The build-up and anticipation for Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi after a 30-year hiatus - despite making the original Alien and Blade Runner he's never touched the genre since the latter - probably ensured that no one would be totally satisfied. From the coy is-it-a-prequel-to-Alien-or-not posturing, to a clever viral web video campaign, followed by trailers that revealed too much (the international trailer below really gives the whole thing away), it would've been hard to live up to the hype and, unfortunately, Prometheus didn't. What makes it more maddening is the number of incredibly stupid choices the script makes.
While I was watching the movie, I was on board with the ride. It looks great and because it was natively shot (and edited) in 3D, it's a rare case that it's worth spending extra to see it. However, as soon as it ended, the "Hey, wait a second!" questions started to pile up and my score started to slide. After reading some of the nerd rage, it fell another notch. It's a testament to Scott's visual craftsmanship that it took two hours to really notice how freaking stupid it was overall, though I did have some instant quibbles at how it seemed to violate its own rules. (Semi-spoiler example: We're told how toxic the atmosphere is and we see how far the ship is from the alien pyramid, but a character who was lost in the pyramid AND had his helmet melted is somehow able to walk back to the ship. Huh?!?)
The potential for something provocative and intellectual is there; who wouldn't want to know where we came from if it was from the stars? The problem is that the logical failings of the script start gnawing away at you from the jump. Would a trillion-dollar scientific mission really wait until it reached its destination after a two-year journey to then inform the crew why they're there? Would so many of the red shirt crewmen be so undisciplined as to basically ensure their doom? The original Alien worked because they were basically interstellar truckers who got detoured into a situation they couldn't understand. Shouldn't everyone have been briefed and acted intelligently? These are script-level issues and while the Blu-ray cut is supposed to restore 20 minutes, I doubt that all the blanks will be filled in and if they are, why wasn't that version put in theaters.
It's really too bad the script is a let down because some of the performances are excellent, starting with Michael Fassbender as the android David. We're automatically suspicious of him, but is he evil or merely amorally inquisitive? Charlize Theron is icy hot and Idris Elba as the ship's captain makes the most of his thin writing. However, the actual lead, Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is blah. She's supposed to be a woman of faith and much is made of that tension against the science, but she never really becomes as three-dimensional as a character as the visuals are. (See what I did there?) The red shirts are so nondescript that they don't even rise to the level of generic labels, like, well, I can't even make something up.
It's getting more and more annoying how so many movies are structured to fail in the most basic phase: the writing. When you add in all the pre-game hype about how Scott and company were going to tackle weighty themes, it makes the letdown about the illogical behavior and unanswered questions all the more dissatisfying. Say what you will about the endless philosophical nattering of The Matrix sequels; at least the Wachowski Bros attempted to get the blather up on screen along with the empty visual FX wankery. Prometheus (named after the god who stole fire and gave it to man) never catches fire and leaves us stranded in a barren, but beautiful, universe.
Score: 6/10. Catch a matinee and see it in 3D.
If you've seen it, check out this video by the notorious Mr. Plinkett that really reams the plot holes: