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Did Ridley Scott Just Ruin The Mystery Of 'Prometheus' & Kill Its Sequel?

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by Kevin Jagernauth
June 14, 2012 6:00 PM
47 Comments
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From: Abrams, J.J.
Sent: Tuesday June 05, 2012 4:06 PM
To: Lindelof, Damon
Cc: PROMETHEUS TEAM
Subject: DUDE!

Umm, did you read this fucking piece?
http://www.movies.com/movie-news/ridley-scott-prometheus-interview/8232 You might wanna tell your boy to keep a lid on shit.
- JJ

We realize that this interview is a little old -- but we're just catching up to it -- and at any rate, it seems everyone wants to keep talking about "Prometheus," most of all Ridley Scott. Before we continue we should say there will be spoilers in case you haven't seen the film yet, so no whining if you read past this point and the movie is ruined for you.

So, depending on which side of the fence you're sitting on, "Prometheus" either explained too much or didn't explain enough, but either way, the film introduced some grand ideas about creation, religion and where humanity fits in the scope of the vast universe of the film. There have been two big question marks about the film: what's the deal with the strange opening sequence in which an Engineer drinks a mystery cup of tea (or whatever) and subsequently disintegrates? And secondly, what did humanity do to cause our creators to want to destroy to us? While this has led to many interesting theories and debates, Ridley Scott has gone ahead and ruined them for you, and as a result, taken some of the shine off "Prometheus" in the process.

So first, let's get to that opening scene. "...[the] sequence at the beginning of the film that is fundamentally creation. It’s a donation, in the sense that the weight and the construction of the DNA of those aliens is way beyond what we can possibly imagine," Scott said. Adding that the planet isn't necessarily Earth, he says, "No, it doesn't have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself. If you parallel that idea with other sacrificial elements in history – which are clearly illustrated with the Mayans and the Incas – he would live for one year as a prince, and at the end of that year, he would be taken and donated to the gods in hopes of improving what might happen next year, be it with crops or weather, et cetera."

With that bit now nice and explained, let's get to the bigger question -- what did we do to make God/our creators angry? Well, if you theorized that it was because we crucified Jesus, you win! Confirming that at one point the script explicitly spelled this out, Scott says that was the direction they were taking with the story -- at least at first. "We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose," he admits. "But if you look at it as an 'our children are misbehaving down there' scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, 'Let’s send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it.' Guess what? They crucified him."  

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47 Comments

  • TOR | April 29, 2014 9:44 PMReply

    This movie only proves that Ridley Scott's best days are way behind him. If he couldn't read the lousty script and see it for what it was, it is time for him to walk away before he tarnishes his legacy.

  • C. Dawkins | February 2, 2014 4:12 PMReply

    Would yous quit whining? If you don't like Jesus being an engineer, watch another film.

  • B. Runner | May 3, 2014 1:41 PM

    Actually, the engineer seems more like a Mohammed than a Jesus. Or even less offensive to the masses, a liberal "god" like Obama. Sent to punish corporate America (except rich Hollywood liberals, otherwise we wouldn't get films like this one, would we?) for going awry from their collective plans of diversity and equal justice. The whole human race has to be erased, started over. Send Mohammed, another engineer, who sacrificed himself for Islam, and left two groups warring each other with the intentions of wiping each other out, and the rest of the world in the process. It has failed for the last 1,400 years. Plan "C" comes to mind, thus sequels (more money for rich liberals in Hollywood, or across the pond), to try sell it out to paying masses, abandoning them to muse about its meaning. More engineers to come.

  • Faid30 | October 14, 2012 2:13 AMReply

    The movie was terrible, it had nothing to do with the alien movies except for the last 10 seconds. It seemed they only threw that in so they could tie it into the previous movies that were made. It would have been a good movie on its own if they explained more of the ideas behind their reasons for any of what happened. The beginning makes no since why the engineers were mad makes no since what happened to them makes no since the scenes they deleted makes more since than most of the movie. If they had made this a stand Alone movie and spent more time researching their own fiction it could have been a phenomenal story, but we are supposed to believe its an alien prequel. If they make a Prometheus 2 their wouldn't be an alien in it because they didn't show up until after the chick left for the origin planet. I'm not sure who was responsible for this but they failed not the a toes in it they did well and the effects were great. However, whoever was in charge of making the story line track messed this movie and all the ones before it up completely.

  • Nanahuatzin | September 17, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    " he would live for one year as a prince, and at the end of that year, he would be taken and donated to the gods in hopes of improving what might happen next year, be it with crops or weather, et cetera.""

    This is not mayan or inca, but meshica (aztec). A young was chosen as the the living god, Tezcatlipoca, to live on earth and would live as god for a year. He when everywhere playing his flute to be worshiped and hear people problems. He was considered an special messenguer.

    In meosamerican beliefs, people could not talk directly to gods who live in the spriritual world, only shaman could or men that had became spirits (dead). So for some ceremonies (other were sacrifices of the common kind) , people were sacrificed as messengers, so it has to be voluntary.

  • Andrew Mayer | July 14, 2012 7:32 PMReply

    All I have to say is, with the economy in the bad shape it's in, there are so many more intelligent people that are out of work and the fact that this idiot is employed is a really depressing irony.

  • Andrew Mayer | July 14, 2012 7:33 PM

    the reviewer that is......

  • jwsp | July 2, 2012 3:30 PMReply

    Those engineers are Voldemort!

  • Protricity | June 25, 2012 4:43 AMReply

    "There have been two big question marks about the film: what's the deal with the strange opening sequence in which an Engineer drinks a mystery cup of tea (or whatever) and subsequently disintegrates?"
    The intro sequence was obviously an alien on earth starting life on earth by sacrificing himself.
    "And secondly, what did humanity do to cause our creators to want to destroy to us? "
    The android clearly said the Aliens created earth in order to build a civilization and then destroy it and take it over.

    This movie was a racist, tasteless, pointless, aweful piece of sh*t, but that does not excuse the author of this article from being a total moron.

    I only saw the movie once. Complain about the real issues. B*tching about your clueless misunderstandings isn't good reading material.

    Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas. This is the what you get when you take away all the unrecognized nameless amazing producers and staff away from Attention Hogs like these, and let them have a go at a movie on their own. Tasteless, Pointless, Witless, and on some occasions, incredibly sexist.

  • Jamos | June 22, 2012 8:15 PMReply

    I'm not sure Jesus as an Engineer is the path this story will take (if Scott makes a sequel), its too much of a touchy subject to involve a figure such as Jesus in what is essentially a sci-fi movie(s) ... A theory (not my own) I have come across and one which I like is that the Engineers we see in Prometheus are a splinter group, separate from their own. Their race went through the Galaxy capably spreading life in a sort of Happy-go-Lucky manner, however the engineers (in Prometheus) disagreed with this mentality aware of its implications (wonderfully demonstrated by humans) and set out to destroy all the life that had been created ... Well, this is the only explanation so far which best explains the confusion in the film, however it is a little abstract and simple, I'm sure and I hope Scott has something far deeper, interesting and innovative to explore which we will soon get a taste of, he has said himself there is room for another 2 films in the story before we reach Alien (1979) ... In a nutshell my own interpretation of Prometheus is - God should always be impossible to imitate, once your creation becomes as intelligent as you, you are no longer a God!

  • rexbatt | June 20, 2012 12:54 PMReply

    Did you really just say that the best movies don't answer their questions? Do you really believe that? Although some movies that can be beneficial to leave some things open to interpretation, I have to say, most movies DO need to spell most things out. In a movie like this, why am I watching this? It brought me no pleasure to not have anything answered. It actually just made me concentrate much more on all the incredibly stupid decisions the characters made...

  • BellaStar | June 19, 2012 4:14 PMReply

    I liked the movie Prometheus a lot but there were some plot holes. In the original Alien when the crew explores the alien spacecraft they find the remains of a large alien creature whose ribs appear to have been exploded outward from the inside. But in Prometheus that alien, the "Engineer" didn't stay on that ship, he left and went after Shaw and died on Vickers lifeboat. The "Engineers" created us and then created the Aliens to destroy us? The movies leaves us asking, "Why?" It just seemed like there were too many aliens in this movie. The snake like creature that attacks and kills Millburn, and the little black worms, and the octopus looking thing that was inside of Shaw, and then finally you see the alien that we all recognize from the original movie. Someone said they got the sense that Vickers was actually a man and that's why she had the medical equipment that was only for men, but I thought that was for her father Weyland? Also because of something Weyland said to her about David being the son he had always wanted or something like that. I didn't get that at all from the movie. I'll have to see it again and see what other things I can pick up.

  • jamos | June 22, 2012 7:49 PM

    Prometheus was set on LV-223 which is a different planet (or moon) to the one in Alien which is LV-426. The Engineers ship in Prometheus is not the one in Alien, separate ships, separate planets ... How do you know they created the Aliens to destroy us, its an assumption, and in my opinion irrelevant, this was just to make the connection to Alien. If Scott makes the next film(s) which I think he will, they will go further away from Alien as too much of a separate story was depicted in this film. I think the idea of this film was to make us all ask questions and get frustrated, leaving us wanting more is a clever move by Ridley Scott.

  • Dr. Wahoo Capybara | June 19, 2012 8:08 AMReply

    I think the bottom line here is that if you give Ridley Scott a good script and let him go to work he will produce a Blade Runner, Duelists, or Alien. If you give him a mediocre script or a bad script...well...you are going to get something that looks like it could have been directed by Tony Scott. In other words it will be visually interesting and otherwise pretty much a mess...and as we get to this point I would like to say it appears at this stage in his career Ridley either can no longer recognize a good script or just is not being handed any.

    Prometheus and his Robin Hood film are a lot alike in that they look great, have a solid cast and are wonderfully helmed by Scott but the whole affair is swamped by some truly terrible writing.

    That is not to say they are not entertaining films, they are but over his career Mr. Scott's work can not rise to greatness unless he has a great story and a solid script.

    His last great film was Black Hawk Down and that was because he had a truly great story and good script to apply his visual style to. If you look at Scott's work he always delivers on his end and every one of his films is worth a watch at least once for this fact but if the script fails him you are left with something that dazzles the eye but disappoints in many other ways.

  • Connie Wilson | June 19, 2012 3:58 AMReply

    Rather than go all critical on Ridley Scott, I thought the film made a very valid point about how man is always seeking to kill other men. Given the fact that "the engineers'" DNA was identical to man's (i.e., they were our progenitors and precursors), when they find the ONE LAST LIVING engineer and awaken him, what occurs? Why, he goes ballistic on their asses and tries to kill them. Is this not typical of mankind on Earth since time immemorial? I liked the movie a lot.

  • Dr. Wahoo Capybara | June 19, 2012 11:31 AM

    Well, I hope my comments did not come across as critical of Mr. Scott or his brother Tony. The fact is I think they both deliver on their end on every film they work on but they are not always working from the most wonderful material. Tony's films are always cut to move in a very hyperkinetic fashion dispensing with character development to instead move the story rapidly to its conclusion. To me based on how Prometheus was laid out it also used this method of storytelling.

    A good example was reducing the supposed subplot of Theron's character being an android down to a single line of dialogue from the captain where he just flat out says "Are you a robot?"

    Personally I found that clunky and really not something they needed to do but it was a byproduct of a poorly constructed screenplay.

    There are many examples of this type of storytelling throughout the film and this was probably a result of editing to try and make what was a lousy screenplay work in a reasonable fashion. Not Mr. Scott's fault unless you want to blame him for deciding to film this particular script...which I do not.

    Your points abont enjoying the story and the subtext of that story are well taken and overall I enjoyed the film and I too like what is there as subtext to think about but was not really thrilled with the clunky way it was presented.

  • Glass | June 17, 2012 1:48 AMReply

    I'm surprised I haven't read anyone say how the plot for Prometheus (engineers, beings whom created us and oversaw our development being considered Gods) is almost identical to 2001, only 2001 provided close to zero information explaining its images. I like Prometheus so much more, the more I think about it. I can't wait to see it a third time.

  • NEGA SCOTT III | June 16, 2012 2:04 PMReply

    ok...........(snarf) (nerd glasses on) actually my friends, ( snarf) who cares about ( snarf) prometheus ( snarf) and thats that.(snarf) oh, what is better then?(snarf) well, World of Warcraft of course (snarf) ><
    ok im done. actually great movie and i dont care if the mythos is wacked up a little but i hope they make some sequels.
    oh and p.s.:
    Im catholic so please dont use Jesus in a sci-fi movie.It just doesnt feel right

  • hello777 | June 16, 2012 12:28 AMReply

    i liked the movie. but Jesus an engineer? one, Jesus is too important to be used as part of the plot of a movie. two, Jesus was love and life, these engineers were basically death and hate. even if they used Jesus as part of the story, it does not add up. since the engineers were hostile and hateful.

  • alinos | June 16, 2012 11:51 AM

    The Engineers were only hostile and hateful in the small segment we see.

    We see one Engineer that goes on a killing spree. And that's without knowing what David said to The Engineer in the first place.

    For all we know he turned around and said these people are here to kill you like they killed your emissary(since David could have put that together since he clearly has his own motivations here). While spurring the destruction of his own creators by unleashing The Engineer on them.

    As for the Point 1) Yeah they wont use him but not because his important but because saying he is an alien or anything else would likely ostricize a large portion of the Audience, especially in America)

    Point 2) Again we have no idea what The Engineers are actually like, merely the reactions of a single Engineer after coming out of a 2000year nap.

    Imagine our entire race was viewed as hostile and hateful, because someone found one of our worst serial killers all alone and he proceeded to kill them.

    You've condemned a race based on their limited actions.

    And as for them trying to destroy Us in the first place. They could have been well founded in their belief, We have no idea how many planets they had seeded with life. They may have seen the very things that we were doing before sending Jesus on many other planets. Knowing that they ultimately end poorly. Maybe the crucifiction of jesus had enough of an effect to divert us away from that path. Or maybe they were concerned about the same religious issues that led to so many wars on our planet.

    We are shown specific things to give us a certain perspective of what might of happened.

  • Mike | June 15, 2012 3:44 PMReply

    "So in short: Jesus was an Engineer, we fucked it up by killing him, our creators got mad and then hatched a really, really long and elaborate plan to kill us off. "

    Uh...no. The idea is that the black ooze - their biological weapon - seems to have been engineered around the time of Jesus (hence the carbon dated suit from 2000 years ago), probably to take us out. But they couldn't control it, and their weapon backfired on the engineers. They had at that point already left us the coordinates to find them, and we happened to build the technology to reach them 2100 years later.

    I'm no huge fan or defender of the movie but that much seems clear to me.

  • Matt | June 15, 2012 7:32 AMReply

    Tom, I can see why you might think that but I assure you I'm not taking it personally. I'm just tired of seeing a whole bunch of movies getting bashed on websites and forums that are supposed to be for critical movies fan but not actually have any critical observation or analysis on them. You don't think that articles titled 'Did Ridley Scott just ruin the mystery..." is somewhat sensationalist? The samething happened when Watchmen came out. Fans and pundits were expecting 'another' action hero movies but when they got something that was thought provoking (which anyone who'd ready the comics would know) that panned it as boring. I'm just saying that passionate about constructive discourse and there seems to be distinct absence of that surrounding this film.

  • Tom | June 15, 2012 12:52 AMReply

    Matt, it sounds like you're taking people's dislike for Prometheus kind of personally. I'm glad you liked it, but a lot of us found it pompous and inconsistent in the all-important "making sense" department.

  • tony | June 14, 2012 11:20 PMReply

    this still doesn't answer the question about the weak characters and shit acting :P

  • Great Scott! | June 14, 2012 10:59 PMReply

    What matters is the journey, not the destination. In other words, if we know these answers, a movie can still be justified if it tells the story in a fascinating, riveting way. I would expect this to go without saying on an art-house-leaning blog... However, I will say that Prometheus itself could have stood a bit more depth to the storytelling ... so, let's not hold our breath waiting, but it could still be fun to see?

  • Stevo the Magnificent | June 15, 2012 12:23 AM

    "What matters is the journey, not the destination"

    Which is why the entire 'Matrix' sequel enterprise (movies, video games, animated shorts, comic books, online multi-player game) was an exercise in utter futility...

  • JP | June 14, 2012 10:06 PMReply

    If you told me that the species in Alien was bastard child a pale body builder getting hate-raped by a giant face-hugger octopus that grew inside of a human after a guy that was infected by black ooze blew his load into his infertile wife... I wouldn't have seen the movie.

  • DesmondBrotha | June 14, 2012 8:22 PMReply

    It's pretty obvious that Damon was brought in to make a franchise. He's totally doing what he did with "Lost" with this film, aka giving us just enough to satiate our desires for far our heady bullshit about life,love,aliens, and everything else you think about when you get lit. I'm super into it.

  • Matt | June 14, 2012 8:00 PMReply

    You're not an idiot for wanting that, just hugely unadventurous. You've got four movies full of chest bursting action in various forms to get your fix. Not enough? Besides, if they'd have done that you'd have probably saying 'Simpsons did it'.

  • Matt | June 14, 2012 7:55 PMReply

    So I saw the film last night and I'm not even going to write what my thoughts are.

    What I do want to write about is how staggered I am at the sheer volume of whingy ass, nay sayers who fancy themselves as movies critics without actually offering a single critical observation. Not just this site, the internet seems to be littered with people who wouldn't have been happy either way. "It revealed too much/It didn't reveal enough"- Blah, blah, blah.

    The the thing that singularly makes all great movies great is taking the risk to do something different, from Nosferatu through to Martyrs and so on. People seem to want the same formula hashed up every time.

    Regardless of people's subjective (and often misinformed/prejudiced) opinions, fair play to Ridley Scott for daring to take a familiar idea in a new direction.

  • John | June 17, 2012 11:13 PM

    Well said. We take for granted what people like Ridley Scott provide. I saw it at an imax in 3D last night and was blown away just by the landscapes and space ship navigation system scene alone. For me I want to sit back and be immersed into another world for the price of a cinema ticket. Prometheus didn't let me down.

  • Anonymous | June 15, 2012 8:20 PM

    I'm a huge Ridley Scott fan, and I agree, kudos to him for being adventurous in his filmmaking. My biggest problem with the film was that it was essentially a rehash of Alien. If you were to describe the plot for Alien and Prometheus in 1-2 sentences, guess what, the two would sound pretty much the same. Granted, Prometheus adds an extra dimension by filling in the backstory about the Space Jockeys but even the way it's done is nothing new. Didn't we already see a take on the "ancient astronaut" theory in AVP and countless other sci fi movies? Visually it's amazing, as is to be expected from Mr. Scott, but it doesn't exactly trail-blaze either.

  • Matt | June 14, 2012 9:54 PM

    Subjectivity always rules? Do you think that objectivity constitutes herd mentality? If balanced or objective discourse has no place in critique then it's not worth the time of day.

  • Edward Davis | June 14, 2012 9:33 PM

    "Come on guys, make your mind up" Umm. Kevin said that in the podcast and at least one other person said, "umm, no, that's prolly not a good idea." 1) were you actually listening? 2) What are we a herd think? Subjectivity always rules.

  • Matt | June 14, 2012 9:12 PM

    @MDL

    So, I hadn't listened to the podcast when I wrote my original post so I checked it out and I feel even more steadfast about the fact that so many wanna be critics with too much time to talk have been letting off overly harsh or uninformed opinions. Within the first 10 minutes they're saying "So, like, I kinda, felt, like, the opening scene, should have had, like, an extra 20 minutes? to like, explain what the character were about and how they got involved with Weyland" and within another breathe they're saying "So they could have just cut that whole intro sequence 'cause when they cut to the ship you get told information you already knew". Come on guys, make your mind up. More or less? They then go on to critique the film for being cut to come in under 2hrs. Fair comment if it was a directorial decision but anyone worth their salt knows that that's a part of commercial film making and has been for 30 years!! The Director's Cut of Aliens is what? 50 minutes longer than the theatrical release? So criticising a film when the pedestal that the obvious comparison is on suffered the same edits is just uninformed. I want my hour back.

  • MDL | June 14, 2012 8:34 PM

    Sorry, Matt but Prometheus is the same formula hashed up again. Despite what the opening scene may present, what happens after that is standard stuff. There is little to no risk in the film. And - if you haven't already - listen to the podcast that IndieWire did of the movie. They hit all the points that most critics would agree with even if they liked the movie.

  • Alma | June 14, 2012 8:09 PM

    I agree that, overall, critics have been too harsh on account of expecting something mind-blowing and as effective as his earlier cult sci-fi's. And I also like his boldness in attacking the subject head-on, however, as British critic Mark Kermode pointed out, the dialogue is always focused on the big picture and unrealistically so. Whilst Alien had pedestrian subjects and the characters were therefore more believable, Prometheus creates cynicism and wariness towards the characters, which is a shame, as the grand themes are valuable.

  • Chris | June 14, 2012 7:00 PMReply

    Much like Lost, it's tempting to read into Prometheus. The writers of Lost said they had an answer, and look how that turned out. That said, I loved Prometheus and would definitely watch another. It was like a really tasty hot dog who's only crime was pretending it was filet mignon.

  • Omar | June 15, 2012 2:47 AM

    This is the most accurate reaction the film I have seen so far. The pre-trailer trailers with Scott talking about how the movie was about "everything" brought the intellectual expectation unreasonably high. Beautifully photographed and well directed but the story was really on there to hop from tentpole to tentpole.

  • A-Man | June 14, 2012 6:40 PMReply

    "I thought that the film gave a viewer plenty to work with." - If you like working with crayons, play-doh and a teacher who doesn't want you to think about anything.

    I don't get this movie, not in the sense of not understanding the plot; no, what I don't get is why people are so intrigued... Although, I'm pretty sure if I look REAL close I'll see it.

    Yep, it's a half-baked script with underwritten ideas only gaining any kind of merit because of avid internet/cinema foyer discussion... It's just like Blade Runner really(!) where the audience made it all "so much better" by coming up with loads of ideas after seeing the original underwhelming film all the while hoping to their God(s) that it would be "the most amazeballs thing evar."

    The audience will keep making this film better. By pretending it was good to begin with.

    It's not even entertaining. It's just dull.

  • Van | June 14, 2012 10:23 PM

    You, sir, get it. I'm glad someone's calling out Ridley Scott and the critics on his crap films. The questions raised in Prometheus weren't all that grand to be honest.

  • tristan eldritch | June 14, 2012 8:43 PM

    A-Man, are you sure your name isn't A-Hole? You didn't like this film; some people did. Get over it.

  • Mic | June 14, 2012 6:38 PMReply

    Jim, John and Nolan, you guys are pretty much correct on that part. The movie did give us enough to work with and I do think that the headline to the this article was over sensationalized do once again to the conclusions an intellectual viewer could possibly come too.

  • jim | June 14, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    what an utterly sensationalistic headline. c`mon guys, you're better than this.

  • John | June 14, 2012 6:09 PMReply

    Wahh wahhh. Newsflash: nothing in this post is news. Your record is skipping. Watch the movie, listen to the dialog. This is all pretty clear to me in a single viewing. Love the movie or hate it. Get over it.

  • winchester | June 15, 2012 4:42 AM

    Exactly. I don't understand where all the hate is coming from. It's not like Ridley promised the second coming. I may have slight issues with it but it was an entertaining movie. Move on.

  • Nolan | June 14, 2012 6:29 PM

    Oh my god, thank you. All of this chatter is driving me insane. I thought that the film gave a viewer plenty to work with.

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