Although Prometheus is a beautiful, ambitious film, its ultimate failure is its dumb script. That may sound overly harsh given that I gave this movie an overall positive score. The visual design was strong enough to tip the scales for me.
The movie focuses on the crew of the Prometheus, a ship sent by the Weyland Corporation to find humanity’s origins, which they suspect to be extra-terrestrial. Noomi Rapace is Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, essentially this movie’s Ripley. She is accompanied by Charlize Theron’s corporate crony Meredith Vickers as well as by Michael Fassbender’s android David.
If you recall the original Alien movie by Ridley Scott, the crew in that film finds a large, humanoid alien creature who was perhaps infected by the Xenomorphs. The original film’s creators originally termed the humanoid being the “space jockey.” In this movie though, the characters have named them the “engineers” for their potential role in humanity’s birth. The movie Prometheus attempts to explore more of their story and how it relates to the Alien story later in the timeline.
Not since Minority Report have I enjoyed simply watching the futuristic technology. The sets, props, and special effects all combine “organically” to offer a distant vision of what may yet be. Sure, other movies also showcase similar technology. Yet everything from the costumes to the make-believe gadgets just fit well together.
The strong visuals also continue when the movie reaches the “space jockeys” site, and the Prometheus expedition explores the site structure. The central mystery proffered by the film is a compelling one. We are drawn into the story as the team discovers more clues as to what happened to the “engineers.” A scene where the android David discovers some of their space-faring technology is a science-fiction nerd’s wet dream. Unfortunately, the horror story aspect of this movie is what prevents it from being the next 2001-like classic.
Like bad horror movies, the characters make the stupidest decisions. Without getting into too many spoilers, every once in a while, I cringed at their choices. What happens is easily telegraphed for the audience. For the most part, these are supposed to be well-educated scientists. Yet, again and again, they willingly chose the path of maximum risk on an expedition to an unknown planet. As a minor spoiler, for example, none of the crew were briefed on their mission until AFTER they woke up from cryostasis. Way to go scientists and apparent trillion-dollar corporation!
Additionally, the movie cowardly chooses not to offer any answers to some of the major questions it raises. Anyone who is remotely aware of some science fiction stories or video games will be disappointed by the lack of explanation. Before the trolls come out, I am fully okay with not having plot elements spoon-fed to me. At least, the movie should try to provide more clues to its mystery. Otherwise, the movie can only be judged on its merit as a horror/thriller rather than a pure science fiction movie. And as a horror/thriller movie, it disappoints.
Despite my issues, I did thoroughly enjoy the visuals. Plus, the movie has a strong cast with Fassbender’s android being a fun performance to watch. The script needed much improvement to have this film be elevated from a good one to a classic.