According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus Decoded, Part 1



File:Prometheusposterfixed.jpg

Big things have small beginnings


An Introduction

I think we will have some fun with the movie Prometheus and to do so we must be introduced to its labyrinth of characters, themes, backgrounds and plots.

Last night I decided I would be brave and go watch Ridley Scott's latest epic. When arriving to the theater I discovered that I was completely alone in a very dark, and suspiciously empty movie theater. Later I would find out that 300 or so patrons were two auditoriums over watching Ted leaving me to contend with stark images and surreptitiously heart-pounding soundtracks utterly alone in the dark caverns of my mind and heart. (Which I loved immensely by the way! Usually I like to listen to audiences responses, but with this film all I really wanted was reflective time alone for an intense engagement and scrutiny!).

Well... I got my wish. And it was a thrill ride from start to end as I analyzed from the producers viewpoint, and the would-be audience's point-of-view, our society's taboos and speculations, of the many popular themes of science, evolution, space travel, alien mutations, biologic warfare, the pathos of the human dilemma, our societal stories of ourselves, our purpose and the meaning of our existence. As Bill and Ted would say, "Most Excellent!"

Overall, the best part of my experience was that I was completely ignorant of the film's themes, its connections to other films, and intents. I got to see it on its own, as a virgin premiere unspoiled by critics and friend's presumptions alike! Normally I try to isolate myself from any initial thoughts and critiques of a movie until after I've had a time to see it on my own. Which is pretty unusual in this day and age but still possible if you resist movie trailers, reviews and go see a film on its first day's opening.

So to begin with, we must interview a few movie critics in-the-know (I also read Wikipedia's information as well) before we can begin any analysis. So here is the first part of perhaps one or more articles to be posted speaking to some of the broader implications at hand (and I suspect even a few more which we haven't yet thought about... like biomedical ethics, species extermination, information technology uses and abuses, the rapid propogation of technological revolution through AI, computers and swarmbots, etc). So sit back and enjoy the ride!

R.E. Slater
June 22, 2012

  
Prometheus Full Trailer 2




Wikipedia - The Greek Titan Prometheus who fell to Earth condemned by Olympus for sharing the fire of the gods with man that man may be equal to the gods of the cosmos - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus.



File:Rockefeller Center MAM.JPG
Prometheus: The Rockefeller Center, NYC, NY



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_(film).



Ridley Scott directing Nooma Rapace




Prometheus Decoded: Connecting Ridley Scott’s Dots (in Three Minutes or Less)

By Steven James Snyder | @thesnydes |

A stunning star field fills a cavernous alien spaceship.


Warning: Major, epic, devastating spoilers throughout
and beginning immediately!

Prometheus weekend came and went, but the speculation rages on. I first saw the film nearly two weeks ago, and was left stunned by the post-film deliberation among critics that broke out at the Times Square movie theater. The next day, I interviewed screenwriter Damon Lindelof (he sheds some light on the film’s secrets here), and he described a very similar post-premiere scene at his London theater. And I’ve heard from other friends across the country that the debate was alive and well at screenings both Friday and Saturday, among Alien fans trying to connect all of Ridley Scott’s dots.

Now I’m not presuming to have all the answers (for a more thorough, expert take, see Richard Corliss’ comprehensive review or Jeffrey Kluger’s analysis of the science behind Prometheus), but here is the analysis I pitched in, during the great New York Critics Prometheus Debate of 2012: Obviously this is an Alien prequel – regardless of what the movie studio may be claiming — and the most interesting plot points in Prometheus do indeed stem from the through-line of the franchise. In other words: How does this piece of the Alien puzzle connect to the other films in the franchise?

Warning, major spoilers ahead: The film opens with an alien standing above a waterfall. (Maybe to keep things straight later, we’ll call his/her species ETs). A spaceship is taking off in the background, clearly leaving this ET behind. He’s the chap who must have signed up to be the “engineer,” agreeing to sacrifice his life in order to fuel an entirely new civilization. He drinks his mysterious substance, self-destructs, and his DNA is injected into Earth’s ecosystem. All life as we know it derives from that sacrifice.

(MORE: See TIME’s complete Prometheus coverage)

It’s a powerful prologue — and also one that doesn’t deviate all that far from the current scientific debate about what brought life to the planet (see Jeffrey Kluger’s full breakdown of the science in Prometheus). From here, let’s jump forward to the mystery planet: When the Prometheus crew lands, everything appears to be dead or dormant — a vast series of deserted caverns and creepy cargo holds. David, the resident robot, has been programmed to assess these discoveries with only one objective in mind: How might these futuristic beings, and their futuristic technologies, be harnessed and utilized to aid his maker — the dying Mr. Weyland.

This is why David extracts, analyzes and manipulates the metallic orbs found in the cargo holds, why he drops a bit of the black goo into Charlie’s drink. David is trying to do anything — everything — to these precious alien artifacts to resurrect mankind’s ancestors. It is here where David utters the memorable line “big things have small beginnings,” and indeed the entire Alien universe as we know it can be traced back to this singling decision — the mingling of this exotic DNA with human DNA.

[as aside, I saw David as a modern day type of HAL without compassion or real knowledge of the mystery of man. He was brilliant but a very sloppy and over eager symbiont monster in his own rite. - res]

Now this black ooze is not the alien life-force as we’ve come to know it in other Alien movies. This black substance is essentially a biological weapon. A weapon of mass destruction. For some reason, which (beautifully enough) is left as a mystery in Prometheus, the ETs who created humans, and gave sentient life to Earth, later decided to return to our solar system to kill us off. These metal orbs, and the black ooze inside, is the weapon they designed. They were created to exterminate us. And in the many holographic flashbacks that we watch, it appears as if the weapons activated early and killed all the ETs by mistake.

David, though, lets that cat out of the bag. He helps Charlie to consume the weapon and, sure enough, the weapon destroys the human. Just as designed. David is delighted, though, to find that Charlie had sex with Elizabeth during his infection, resulting in a mutation: A fetus derived of both human and weaponized DNA. In the film’s most gruesome, but absolutely essential scene, Elizabeth extracts the mutant fetus (never thought I’d get to write that phrase!). She initially thinks she’s killed the creature, but it continues to grow and thrive outside our view.


Meanwhile back on the alien warship, David is waking up the mummified ETs, eager to introduce them to his boss. When the pilot awakens, he picks right up where he left off — plotting to blast off from this barren planet, carrying his payload right into the heart of our solar system. For this planet is not his home; as other characters carefully describe, this is just a forward operating base. A planet where weapons can be built and tested.

As Elizabeth pieces the puzzle together, she realizes what’s at stake: Her crew has traveled across the universe only to reawaken the sleeping enemy. She tells Janek that he has to scuttle Prometheus, and destroy the alien craft, before it can take off. Which he does, killing all the humans onboard.

At this point in the tale, only five creatures still exist: Corporate lackey Meredith Vickers, scientist Elizabeth Shaw, the wounded ET pilot, the mutant fetus, and David’s severed robotic head, still functioning apart from his torso. The crashing warship kills Meredith. Then Elizabeth flees the escape pod, ensuring that the mutant fetus leaches onto the body of the ET pilot. The closing shot of the film witnesses the end result of this altercation: The birth of the alien creature, as we know it in Alien — an ultra mutation, derived from an ET body and a human DNA-weaponized DNA fetus. An entirely new life form, that will systematically lay eggs across the planet’s surface and multiply, until Nostromo arrives years later with Sigourney Weaver onboard.

(Update, 9:20 am: A trusted colleague has informed me that I have this all wrong — that Nostromo lands on a different planet, one which apparently has another of these ET ships sitting around. I think I’ll need to go back and watch Alien again tonight, and see which planet they refer to, in the opening discussions. But assuming he’s right, and I’m wrong, this is a pretty wild plot twist in and of itself. How did these alien mutants manage to spread across the universe? I feel a sequel coming on)

David, partly in a bid to save himself and partly because he finds Elizabeth a curiosity, lets her in on some of his observations: Yes, there are indeed other alien ships here [(as witnessed to by the several other temples laid out in a grid behind the first temple the astronauts were exploring - res)], and he knows how to fly them. He suggests going back to Earth, and she says she wants to find the ET home world. So they take flight, going who knows where (cough, sequel!), leaving the planet to the ultra mutant. The era of the Alien begins. [Wikipedia gives a fuller discussion here - res]

Or anyway that’s the way I read Prometheus — until I see it a second (or possibly third) time. How did you guys solve the riddle? Agree with this assessment? Where have I been led astray?

Steven James Snyder is a Senior Editor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @thesnydes. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page, on Twitter at @TIME and on TIME’s Tumblr.


Read other related stories about this:





By Steven James Snyder | @thesnydes | |

20th Century Fox
Michael Fassbender as David


If my post-screening discussion is any indication, Prometheus will be one of the most hotly debated films of the year.

Typically, film critics are in a rush to flee the theater after the credits. Particularly if it’s an evening screening, there is commuting to do, deadlines to meet and families to see. That’s what made the scene last week in Times Square that much more remarkable—following Prometheus, dozens of members of the New York press corps lingered in the theater hallway afterwards to debate the Meaning Of It All. And to float their theories about an enigmatic, universe-spanning plot that will have fanboys debating the origins of the alien species—not to mention the origins for mankind—for months to come.

The same night I was discussing the significance of Prometheus (alongside TIME’s film critic Richard Corliss, who has already published his review of the blockbuster) in New York, Damon Lindelof, the film’s expressive co-writer, was witnessing his first post-screening reaction with an audience in London. Widely known for his work on the TV series Lost, and also for serving as producer on the hit reboot of Star Trek, Lindelof said he came to Prometheus when the script was already well underway, reportedly reworking a first draft to add depth and mystique to a story that was already overflowing with Alien franchise references.

(MORE: See TIME’s complete coverage of Prometheus)

When I finally managed to wrestle away from the Great Times Square Prometheus Debate (watch for our analysis of the plot’s secrets early Monday morning), I had to give Lindelof props: If he was hoping to dust off a worn-down franchise, and restore some sense of wonder of curiosity, he sure got the job done. The movie studio may be hesitant to call Prometheus a “prequel,” but it is—in the best possible sense. It expands and deepens the mythology, adds complexity to the characters and decisions that are to come and colors the whole Alien universe in a shade of dark irony. Unlike the Star Wars prequels, here’s an early chapter that might entice me to look at the later ones slightly differently.

TIME talked to Lindelof about rethinking Prometheus’ alien appeal, working with director Ridley Scott, and the fine art of allowing moviegoers to connect the dots:

TIME: I’m trying to put myself in your shoes. This has to be incredibly stressful, to step into a franchise as storied as Alien and be asked to breathe new life into it. Were you intimidated?

Lindelof: Oh yeah. Are you kidding me? It adds a tremendous amount of pressure. I came in cold from the outside, and when I first read Jon Spaihts’ draft, I sent in a draft to Ridley (Scott), and I said: ‘I think there’s some really great ideas here, but almost a little too much Alien…too much cowbell.’ So I stripped almost all of it out, chucked it out entirely, and then I looked at the tent poles in the film, where we would need those elements to come back, and put back just the right amount. It’s almost like if you go to a U2 show, what songs do they have to play to give the U2 experience? If I leave the concert and they haven’t played ‘With or Without You,’ I’m going to be ticked. There are certain songs that have to be on that set list, and it’s the same when you’re talking about an Alien film: Do you need to see a xenomorph bursting out of the human body? And how do we do it in a way that you haven’t seen before? It’s sort of like playing ‘With or Without You’ but bringing B.B. King on stage and mixing it up with an African drum circle so that it’s a familiar tune, but a whole different song.

I think it’s safe to say that you rose above the ‘Greatest Hits’ here. The people outside our screening couldn’t stop talking about it; what was it like for you, to see it for the first time with a general audience? Did you deliberately set out to create something enigmatic?

Well, that’s one of the first questions I was asking myself when I got the phone call. Ridley wanted me to read the script he was developing, and I thought: ‘Good God, why me? He must have me confused with someone else.’ But when he realized what he was looking for, he was steered towards me, and I certainly agree this is what I do: I’m driven and interested and intrigued by ambiguous storytelling. Almost do-it-yourself. Writing for Ridley, I would often ask him what he wanted to convey in a certain moment, and then I would try to avoid verbalizing that intention. I want the audience to do it themselves. So while this is harder gratification, it’s like the Friday New York Times crossword puzzle—it’s so much harder than Monday’s, but also so much more rewarding.

(MORE: Prometheus and the Complicated Art of the Prequel)

But can you ever push that too far, where it becomes too difficult to enjoy?

Well, when you get in the zone, you can easily do the Monday crossword. But in order to get Friday’s, you almost always have to collaborate with others. And the idea with the movie is that you’re going to want to find others to talk about it with. It’s really no different, if you think about it, than something like Blade Runner. Is Deckard a replicant? During this film, I found myself in the room with Ridley, literally the one person who can answers that question that I’ve been debating for 25 years. And honestly, I don’t want him to tell me. It might shatter my own theory, and having that theory, and that debate, that’s part of the fun of the film.

He’s a replicant, though, right?

I do not think he’s a replicant.

Hm. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

Trust me.

(Warning: Slight spoiler ahead) At the end of the day, do you think you accomplished what you set out to do—to make something that was at once faithful and familiar, yet unique?

Definitely. This is very much Ridley Scott’s world, a universe that we’ve seen before. But he’s tried to channel as much of that into the storytelling. Take the opening of the film—it’s this mysterious being who takes this strange substance and then falls apart in front of our eyes. I say to Ridley: ‘So where is he? Is this the planet Earth or another planet entirely?’ He tells me, and then I go: ‘Okay, do you want to tell people that? Should we put up a credit?’ And he says ‘No, don’t do that.’ That’s when I knew we were talking the same language. We want people to try and contextualize, and we believe that people are seeing this for a reason, that they want to connect the dots for themselves. And I think the discussions that have erupted after seeing this movie is proof of that—this is a very, very active viewing experience.

Steven James Snyder is a Senior Editor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @thesnydes. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page, on Twitter at @TIME and on TIME’s Tumblr.


Read other related stories about this:




Images of Prometheus
- Go here to this link



More In-Depth Reviews

For a more thorough, expert take, see -

Richard Corliss’ comprehensive review or,
Jeffrey Kluger’s analysis of the science behind Prometheus




My Next Post

Prometheus Rebourned:
Of Xenomorphs and Mankind,

by R.E. Slater