Well, if you’re a person of faith, you have to be interested in the premise: a search for the ones who made us. Of course, there’s no “God-talk” (the literal meaning of the word “theology”) here. It’s all about searching for the aliens.
Fast-forward 80 years into the future. Space travel is now possible, but it’s privately funded, not government-sponsored. Archaeologists, with several new cave-drawing discoveries from very different parts of Earth, have concluded that they were all drawn thousands of years ago by the same kind of beings, and the premise is that they were of an alien race, trying to invite us to visit them.
So this really rich old guy has put together an expedition, consisting of scientists, geologists, a flight crew and one cyborg-type humanoid, a robot that looks like a human, who runs the whole ship while the rest of the expedition sleeps for the entire two years it takes to get there, even at light-speed.
“There” turns out to be a moon of a Saturn-like planet orbiting around a distant sun, where the terrain seems desolate, but when our jaunty explorers sally forth in their range rovers, they quickly discover an underground labyrinth that is full of mysteries, not the least of which is breathable air.
Now we sort of juggle a couple of different strands of story line. This is not only about exploring outer space, it is about seeking our origins as a species. The idea is that we were actually the creatures and they were the originators, but if that’s the case, why haven’t we heard from them lately? And why did they make us in the first place? (Obviously, these questions have been asked by humankind for centuries, but usually the inquiry is directed toward God, rather than an unknown race of otherworldly aliens).
Then there’s the strand in the story line of finding out that the aliens are something less than friendly. Surprise. And trying to do battle with them is not exactly what we had in mind, and won’t be on equal terms. For those invested in the horror genre, we have a little nod to zombie combat.
Romance? Sure, a little, but we’re much too busy with historic, mind-blowing scientific discoveries, not to mention turning on its head Darwin’s “On The Origin of the Species.” This film is really fantastic with the visuals, the believability of the space travel, and the exciting exploration of the distant moon with its caverns filled with mysterious artifacts.
Oh, and one more thing for the believer: At the end, the character in the overdub actually says “The Year of our Lord,” when referring to the date 80 years hence, and it’s amazing, in this time of historians both secular and Christian using the politically correct “Common Era,” designed to exclude all reference to religion, that we would re-insert it here, perhaps as a tease, perhaps as a way of referencing this cosmos-wide search for the original designers. And now we not only have to ask, “Why did they make us?” but also, “Why do they now want to destroy us? What changed their minds?”
Well, if you’re a more literal person of faith, and accept the Noah story as historical, you might have wondered if those treading water watching the ark float during the horrific rainstorm were asking themselves the same thing, just before sinking into the watery depths, as if returning to the chaos from which the order was, ever so briefly, carved out.
Yes, “Prometheus” is the kind of movie that will spur these kinds of existential thoughts in the mind of the faithful of every religion. And that may be a movie worth taking a look at, even if you think they’re barking up the wrong ontology.
Ronald P. Salfen is minister of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.