04 June 2012

Prometheus questions and plotholes (heavy spoilers)

In this post I will talk about the things I came to think about after my two viewings of Prometheus. Some of the stuff posted here I count as plot holes, other things are just a discussion about the events taking place in the movie and trying to understand weird or interesting points in the story.

I think people assume that the planet at the beginning is Earth and the engineer is creating life. Why? Because he falls apart and DNA strands are shown on screen. However, how old would that make the Engineers IF they created ALL life. Even after the dinosaurs there was life on Earth and evolution was going on. If you really want to believe the Engineers are involved you have to assume that they only made humans and nothing else, though it would be weird as we are lead to believe that the planet in the beginning is rather barren and lifeless. I’m not sure the planet at the beginning of the movie was earth, or that he was creating life – he could well be destroying/contaminating the planet.

Second thing are the cavern paintings. HOW did humans know about any giant men from outer space if the guy who created them did so by committing suicide?

Also why would the giant beings on the cavern paintings made 35.000 years ago point towards a distant planet which by all evidence is indeed probably some kind of weapons factory? Also did that weapons factory exist on that planet 35.000 years ago or what’s the point of this entire planet and the meaning for the humans to paint it on cavern walls.

The Engineer ship on the planet was 2000 years old when the expedition arrives, which can explain the next issue – the map room and projection of earth. Wouldn’t earth look a bit different or are the maps kept up to date? Do the engineers travel around and tweak their map projections to take into account the rise of ocean levels, movement of continents etc? I just found it weird that the map of earth was showing a ”modern” earth.

What was the point of Weyland being revealed as a sudden twist? He could well have been involved from the start.  Revealing him towards the end was just kind of stupid/lacked reasonable cause.

What was the point of Vickers being named Vickers, obviously we were not supposed to know her dad was Weyland. But if we did, what would that have changed? Nothing.

Vickers was also a rather pointless character to have around. Her sole purpose was to be a ”corporate goon” like Burke in Aliens. She would not even be in the movie if Weyland would have been around from the start of the movie.

If Weyland saw David as his son, why treat him like shit, the comment about David lacking a ”soul” was just out of place, especially in relation to the dialogue up to this point. David cannot appreciate being immortal because he lacks a soul? More like the programming of the machine was lacking.

David is thought to be a pure machine without feelings and emotions. However he is clearly annoyed, hurt and pissed at the humans around him treating him like shit. He may be calculating and logical bu the isn’t unaffected by hurtful comments. The scenes with David show a great curiosity and longing to grasp and explain things. He is clearly interested in Elizabeths religion and God worship because he pretty much sees the humans who created him like Gods. That is why he is disappointed by the comment that he was ”made just because we humans could create you”. This lackluster explanation of his existence surely fuels his hate for his creators even further – however if he hates humans and they treat him like shit – why is he still kind to Weyland, why did he not kill the crew during the trip and take the ship to explore on his own etc?

David clearly takes orders from Weyland and we can assume he is ordered to find something to prolong Weylands life. This is why David infects Holloway.

Plot holes/stupid moments sin the movie:

David is able to steal away one urn from the cargo hold and bring it aboard Prometheus.

No one asks what the hell the urn is doing in their fridge?

No one is interested in what David is doing when he is sitting around for a long while tinkering with the alien contents of the urn?

What was the point of David tell Elizabeth about her pregnancy?

Why didn’t ANYONE react or ask any questions about the alien baby, Elizabeths  abortion and her running about bloody and semi-conscious on the ship?

Why was the medical pod in Vickers chamber calibrated for male patients – wouldn’t Vickers have programmed it for HER convenience first and foremost? It was in her chambers after all. Did Vickers know Weyland was aboard the ship and callibrated the machine for his sake? He was in hypersleep and hidden away, even if she knew he was aboard it would make more sense to have it callibrated for herself since she was awake long before Weyland anyway.

How the hell did that aborted squid alien grow so fast to become so large without any nutrition?

How silly is it to first infect one human to give birth to a second parasite which infects a second host to give birth to yet another alien being? Seems like an awful lot of unnecessary steps.

Why did Vickers and Elizabeth not just run to the side when running away from the rolling space ship?

Why did the two co-pilots who knew little/nothing about the biological weapon jump on the idea of blowing themselves up into the alien ship without any kind of hesitation or thought?

How is Elizabeth supposed to survive on the alien ship she is travelling on in the end? Food, water, hypersleep chambers and fuel could become a problem sooner rather than later. The hypersleep compartments would not be calibrated for regular humans, and David is still a head short of being able to do anything on his own.

How stupid is Elizabeth trusting David when he already caused so much shit, he could well be steering the ship towards earth to destroy humanity for all she knows.

How could Millburn and Fifield get lost in the tunnels when the whole tunnel network had been mapped out and their position was shown on the holographic image on the Prometheus bridge? Why not just ask for directions?

How retarded do you have to be (Millburn) to approach an unknown creature that is obviously in an aggressive mood - the death of Fifield and Millburn did not even add anything to the plot beside a pointless action scene.

You arrive at an alien planet, don’t even mind the possibility of hostile humanoids – you don’t know anything about possible critters living on it. Why then, when offered, not bring some armed backup right away? And why would Vickers who wants to protect the ship and her company's investment take a risk like that just because one of the archeologists don't want any guns around?

If the planet was a military installation, and more ships were nearby, why did the others not leave? Are we to believe that every single ship faced a catastrophic contamination? And if the aliens were able to leave, why did they not bring those who were still alive aboard and not being contaminated with them?

What was the point of the holograms on the alien ship, what purpose would they serve  for the aliens themselves? Was it a survaillance system? If so why not show what caused them to panic and then die in a pile up against a wall.

Finally, just something that made me chuckle. Was I the only one who thought Guy Pearce with the Weyland makup resembled Brad Pitts makeup in Benjamin Button LOL? And what a waste of Guy Pearce in such a role...


  1. There are too many incoherence in that movies. I found very sad that with so many announcements it was so bad. The characters have no identity of their own.

    While David is the only see-able character, he is also the most illogical while he should be, being a robot. Unless there is something about him being able to learn feelings. But even that is not detailed, explained, which could give some dimension to that movie.

    The Alien part is quite strange : Why did they build weapons to destroy Earth and not use them? Why This, Why that.

    Finally, to summarize : nice picture, good concept, but superficially produced.

  2. I feel like half the David scene's were missing.
    You could attribute it to David hating humankind, David being curious, David experimenting on the crew on direct orders from Weyland, David's programming being flawed. It would have been nice to get a bit more info on this character, he was pretty much the only part I enjoyed watching during my second view - but sadly I did not see anything new that would explain a lot of his decisions.

    It feels like the connections to Lawrance of Arabia are very important, and the movie quotes from there should help explain his character. "The trick is not to care that it hurts" and "big things have small beginnings" are never tied into the plot in any real way. Again it feels like a lot of character development scenes have been cut out. Just like in Kingdom of Heaven that made little sense during the theatrical cut - but became more coherent in the extended version.

    I think if a extended version is released, there will be more scenes with David during the early parts of the movie when he is all alone, explaining his character better.

  3. Issues.

    point one. The Engineers/ gods/ etc visited earth and left a trap to see if we became a threat, taking us to a weapons factory once we reached the heavens. I do not think they were coming to kill us, they wanted to know if we would kill ourselves. Or, we were uplifted by the titan 37 thousand years ago, and he wanted us to know where the weapon factory was so we could stop it? (I know it is not clear in the movie but I wondered if the first scene is on the alien weapons research planet and he is commiting suicide to destroy the attempt to attack Earth)

    I wonder why when the "alien" film starts there was no human pod visible on the planet LV 432,

    The alien (proto chestburster) is obviously a queen, and goes on to lay eggs and die, but the Space Jockey in the Alien movie is sat at the controls, with a hole in its chest - at the end of this film its Dead on its back down in the Human escape pod not in a space suit?

    Anyway thats my obvious oh they have messed up comments, but it might be that there were changes to get the certificate down to a 15, and bits may have changed to add mystery or indicate that it is only part of the foreshadowing.

    1. Prometheus (LV-223) and Alien/Aliens (LV-426) take place on two different planets

  4. @Anonymous

    Your questions related to Alien 1 can be explained by this movie not depicting the Space Jockey or the planet Nostromo finds in Alien 1. As such this Space Jockey ship is not the same that we see in Alien 1, it is also a different planet (different number designation). I realized this when watching the movie, but when they add the ending with the ugly looking alien queen emerging out of the Space Jockey there can't be any doubt that they wanted to hint towards "this is an Alien Queen" adding to the confusion. That scene alone is completely unnecessary and just feels like something thrown in to make a cool last impression (just like the end scene of Alien vs Predator).

    This screws up other things as well, you then have to assume that Shaw and David took one of the remaining ships and set out to find the Space Jockey home planet. Aboard that ship you would have the alien goo containers and they would perhaps wake up one of the Space Jockeys (this time without David saying something to kill them all) and in the end they all become infected and crash on the planet/moon of the movie Alien 1. OR you have to assume that the same crap happened on another planet or with a completely different ship where Shaw/David weren't even involved.

    A lot of this mess comes from the first script being written a LOT more closely as a full on Alien 1 prequel, and then Ridley Scott messing up the script to make it a lot less of a prequel (with little success). This is probably also why it feels chopped up in many places.

    1. My issue with it fitting into the rest of the alien universe is that in avp it's suggested that aliens and humans have been pray for predators for thousands of years depicted on ancient temples and ruins. This film suggests that aliens as we know them may have been a freak evolution of black goo in 2093.

  5. Great post. I post about the dodgy science in Prometheus here: http://creepytreehouse.wordpress.com/

  6. The big discrepancy for me was your first point. Life started on earth ~4 billion years ago. If the engineers seeded all life on earth, that would mean they didn't evolve AT ALL in the subsequent 4 billion years because they look exactly the same: impossible.

    The second explanation is the Engineers only created humans - but that doesn't fit with what we know about biology. We (and, hence, the Engineers) are extremely closely related to chimpanzees and bonobos - more so than a horse is to an ass or an african elephant is to an asian elephant. How much sense does it make that the Engineers show up our alien planet a million or so years ago and there just happen to be apes swinging through the trees who share ~97% of their DNA? Again, impossible.

    The basic idea for the movie doesn't make any damn sense. Plausible

    1. Actually your big discrepancy isnt. Evolution is the result of adapting to an environment as it is and as it changes. An advanced civilization, stops evolving when nature no longer kills off members enough. Animals in the wild 99.99% of the time dont die of old age. They are killed by disease or predator or food shortages. When they colonize a new planet that is to cold they dont have to adapt they terraform it to their needs. Read about and understand the driving forces behind evolution first. Comment second.

  7. The first scene of the movie is just one of many that does not make any sense and would be better off if not included in the movie at all. What exactly does that scene lead up except for a nice title card sequence? I’m almost 100% sure it wasn’t earth in the first scene. And if it wasn’t earth it made no sense making a transition to the cavern scene with Shaw finding the cavern paintings as if there was a link between those scenes.

    Just think about it, what would you miss if the first scene was cut out? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Nothing the Space Jockey did made any sense in any kind of context with the rest of the movie.

    It would have been a better mystery if they started with the cave painting scene instead, at least that would make the Space Jockey they find on the planet a bit more interesting to behold when he awakes.

    And if they really wanted to play the “ancient aliens” angle it would have been better if they had some kind of montage of ancient civilizations being shown worshipping Space Jockey’s before those big alien humanoids left earth for some reason – but first they made the humans draw a map to their planet. To add extra mystery you could have an “evil” space jockey erase one of the stars changing the location from the Space Jockey home planet to the weapons testing facility. And still it would be a bit much to swallow if we are led to believe that the Space Jockey were developing biological weapons for 35.000 years.

    Which leads to the second problem, if they also dropped the whole biological weapon angle it would make a better movie. Why not only make the Space Jockeys becoming victims of the Xenomorph parasites (they could have landed on the Space Jockey planet with a meteor or something).

  8. Excellent post. Although one thing noone seems to mention is why David goes about infecting humans? The only vaguely plausible explanation is it's somehow connected with weyland's quest for immortality but this seems a push. I expect better from Ridley Scott.
    Also the human holograms were much better quality than the space jockey holograms.

  9. I would say the movie was actually terrible when you consider what they had to work with. The plot is so stupid and full of holes as to be non-functional.

    Why did the Engineers create this parasitic bio-weapon to be so effective against themselves? Why not create something to selectively target humans?

    What is the function of the tiny worms -> white viper aliens in the "head room"? They attack you, get in your mouth to kill you then run away again? Why were they created?

    What caused the Engineers to cancel their Earth destruction trip in the first place? Why not just get on the phone and get a different ship to do it if yours had some kind of problem? Why sit around for 2000+yrs? There were apparently plenty more ships on that planet.

    What changed when the Engineer was taken out of hypersleep? Why did it suddenly go "Oh that's right! I was going to wipe all life from the face of Earth." Wouldn't all the things that prevented them from launching the mission 2K years ago still be a problem now? Plus now you have humans running around firing off all your bio-weapons.

    What did Shaw plan to do when she found the Engineer homeworld? The only one she had talked to up to then had twice tried to kill her. Why would the others be more helpful? Wouldn't she just run the risk of reminding them that they were going to wipe out the human race, especially now that they're stealing their ships and know where their homeworld is? Why not have her say "I want to fly to the Engineer's world and release their own weapons on them before they do the same to us"
    Then my final thoughts would have been "Oh, I see" rather than "What the Christ?"

    Why did the Engineer's head explode? Did he get infected by the black goo? Why didn't he just fall apart like the first one we saw? We never get an explanation even though they make a point of asking this same question IN THE MOVIE! As a writer and director how do you do that? Seriously? Did you just forget you put it in there?

    I feel ripped off by that movie, Ridley Scott sold me a fake movie.

    1. Well put Andrew, after this I will never consider watching a Ridley Scott movie just based on him being involved as a director. That's some George Lucas quality writing that rivals Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull - a movie which was beyond retarded and ruined a franchise yet managed to be more coherent than this attempt of halfassed fan fiction turned blockbuster movie.

      And yeah, Elizabeth Shaw is such an idiot character. Indeed as you point out - IF - she arrives at the Space Jockey planet chances are they will just nuke earth with that black goo since she reminds them of their previous mission. That is unless David screws Shaw over and just navigates the ship straight to Earth and crashes it to spread the black goo himself LOL!

      I can’t imagine any sensible person liking the story of this movie. It’s not even that entertaining of a movie either. Hell, I was having a much better time and thought I got my “braindead” value for money when I watched Cowbows & Aliens. At least I knew what to expect from that one, with Prometheus I expected a coherent script and serious attempt at rebooting the franchise after the crappy Alien 3 & 4 and the two abysmal AvP movies.

      Ridley Scott just delivered a sloppy written cash-in that makes little sense as a standalone movie and even less so in the established Alien universe.

  10. Calling it a bad movie simply because it doesn't give you all the answers and makes you go on message boards is quite juvenile and pathetic, like a baby crying when you don't give it a second snack.

    All movies have plot holes and stupid moments such as the main character performing a major abdominal surgery then having a track meet immediately after, etc.

    All the questionable things aside THE ONLY THING MADE CLEAR IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE is that us humans ARE the space jockey/walking steroid-using humanoids.

    Since the ships were on the planet for thousands of years, THE ONLY LOGICAL THEORY about the entire movie is that the "Space Jockeys", since they were human, were capable of time travel.

    This opens up infinite possibilities to the origin of the humans (space jockeys), aliens, predators, etc. as they could be from any place or time and it leaves it up to each individual to A QUOTE USED IN MULTIPLE INSTANCES IN THE MOVIE "Because it's what I Choose to Believe" which I think is the whole point of the movie.

    What I choose to believe is the "space jockeys" are humans (us) from some time in the future who got stranded in the past. Why from the future? Because they are bigger, ancient humans were small and have been becoming larger over history and obviously have greater technology and are smarter.

    I choose to believe that the "Space jockeys" needed to travel into the past because they were in a war of some kind, and tried to develop weapons to win a war.

    My main point is, everything else in the movie is insignificant when compared to the MOVIE FACT that the DNA of the humans and space jockeys is the same.

    1. Why be such a childish jerk?

    2. Bangkok Mike, I can respect different opinions even if you are cheeky enough to come here and insult me and others because you loved it a lot - so I will let your comment stay. For the entertainment value of what you have written.

      Time travel? Sounds like the Terminator movies. Maybe that will be in the sequel, because I believe that if the humans could create David they also made the Terminator = pure logic! It's not supported anywhere in the script or even the intent of the moviemakers, but my assumption and theory makes it true.

      Seriously, you can't just make assumptions and then use them to fill serious plotholes. You have to work with what's shown or at least hinted at in a movie. I can make shit up too and use wild theories to convince people why every Uwe Boll movie is a masterpiece of "Oscar for best screenplay" proportions and talk about hidden messages that no one seem to understand (because I just made them up).

      In the realm of movies/fiction you have to give believable and logical explanations. This is important in science fiction or else you can have people walk around doing crazy shit at random whenever it suits them or the story calls for it.

      What if the T-1000 with his ability to transform into liquid or shape shift was never explained in Terminator 2? Would it not feel pretty random every time he did something new? Even if we could have speculated about his infinite amount of abilities and potential weakness it would still feel like he pulls a new trick every time the movie calls for it. That would also make the destruction of the T-1000 strange – because it would have not made any sense how he could survive being, shot, split in half, frozen and shattered but died from melting?

      What if the movie did not even bother to explain that the T-1000 was a Terminator, didn't show that he too arrived from the future, and no one in the movie was asking questions about him, just a random liquid guy running around killing people in a Terminator movie?

      Reminds me of "Lost" fans back in the days going "it's awesome because you don't know anything, don’t understand anything and don’t comprehend anything so it can be anything and that is why I like it!". Lost was not a mystery masterpiece, it was a bucket of ideas thrown in Ad Hoc into each episode to create cheap "mystery". It was the laziest and most simple show ever created.

    3. Bangkok Mike, you're not making any sense whatsoever. Any.

      Your 'time travel' conclusion is IMO utterly unfounded. There is absolutely nothing in that movie that remotely hinted at time travel. Nothing.

      Calling Alex 'juvenile and pathetic' for his review is pretty juvenile and pathetic. Why don't you go play in someone else's sandbox?

      Alex poses questions that some jackass on the production team should have been asking. I can't speak for Alex, but I'm pissed that I wasted time and money on a flaming turd movie from a director that hasn't produced quality film since he was Knighted. Furthermore, who are you to criticize Alex?

      And, no, all movies do not have 'plot holes and stupid moments'.

  11. I'm only guessing but the movie mentions Prometheus bringing fire to mankind. It may be the that the self dissolution scene was him contaminating the human project some how, perhaps giving humans 'free will' or 'intelligence' or something that the Engineers did not want humanity to have.

    The pictograms on the cave wall might be racial memories stored in DNA and accessed by the cave painters through dreams or hallucinogenic rituals. Or perhaps he taught humans stuff before he dissolved. Presumably the pictures were not an invitation but a warning. "The enemy keeps it's weapons here. The danger comes from here. Beware anything coming from here when you are old enough to know where here is."

    David got away with so much because at times he was invisible. People were busy looking that the discovery and each other.

    The maps might be up to date because of networking with automated systems that keep a watch on the points of the map and transmit changes back to the local server for the ship to download.

    I agree that Weyland added very little to the movie and that the holograms were odd. I could see the ones with the Engineers running away from the problem since that would be important info for rescuers or clean up crews. The ones for running the ship's bridge seem pretty silly though.

    I wonder now if the snake-hugger was a mutation of the worms seen crawling in the canister room under foot. It had acid blood and an urge to implant something and a certain resemblance to the face hugger. Does that make it a predecessor to the face-hugger? Is it a natural organism that the face-hugger is an improvement of? Is it a similar but different parallel weapon? Is a face-hugger just weapon variant #6 and the snake-hugger variant #4? I noticed that once implanted the biologist did not get back up nor is it clear that anything hatched from him. Maybe it needed to be adapted to work with humans which is what the infection that was transmitted to the woman through intercourse was all about? Why did the acid burned geologist turn into a super violent ape guy? Was it the black sludge? Was it something that came out of the biologist? WAs the starfish/squid monster a boneless facehugger deluxe? The thing it implanted in the Engineer looked similar to but quite different from Geiger's xenomorph and it did not burrow out of it's host, it was just born when his torso popped open. It was born unmoving and fully formed (no snaky larva chest-burster stage). It looked a bit softer and weaker than Geiger's xenomorph. It had less of an exoskeleton and it had pinkish gums on it's inner jaws and they did not launch out like a piston ram. They just slid out. I'm not sure what it means. Is it xenomorph type x instead of the y types we are used to? Was the impregnated woman serving the purpose of the egg instead of a host? So weird. It doesn't seem to fit together well.

    1. The weird thing about the "snake hugger" was that it entered the scientist mouth, and in a later scene just jumped out. So it didn't hatch an egg or anything from what we could see. I too think that the black goo transformed the regular worms (where did they come from and how did they survive btw?) into the white snake things.

    2. "I wonder now if the snake-hugger was a mutation of the worms seen crawling in the canister room under foot. "

      Yeah, that's kind of obvious. And I asked the same question, Alex, where the hell did the worms a. come from, and b. how did they stay alive?

      I think Ridley has gone the way of Lucas.

  12. Also at the end, how can Elizabeth and the wonky robot David fly off in the alien ship - presumably full of hibernating aliens of all sorts, so the two of them can kill an entire alien species. And there is the added complication that Elizabeth didn't seem to bring any food aboard the ship.

  13. This entry of your blog is what i give to read to all my friends after they watched the movie and go out disapointed.

    Nice work ! ;)

  14. I think the Engineers have woefully inadequate biometric security technology for such an advanced race.

  15. Great points. Such a bad screenplay. So many great possibilities wasted. As one earlier poster stated, it`s really a shame considering all the great previous material they had to work with. How is it possible to create such a great character like Ripley and then such a bad character as Shaw? "Because I choose to believe it??!!" No offence to N. Rapace, she did her best with the lame script. Ripley was smart, thinking things through, strategizing. And why not dispense with the unprofessional, overly emotional, childish crew - so overdone and so not what this mission would be about.

  16. This movie was a flamin' space turd. Dan and I saw it last night and every point you bring up we did as well, almost to the T.

    One other thing, why did the fresco show a fully evolved Alien when the critter hadn't even evolved yet by the end of the film?

    This movie was utter crap. Thanks Ridley, please leave Blade Runner alone...

  17. Not to mention so predictable / obvious. Did anyone not guess immediately that Weyland was on the ship, that David was communicating with him, that Vickers was his daughter? No suspense in this movie at all.

  18. It's sad when much of the screenplay screwups could have been easily fixed. But you can only blame Scott and Lindelof. Lindelof for taking a complete screenplay and then rewriting it with his "Lost" touch, and Scott for not giving a damn and just shooting it hoping that the effects would mesmerize people.

    I to hope Ridley Scott will leave Blade Runner alone, please don't fuck up another great movie. Blade Runner doesn't need either a remake or a sequel, its a visually stunning and atmospheric movie with great characters and screenplay and it has aged very well.

    It’s also depressing that Lindelof of all people in the business have been called in to “save” the “World War Z” adaptation. You know shit has hit the fan in a production when you call that guy.

  19. If the Prometheus film shows the first "alien" being born from the engineer in the year 2093, how could they be fighting predators on earth in the early 2000's?

  20. I initially thought that the space jockey at the beginning was turning itself into the xenomorph, which I think would of made a lot more sense and could have easily explained the origins in one simple scene.


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