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Vengeful Gods, Slaves & Mere Mortals: Deconstructing The ‘Prometheus’ Trailer

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by The Playlist
March 19, 2012 2:06 PM
13 Comments
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The trailer for Ridley Scott’s upcoming, much-anticipated sci-fi film, “Prometheushas landed and pardon our French, but holy shit, it’s rather astounding. Christopher Nolan you’re officially on blast and you may need to raise your game for ‘TDKR’ trailer number two.

We digress. “Prometheus,” Scott’s sort-of quasi prequel to the “Alien” franchise he bore, has had an intense aura of enigma and mystery to it, and we must say, it’s been created rather organically instead of the J.J. Abrams form of mystery which always seems to have an manufactured air of forced fabrication. And the latest trailer does exactly what it should, raise anticipation even further by posing lots of questions, teases and clues that hint at something epic and out of the ordinary.

While anticipating the film ourselves, many of us have wondered and worried whether “Prometheus” would simply follow the “Alien” franchise paradigm: band a disparate group of people together and watch them get picked off one by one by the monster/alien creatures, only to watch the unlikely heroine to survive and best it. While “Prometheus” very well may employ that tried-and-true formula, it also feels like it has a canyon-deep level of extra depth to it.

Spoilers suck. This we know. But we have eyes and ears like you do, so it’s not like we have secret information you don’t about “Prometheus,” but in examining this trailer closely for clues (and just paying attention), we’ve put together what we feel are some solid posits about the film and which direction the plot will go in. Again, we have no clue if we’re right, but we suppose we’ll throw the spoiler tag out there just in case June 8th proves that we’re right on the mark. Anyhow, here’s 8 things we think are the most intriguing and telling elements of the new “Prometheus” trailer (and you can watch both the U.S. and U.K. versions below).

And before do, here to remind you once more is the official synopsis of the film: “A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”

Michael Fassbender’s Android character David
Here’s what we don’t want from “Prometheus,” another android character that’s there to double cross the crew like Ian Holm's Ash character in the original “Alien.” In this sense, the “Prometheus” trailer deliberately shows off a lot of misdirection. When someone asks, “Please someone tell me they know what this means,” in regards to cryptic hieroglyphics written in the caves of the alien planet, it cuts to a shot of Fassbender’s David looking worried and concerned, but we’re not sure if this insert is from another scene and whoever is asking might be talking to someone entirely different. What does ring a little sinister is the creepy smile David evinces once he sees larvae-like creatures on top of the alien-like pods at the base of the cave chamber staring to move and come to life. Presumably as the science officer of the crew, it’s ok for his character to be examining the alien life forms, but whether Fassbender’s android character has secretly been sent by the company to retrieve the alien life forms at all cost (like in “Alien”) remains to be seen. After all Bishop (Lance Henriksen), the synthetic life form in “Aliens,” was the reverse and was completely loyal to his colleagues. Let’s assume Ridley and screenwriter Damon Lindelof will be keeping us on our toes.

The Gods In “Prometheus”
To remind you, in Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day. It’s a cautionary tale of hubris and the over-reaching of modern man into dangerous areas of knowledge. Fitting since “Prometheus” the movie appears to be just that -- scientists and explorers who believe they may have found the origins of the universe on an alien planet only to discover they are woefully in over their heads.

So who are the thematic gods who reap punishment on these idealistic, perhaps arrogant mere mortals? Well, there’s several figures in the trailer who look like they’re light-blue humanoids that are rather gigantic in size and it appears that Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, essentially the new Ripley) comes face to face with one of them. See the photographic evidence above. They appear to be the same god-like humanoids that the crew find etched in stone, looking like the statuettes of Easter Island.

Crime & Punishment
So if the gods are punishing these scientists -- and hey, maybe “Prometheus” isn’t this literal, but let’s assume it is for now -- what’s their punishment? Well, our guess it’s the alien creatures that are on the planet. In the caves, these alien-pods are at the feet of these statues almost as if they are worshipping them. Are these creatures -- and the trailer points to some kind of xenomorph, but likely not the same ones in "Alien" -- the wrath that comes down with a fury on man? Also, if you look closely, you’ll see a facehugger like creature racing up one of the cryo-chambers, the aforementioned xenomorph growing on a wall like it’s right out of an H.R. Giger book and a slippery alien like creature that slides in the arm of the space suit one of the scientists is wearing and melting his face off with its acidic-blood (the DNA of “Alien” is in evidence, indeed). And as for those cryo-chambers? Well, that's where the shots of the half-naked of Theron and Rapace come in and while they're puzzling -- do they get back in them on their way off the planet? -- one things for sure, every shot of the scientists in that state of half-dress is eerily ominous.

The Weyland Company Suits
Again, the normal paradigm of the "Aliens" series is to have a self-serving, cold and calculating corporate suit on board with a secret agenda. And while Charlize Theron's character seems to embody that archetype, the flashes of the trailer within also seem to suggest that when the chips are down, she steps up to the plate and places the survival of her team as the paramount task. How?

The Alien Ships Face Off
Obviously, there’s “Prometheus” the ship, but clearly another alien spacecraft too -- not so ironically, one that looks awfully familiar and just like the derelict alien spacecraft that Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo found in 1979’s “Alien.” It doesn’t take too much of genius to see the narrative of the trailer regarding the ships. The alien ship takes off on course for Earth -- "If you don't stop it, there won't be any home to go back to!" Rapace screams at one point -- and “Prometheus” takes off after it and as you can hear people screaming, “Cut if off! Cut it off!” not to mention Theron's character yelling, "Take us home!" While many are assuming "cut if off" is in regards to a space hugger, we think it might pertain to the ships' explosions you see. The “Prometheus” sacrifices itself, smashes into the alien ship and it comes crashing down on the planet forcing the crew to run for their lives.

Mutations?
Obviously, we’re examining both this weekend’s U.S. trailer and the U.K. trailer, the latter of which has new clues too. Logan Marshall-Green is one of the key characters in this film and at one point, we see him examining his own eyes with what looks like it could be some sort of infection. Later on, we see a figure leaping on top of one of the scientists and with a zoomed-in inspection, this figure looks like some sort of deformed or mutated crew member wearing a space suit. This creature also seems to have received some super human strength as it whips crew members around like flies. The scene in the trailer when the crew comes out armed, appears to be a response to whoever this thing may be. What’s interesting about this idea is that the potential “punishments” in the film may be multi-fold and beyond just extra-terrestrials trying to kill the crew.

Where Do The Space Jockeys Fit In?
While Ridley Scott has spoke about the "space jockeys" aka “terraformers” a lot in his initial conversations about “Prometheus” -- who they were, how they got there, etc. -- as being the questions that intrigued him into exploring this universe again, they don’t seem to be an overly integral part of the story. Likely, they’re some kind of slave or pawn in the larger scheme of things. Terraforming obviously suggests some kind of transformation of the topography or ecology of a planet -- as you can see in the trailer when this planet begins to split up like gigantic gears -- and our guess is these guys are some kind of engineers that fit somewhere into the big picture, but aren’t the main subject themselves. There's an interesting shot above of Rapace's character examining one of their heads (or helmets?) inside the ship.

The Romance
Lastly, if you watch the U.K. trailer, much slower in pace then the U.S. version, you’ll see a budding romance in the picture from Noomi Rapace’s character and Logan Marshall-Green. Clearly both scientists, the discovery they make and “the invitation” to come discover this alien world is one they make together. All the more brutal when Rapace desperately cries, “We were so wrong.” If anything this invitation was the exact opposite and more of bait for a trap which begs the question: Do the gods need the mortals for some reason?

Lots of questions raised in the “Prometheus” trailers and surely there’s more posits out there. What are your thoughts? Meanwhile, “Prometheus” lands in theaters June 8th and we cannot wait.

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13 Comments

  • Nik Grape | March 21, 2012 4:59 PMReply

    WOW. Just saw the Wondercon 1:13 trailer and it's the best by faaar! The hype is becoming insane. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_B-mqcNa1A

  • Dan O'Bannon | March 20, 2012 11:40 AMReply

    nerds

  • André Lapa | March 25, 2012 10:11 AM

    If liking Prometheus makes me a nerd, i call myself proudly an nerd...

  • Benjamin | March 20, 2012 6:56 AMReply

    Remember the old man in the wheelchair David is consoling when Shaw stumbles in in the teaser? I am thinking that is Weyland. The man is obsessed with curing the world - the Weyland website timeline speaks of how early in his career he found a cure for most common types of cancer and global warming. Now that he is growing old (he's in his 90's or so by the time this takes place, I think) the next natural step is to cure death. I think whatever it is Weyland Industries is interested in going after on LV-426 or whatever planet this is will tie into that and he will, as you so eloquently put it, try to steal the fire.

    I think the transformed person might in fact be the newly regenerated Peter Weyland. The fire he stole might have QUITE a different effect on him than he expected. And I think David secretly helps him, but I don't think this necessarily villainizes David because Weyland probably isn't simply in it for himself - he wants to be around for years to come to help improve life on his home world, hence Weyland Industries also trying to terraform other planets.

  • LA2000 | March 19, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    I don't get the love. And I wanted to like this.

    The UK trailer works a bit better in the first half, it's more focused, but the last 30 seconds of the US trailer works better than the ending of the UK trailer. Between them, there is a decent trailer in there somewhere.

    My biggest problem is that there seems to be a hole somewhere in the story contained within the trailers. These trailers appear to cut around the actual story (meeting your maker) in order to play up the elements that might make it appear more like "Alien" than it actually is. In other words, the trailer feels like a rather labored effort to artificially manufacture a connection to the first picture rather than an authentic reflection of the film they are making. This first reveals itself by the way both trailers seem to rely very heavily on the very end of the picture to create a sense of action and suspense. That would imply to me that the body of the picture is all talk and anticipation for the last 20 minutes, the same 20 minutes you've seen repeatedly in commercials and trailers. Furthermore, the trailer creators seem rather timid about describing what the actual core conflict is, as if that information might diminish interest in the film. That is always a red flag. I am beginning to get the sense that we are looking at a cinematic version of a "smash and grab", where the marketing is designed to maximize attendance before everyone gets a chance to tweet that the picture is slow, boring, and nothing like an "Alien" picture.

    Furthermore, the whole thing just looks and feels so much like a video game. Where is the Ridley Scott atmosphere? It does look slick, but in a completely artificial, inorganic way. I think if you took the "Ridley Scott" card off of this thing, you'd be hearing an entirely different set of reactions.

    If I had to put $10 bucks down on the outcome, I would say this looks like it will play out the way "Alien 3" played out: massive opening, bad reviews, and a scathing audience assessment that the picture is too ponderous and short on thrills.

  • Patrick | March 19, 2012 7:13 PMReply

    Gods? Plural? "Several figures"? I only see one such individual! And it would appear it's the same individual we see when the voiceover says a *king* has its reign (17s into the US trailer).

    Oh, and some kind of virus is working its way through his body in a remarkably similar way we see something happening to a crew member's face 2m 8s into the trailer...

  • LifeonQueen | March 19, 2012 4:37 PMReply

    Great piece. I can't wait for this one.

    My gut says the way they're selling Rapace/Shaw as "the new Ripley" is too pat and we should look to Theron's character to do a heel-face turn in the film's second half. For one thing, OWS or no, the "evil company man" trope feels played out in Alien. For another, one wonderful thing about Alien was that there was no reason to peg Ripley as the hero out of the gate, which inclines me to think that there's more than one twist in these characters narrative arcs (Theron isn't such a name that she automatically skews perceptions of the storyline and yet...). And is it just me or does Shaw look a little... "unwell" in some of those clips?

  • nate | March 19, 2012 3:44 PMReply

    nice work. 1 little tid-bit you might have missed:
    When Logan Marshall-Green is examining his eye, if you look closely you can see a disgusting, tiny, black, little tail whipping around as if it's trying to burrow in.

  • Nik Grape | March 19, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    That's some great points. My seething jealousy aside while I slave away at a mind numbing office and read how others spend their working hours discussing trailers for awesome upcoming movies, I sense a two fold danger in dissecting trailers like this. The hype just builds so much that the finished product sometimes can't live up to. And the element of being surprised when experiencing the film firsthand is tainted by focusing on how many initial conlusions were correct. Don't get me wrong, I'm anticipating this one as much as you guys, the trailer blew me away, but it's dangerous territory to get deep into the analytics so early on. I still skimmed it because I couldn't help myself but I'm going to try and stay away from extremely inviting articles like this when it comes to Prometheus. The mystery is, after all, a big part of the pleasure.

  • Nolan | March 19, 2012 3:13 PMReply

    I'm not sure why you express that concern of David and the hieroglyphs. The line is very clearly "please tell me you can read that," which would lead me to assume that David had been programed to understand ancient languages. The face he making--again, I assume--means that he can't read them.

    But I'm also a little worried. The creepy face he's making when he says "big things have small beginnings" better be misdirection.

  • LeonRaymond | March 19, 2012 3:01 PMReply

    @CARMICHAELREID
    I have to agree with you 100% and I must add that this puts Ridley back on top for real as the Godfather of Sci-fi!!!

  • carmichaelreid | March 19, 2012 2:18 PMReply

    great stuff!
    I think this campaign may be the best one I've seen and experienced. Given the situation since, Avatar, with almost half the budget, rivalling another British directing Titan that has a whole entire teen generation behind him. Not only will Prometheus draw the Alien Hardcores, it is attracting a whole new market who are fiending for a solid romance-scifi picture. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is The Godfather of Sci-fi movies. From Craft to Distribution strategy.
    #prometheuscanuseethis?2012
    Thanks,
    Carmichael Reid

  • Ian Cooper | March 22, 2012 11:35 AM

    "I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is The Godfather of Sci-fi movies."

    Calling that 'going out on a limb' is like calling circumnavigating the globe 'taking a quick peek outdoors'. We've seen two trailers, for goodness sake! We know virtually nothing about the movie. Let's not forget that Ridley Scott is hardly immune from making bad movies.

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