Review - Prometheus

Fans of previous Alien-franchise movies seem to be widely disappointed with this prequel, and I can make a guess why.  It is not really a horror-suspense film like Alien, or a basically straight up action movie like (I gather) the near-equally acclaimed Aliens.  In fact from what I can make out from vague memories of Alien (the only one I've seen) and recaps of other films, Prometheus has little to do with the franchise apart from being set it the same 'verse and featuring a Plucky Female Lead.  Calling it a "prequel" may even be misleading because I am fairly certain the events depicted in Prometheus virtually guarantee a continuity screw-up somewhere, if only in terms of what characters ought to have known "later".  So, for someone invested in the franchise, I can see lots of issues coming up.

Considered as a film standing on its own, though, it is a good one.  The only major problem is the final scene, which is an unnecessary continuity nod.  The visuals are superb; the scenario is intriguing; the conflicts are carefully set out; the resolution follows relatively well from the premises.  On the downside, the movie is disjointed in places, and will likely not be winning any awards (especially with Avengers coming out this year, unless we still have awards people insist on only giving to "serious movies").  Apart from the leads much of the acting is adequate only.  I would not be surprised to find out production was rushed: the end of the film relies more on impression than polish.  It also feels rushed, and I cannot tell whether this was an artistic choice to communicate characters' emotions, or forced on the director to wrap up in time.  If the former, it is less than entirely successful.

I consider my $11.50 well spent (and the extra four dollars to see the 3D likely would have been worth it), and would probably give the film an overall B or B-.

[Here There Be Spoilers]

The conflict in Prometheus really does not have anything to do with the aliens or the scientist's "Engineer" hypothesis.  The movie, in my interpretation, really follows the different reactions of Dr. Shaw, human archeologist, and David, android linguistics expert, to the unfolding discoveries and then disaster.  David, in fact, seems to sabotage the operation, whether from curiosity or malice - revenge?  Shaw is an odd combination of curiosity, determination, and faith - seemingly unable to see past the questions she wants answered, but also capable enough to be the only survivor.

The unfolding horror element of the film is a scenario, a setting to watch reactions.  A disturbing setting, which overshadows some of the more thoughtful elements and makes them lose their punch, unfortunately: fewer special effects and more "character time" would have improved the movie, if I am reading it correctly.  The movie seems to set out to explore the question, "What does it mean to create, or be created?" - but even though the discoveries overwhelm the philosophy, I do not think the intended message is, "Let well enough alone," as attested by the end: continue the search.

The plot, here, concludes; but the questions remain.  I find myself intrigued by this film, but unable to say exactly what my question is, even.


  1. As a fan of the original series, I found the film to come too close to being a prequel to work as it should have. By that I mean that it got too close to answering questions about the backstory without actually answering them. I think the film would have been better served to answer some questions that would lead to others, or answer some things and leave the rest to speculation. Although I think the film was well done generally, all it ultimately amounted to was a set-up for another film that actually tells us what and why.

  2. I'm curious: while I enjoyed the movie, but there seemed to be a heck of a lot of plot holes, or parts which outright made no sense. Did you see these, or care about them?

    Also, I'd recommend watching the original Alien movie (Aliens is pretty good, but not essential, and the other sequels are generally a waste of time). In terms of the plot details, there's very little in this movie which isn't in Alien, and I would've liked a the movie more if it were less full of visual and plot references to that film. (I loved Alien, by the way.) I loved the theme of creator/creature relationships (very similar to Frankenstein), but I was really unclear on how exactly they worked, given what I saw as either the plot holes, or the parts of the plot I didn't understand. (For an off-the-cuff list, read on. I'd love to hear your answers to these, if you have them or even care about them.)

    1. Did the Engineers create humanity on purpose? Stated another way, what's happening in the first scene? Is the Engineer killing himself in order that his DNA gets scattered around? It looked like the poison was breaking down his body at a molecular level, and if he hadn't fallen in the river, not even parts of his DNA would have survived. Maybe it was just me, but I left the movie having no idea what I was supposed to get out of the first scene.

    2. Did the Engineers have some ongoing relationship with early humans, leading to the cave paintings? If not, whence the cave paintings? If so, why would they point humanity to someplace which doesn't seem that important? It didn't look like the space colony they found was set up as a welcome center for humans when they finally figure out space travel.

    3. Why did the Engineers want to kill humanity? Was it because they made them by mistake? Did they just like using the tentacle monsters as weapons? I like the idea of having "gods" whose motivations are inscrutable, but these gods seemed just too scrutable.

    I did like the movie, but overall I guess I prefer the Alien film and the novel Frankenstein.