This weekend I went to see Prometheus in 3D. It’s rare that I see a film in theaters — rarer still that I consent to putting ill-fitting plastic glasses over my own for an additional $5. That is how much I love Ridley Scott. To this day Alien remains my favorite sci-fi flick, and the way Hollywood has been headed, I doubt it’s crown will be removed in my lifetime.
One standout feature of Prometheus for me was how clearly developed each character was. They all had different levels of faith, different motivations, different ways to rationalize their actions. Seeing the way these personalities clashed while attempting to tackle some deep questions about human nature was quite interesting. And yet, I felt like I’d experienced this same struggle before… Eventually it dawned on me that Prometheus had a lot in common with Atlus’s Strange Journey.
Note that there WILL be spoilers relating to the film and Strange Journey within — YOU’VE BEEN WARNED IN ALL CAPS.
LAW ALIGNMENT — Zelenin & Meredith Vickers
Characters falling into the law alignment seek to bring about order and peace. It’s important to note that alignments cannot be defined as good or evil. We may associate “law” with “good”, but in actuality these notions are highly relative.
- “The angels doth call themselves an army of light… But in truth, they can do nothing without a command from on high. There is nothing to fear.“
- —Ongyo-Ki, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey
In the film Vickers is a company woman. We don’t know much about the company in question, only that the head of said company funded the Prometheus mission. Vickers will do whatever it takes to keep the company on track — this is her law. When Halloway is exposed to the black substance found in the mysterious vases, Vickers refuses to allow him to enter quarantine. Instead, she meets him at the bay door, flamethrower in hand, ultimately killing him despite the objections of nearly everyone else. This is how far Vickers would go to prevent chaos from invading the order she has worked so hard to maintain.
Zelenin’s allegiance is to angels and gods. If we compare this with Vicker’s allegiance to the company and more specifically its CEO Peter Weyland the similarities become quite clear. Coincidentally Damon Lindelof even describes Weyland as “suffering from a god complex.” Interesting… Later Zelenin becomes an angel herself to pacify a group of human mercenaries who’d committed some atrocities that would make even demons feel uncomfortable. It’s clear that both these characters will stop at nothing to quell chaos and protect order.
NEUTRAL ALIGNMENT — Commander Gore & Janek
The neutral alignment recognizes the purpose of laws, but not at the expense of free will. This alignment is the most human-like, definitely defining the contradictory nature of man.
“And humans? Incoherent creatures who believeth different things from morning to evening. A pack of fools who drive themselves to ruin and seek the cause elsewhere. We must correct these errors.“
—Ongyo-Ki, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey
I’m sure many people would say Janek is their favorite character. He’s not as cold as Zelenin, clearly believing that problem solving is not so black and white — it’s more situational. Toward the end of the film, Elizabeth Shaw realizes that the alien ship, if allowed to leave, will be a threat to Earth. Janek and his crew make a split-second decision (that defies Vicker’s carefully constructed order) to ram the Prometheus into the alien ship, ultimately destroying both and killing Janek and his men. This is what it means to have a neutral alignment: you decide your path moment by moment, no one else.
In Strange Journey, Commander Gore makes a similarly noble sacrifice, choosing to face an especially dangerous foe. The demon in question flees from Gore’s attacks temporarily. The moment Gore turns his back however, the demon fatally wounds him. Gore’s sacrifice allowed the team to finish off the wounded demon essentially saving the remaining crew. Both characters make difficult decisions for the greater good rather than for any set alignment.
CHAOS ALIGNMENT — Jimenez & Charlie Holloway
Chaos alignment is associated with freedom and war. This of course puts it in direct opposition to the Law alignment. Where there is total freedom, laws cannot exist, nor order.
“If the demons create a country… It shall eventually lead to ruin.“
—Azrael, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey
Charlie Holloway is an open atheist which resonates with the fact that the chaos alignment and demons are BFF. He’s as rash as scientists come, doing whatever it takes to find the truth, often at the expense of others and himself — you could say his approach is almost… warlike? While researching this article I found a quote that was just too good to not cite here. The quote explains that Hallows “doesn’t want to meet his maker. He wants to stand next to his maker. He’s willing to go to the edge to get that.” When David asks Holloway if he’d do anything to realize his truth, he doesn’t hesitate to answer “Yes.” David then intentionally infects the unknowing Holloway with the substance found in the alien structure. Later, once the infection begins to destroy his body, Holloway is voluntarily consumed in the flames of Vicker’s flamethrower as she attempt to destroy the chaos Holloway has become.
Jimenez is the most willing of any crew members to use the Demon Summoning Program. He’s not concerned with how the program may affect anyone or any dangers associated with it. This same fascination with unknown lifeforms ultimately leads to Holloway’s infection of the black liquid at the hands of David. Both characters exhibit unrivaled levels of rashness and selfishness strongly contradicting peace and order.
INCOMPLETE ALIGNMENTS — Bugaboo & David
This is where it gets a little harder to connect the dots, but believe me — they can be connected. So when I say incomplete alignments what I actually mean is characters who don’t adhere to the alignment definitions we’ve mentioned because they are flawed. When it comes to Bugaboo and David the most damning similarity is that neither of them are entirely what they appear to be. David seems like he’s human but as we’re told several times throughout the film, he lacks a soul since he’s some manner of android. Bugaboo appears to be a demon, but he’s actually only 75% demon.
Because of their flaws, their loyalties are off. Bugaboo is said to be of the Law alignment, yet he and Jimenez (Chaos) are thick as thieves. The same can be said for David. He has the same basic mission as Vickers, suggesting he too is of the Law alignment, yet the two clearly hate each other (as seen in an uncomfortable hallway stare-down). He even goes so far as to infect Holloway (Chaos again, hmmm) with the mysterious black liquid.
By the end of each story, both characters experience a transformation that changes them dramatically to aid another character. Bugaboo, inches from death, fuses with Jimenez unlocking his awakened form. David is decapitated by an engineer but (his functional decapitated head) agrees to use his abilities to assist Shaw on a journey to prevent the engineers from causing further destruction. In not being complete, neither character realizes a true alignment and instead becomes a tool for another character exhibiting a stronger will.
This is what ran though my head as I was watching the film. Once you start to connect the dots, it creates some kind of Schwartzwelt effect, where you can’t stop until all dots are connected. I’ll admit that in some of the similarities I draw, I have to stretch a bit, but there are too many shockingly accurate ones to ignore. I doubt anything was taken intentionally by the talent behind Prometheus, I suppose some of these themes are simply unavoidable in stories relating to human nature.