By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist June 12, 2012 at 1:00PM
Frustrated? Angry? Bored? Hungry? Ready to move on? Yes, the online conversation surrounding Ridley Scott's ambitious, belated return to the science-fiction genre in "Prometheus" is nearly exhausted. Depending on who you are, you've either experienced enough for a lifetime (online writers and editors surely have), but if you're the audience who may have just recently caught the film, your thirst for more discussion around the film might not have been sated quite yet. While currently operating with a positive 74% Rotten Tomatoes score (though MetaCritic is lower with a 61 score and if you look at the way RT grades "positive" reviews... well... let's just say there's a problem there), in many corners of the blogosphere, and certainly ours, Scott's "Prometheus" is viewed as a divisive piece of work that's occasionally thrilling, but frequently opaque and narratively murky to the point of infuriation (check out our recent inaugural podcast on the film or our "Good, The Bad & Ugly" feature on the same topic).
And interestingly enough it's hard to get any kind of true consensus: the geek cognoscenti are torn within their own community, as is the film critic intelligentsia. Everyone agrees the film tries for depth and summons weighty themes, but whether it has smarts to go along with them is certainly still up for debate. Anyway, that discussion's been had ad infinitum, so what happens next? Spoilers ahead so please disperse if you haven't seen the film yet.
As anyone who's watched it is acutely aware, "Prometheus" ends on a cliffhanger note and purposefully sets up a sequel. So if and when we see a "Prometheus" sequel, what could it entail? Well in reading about the film, we've come across what you could call plausible clues and come up with some of our own potential posits. But first, some ground rules: while its narrative is murky, and motivations veer all over the map, let's try and establish some basic facts from the plot of "Prometheus."
"Prometheus" begins with a mysterious prologue with a hooded Engineer figure. What's actually going on in the scene is certainly up for more debate than any moment in the film, but we chose to see it as a sacrifice that begins life on earth. One could argue it's a trigger for abiogenesis -- the spark that forces biological life to arise from inorganic matter through natural processes. In other words, the Engineer's sacrifice into black goo is the catalyst for the primordial soup which life on Earth likely arose from. And the alien ship seen far off in the distance, tellingly much different from the alien ship we see in the film's conclusion? Presumably it's the creators of the Engineers. Whether that's incorrect or not is almost immaterial to this piece, but it's probably good to get that out of the way.
What is not so ambiguious is the rest of "Prometheus" (and some of this is subjective, but much of it is spelled out in "Prometheus" albiet in murky, clipped sentences). It's (mostly) clear that the Engineers were creating bio-weapons to destroy earth, and it's clear from both the events in "Alien" and the ghost-like recorded holographic data on the LV223 moon where "Prometheus" takes place that these bio-weapons (aliens of some sort) turned on them (or were accidentally activated early) and horrifically killing the entire lot of them (or most of them anyhow). The crew of the Prometheus do after all come across a brutal, crime-scene-like mountain of Engineer bodies trying to reach a ship, but unable to enter closed doors (with one left decapitated by said colossal doors), seemingly with evidence that something has erupted from cavities in the chest. Hmm...
Part of the Engineers' plan was to destroy their creation with these bio-"weapons of mass destruction" as Idris Elba's Captain Janek character hypothesizes. The film's sub-protagonist (because Michael Fassbender's David android character is probably the more real protagonist of the film) Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) certainly agrees with Janek, which is why at the end of the film, she takes David and plots a course to find out where the Engineers came from and why they decided to rescind their decision to create planet earth. And so the themes of "Prometheus" are doubly told; both humans and engineers are punished for playing with technology that only should be owned by "the gods" -- humans are punished for seeking immortality (the true nature of the mission as revealed by Guy Pearce's dying Peter Weyland character and part of the reason David infects Logan Marshall-Green's character with the alien goop DNA -- to experiment with this "technology" and see what will happen exactly) and Engineers are mortally penalized for attempting to destroy the very civilization they created.
As some character hypothesis in the film, LV223 is not the planet where the Engineers come from, rather an operational testing ground for these weapons of mass destruction, which makes sense, given that Elizabeth Shaw compels David to fly them to Engineer's origin planet. Ok, so onto what we might see in "Prometheus 2," now that we've hopefully established the events of the first film.