Prometheus Doesn’t Make Sense

A little while ago my fiancé and I sat down to rewatch Prometheus on HBOGo. Our first viewing in theaters left us pretty confused. But after having chatted with some friends immediately afterward, we thought we had a better understanding of what the movie was getting at.

Chugging this black ooze will seed this planet. No wait, it will turn me into a superhuman zombie. Who knows!?

Chugging this black ooze will seed this planet. No wait, it will turn me into a superhuman zombie. Who knows!?

We were wrong.

The second viewing was equally as confusing, and I think I know why. The movie’s plot makes absolutely zero sense. Apparently nobody thought to consult any sort of scientist about the scriptbecause many developments through the movie are completely implausible. Allow me to explain.

  1. In the beginning of the movie we see a humanoid being ingest some sort of black viscous substance and fall into the river, where he breaks apart into constituent DNA molecules. This is supposedly how life started on Earth, and his genetic material basically “seeded” our planet. Later in the movie, the main scientist characters call these beings “engineers,” suggesting that they engineered human beings. Even later in the movie, it is discovered that the alien’s DNA is identical to our own. They are us. We are them.This makes zero sense. If their DNA was unleashed upon the Earth a million years ago, there’s no way they could predict the direction evolution would take it. The resulting organisms should be vastly different from the starting point of that genetic material. And what about all the other species on the planet? Did they get started by the alien/human DNA as well? If so, how did we get algae from starting that starting point? Or was there already life on the planet and the new introduction of DNA simply created the human species? If that were the case, how would our DNA share so much in common with all the other life on the planet?The only way in which this scenario makes sense is if the alien/humans somehow engineered their broken down genetic material to go through all of the steps we see in our fossil record. They’d have to program it and predict how it would change during the course of a million years to produce the 8.7 million species of life thought to exist today. A tall order indeed.
  2. I'm ooze! No wait, I'm discrete pieces of goo! Who knows!?

    I’m ooze! No wait, I’m discrete pieces of goo! Who knows!?

    What the hell is that black oozing stuff that begins to make all the deadly creatures? I think we’re supposed to think that this is some sort of primordial material that evolves on incredibly short timescales into perfect killing machines for whatever happens to be around it at the time. Or maybe it just evolves really quickly to kill humans.Either way, this makes zero sense. Assuming that this stuff is indeed a quickly evolving life form, why does it ever evolve teeth? You’d have to assume that it goes through its first 24 hours or so living off nothing but bacteria and other microscopic forms of life. After all, it’s the size of a snake before it ever eats a person. And you don’t need teeth for that.

  3. The black ooze will let me seed this planet. No wait, it will turn me into a superhuman zombie. Who knows?!

    The black ooze will let me seed this planet. No wait, it will turn me into a superhuman zombie. Who knows?!

    Speaking of this black ooze stuff, is this the same substance that we see the first “seeding” alien swallow before breaking down into genetic material for the Earth? It sure looks like it. And if it is the same stuff, why does it break down his genetic material instead of turning him into a super zombie human, like it does in Earth humans? Didn’t they say during the movie that we have the same DNA? Shouldn’t it do the same thing to both of us then? Consistency people, consistency.

  4. Coming back around to the staggering revelation that the alien/human species has the exact some DNA as our own, if that is true then why do we look so different? Why are these beings so monstrously gigantic and strong? Does their planet have a lower atmosphere or less gravity than ours, allowing them to grow larger bodies? If so, why would that make them strong? Low gravity would tend to cause otherwise equal animals to become weaker. Just look at what a few months in space does to our modern astronauts. This doesn’t make any sense. And you know what else doesn’t make sense? The giant splattering of green brains and blood from the exploding preserved alien/human head. If we’re genetically identical, shouldn’t they at least have the same color blood as us? Or shouldn’t it at least be blue, as human blood is that has low oxygen levels?

    I have human DNA but my innards are green! Wheee!

    I have human DNA but my innards are green! Wheee!

  5. This brings me to a slightly less scientific question of the plot. It seems as though the killing ooze breaks out and starts destroying all of the alien/humans on the ship just before it can take off and bring doomsday to the Earth. As all hell is breaking loose, the captain alien/human slams the door to the bridge shut, cutting off an alien/human’s head, and jumps into a cryo chamber. As soon as he is woken up 2,000+ years later, he immediately gets back to work and tries to launch the ship toward Earth.
    Looks pretty secure to me!

    Looks pretty secure to me!

    Why does he jump in the cryo chamber in the first place? By all accounts, it looks like he’s managed to secure the bridge from the shit show that is decimating the rest of the crew. I don’t see any other bodies strewn about the bridge, indicating that the cryo chamber saved his life. It seems like a completely inconsistent move and makes zero sense.

  6. And speaking of saving one’s life, whey the hell do all of the genius doctoral scientists take off their helmets on a Goddamned unchartered planet?! Ever since War of the Worlds debuted back in Goddamned 1898 people knew Goddamned well that alien microbes have a decent shot at killing you even if the giant intelligent ones don’t.
  7. And now for my final and probably biggest complaint. At one point in the movie, the lead female scientist jumps into an automated surgery machine that cuts out the alien growing inside her womb. As soon as she’s stapled up, she jumps out of the chamber and hits the decontamination button. A bunch of gas is released into the chamber, supposedly sterilizing it and killing anything inside. Naturally, we all know that the alien hanging in the claw of the machine isn’t dead and is going to come back.
    How does this little guy...

    How does this little guy…

    One of the final scenes of the movie shows the lead scientist woman escaping the clutches of the alien/human captain guy by opening the operating room and unleashing the alien thing that she took out of her womb. But how does it come back as a giant octopus thing? How does it get that big? You have to consume food and energy in order to grow; that’s a basic law of nature. And last I checked, there weren’t any other people or animals locked inside of that room with it. Was the scene edited out where we see the creature figure out how to use the replicator and pump out a lot of Big Macs to fuel its growth spurts? This makes zero sense.

    ...turn into this giant guy with nothing to eat?

    …turn into this giant guy with nothing to eat?

So as great and wonderful as the concept and special effects are for this loose Alien prequel, it makes zero sense in each and every possible way. No wonder I was so confused both times through the movie.

Note that they do try give a shout out to how little this makes sense early in the movie during the orientation session. After revealing that they call the new aliens engineers, one of the crew members whistles and says something along the lines of, “So you’re just throwing out centuries of Darwinism?” But even with that little caveat  the whole thing doesn’t make sense based on what we know to be true from studying biology.

End rant.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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