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File:Prometheus poster 9004.jpg


They went looking for our beginning

What they found could be our end
—The film's Tagline

Prometheus is a 2012 science-fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, and a semi-prequel to the 1979 film Alien. Notably, Prometheus marks Scott's return to the science-fiction genre after thirty long years, the last of which was Blade Runner.

The film follows a team of scientists and cosmonauts who set out on the research vessel Prometheus to unravel the mystery of the dawn of mankind by seeking out the Engineers, who may be our very creators. Scientists Shaw and Holloway believe they have uncovered an "open invitation" to find them by means of a reoccurring star pattern found in ancient human writings. However the team soon learn the location is far from welcoming and that what they've discovered could be a danger to the human race itself.

For months there was speculation as to whether Prometheus was actually related to the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott danced around the issue at first stating it started as a direct prequel before moving onto something new entirely during its initial inception. Since then it's been confirmed it takes place in the Alien canon. However whilst the film makes notable references to everyone's favorite Xenomorphs and Weyland Industries (before it was Weyland-Yutani), the plot's main focus is on the nature of the "Space Jockeys" and their connection to humanity.

Prometheus was released June 1st, 2012 in the United Kingdom and other territories, and will be released one week later in the U.S. It was also released in 3D.

The first trailer can be seen here.


Prometheus contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors
  • Actor Allusion: One of the viral videos has various names cycling through over the image of Dr Elizabeth Shaw, including, for a split second, Lisbeth.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot:
    • David has no concept of ethics, and thus sees nothing wrong with checking what the Engineer's organic sludge does by poisoning Charlie with it.
    • The Automated surgical unit is calibrated for men only, so Shaw cannot use it for an emergency C-section, despite the unit being ostensibly intended by Meredith Vickers for her exclusive use (it's likely designed for a male, presumably Mr. Weyland himself). Also subverted in that, while the unit cannot perform a C-section if you tell it to, it can perform an emergency removal surgery of a "foreign body" in a woman's uterus.
  • All-Star Cast:
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The space jockeys, seek to wipe out the life of Earth for unknown reasons.
  • All There in the Manual: The Weyland Industries corporate timeline goes into much more detail about the technology and devices used in the film. The website's timeline also gives a much better understanding of Earth's advancement in the years leading up to the film's events, along with vague references to the main film series (including a mention of prototype rifles being developed for the Colonial Marines) and several interesting notes about Weyland's history, including the remark that he named the "David" android line after the name he wanted to give to his unborn child if it was a boy.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Space Jockeys / Engineers are genetically near-identical with humans, and in terms of appearance the only differences are in size, lack of body hair, lily-white skin, and Uncanny Valley facial structure. But mentally they appear to be completely inscrutable and alien, and no-one can even begin to comprehend their motivations.
  • An Axe to Grind: Shaw is seen creeping around the ship in her spacesuit with an axe in her hand in one of the trailers, and Mutated Fifield uses one in a tv spot.
  • Ancient Astronauts
  • Artificial Human: David.
  • As You Know: Played with. Both Shaw and David apparently figure out what the structure really is, but they don't say so onscreen. Then Captain Janek walks into Shaw's cabin and explains to the audience and, he thinks, Shaw that the structure is the equivalent of a WMD storage facility. And then he turns out to be partially wrong; it's not an installation, it's a base for their ships. This was fully foreshadowed when the approach to the above-ground structure resembled an airport runway.
  • Big Bad: The space jockey race turns out to be pure evil. They once spread intelligent life over the galaxy, but now they want to get rid of it again for some reason. The means they use to achieve this are...ghastly.
  • Blood From the Mouth: One of the crew members, when a mutated Fifield attacks the ship. Justified, since it seems that Fifield did crush his organs.
  • Body Horror: The main form of horror used throughout.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Engineers invoke nothing but hope and wonder in Holloway and Shaw. They are seen as a chance to know more about ourselves and humanity's origins. Essentially they are viewed as living gods. Unfortunately Shaw learns first hand that they are monsters who, for reasons known only to themselves, want to destroy us.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant: Shaw discovers she's three months pregnant, despite sleeping with Holloway only ten hours before.
    • Made a lot more horrific because Shaw was sterile and had wanted to have children...
  • Call Forward: The videoscreen in Vickers' room aboard the Prometheus appears to be the same technology that is seen during a scene from Aliens, where Ripley sits on a bench in the Weyland-Yutani operated Gateway Station and watches the scenery change on the screen behind her.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: Prometheus ignores the Alien vs. Predator films. The Weyland Industries timeline notably does not feature Charles Bishop Weyland, who founded Weyland industries in that canon.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The automated surgical unit, and the creature it removes from Shaw.
  • Continuity Porn: Everything related to the film, from the Viral Marketing campaign (that shows Weyland Industries before it merged with the Yutani Corporation) to the content of the plot (the crew interacts with the same type of ship seen in the original film, the Space Jockey race, proto-chestbursters and eggs, etc.), is made of this.
  • Crocodile Tears: The "David" viral clip shows that androids aren't quite capable of convincingly faking emotions like sadness.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Possibly justified, if it is part of the canon, as the Prometheus is a brand new expedition ship whilst the Nostromo from Alien was an old space truck designed for cargo.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Unsurprisingly the number of inhuman terrors on display is considerable.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several given the nature of the film and the monsters found within.
    • Fifield's helmet melts into his face. After he's mutated and shows up at Prometheus, he gets shot repeatedly and set on fire.
    • Millburn's death by asphyxiation when a creature forces it's way into his mouth. What occurred beforehand was also very unpleasant.
    • The Engineer's slow death at the hands of the horrific tentacle monster.
    • Shaw avoids being ripped apart from the inside by said tentacle monster. Because she's a proactive Badass.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Literally, From a Certain Point of View.

 David: I didn't know you had it in you. [Shaw gives him a look] Poor choice of words.

  • Determinator: Shaw turns out to be an especially tough cookie when she removes the alien lifeform from her womb without sufficient sedation.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Vickers invites Janek to her headquarters, presumably for sex (at the same time Holloway and Shaw are seen making love); this is not referenced or alluded to again for the rest of the film.
  • Drone of Dread
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: The defeat of the Big Bad. Or rather, Exit Pursued By A Kraken Foetus.
  • Final Girl: According to Scott, he intends to make use of this trope with Theron's character by explicitly stating she'll make it through to the end of the film. He lied. It's Elizabeth and not Vickers.
  • Expy: Dr. Shaw is said to be one for Ellen Ripley. Not that that's a bad thing, Noomi Rapace considers it high praise.
  • Fan Disservice: Noomi Rapace half-dressed? Sure, but she also just woke up from cryosleep, and is vomiting quite a bit. She gets half-naked again later in the film, but also undergoes some emergency surgery to get the thing out of her, and staggers out of the medpod covered in blood and amniotic fluid.
  • Foetus Terrible: "It's... not a conventional foetus."
  • From a Single Cell: It's strongly implied that even the smallest drop of the virulent black goo ending up in an eco system would be enough to turn a habitable planet into an all out Death World overrun with rapidly evolving flesheating nasties, deadly parasites and rampaging mutants.
  • Genre Savvy: Shaw runs on this trope when hell starts to break lose. She consistently does the most logical thing. Almost no one else in the cast does. To be fair, Fifield and Milburn know to get the hell out of dodge when the party actually does discover an alien corpse--but then Milburn thinks that strange hissing snake thing is cute...
  • God Is Evil: Subverted with the Engineers. They may have created humanity long ago, but they are very much mortals. And absolutely not worthy of worship.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Not everyone dies, but nobody gets back to Earth to tell anyone what happened. The best we can hope for is an Apocalyptic Log.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: With the other half being also human, but hideously mutated. The kid wasn't very human-like.
  • Hate Sink: Vickers fills the role of "person we're allowed to hate" for most of the film, since The Engineer doesn't turn up until the end and David doesn't have clear enough motives for us to know why he poisons Charlie.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Shaw informs Janek that the Engineer vessel is headed to Earth with its "payload" he decides to crash the Prometheus head first into it. His crewmen Ravel and Chance refuse to leave his side in order to help him. They all go out in explosive style.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The space jockeys seem to have this happen to them constantly. Including the Big Bad. Then again, these guys don't seem to care about their own survival all that much.
  • Holographic Interface / Unusual User Interface: The Engineers' ships have room-sized holographic displays, which are activated via playing a musical instrument, and controlled by pressing button-sized fatty cushions (instead of buttons) and glowing green crystals.
    • Other control panels in the ship seem to be little more than cuneiform inscriptions carved in rock, but reactive to touch.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: One possible explanation as to why the Space Jockeys want to wipe out humanity.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Shaw's not going to let a little thing like an un-anestheticized hysterectomy slow her down.
  • Idiot Ball: Yes, go ahead and pet the strange hissing cobra thing; we all want to see what happens. Scratch that, we've paid to see it.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: The crew of the Prometheus all wear clear domed helmets with lights on them.
  • Kill All Humans: The default setting for the engineers. Upon being awoken from stasis, one does not hesitate to kill those who awake him. He then carries on with his mission to destroy earth despite it being three thousand years later.
  • Kill It with Fire: Vickers decontaminating Holloway. And then again, later, when a mutated Fifield attacks the ship.
  • Large Ham: Peter Weyland acts like a combination of Tony Stark and Steve Jobs during his 2023 TED speech.
  • Love Interest: Charlie is Elizabeth's long term partner. They both share the dream of meeting the Engineers.
  • Lying Creator: Scott claimed that Theron's character would be the last survivor and that there would be non Xenomorphs. However, Vickers is very much dead by the end and a form of Xenomorph makes a brief but important appearence towards the end.
  • Meaningful Name: The ship is named Prometheus for the eponymous Greek titan, who stole fire from the Olympian gods to give to man and was punished. Peter Weyland discusses this at length in the 2023 TED Talk viral clip, and part of his speech is watched by the crew in the film.
  • Mega Corp: Weyland Industries. How "mega"? Weyland and his company discovered and/or are responsible for biotech, nanotech, fusion energy, M-theory, deep space exploration and colonization and Artificial Humans.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Compare the first trailer to the 1979 trailer for Alien; most notably it contains the same wailing tone throughout. Lampshaded by the online community later with this gem.
    • David performs an impossible basketball shot, just like Ripley in Alien Resurrection.
  • Neglectful Precursors: And how! The Engineers developed the ultimate biological nuke, and they cannot even control it themselves. On top of that, they leave enough of it to wipe out thousands of planetloads of lifeforms in a single military base on some forgotten world... except they conveniently left a map to this Tomb of Horrors for us to find.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Partially averted. Space Clothes do show up aboard the Prometheus, though their purpose is justified and well shown. On the other hand, most fashions seemed to have weathered the century of change from the present more or less unchanged.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: A Double Subversion when Vickers and Shaw are running away from the crashing spaceship along its longest axis as it rolls toward them, but Shaw survives when she falls over and it finally occurs to her that she could roll a short distance to one side. The second subversion comes when it falls on top of her anyway. Possibly a third subversion when it almost crushes her but is stopped by some rocks. The same doesn't occur to Vickers and she's just plain crushed. Ironically, if she had fallen, she might've thought to roll in the other direction from the one Shaw rolled, which would be the way ship wouldn't fall.
  • Only Sane Woman: Vickers may be a Designated Villain, but she is one of the few characters who behaves rationally, generally does the right thing, and generally tries to avert disaster for everyone. Unfortunately, she gets a spaceship dropped on her for her troubles.
  • Organic Technology: Staple of the Space Jockey culture. Anything from their ships to their clothes (seemingly seamlessly fused to their bodies) seems to be made of living tissue or bone. The most significant example is probably the black sludge, which in Earth-like atmospheric conditions has the ability to mutate any Terrestial life-form in horrible, parasitic ways into techno-organic nightmares.
  • Origins Episode: Scott claims fans will "recognize strands of Alien's "DNA" at a certain point in the film. The film features a wall mural that looks eerily similar to the Xenomorph, proto-eggs and a variety of monsters that will be very familiar to Alien fans.
  • POV Cam: The crew on the Prometheus watches the feeds from the expedition team's helmet-mounted cameras (seen from the operator's perspective) at several points in the film.
  • Precursors: Alien Expanded Universe implied the "Space Jockeys" were responsible for man and the eponymous monster. Prometheus will likely answer whether this is true or not. Turns out it's true.
  • Ragnarok Proofing: It's stated that the Space Jockeys' starships are at least 2,000 years old, and yet are shown to be still functional and flyable.
  • Ramming Always Works: Janek sets the ship on an intercept course with the discovered Space Jockey ship to prevent it from leaving orbit and attacking Earth.
  • Retraux: Subtle example, but the "Happy Birthday, David" viral video is done in the style of a 70's or early 80's informational or advertisement video. Its most noticeable in the retro music and the clipped, "brick to the ear" audio mastering, but also in the furniture and interiors shown, repeating, moving geometric patterns in the "beat clips," fonts on the infographics, as well as the high-key lighting and color choices.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: David. The "Happy Birthday, David" viral clip expressly states that the David 8 model is capable of seamlessly integrating with an employer's workforce, and is capable of expressing many emotions (although even David himself admits he doesn't completely understand the concept of them).
    • And yet the characters never seem to get tired of reminding him that he has no soul.
  • Saving the World: "If we don't do something, there may not be a home to go back to!"
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The stated distance to LV-223 is 3.27*10^14 km[1]. The characters are on Earth in 2089, and by the end of the film, it's 2094. They would have to travel at several times the speed of light to reach LV-223 that quickly.
    • As it happens, faster than light travel does exist in the shared universe of Prometheus and Alien. Rather than instantaneous transition that FTL is usually depicted as, it actually still takes months or years to travel interstellar distances in spite of it. If anything, this trope is averted with a vengeance.
  • Shout-Out: Elizabeth Shaw
  • Sigil Spam: The Weyland logo is on everything, including David's fingerprint.
  • Single Tear: David sheds a single tear in the "Happy Birthday, David" clip after being asked what makes him sad.
  • Stanley Steamer Spaceship: The Prometheus itself, notably seen when steam comes out from the floor of the cargo bay as the expedition team first sets out.
  • Stealth Prequel: It's about the "Space Jockey" race from the first film: The Xenomorphs and Weyland Industries do get notable references but the focus is clearly on the "Engineers" and their connection to humanity.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: The surviving Engineer/Space Jockey is defeated by a giant facehugger set loose on it by the last survivor.
  • Theme Naming: David carries on the tradition of robot characters in Aliens movies having names beginning with the next letter of the alphabet from the last (Ash, Bishop and Call). Which is a bit strange, considering this takes place before they were even built.
  • "Three Laws"-Compliant: Played with in the "Happy Birthday, David" viral clip. David states that he can seamlessly integrate with an employer's workforce effortlessly and do what is asked of him, but also states that he can carry out directives that are too "distressing or unethical" for anyone else. This foreshadows Ash's behavior in the original Alien, and Bishop's comment about how his programming will never allow him to harm another human being.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers for the film clearly show the Prometheus plowing into the side of the Space Jockey ship and partially blowing up, Shaw's emergency abortion, the living Engineer attacking several members of the crew, and much more.
  • Traumatic C-Section: Shaw cutting out the Foetus Terrible.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Heavily invoked by the "Happy Birthday, David" viral clip. David is shown making several odd gestures, including what appears to be a slight moment of processing when the narrator asks what he can do (tilting his head slightly with a glossy look in his eyes), and his speech about how war and poverty make him sad, complete with thorough waterworks, then (without missing a beat or changing expression) describing how he does not feel even the remotest emotion but can replicate them perfectly.
    • The Engineers, first seen in the movie's intro. They look almost human, but are over ten feet tall, and seem to have about as much in common with us as we have with David.
  • Villain Protagonist: Vickers, according to Theron.
    • Mostly justified in that she has no reason to believe Charlie and Shaw's thesis that the Engineers are out there. She's also the only one to follow any kind of guidelines and common sense when it comes to letting the infected and contaminated Charlie back on board, and thanks to her father's rather horrid "Well Done, Son" Guy tendencies toward her, she has a massive chip on her shoulder when it comes to David--whom Weyland brands as the son he never had in front of her and the entire Prometheus crew during their initial briefing. She's almost definitely a precursor to the Corrupt Corporate Executive we see fully manifested in Aliens' Burke, but she's got more reasons behind the way she is.
  • Viral Marketing - Includes a futuristic TED conference with Peter Weyland, the unveiling of the new "David 8" model and an "official website" linking to Weyland Industries, detailing the timeline of the company and its accomplishments.
  • When It All Began: The first 10 minutes-or-so serves as a "beginning of time" sequence.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: One of the many methods the Engineers use to purge planets of all life is infecting large creatures (like humans) with a virus that turns them into rampaging monstrocities with Super Strength.

Notes

  1. Approximately 34.6 lightyears
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