It’s been months since the hype for “Prometheus” first started taking root, and as the release date neared, it only intensified; opening weekend saw a 900 percent increase in popularity on IMDB, which is quite a jump even for such an anticipated release. Unfortunately, as good as the movie is, it doesn’t live up to expectations.
“Prometheus” follows the story of a group of scientists who stumble across a clue about the origins of mankind, and who then take a journey to another world to find answers. When they get there, they stumble across answers that lead to even more questions and an old plot to destroy the human race that is about to be set in motion.
Let’s start by listing the things that “Prometheus” does right. One, it questions and challenges religion, but still leaves room for it to happily exist. The idea is that the human race was created by aliens, but the movie leaves room for the question, “Who created them?” It also utilizes a main character who is both a scientist as well as a believer, creating a happy medium that lessens the potential controversy.
Next, Charlize Theron (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) plays a cold, heartless prick that you love to hate but still recognize as human. Her character is, essentially, the head honcho of the expedition, but she floats somewhere between being a minor character and a main protagonist. Despite this, and her less than expressive disposition, Theron gives her a burst of life in the few times she expresses emotion that seems both genuine and extreme at the same time. It is surprisingly palatable.
The third thing that the movie does well is the alien design (the species is nicknamed “Engineers”). It is just human enough to make the audience feel uncomfortable with them but different enough that we still look at them as the “other” being. The design creates mixed feelings about them, and their relation to the human race, and the unbalanced feeling aids in the movie’s atmosphere.
What “Prometheus” does wrong is all in the writing. First of all, the scientists who all go on this trip have a briefing meeting about their mission after they come out of stasis chambers, where they have been sleeping through their deep space journey for over two years. Except for the two scientists who discovered the clues, a life-like android, and Theron’s character, no one else knows a thing about the mission. Really? All these other scientists just agreed to go on what would amount to an over five-year trip in space for science, but not know why first? Even the ship’s captain didn’t know. How much sense does that make?
Next … well, “next” will have to wait until you see the movie, because every other messed up thing about the writing directly involves main plot points and would ruin the story. What can be said is that “Prometheus” leaves itself wide open for a sequel. The movie generates a few answers here and there but ultimately refuses to explain anything of actual importance, and with an ending that almost demands a continuation of the story, we are left to assume this was done intentionally.
However, if there is no sequel, then there is absolutely no point to “Prometheus” at all. As a standalone movie, it is visually decent and interesting to watch, but it is so jumbled and random that you’re better off waiting until it’s on DVD to see it.