Thursday, 28 June 2012

Prometheus and space helmets [spoilers]

I want to set the record straight. It’s just a small thing, but here it is: no-one dies or gets injured in Prometheus because they took their helmet off. [Spoilers ahoy!]

Prometheus has stirred up a large amount of talk, a lot of it negative, and a lot of that to do with perceived plotholes. I’m not going to defend the film overall (despite the fact many can be explained by limitations of filming, running time, narrative, etc.) – there’s a number of pretty glaring points in the film that are glossed over, sometimes shoddily.

However. One thing that keeps getting mentioned and lampooned is that they all take their helmets off, and then boom – everyone dies. Stupid scientists!

But let’s run through how everyone dies:
  • Fifield (geologist) – has his helmet on, hammerpede (snake) spits acid at it, he falls down face-first in black goo
  • Millburn (biologist) – has his helmet on, hammerpede breaks his arm, rips a hole in his suit, violates his mouth
  • Holloway – gets date-raped by David the Curious Android, then flamed by Vickers – helmet irrelevant
  • Everyone else – dies in the Prometheus crash, killed by the Engineer, or crushed under the Juggernaut (Engineer ship)
So no-one dies because they stupidly took their helmet off.

Are they stupid to take their helmets off? Yes!
Note that when Holloway takes his off, everyone is telling him not to – so they’re not all born complete idiots – they just become stupid when they follow his lead. But then Fifield and the biologist both put their helmets back on before they get attacked by the goo/hammerpedes. (Why they chose to hang out in the temple with the black goo, who knows…)

Is Holloway a dick? Yes!
Holloway is a gung-ho selfish idiot. He takes his helmet off against all advice and common sense, he insults his beautiful and intelligent partner Shaw about “creating life” being child's play. But he doesn’t die from taking his helmet off. (Even though he probably should have.)

So there. One small point.


  1. Yep - go back and look at the Andromeda Strain written in 1969 - it's called the the Wildfire Protocol and Prometheus completely ignores it. In fact the crew of space monkeys on the Nostromo in Alien have better quarantine procedures!

    Major plot hole... the Engineer is the last alive on the space ship. In Alien he is found in the Telescope chair in the space ship as a result of a chest burster. In Prometheus he dies at least a couple of KM away in the crashed lifepod. So much for Ridley saying a direct link was provided... explaining that little shift is a whole other movie!

    That and my other opinion is that Ridley smoked one too many cigars while watching Tree of Life

  2. Really dude? Of all the plotholes and potential issues, that's the major plothole for you?
    They're different Engineers, different ships, different moons. It's a prequel in the sense of chronologically before Alien and explaining some of what we see in Alien (i.e. who are the Engineer people). But that's it. Ridley Scott said there would be a link for Alien fans at the end of Prometheus - this is the Deacon, who resembles a blue/white proto-xenomorph - but not that it would explicitly tie the end of Prometheus to the start of Alien. In all the reading I've done I haven't heard Ridley Scott claim this was a direct prequel, and read a lot of quotes saying they were creating something related but different - they changed it from a direct prequel to a more general, independent concept when Lindelof was brought in, way before filming began.
    Either way, I wouldn't call it a plothole at all.

  3. No. The biggest plot he is the failure to follow basic biohazard procedures. 

    And are you really saying that they managed to crash two ships on two moons and end up the same way?

    Empire magazine quotes Ridley as saying that the last 20mins will provide a direct link to Alien. The principal of it being a genuine prequel to it being set before but only in the same universe was changed a long time back.

    I weep for the new Blade Runner movie after seeing Prometheus

  4. Not following basic procedure is a running theme of the film :) I overlook it personally, but I don't defend it. However, my small point was, no-on dies because they took their helmet off.

    As for continuity, I think you're missing a lot of information. The "direct" link is basically that yes, the Engineers were working on xenomorphs - if you remove that final scene, you could easily have no idea it's related to the Alien series at all. It's not "direct" in the sense of "and now we connect the end of this film with the start of the Alien film". The Wikipedia article has a potted history of how the film developed from an absolute prequel into a more loose prequel which does not tie in specifically. If you read any of the interviews on the net of Scott or Lindelof, it shows they wanted to move away from a specific prequel and towards creating something new that has its own sequel. And yes the Engineer ship in Alien crashed on LV-426, a different moon to the moon in Prometheus, LV-223. The Space Jockey in Alien has been dead thousands of years - the implications are that it could be one of the other ships from LV-223, which left 2000 years ago when the shit went down, or that it's just a completely different ship from somewhere else entirely, but telling the same story: they created a weapon they couldn't control, something or someone fucked up, something has gone wrong in Engineer society.

    If you want to point out the problems with things like "why did they run straight instead of sideways at the end" and "why didn't they stop to scan the planet before going straight in", or the appalling dialogue by medical officer Ford to explain to the viewer what is happening step-by-step, fine by me, there's a whole lot of shitty execution just to get the film and the narrative barrelling along. And there will be an extended version, with 20-30mins of stuff Scott wants to put in, on the DVD, which will hopefully make it smoother and less prone to poor logic. But I don't think you can dismiss the film's premise and existence because it's not a direct prequel to Alien, because it's not supposed to be.