explodes, sending greenish material all over the inside. David comments, "Mortal after all," and Holloway, not happy about this, storms out. Shaw tells Ford to take a sample to have a look at the creature's DNA.
Following that comes the scene where David is seen talking to an unknown person in a hyper-sleep chamber and, after walking out, reluctantly tells Vickers that said person only instructed him to try harder in what they're doing. To that end, while Shaw and Ford examine the Engineer's DNA, discovering that it's 100% human, David removes the canister he took from a refrigerator he's been keeping it in, takes the top off, removes four, glass-like tubes that are attached together inside it, dripping with goopy liquid, and takes off one. Turning it upside down, he sees some of the black liquid descending down the clear liquid inside and attempts to squeeze some of it out, managing to get a tiny drop of it on his finger. He then meets up with Holloway in the rec room, who's sulking by crouching next to the pool table, rolling the balls back and forth across the table. Offering him a drink, and after a discussion about their individual creators, David asks him how far he would go, how much he would risk, what he would be willing to do to get the answers he came for. When he answers, "Anything and everything," David pours him some liquor and, while handing the glass to him, drops the liquid into it, watching as Holloway drinks it down. Back in the structure, Fifield and Millburn come across the grisly sight of dozens of Engineer corpses piled up against the wall. Fifield notes that it looks like they were running from something, while Millburn sees one with a large hole in its body, as if it exploded from inside. Fifield says it looks like a scene out of a holocaust painting, as he looks at one with a large hole in its head. On the Prometheus' bridge, Janek is sitting around, playing his accordion, when he hears a ping coming from the holographic map of the structure. Noticing something, he contacts Fifield and Millburn, about scaring them to death when his voice suddenly comes through their transmitters as they're right up on the bodies, and asks them their position. Millburn tells him and Janek explains that he's getting some sort of reading to the west of them. He says that the probe is picking up some kind of life-form, which further panics the two men, Millburn frantically asking him to clarify what he means by "life-form." Fifield asks him if it's moving and he says he doesn't think so, although the geologist is quick to let him know that if he was down there, seeing what they're seeing, he wouldn't be being so nonchalant. Janek walks up to the monitor receiving their video transmissions to take a look when, suddenly, the ping stops, prompting Janek to write it off as nothing more than a glitch. Ignoring their pleas for clarification, he wishes them a good night, although he now bothers to look at the monitor and sees the image of the dead Engineers himself, while Fifield and Millburn decide not be adventurous and head off eastward away from the signal.
Before Holloway comes in for some loving, Shaw records some notes about their investigation while watching recordings of the Engineer holograms and wonders if there'd been some sort of outbreak there, as well as shows him her findings of the creatures' DNA being completely human. The storm continues to rage outside, while in the pyramid, Fifield and Millburn end up at the chamber filled with the canisters which, by this point, are all oozing the liquid, which is covering much of the floor (so, they're not scared of that or the large carved head in the room but one headless alien body sent them running earlier). When Fifield coughs, Millburn asks if there's tobacco in his respirator and he says sure, before making a certain bubbling sound as he takes a puff of something and exhales it in his helmet. He jokes that he's ashamed to count him as a scientist when Fifield, I think, attempts to flip him off but is so stoned he ends up holding up two fingers. He then tries to ask him what he thinks the statue is meant to represent, when he sees some movement in the liquid behind some of the canisters. Training his flashlight on it, he frantically asks what it is and Millburn jumps up, noticing it as well. Something rises up from the liquid and Millburn approaches it, trying to contact Prometheus about it but as it turns out, there's currently no one on the bridge. Describing it as a reptile-like creature with transparent skin, and beautiful, he leans in to get a better look, when the thing rises up to reveal that it's like a snake, causing him to fall to the ground in surprise but act all goofy and silly, saying, "Look at you." Fifield notices another one nearby and tries to contact Prometheus as well. As the creature stands up straight, Millburn tells Fifield to be calm, saying, "She is beautiful," while he wonders what makes him think it's female. Playing with it, he sticks his finger towards it when, with a hiss, it opens up two flaps on the front of its head, revealing a formation akin to that of a cobra hood. This makes him giddier, as he says the creature's mesmerized and he, again, tries to touch it, only to receive another hiss. He backs up away but is still smiling, saying, "It's okay. It's okay," and, not taking the hint, reaches for it again. This time, the Hammerpede grabs ahold of his hand and, when it proves to be strong enough to keep its grip when he tries to pull away, Millburn finally seems to realize he's in trouble and yells for help. Fifield moves in closer, as it pulls its entire body out of the liquid and wraps around Millburn's arm. It begins to squeeze and proves itself to be even stronger than they thought, as Millburn yells at Fifield again to help him, although he says he's not touching the creature. He does reach his hand, only for the Hammerpede to respond by squeezing tighter and to begin to break Millburn's arm. Fifield tries to pull it off, only for Millburn's arm to break below the elbow, and he yells for him to cut the Hammerpede off. Fifield whips out a knife and cuts through it, when its clear blood hits his helmet and melts through it, and as Millburn watches, the Hammerpede instantly grows a new head out of the stump. It burrows through his suit and crawls up his arm and into his helmet, while Fifield struggles with his melting helmet and falls face-first into the liquid. He rises up and the melted glass caves in on his face, as the Hammerpede forces itself down Millburn's throat.
The next morning, Holloway wakes up after his romantic night with Shaw, goes into the bathroom, washes his face, and notices something strange about his eyes when he looks at himself in the mirror. Pulling the flesh underneath his right one down, he leans in for a closer look and sees a tiny, worm-like creature wriggling around. His horror at this is compounded as Janek comes in over the intercom, waking Shaw up and telling them that he can't reach Fifield and Millburn and that he's taking some men out to look for them. In the next scene, as they're loading up, Janek mentions the "glitch" the one probe was having the night before and David offers to track it down and fix it. After he tells them to be careful, the team heads out to the structure, David bringing up the rear on a landrover, while the personnel carrier takes everyone else, and stopping in the middle of the road, watching them drive towards it. While the team is forced to head into the depths of the structure, finding no sign of the two men at the entrance, David, his movements monitored on the bridge by Vickers, drives into another section of it on his rover. When he stops, Vickers asks if he's alone and when he confirms he is, she asks him to upload his feed to her room, to which he complies. Removing his helmet, he heads down through the hallway, which has more of an unnatural structure than those the team explored the day before, and finds the probe at the end of it, hovering in front of what turns out to be a large door. With Vickers watching from her room, David walks up to the probe and, spying a control panel on the wall to his right, presses a button and opens the door. He follows the floating probe into a huge room that appears to be a storage area, filled with thousands of the same canisters in the one chamber. Seeing that the probe is now hovering in front of another door, he opens that one up too and walks in, passing by some eerie statues of helmeted Engineers, finding himself in another gigantic room that the probe maps before flying back out. David then turns off his transmission, much to Vickers' irritation, and the room is revealed to have a large pad in the center of it. Meanwhile, the search party reaches the chamber where they found the decapitated Engineer and the canisters. Holloway stumbles and when Shaw walks up to him to see what's wrong, she looks at his face and realizes that he's sick, although he insists that he's fine. They walk into the chamber, Janek asking Shaw if she knows what it is that's coming out of the canisters and she says that they weren't doing that before. Chance then finds a body that turns out to be Millburn, when Shaw hears Holloway calling for her; he's sitting on the ground, his condition worsening by the second, and he asks her to look at him and tell him what she sees. At the same time, Janek and Chance turn Millburn's body over to find his helmet cracked and his mouth frozen in a scream. Janek calls Ford over, while Shaw says that they need to go, that Holloway's sick. Ford says that she sees something in Millburn's throat, which is when the Hammerpede shoots out, making them all jump back as it lands on the ground and very quickly slithers away. With that, and with Holloway getting sicker by the minute, they scramble out of the chamber, Janek helping him along. When he falls and they have to get him back on his feet, Shaw contacts Vickers and tells her that she needs a medical team to be standing by the airlock. She says that Holloway's sick and Vickers asks what he's sick with; she just tells her to do as she says. Vickers then walks off the bridge, telling Ravel she's suiting up, as he watches the transmission of the team desperately trying to make it back.
Back in the depths of the structure, David, investigating the room he discovered, comes across a chair in front of a control panel and presses three of the squishy buttons, causing another aligned with them to glow and hum. Pressing it calls the seat to pull back from the panel and turn towards David; taking the initiative, he sits in the seat and smiles, when he notices more holographic images of the Engineers across from him. One of them stands on the pad, milling around and talking, while two more images walk directly towards him, with one heading for the seat and David obliging by getting up, allowing the image to sit down. The seat moves back into its regular position and the Engineer takes a flute-like object and plays a melody on it, creating a holographic image in front of him. He presses other buttons along the panel, creating more holographic lines of green energy connecting them, which David touches in fascination. David climbs up onto the pad and watches as the image of the one Engineer walks up and discusses something with the one sitting at the panel. A large, circular hologram of a star system sprouts up in the center of the pad, as the room is filled with images of stars, planets, and other systems. David walks into the center of the image, looking around in child-like wonder, as the Engineer at the panel switches from one galaxy map to another in the middle of the room. Spreading his arms out and twirling around in delight, David puts his fingers through the images and then notices several planets in the one system are connected by green beams, one of which is Earth, the image of which David holds in his hands before allowing it to drift back off. The holograms and lights abruptly shut off but he notices that the image of Earth is hovering over a small, glowing compartment in the pad and when both it and the light within dissipate, he walks up to it to see that it's akin to a hyper-sleep chamber and inside is an Engineer, whose breathing David is able to hear.
Outside, everyone's piled into the personnel carrier, wondering what could've made Holloway so sick, as Janek contacts Ravel and tells him to make sure the "back door" is open. Holloway is lying in Shaw's lap, his flesh more diseased than ever and he's clearly in pain from the agonized moans and yells he's letting out. They watch as his exposed veins become black and Shaw pleads with them to hurry. When they reach Prometheus, Janek sees that the door isn't open and angrily asks Vickers why that's the case. Everyone disembarks, Janek angrily ordering Vickers and then the airlock crew to open the door. In the hangar, Vickers, wearing a spacesuit, walks in, telling the man by the switch to hold the door and tells him to open it only after she's grabbed a flamethrower. The door opens and Vickers, walking outside, meets up with Janek and tells him that Holloway's not coming aboard. Janek angrily tells her that Holloway's sick and she says that's why he's not coming on her ship. At that moment, Holloway, who's being assisted by Shaw and Ford, falls to the ground and screams in agonizing pain. Shaw runs up to Vickers and says they can still help him but Vickers is unmoved and orders everyone but Holloway to get back on the ship. Shaw says that she's not leaving him and Vickers tells her that she can then stay outside with him, while Janek says that they contain him and put him in a med-pod. Holloway stumbles to the edge of the airlock, telling Shaw it's okay and that he loves her, before approaching Vickers with his arms stretched out, ignoring her warnings to stay away, telling her to blast him. Shaw tries to stop him and has to be tackled to the ground by Janek, as Holloway is hit with the flamethrower, instantly becoming engulfed in flames and collapsing to the hatch, as the hysterical Shaw has to be restrained and with even Vickers looking horrified at what she's just done.
After a fade to white, Shaw awakens in the med-lab, laying on the table they used to analyze the Engineer's head before, and is being looked after by David, who takes her cross, saying it may be contaminated and agrees with Shaw that they need to run bloodwork on everyone on the ship. He then informs her that she's pregnant, looking as if she's three months along, which shocks her since she and Holloway only had sex the previous night and because of her sterile condition. David informs her that it's not a traditional fetus and she asks to see it but he refuses, getting rid of the image on the monitor and turning it away from her when she tries to reactivate her. She then says that she wants it out of her but David says that they don't have the personnel or the equipment to do that and says that they'll have to put her back in cryo-stasis until they return to Earth. Shaw continues to demand that he do something to remove it, when she collapses to the floor, moaning and yelling in pain, and David sedates her through the back. He puts her back on the table and tells her that someone will be along shortly to take her back to cryo-deck. That's when he admits that he watched her dreams and comments about how Holloway died in a similar way to her father, before leaving her alone as she drifts off into unconsciousness. In the next cut, Shaw is apparently still asleep, as Ford, dressed in a bio-hazard suit, taps on the side of her face, trying to awaken her to take her back to cryo-deck. Ford then pinches her cheek to try to rouse her and when she gets no response then either, she decides that she's heavily sedated and tells the man assisting her to prepare her. But, when the man leans in to grab her, Shaw's eyes snap open and she swings around, smacking him across his helmet with a small light before doing the same to Ford. Her assistant tries to hold her down and restrain her but she pushes against his helmet with both of her hands and bashes his head against the ceiling, knocking him out. Shaw, continuing to feel pain in her abdomen, runs out of the room, down the hall, and to the small room containing the medical pod in the lifeboat. Activating the machine, the interface of which asks her to state the nature of her injury, she demands a cesarean, only for the computer to inform her that the med-pod is meant for men only. Getting around it, she programs it to perform an abdominal surgery for a foreign body within her and initiates the sequence. Recoiling again in pain, Shaw takes off her medical gown, gives herself an injection in her right thigh, and climbs into the pod, which closes around her before leaning back into its natural position. She presses holographic buttons on the pod's door and it runs diagnostics on her, as she screams for the machine to remove the creature inside of her, which is starting to pulsate within her abdomen. The machine sprays some anesthetic fluid around her bulging and moving stomach before commencing the procedure, using a laser to cut open a slit, as she hisses and seethes in pain. Two mechanical hands then push the slit open, the pain forcing her to inject herself right in the stomach, and a claw comes down from above, reaching in and pulling out a strange mass of blood-covered flesh. The creature then breaks loose from the sac around it, sending blood and bodily fluid all over Shaw, and revealing itself to be the squid-like Trilobite. She rips out the umbilical cord and the machine staples her wound shut, as the Trilobite writhes and struggles in the claw, hissing and screeching all the while. The procedure finished, the pod tilts back up and opens, allowing Shaw to get out and close the pod around the creature, activating the decontamination process. The pod fills with white gas, obscuring the Trilobite, and Shaw runs out through the door.
Meanwhile, Janek inexplicably receives the feed from Fifield's suit-camera and it looks like it's right outside the ship. He tells somebody down in the hangar about it and the man orders for someone to open the door. As it lowers, Janek tries to contact Fifield but gets no response and when the men in the hangar walk outside, they find him laying on the ground, his legs bent completely around to where his feet are on either side of his head. The one man taps his leg and then turns to someone else to tell him about what he's seeing, when Fifield suddenly rises up to his feet, revealing that he's horribly mutated and snarling. With a powerful backhand, he smashes the man's helmet, killing him instantly and sending him falling to the ground. Hearing this on the bridge, Janek asks what's going on and hears the sound of men yelling as a response. While Shaw rushes through the ship's hallways, Fifield charges into the hangar, grabbing one man and throwing him down on the ramp before coming down on his abdomen his fists hard enough to send blood spewing out of his mouth and then smashes his helmet, beating his face into a bloody mess. Janek heads down to deal with it himself, telling Chance to suit up, while Fifield focuses his attention on the others in the hangar. Shaw continues to stumble through the ship's corridors, while one man tries to fend Fifield off with a flamethrower and another attempts to shoot him, only for him to climb up onto the personnel carrier and jump down on one of them, shoving him to the floor and smashing his helmet, all while his back is in flames. The man with the handgun takes a shot but all it does is get Fifield's attention, and as Janek and Chance see what's going on through a monitor in the airlock, they brace themselves, while two mercenaries with handguns fire on the mutant, as he flings another man against the window of the vehicle. They pile into the personnel carrier for protection but Fifield manages to grab ahold of one guy before he climbs all the way in, pull him out, and fling him to the floor, sending his helmet flying, although causing himself to fall as well. The other men close the vehicle's back hatch and put it into gear, backing over Fifield as they drive out of the ship, while Janek and Chance come through the airlock and the former uses his own flamethrower to blast him. Janek hits him with the flamethrower several times, engulfing him in flames, while Chance shoots him for good measure, finally managing to put him down.
The final act begins after Shaw discovers that Weyland is still alive and has been hiding in the ship, learns from David that there's still one Engineer left, and decides to go with them to see him, while Janek tells her that all he's concerned with is stopping the insidious fluid in the ship from making it to Earth. The team loads up into the personnel carrier, heads to the structure, and make their way down to the chamber where David found the living Engineer, which is when Shaw begins to suspect that David was involved with what happened to Holloway when he says without explanation that it wasn't due to the air down there. They walk down the hallway, into the cargo hold filled with the canisters, a sight that horrifies both Shaw and Janek when he sees it through her camera. He has Ravel put up the schematics of the structure and tells him to isolate that particular area, revealing it to be a spaceship when they enlarge and rotate it. Back inside, the team enters the cockpit and David walks across the pad towards the control panel, talking about how advanced these beings are and that they were in the process of leaving before things went south for them; he elaborates that he feels they were heading to Earth with the intent of destroying mankind. David then leads them over to the Engineer's hyper-sleep chamber, confirming for Weyland that he is alive and he believes he can speak to him. Pressing buttons on the side of the chamber, he opens it up, revealing the Engineer, who immediately rises up and removes his life-support helmet. He gets to his feet and, after looking at his visitors, steps out of the chamber and stumbles down in a crouching position, nearly knocking Weyland over and forcing the others to catch him. Once he's steadied himself, Weyland tells David to speak to the Engineer, to tell him that they came like he asked. Shaw wants to know where they came from and why they intended to take their deadly cargo to Earth, prompting Weyland to order one of the mercenaries to shut her up with a hit to the stomach with his rifle, causing her tremendous pain. Shaw, however, continues to demand to know why the Engineer hates them but Weyland, ordering the mercenary to shoot her if she says anything else, tells David to tell him why they came. David speaks to the Engineer in an ancient language and the creature appears to understand him, glancing at Weyland, and puts his hand on top of David's head, running it over his hair and to the side of his cheek. But then, the Engineer grabs David by the neck with both hands, lifts him up, twists his head, and rips it off, smacking Weyland to the floor with it. The mercenary fires on the Engineer but, before he retaliates, he grabs the retreating Ford and smacks her across the face, sending her tumbling down along the edge of the platform. The mercenary tries for another shot but the Engineer bashes him in the back of the head and throws him up against the wall. He notices that Shaw, the last one standing, is running down the corridor and he lets her go, while Weyland, in his final moments, tells David that there's nothing to death and the android tells him to have a good journey, as his vital signs flat-line. With that, Vickers decides on the Prometheus' bridge that it's time to go home and Janek orders Chance to do so.
The Engineer activates his ship, with the enormous pad in the center of the room opening up to reveal the large, telescope-like mechanism that's used to pilot it. As David watches, and as Shaw continues running down the tunnels, he climbs up into the chair and sets the coordinates, causing the ship to pulse with energy that catches Shaw's attention. The Engineer exhales as his helmet and armor attach themselves to his body and the ship begins powering up, sending plumes of exhaust down the tunnels at Shaw, who's blown along the ground by it. Geysers of dust explode in front of the structure, which Janek's co-pilots call to his attention, while in the ship, the coordinates are locked onto Earth. Outside, Shaw climbs up through one of the holes created by the dust geysers and runs for the Prometheus, only for the ground to separate in front of her, revealing itself to be the opening to a large launching pad, as the Engineer's ship prepares for liftoff. Shaw has to jump to clear one of the edges of the rapidly disappearing ground, grabbing onto it and pulling herself up. She then contacts Prometheus, telling Janek that the Engineer is taking off and that they have to stop it. Vickers insists that all they're doing is heading for home but when Shaw tells Janek that the ship is going to head for Earth, he tells her that the Prometheus isn't meant for battle but she tells he still has to find a way to stop the Engineer. She pleads for Janek to believe her and then runs away from the opening of the launch pad, taking cover behind a rock, as the ship begins to emerge from it. Ignoring Vickers' barking orders, Janek tells Ravel to warm up the ion propulsion, telling him that the consequences of doing that in this kind of atmosphere is exactly what he hopes to achieve. Vickers tries to make him listen to her and he says that he's going to eject her lifeboat onto the moon's surface, asking if she wants to take the opportunity or stay with him. He gives her forty seconds to get to the escape pod and runs to the front of the bridge, telling Ravel and Chance that he can handle it himself, giving them the opportunity to escape with Vickers, who runs off down the hall. Ravel, however, tells Janek that he's a terrible pilot and will need all the help he can get; Chance doesn't say anything but his expression makes it clear that he's staying too. While Vickers frantically runs to the escape pods and grabs a suit, the three men make final preparations and begin lifting the Prometheus off the ground, Janek telling them that they need to get as close as they can. The ship aims towards the Engineer's craft, which is making its way towards the clouds at a fairly fast rate. Janek jettisons the lifeboat, which crashes against a large stone on the surface, as Vickers struggles to her spacesuit on in time, with only twenty seconds left. The crew initiates the countdown to propulsion, as Vickers gets in one of the escape pods and ejects just in time. Shaw watches from the ground, the escape pod whizzing past her, when Janek tells them to hit it. The Prometheus suddenly gains a major boost of speed, firing at the Engineer's ship like an enormous bullet, and the three men brace for it, as the ship crashes into the inside of the alien craft's U-shape.
The nose of the Prometheus rips through the upper edge of the Engineer's ship, sending it tumbling back to the surface. Shaw and Vickers as it crashes down on one of its ends right in front of them, its shape causing it to then tilt forward towards them, forcing the two women to run as the other edge comes down and dodge explosions along the ground as pieces of both it and the Prometheus rain down around them. They continue running as the ship's back end comes down, when Shaw trips and falls to the ground, having to roll out of the way before she's crushed. She watches as Vickers falls to her knees and onto her back, futilely crawling backwards but ultimately getting crushed to death when the craft comes down directly on her. The ship now sits with the two ends of the "U" sticking up but it soon begins to tilt over again towards Shaw, who falls to the ground and scoots backwards up against a rocky outcropping. The ship comes down and appears to crush her as well, but it's then revealed that the edge of the ship is resting on the rock behind and just barely missed her. Warned that she has two minutes' worth of oxygen left, she crawls out from under the craft and rushes to the nearby lifeboat. With only thirty seconds of air left, she crawls up into the lifeboat, closes the airlock behind her, and stabilizes the oxygen inside the boat. Grabbing supplies, she then hears some banging nearby and, grabbing an axe that was bent in the crash, she opens the door to the damaged but still functioning living area and walks in. Taking off her helmet and setting her bag down, she rounds the bend towards the room containing the med-pod, hearing an ungodly roar coming from it. Walking towards the door, brandishing the axe, she looks through the window and, at first, only sees the empty pod. Then, an enormous tentacle smacks against it on the other side and she sees that the Trilobite that was removed from her abdomen has now grown to an enormous size. She backs away, watching its tentacles smack and slide against the glass, when she hears David's voice come through her communicator. He warns her that the Engineer is coming for her and right then, she hears banging in the back, followed by an automated voice warning that the airlock has been breached. Sure enough, the Engineer forces his way through the door into the room and charges at her, slamming her up against the wall next to the door to the med-pod. She quickly opens the door and the Trilobite wraps its tentacle around the Engineer's neck. It pulls him around to face it and the two monsters drop to the floor, on top of Shaw, who scrambles out from underneath them, grabs a helmet, and rushes out into the airlock. The Engineer grapples with and smacks at the Trilobite, as it reveals its underside and lifts him up into the air with its powerful tentacles. As Shaw jumps out of the lifeboat, he tries to brace himself against the door with his feet and the Trilobite grips him with more tentacles, firing off some smaller, purple-colored ones from its underside to really hold him in place before putting a proboscis into his mouth and down his throat, forcing him to the floor as it comes to rest on his body while he loses consciousness.
Emotionally exhausted, Shaw can do nothing but lay on the ground and cry, tearfully apologizing to Holloway that she can't go on. She continues to lay there, having given up, when David contacts her again, asking her for help. Understandably, she's reluctant to do so, but he tells her that she needs him to leave LV-223, saying that there are other Engineer ships and that he can operate them. Sitting up, she spies an undamaged landrover nearby and drives it to the crashed ship, finding both David and his headless body inside the cockpit. Recovering her cross from the pouch on his belt and putting it back around her neck, she asks him if he really can operate one of the other ships and he says that finding a path back to Earth should be a simple task. However, Shaw then says that she's not going back to Earth, that she wants to go find the Engineer's home planet; he asks David if he can do that and he says he thinks he can. The next shot shows her using a line to lower his body out of an opening in the side of the ship, as he asks what she hopes to achieve. She explains that she wants to know why the Engineers decided to kill them after creating them, and when David asks if it really matters why, she says it does. He says he doesn't understand and Shaw simply says that makes up the difference of her being human and him a robot. She places his head inside her bag, zips it up, and repels down to the ground. She's then seen driving across the landscape in the rover towards another structure, making her final report: "Final report of the vessel Prometheus. The ship and her entire crew are gone. If you're receiving this transmission, make no attempt to come to its point of origin. There is only death here now, and I'm leaving it behind. It is New Year's Day, the year of our Lord, 2094. My name is Elisabeth Shaw, last survivor of the Prometheus, and I am still searching." A ship is seen leaving the planet, when the film cuts back to the interior of the lifeboat, to the Engineer's body, which is convulsing and shaking. Something rips its way out of his torso, spewing his blood everywhere, and tumbles out on the floor next to him. The creature rises up slowly, looks around the room, making strange, chittering sounds, and then lets out an ungodly screech, as its upper jaw protrudes out of its mouth.
Prometheus does have some nice music, particularly in the case of the main theme, which you first hear over the opening credits and again sporadically throughout the movie, usually whenever something wondrous occurs. It's a very memorable, pretty-sounding piece, with a string bit leading into a higher-pitched, softer section that transcends from musical to vocalizing, and it has a nice sound to it. However, that's the piece of the score that I find to be the most memorable, as the rest of the music, while sounding great and fitting well with the scenes they accompany, be it the scenes of curious exploration, the action scenes such as the climax, or the out-and-out horror scenes, are impossible for me to describe or hum in any realistic way. That's a shame, too, because when I actually watched the movie and actually heard them, I remember thinking some of them were really good, as composer Marc Streitenfeld (who scored all of Scott's movies from A Good Year to this one) made good use of electronics to make some of the horrific pieces sound quite freaky, but I'll be damned if I can now remember exactly how they sounded. The film also makes use of some classic pieces, one of which you hear when David is seen wandering around the Prometheus while everyone else is in hyper-sleep and again during the first part of the ending credits but, to me, that just makes the movie feel all the more pretentious. I'm sorry if that opinion of mine angers some people but that's how I feel. And, oddly enough, during Peter Weyland's hologram briefing aboard the ship, they randomly reuse one of Jerry Goldsmith's pieces from the original Alien (the one that plays during Kane's "funeral" there). Nice to hear it again but it was very random in its placement.