‘Prometheus’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated June 11th, 2012 at 8:14 am,

Logan Marshall Green Noomi Rapace Michael Fassbender Prometheus Movie Prometheus Review

For months cinephiles and die-hard Alien fans have been trying to work out the connections between Prometheus and Ridley Scott’s original Alien film. Meanwhile, the filmmakers have spent just as long attempting to put distance between the movie and the notion that it’s nothing more than an Alien prequel, so as not to limit Prometheus‘ potential appeal. Given the state of the Alien franchise (after the underwhelming Alien vs. Predator installments, as well as Alien: Resurrection), it’s no wonder that 20th Century Fox is interested in attracting both the casual moviegoer as well as the die-hard xenomorph faithful.

Unsurprisingly, the movie does offer plenty of tie-ins to the 1979 franchise starter – but does Prometheus find the right balance between loving nods to Alien while also working as an intelligent and captivating standalone sci-fi drama?

Fortunately, the answer is yes – most of the time. While Prometheus delivers a sci-fi experience and story that is nearly unmatched in a modern movie theater experience, its connection to the Alien films is, from time to time, a bit heavy-handed or awkwardly handled – and worst of all, far less compelling than the new storyline unfolding in this film. As a result, Prometheus is going to offer a different experience depending on who is watching it. Both casual audiences and Alien fans should enjoy the core narrative (and breathtaking visuals); however regular moviegoers will likely be confused by some of the time spent addressing Alien universe mythos, and conversely, hardcore fans may be at times equally befuddled by some of the answers provided.

Ignoring any pre-conceived notions about xenomorphs, the Prometheus story follows a pair of archaeologists, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her partner Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), who discover a series of ancient cave drawings (from different cultures, separated by thousands of years) that point to a single location in space: a distant moon, LV-223. Shaw and Holloway believe that LV-223 is home to an ancient truth about humanity’s origins – a belief that is also championed by billionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), CEO of the Weyland Corporation. After hearing their findings, Weyland agrees to send the pair – along with a fifteen-person crew – to LV-223 aboard the spacecraft Prometheus. However, when the team arrives on LV-223, it quickly becomes clear that Shaw and Holloway underestimated the implications of their expedition, as age-old questions are answered and new horrors are brought to light – horrors with Earth-shattering consequences for humanity.

Prometheus Movie Space Map Prometheus Review

The 'Prometheus' Space Map

Moviegoers who have been underwhelmed by Ridley Scott’s non-sci-fi efforts (most recently Robin Hood, Body of Lies, and A Good Year) will be glad to know that the director slips effortlessly back into the genre that he helped define over thirty years ago. Not only does Prometheus feature one of the most captivating and carefully-paced opening acts in recent memory, it also offers a masterful visual aesthetic that easily raises the bar for onscreen sci-fi imagery in modern cinema. In a time when sci-fi/action films snag astronomical box office money (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), it’s easy for studios to rely on a recognizable brand, or visual spectacle, over core filmmaking components – such as competent world building (not just “cool” CGI characters) as well as intelligent scene composition (in favor of non-stop explosions). No doubt some moviegoers don’t want to think about the actual process of filmmaking, but for those who do care, Prometheus should serve as a breath of fresh air (and a welcome reminder) that inspired directing can make a real difference in the onscreen experience.

Similarly, co-writer Damon Lindelof (along with Jon Spaihts) succeeds at delivering a prequel movie that isn’t undermined by later installments and, instead, tells an all-new sci-fi story that (as mentioned before) is much larger and significantly more interesting than its core “source” material. Prometheus provides answers that many Alien fans will certainly appreciate, but at the same time raises much larger (and significantly more relatable) questions about the wonders – and horrors – of creation, and humanity’s place in the cosmos. As a result, the actual connections to the Alien universe are unnecessary to the success of the new story – and could, for less-interested moviegoers, come across as tacked-on.

All of the major players (Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green) deliver enjoyable, or at the very least believable, performances. However, despite solid work from everyone involved, both Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender offer especially memorable turns as Dr. Shaw and David, respectively. Fassbender’s David is easily one of the most fascinating (and disturbing) characters of 2012 – and Rapace holds nothing back in a number of especially challenging scenes (not to mention one especially brutal one). As an ensemble fueled by heavy-hitting talent, there is a definite purpose for each of the characters’ screen time, and few of the players are wasted. That said, a couple of them are short-changed by the end – which doesn’t detract from the overall success of the film, but in a few cases can be somewhat underwhelming in the moment.

Charlize Theron Idris Elba Prometheus Movie Prometheus Review

Charlize Theron and Idris Elba in 'Prometheus'

Prometheus was shot entirely using 3D cameras, and much like Avatar and Hugo before it, the film once again proves that in the hands of a smart filmmaker, the format can enhance the moviegoing experience. Plenty of detractors will surely assert that seeing any movie in 3D is a waste of money – and plays into the hands of greedy studio executives. However, Prometheus is well-worth the upgraded ticket. The format isn’t distracting and successfully highlights details in the alien landscape as well as internal (yet massive) environments – not “pop out of the screen” jump scares. Scott’s use of the added dimension throws fuel on the argument that instead of decrying every 3D film, we should be sending studios a message about what type of 3D experiences we’ll support, boycotting tacked-on 3D (Men in Black 3) and poorly implemented post-conversions (Clash of the Titans). To make the experience even more potent, go the full distance with a 3D IMAX viewing.

Regardless of the connections to the Alien universe, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a welcome return to form for the director – delivering a fascinating sci-fi storyline, gorgeous 3D visuals, and competent filmmaking choices that – especially for summer blockbuster fare – are sorely missing at the box office these days. While less-informed moviegoers might be a little confused about some of the Alien tie-ins, Prometheus finds a healthy fan-service balance that doesn’t detract from Lindelof’s rich (and horrifying) new franchise storyline. In space no one can hear you scream, but 20th Century Fox is going to have no trouble finding moviegoers who, after seeing Prometheus, are eager to scream for more Scott-helmed projects in the Alien universe.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Prometheus Spoilers Discussion!

Still wondering about how – exactly – Prometheus connects to Alien? Read our Prometheus – Alien Connection Explained’ Article.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant team check out our Prometheus episode of the SR Underground podcast.

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Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Prometheus is Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5
(Must-See)

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TAGS: alien, prometheus

390 Comments

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  1. I’ve read many other reviews to see if I’m crazy for not liking the film. Most of the criticism online regards plot-holes and the improbability of certain scenes. Both the surgery and the helmet removal scenes did not bother me. What absolutely took me out of the film, what I hated was the acting and useless characters. Logan Marshall-Green’s performance was horrible…every single line of dialog. Every time he was on screen I wanted to break my 3-D glasses and bite my palm till I drew blood (Oh yeah, there might be spoilers scattered throughout the rest…you’ve been warned). Luckily his character gets killed off relatively early.
    There were cool scenes, but I sat there wishing that something else had lead up to it. 90% of the crew was unnecessary. Fassbender and Noomi’s characters were cool. A droid, a human and the engineers could have, in my opinion, made a better movie. The Fassbender bicycle/basketball scene was interesting and reminded me of the reveal to the interior of the mysterious hatch in Lost. David (Fassbender) studying Elizabeth’s (Noomi) dream was compelling, but abandoned. The surgery scene was nerve rattling and cool, but ended with a whimper.
    Janek (Idris Elba(black guy) character was ridiculous and insulting. The garbage about Stephen Stills was like turning the lights on in the theater or showing a boom mic in the frame. After he questioned Vickers (Theron) about her persuasion, whether she’s a droid or a mud-fish (one who has a proclivity to bed black men), he seems reluctant to sing “Love the Once You’re With”. I don’t blame him it’s bad and distracting.
    I enjoyed the rest of the movie. At first I was baffled as to why the spacejockey/engineers were not 22 tall monsters, but I got over it. The plot-holes that have been beaten into the ground, did not detract from my movie going experience. I recently watched an Alien documentary and it gave me a new respect for Ridley Scott. He has balls and his scope of design is brilliant.

  2. I love the story – giving the line to meet your maker a complete new meaning. Also the death crashed by spaceship is a first and definitely interesting idea.

    If the film doesn’t make you think then what will catch your imagination ? I think the conflict between what is doable what is taboo is a great question. The conflict between human intelligence and artificial intelligence is definitely an interesting and challenging problem of the future. Already brought to screen with the centennial man we see that the problem between live and machine is an I emerging issue of the future. The favor of artificial over biological offspring is a great subject ad well as the king who doesn’t want to die.

    Great movie creating a prequel for making a sequel. I want to know what happen to Weyland enterprise what happen to the search after our makers and why they are so hostile towards us? Great questions looking forward to get answers soon.

    • If the film doesn’t make you think then what will catch your imagination?

      (1) If you needed this film to “make you think” about anything, where’s your imagination been? And what difference does it make whether we came from God, aliens, or sea monkeys? Most people on Earth are lucky if they spent any time w/ their Great-Grandparents, yet this film would have us believe people would give a fig about their “original” ancestors. It’s a stale film about a rich old coot trying to live forever, w/ a few idiots tagging along believing they’re on a mission to find a new creator-paradigm.

      (2) Oh, just about any movie w/ an interesting premise, decent script, plausible situations, and character development will catch my imagination. I’m hoping “Rust and Bone” will be playing soon at a theater near me, for example. This film stunted my imagination by not letting me use it; substituting expensive sets, CGI effects and animatronic garbage for things worth looking at that don’t cost a dime to look at (the Icelandic scenery, for example.)

  3. Firstly, it is an excellent film; exciting, gripping and occasionally surreal. I really enjoyed the references to Alien as it helped to answer questions raised in that film. However, there were so many illogical holes in the plot and irrelevancies that the overall worth of the fim was devalued; it didn’t hang together well. Brilliantly directed and acted, it raised more questions (some of which are daft) than it answered. Altogether, it exceeded my expectations (having read some less than positive reviews) and I’m very glad I made the effort to go and see it.

  4. Folks,
    Many of your questions are answered here including what David said to the Engineer. http://whatculture.com/film/prometheus-6-answers-to-the-key-questions.php

    This is the best insight into Prometheus ever… http://whatculture.com/film/prometheus-8-key-themes-in-understanding-the-film.php

    David asked the engineer, ‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’.

    The whole theme of the movie is about what David said at one point of the movie… David provides to Shaw when assessing why he thinks the Engineers want to return to Earth with container after container of the liquid: “sometimes, in order to create, you must first destroy…”

    Ths is evident in the opening scene where the young engineer sacrifices himslef to create new life on earth and the death of the the hosts so the xenomorphs can be born! Death creates new life! I think the whole premise of the engineers returning to earth just after Jesus’s time (2093 minus 2000 years)was that they were unhappy that their creations decided to worship Gods instead of them, the real creators. This is also evident in the statues on the planet and the murals. They worshipped creators (humans).

    IMO the movie was visually stunning especially the map room but so many questions left unanswered. And frustating things like dumb ass scientists acting like yobbos with no technichal team to man the ship, instead, lets screw the boss’s daughter!

    By the way what would a trillion dollars be worth in 2094? About a tenth of what it is now! Many flaws and the script writers have acknowleged some of these like the 36 hours David refers to on their time in hypersleep. It was actually not in the script but a throw away line improvised by David on the day!

    And how does the engineer at the end make it from the crashed ship to the escape pod where Shaw is – he was human too, there was no oxygen outside??
    I guess they have big lungs and could hold his breath?

    Anyway got to those links to finds out a lot more cool insights.
    Cheers
    Dave

    • You keep calling the Engineers “human.” They’re not.

  5. A mish mash of a film. Is it a horror? Sci Fi? Cheesy hollywood?? Not sure really and left me puzzled. No real connections built up with the characters, all very one dimensional. Started really well and beautiful imagery but as the film progressed just left me flat and wanting more.

  6. Prometheus had no real depth to it beyond the superficial meeting our makers idea. Beyond that the movie played like a modern day knock off of the original alien down to the dust storm, the cargo holds of bio weapons, a human “birthing” an alien, and a malicious android. Films like this just go to show that people are entertained by visually driven movies and not story driven ones. Even the beginning debriefing with weylend seemed too similar to the weyland debriefing in the beginning of alien vs predator not to mention how holloways character is a direct copy of the male lead from avp. All in all Prometheus offered nothing new, cardboard characters, and a loosely strung together plot that seemed stapled together at the seems. If I want to watch Ridley Scott make a movie like this I could just watch the original alien. There was just nothing to get out of Prometheus, it’s symptomatic of the loss of subtlety from Hollywood movies, sadly it seems there is no more room for imagination in cinema.

  7. Leave this dog with fleas of a movie … Take the Canoli.

  8. Loved it. Saw it on a fight home from QC. I had no idea it was the prequel or even what it was about. That made it even more enjoyable. Glad I chose it. When I was 8 I got the Alien 18″ Action Figure for Christmas. Great gift. Am looking forward to seeing Prometheus again. 3D this time.

  9. If you have seen Aliens, you’ve seen Prometheus. SUCK!!! Literally, the whole movie is almost the same: traitorous androids, engineers and brainiac types vs aliens. Lame!

  10. The picture quality was very impressive. However this storyline what some what confusing. I don’t understand the reason for the alien comparison. This movie in the long run was pretty entertaining and a let down at the same time. And what happened to the very impressive sound the previews.

  11. Stupid storyline that is riddled with unbelievable unconnected events just to highlight special effects. Alien and Aliens were films that I have watched multiple times. Prometheus was just plain stupid and I have no desire to watch it again. Can I get my pay-per-view money back?

  12. “Prometheus” is a shockingly bad science-fiction film. It is simply the worst film I have seen to have a budget this large, to have been directed by someone so lauded for past works (esp. of this genre) and to have been so highly anticipated.

    I cannot say this film is disappointing. “Tinker, Tailor, etc.” was a little underwhelming and disappointing to me (when compared to the original, taut and spellbinding series) but I can recall much to enjoy and appreciate about it. “Prometheus” has nothing to recommend it, other than the ridiculously expensive sets and visuals, none of which made me feel a sense of awe, wonder, excitement, or even casual interest. They simply filled the screen up like an annoyingly loud and bright pop-up ad covering something you really want to read on the internet.

    “A Good Year” and “Body of Lies” might’ve under-whelmed casual movie-goers, but not this discerning viewer who watched them (and esp. “Prometheus”) w/o expectations other than to be entertained a little, and came away smiling. Where did that Ridley Scott go to?

  13. “…raises much larger (and significantly more relatable) questions about the wonders – and horrors – of creation, and humanity’s place in the cosmos…”

    This movie does none of those things.

    This reviewer is using a movie that they’ve imagined, not the one on the screen,
    as an excuse to write verbose rhetoric.

    With that in mind its easier to see how this reviewer would actually think that what lindelof does is talented or deep.

  14. I have been a faithful “Alien” fan. For 30yrs.! With the “prom”. It put me.off.”aliens” & their like..yuck..really..yuck..!

  15. I have been a faithful “Alien” fan. For 30yrs.! With the “prom”. It put me.off.”aliens” & their like..yuck..really..yuck..! I ridly has shot himself with this 1!

  16. I have been a faithful “Alien” fan. For 30yrs.! With the “prom”. It put me.off.for always.. ..yuck..really..yuck..! I think ridly has shot himself with this 1! I hope I’m wrong!!

  17. I personally felt like I saw half of a movie when I watched this, I really enjoyed the concept of the movie as well as the majority of the first half, but it seemed to just be asking a lot of questions that the director realized he didn’t have any answers to, so naturally the answer was to kill off all the characters. While the movie raises some nice questions, that’s about all it does, setting you up for the next one if that day will come.
    Maybe I just feel this way because this was the first Alien movie I’ve seen and had no idea it was a prequel (kind of) and was very disappointed when I found out it was at the end.

  18. lower class characters who drink, smoke weed, have sex, disobey orders, touch alien life forms, etc make this film unwatchable. Who would spend trillions of dollars to send these losers across space to answer mankind’s most important questions? I will never watch this again.

  19. got up to the part where the blondest, whitest, most attractive woman int he entire movie says to the only black guy out of the entire crew “10 minutes, my room” and shut it off. typical cultural marxist hollywood jew propaganda. not to mention,the other “messages” in the movie – environmental BS, anti-gun messages, and of course a holocaust reference

  20. Why does the engineer in the original alien movie look 20 feet tall when in Prometheus he appears only 8 feet in height?

  21. Just watched it yesterday. The rest of the movie is ok, but the surgery part pretty much ruined it for me. Being exposed to such procedures, the scene was just way too unrealistic, even with supposedly advanced technology.

  22. i didn’t like it at all.
    Boring………..
    I really see nothing to like/love about this movie…
    At best, I could understand someone saying that it was ok, but to say they loved it, blows me away!!!

    2-3 stars at best…
    I’ve been seeing 4-5 stars for this movie…
    No freak’n way….
    Ben Kendrick most be smoke’n dope!!!!

  23. the characters in this movie fulfill the criteria of cretinism and dullness to be put “Under the Dome” with the stupid folks of Chesters Mill. hell the Engineers separated that bunch of Morons from the rest of mankind in the first place, noone likes spoiled crops…

  24. I liked Prometheus. The storyline was great except for one critical detail. Why would the cave drawings point to the weapons planet and not to the home planet? Early humans couldn’t go there. So there’s no good reason why they would point at the weapons planet. This is really bugging me because I really liked this storyline and now it’s shot for me unless someone can provide a me reasonable explanation for this.

    • Did you see my reply skipper rick? Trying to help you out.

  25. Skipper Rick,

    The cave drawings were a warning from the engineers that were trying to protect the humans to stay away from this planet. They were trying to warn us.

  26. Ok. That’s the best explanation so far. Especially if it gets referenced in the sequel with Noomi’s character showing up on there planet and askin’ “Who’s in charge around here?”. But, it’s still a far reach to assume these demi-gods would feel a need to warn cavemen about not traveling to outer space. Especially after this star map becomes the sole purpose of a story.

    • You have to understand the story. Engineers created the humans as an experiment not knowing we would evolve in the manner we did. They then created the bio weapons to exterminate us. Some engineers disagreed with this action so there were some that attempted to help us by warning us with the cave paintings.

  27. I just got another eplanation. We picked the wrong planet in that star system.

    Cat, your explanation is better. It sets the stage for there to be some kind of conflict when Noomi’s character arrives there i.e. sympathizers, which would be the only way her character could survive after reaching their planet. I still think Ridley could have given us just a bit more info so that such conflicts could have been avoided. Hopefully, this will be properly addressed in the sequel. Thanks for the help, Cat.

  28. This is a joke of a review. It may of looked good, but it wasn’t competent film making. Scott opened more holes than he closed, and the general foolishness shown by all the characters was despicable. He’s treated his audience like a common horror flick viewer. What we wanted was to be treated like intelligent viewers with a “thriller with horror elements”, like Alien, The Thing, etc. Instead we got this. I think I’ll go watch The Thing again…

  29. A lot of people are ranting about the film leaving too many holes and unanswered questions. Well, it is these gaps that make the sequels more interesting. Now you have a rebirth of a franchise that answers SOME of the questions and raises new ones. Then, the sequels will answer SOME of the new questions and raise even more new ones. And so on, and so on, and SO ON. Sounds pretty ingenious to me.

    The problem with today’s moviegoing public is they expect everything to be wrapped up too nicely, subtlety is not allowed. Remember a certain sci-fi masterpiece called 2001? That entire film was one big plot hole where some of the answers didn’t come until 16 years later. Scott was wise to keep the plotlines kind of vague and open to interpretation.