Hey fellow nerds, if you’re anything like me you’ve watched the recently dropped Alien: Covenant trailer and all its accompanying reaction videos, shared it with your beloved wife in hopes she’s be just as excited as you are, and immediately regret said decision as the occasional getting lucky in the shower becomes a distant memory. I digress… Let’s talk Alien, all things Alien, and why you should maybe give Prometheus another shot! Find out why after the jump!
On a summer day in 2012, I left a theatre with a pack of friends and a billowing cloud of disappointment. “What the damn Hell was that?” we asked. We thought we were venturing to see the film destined to bring us back to the Alien universe after the abysmal abortions that is Alien: Resurrection and whatever those Predator crossovers tried to be. Prometheus was given back to the original genius, Ridley Scott, and written by brilliant newcomer Jon Spaihts, known now for his penmanship of Doctor Strange, and frankly my expectations were just a little bit too high. On top of that, I went to see this with friends who work in the field of science, specifically a biologist and a Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer… so the criticisms were high well before I could fanboy my way into enjoyment. My colleagues were right on many counts, for example the two scientists getting lost in a fully mapped environment, even with the weather interference they should still know their own position. Other discrepancies fall on small key scenes being omitted from the final cut of the film, i.e. the discovery of the “invitation” hieroglyph on Mars which would make the theory of the Engineers being space travelers a fact, and a one-liner indicating Fifield the geologist lost the map because he was high. This film has been nit-picked, torn apart and down on every level, yet, despite all that I still convinced myself to watch it again, and enjoy it immensely.
Going back even further, I tracked down all the viral videos that preluded this… prelude. Two videos featuring the specs on the perfect Michael Fassbender’s android David and a fake TED Talk featuring Guy Pearce pre-old man made up Peter Weyland, the tech giant with a heart of gold façade and an agenda towards immortality. They weren’t much, but it reintroduced us, the audience, to a world long forgotten. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation was always just around the corner, with their secret missions and little care for the lives being lost before our eyes. In Prometheus, we finally get to see these heartless bastards first hand employing the same principles and, more importantly, part of their origin. While they may not be canon, one of the few enjoyable parts of the AvP series was seeing where Weyland-Yutani got their motivation. The first encounters with the Xenomorph race, the evidence of which swiftly erased by a nuclear explosion (also see Predator for their world-ending clean up skills), and their drive to find, study, and weaponize the alien. The mission of the Prometheus is to find the beings that left artifacts on our worlds and hopefully find answers to life and purpose of Earth. I believe the crew finds this out; we simply don’t get it shoved down our throats… in this world of Suicide Sloth level exposition I long for that.
We, the audience, don’t get a straight answer about why the Engineers seeded Earth with human, which we see in the opening credits when a lone, perfectly chiseled Adonis willingly breaks down its own DNA into Earth’s ecosystem. From here, we’re left to speculate amongst ourselves the purpose, and I’ve heard many great theories. One, Dr. Holloway says outright, that we were “made just because we could” be made. Homo sapiens are an experiment, and who’s to say we’re not? Two, a long drawn out process, but maybe we were designed to terraform Earth to the Engineers home environment, which we learn is equivalent to “breathing through a tailpipe.” Anyone who grew up in the San Fernando Valley Smog Capitol of the United States can tell you we’re doing a pretty good job of that. Given our iconic engineer was in stasis for two millennia, we can surmise hey live much longer than us and the tedious process of waiting for us to terraform Earth via our own evolution could be worth the wait. Three, Jesus was an engineer and we crucified him out of fear. Makes sense if you think about the outbreak that occurred on LV-422 two-thousand years previous as the space jockey Engineer was headed to Earth to wipe us out. We were another race they created because they could, we fucked up, and now we succumb to the weaponized black goo. All great theories, giving me and my nerdy cohorts many a night of riveting discussion and debate of a bottle of Scotch.
Here’s my theory. The Engineers created human beings to be lab rats. Dr Shaw discovers the match in our DNA, humans and Engineers are one and the same…ish. The poetic version of this is the philosophy of our gods always creating us in their own image. The scientific version would be we were created in their own image to produce the most accurate results. For instance, we developed this creature that gestates inside a host and bursts forward into an acid blooded killing machine. We’ve tried it on [dogs, cats, fish, and bugs] what about ourselves? Hey! What if we made some things like us and tried it out on them instead? Behold, the Xenomorph.
On the other hand, I’m slightly of the mind that the engineers created the Xenomorph by accident. Such a theory comes to me from the visual evidence of the Black Goo weapon being in the canisters instead of eggs and turning Fifield and Holloway into zombies instead of impregnating them… and all it takes is one. I say “slightly of the mind” because I recall a hieroglyph of the Alien Queen on the wall inside the sacrificial chamber to the Engineer’s God. You know the Big Giant Head room, and the most likely answer to Dr. Shaw’s question of “Well, who made them?” If we take that out of the equation, the black-zombie-goo seems a far more effective way to eradicate an entire population than releasing a few serpents to eat impregnate, spawn, eat, and repeat. What’s clear to me through more visual clues is the Xenomorph was the outbreak, for a spread of disease makes people panic but a monster makes you run hard enough to hope you can make it through a slamming door and loose one’s head. That, and the giant pile of bodies with their ribs cages burst open. The counter argument I receive to this is, “But then where are all the Xenormorphs, then huh!?” Well, this outbreak was 2000 years ago… I’m sure their unmistakably dead.
We can go on and on about the good, bad, the ugly, and the fucking phenomenal things about Prometheus for days on end. Its true beauty is the questions raised, the answers hidden that must be found, and the message of strength in belief. I personally don’t care what you believe (I do draw a line around using your beliefs to claim innocent life) as long as you believe it. R.I.P. Shepherd Book, may your words of science and faith guide us through the rest of our lives.
In conclusion, I left my first viewing of Prometheus with distaste because I let someone else tell me it was awful, which I’m convinced happened all over the world since it film cost $130 million and only made $51 in its opening weekend. Guess what! 2001: A Space Odyssey was shite at the box office too, and now it’s a classic. More important than the money, if you like something and someone tells you you’re wrong because they think it should be so, don’t lose heart. Do what you want to do, and love what you want to love… Even if it’s Suicide Squad. I’m sad for you if you like it, but good on ‘ya nonetheless. I, Steve Barnett, love Prometheus no matter what any damn critic or cinema sinner says (The Prometheus School of Running Away from Things has more credibility than Trump University). This nerd encourages you to watch it again with an open mind and you never know, you might find something beautiful.
As for Alien:Covenant, I’m looking forward to seeing which of the many fan theories will come true. What has David has been up to alone a distant planet? Who’s the new synthetic Walter and does he even knows he’s an android? Is Dr. Shaw still around? (calling it now, she’s the one in the trailer with the hood and the big gun and she blows up the ship) What’s going on with the Engineers and are there any left? Most importantly to me, if the Engineers developed the Xenomorph as a weapon… who were they fighting? A civil war? A bigger and more powerful force? That would be a sexy damn answer to get. Maybe Weyland-Yutani is actually a force for good just trying to protect humanity with whatever weapons they can by any means necessary. Unlikely, since they appear to be ruled by money and power, but it would be cool if they thought they were the heroes.
This article has been brought to you by Weyland-Yutani, Building Better Worlds.