Director Ridley Scott originally intended on creating a prequel to his film Alien, but when the script writing began, he realized the wealth of material presented warranted its own separate tale (still set in the same universe, however). Such an undertaking led to copious speculation and extremely high expectations from fans for what would eventually become Prometheus. Yet for a film that supposedly merited severance from becoming a direct Alien precursor, the sequence of events in Prometheus are strikingly close to that of Scott’s prior effort. In fact, certain segments seem designed specifically as a counterpart to the iconic moments now cemented in cinematic history. Unfortunately, none of these scenes come close to the shocking brilliance of those found in Alien, and while the atmospheric sets, awe-inspiring practical effects, and competent acting are present as they should be, don’t expect to find the answers you’re looking for – in either the notorious beasts’ origins or the countless new questions raised that Scott clearly feels are better left unanswered.
When scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover clues on Earth that point to possible “engineers” of mankind, they partner with the powerful Weyland Corporation to launch an expedition into space to make contact with their creators. Governed by Weyland’s stern attaché Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and accompanied by geologists, mercenaries, and the cryptic android David (Michael Fassbender), the crew of the spaceship Prometheus is instructed not to interact with any life forms they may encounter. But once the group reaches their destination of the moon LV-233 and discovers the remains of the beings they set out to find, avoiding exposure becomes impossible. As a deadly infection rapidly spreads and mysterious creatures begin attacking the crew, Elizabeth realizes the horrifying truth and must fight for her own life as well as the very fate of mankind.
The usually capable director has bitten off a bit more than he could chew with Prometheus, which attempts at different moments to be a great many things. Expectations are particularly high, since Scott became famous for Alien in 1979, and this film marks his return to the genre. At the beginning, he ventures into contemplating alternatives to the evolution of humankind with predominantly science-fiction philosophies; in the middle, he explores favorite themes such as the assault on feeble human flesh, the invasion of orifices, and genetic mutation – essential elements of gore for the sake of horror; and toward the conclusion, he opts for action-oriented thrills, packed with impressive CG wizardry and massive destruction. Each shift in genre disorients the story from having a clear vision, and the result is a mess of unresolved ideas and poorly defined beings (especially regarding the capabilities and function of the Engineers, their cargo, and subsequent anomalies).
Brandywine Productions, David Giler and Walter Hill as producers, the title font, notations of “LV_223,” talk of company jobs, an android, a monstrous ship full of lonely corridors, hypersleep sickness, hidden agendas, sabotage, H.R. Giger’s artwork, and advanced technology all harken the return of a familiar atmosphere. But while the environment, heaped with humidity, high-pitched noises, black muck, and slithery critters, remains reminiscent of Scott’s original masterpiece, the plot progresses slowly and formulaically. A crew awakes from hypersleep, a bypass surgery medical pod is inspected, Jackson claims he’s there for security purposes and brandishes weaponry, ship and helmet cameras feed crackling, static-filled transmissions, allochthonous walls glisten with slime, and an unsuccessful quarantine allows something to be brought back aboard the command ship. None of it is notably original and the sense of foreboding and foreshadowing is jeeringly blatant. Suspense arrives too late, horror is handled clumsily, and the poignancy of physical pain, understanding the purpose of the structures, and digesting answers to the mysteries of life is sorely neglected. The “space jockey” creation from Alien sparked an interesting question of origin and ancestry, but the solution is mightily underwhelming.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)