I am afraid that I think this is a big disappointment and I came out of the cinema feeling a little sad.
The good points?
- many of the scenes, especially in the first half, are fine.
- it looks great.
- some of the acting is good.
- it is great to see more of the Engineers.
- it was blatantly obvious that they were going to try to match the John Hurt scene from Alien. They didn’t match it, but credit for trying. Pregnant women might disagree on this point.
- at least somebody in that universe understands – and is allowed to put into practice – the notion of not letting infected persons on board ship!
The bad? This is where it gets ugly. Now, I normally feel that it is almost impertinent of me to comment on the work of someone else who is way more successful than I will ever be! But, I think that we are being invited to take this film seriously – it clearly has pretensions to being something grander than a Transformers film. As such, it demands comment.
- there are too many characters on the ship. Some of them barely get a minute of screen time. How are we expected to keep track of them, unless they really do fall into the category of hapless Star Trek crewmen? This might explain why even some of the leading characters disappear in a heartbeat.
- stupid crew #1: they refuse to take even a side arm with them on their excursions. There seems to be nobody in charge.
- stupid crew #2: they remove their helmets when in the temple. OK, do their bioscanners or whatever really work for all known or – more importantly – all unknown pathogens?
- stupid crew #3: two of the so-called specialists run away five minutes into the expedition. What did they think that they were signing up for – a trek in the Amazon?
- stupid crew #4: the guy with the digital map and who controls the mapping probes gets lost on the way back to the exterior! Hilariously bad. Oh, but he looks like someone from a Mad Max movie and howls like a dog. So that’s OK then. Stupid.
- stupid crew #5: the biologist\botanist repeatedly touches a snake creature as if it is a kitten, when it gives every indication of being hostile. So, re #3, they run when there is no threat, but do nothing when there is. Stupid and inconsistent.
- stupid crew #6: the impregnated Shaw manages to elude two of the medical staff, get her operation done and sees them and the android David – who is at least in part to blame for her plight – later with no word spoken, apart from suffering a poor wisecrack from David? Why would she not rip the android’s head off at this point?
- stupid crew #7: Shaw leaves a creature in the medical pod. As a supposedly intelligent person, would this not be worth mentioning to someone else? Better, obviously, to assume it is dead and then be surprised when it grows into a monstrosity later on.
- stupid crew #8: Holloway is a total jerk from start to finish – what an absolutely unbelievable character. Only thing that Vickers did right was to burn him down. Was that scene meant to elicit audience sympathy? Not here did it!
- stupid crew #9:You try to outrun a huge horseshoe shaped ship rolling on its side, rather than running to the right or left of it? Huh?
- stupid crew #10:we have Frankenstein-level science on board! A dead alien head is discovered. What do they do? Shock it with electricity until it explodes. What was the purpose of that scene?
- the captain of the ship, who until then has been neglectful of his duties to the point of idiocy, suddenly divines the purpose of the alien temples\ships and the alien’s plan for humanity? How exactly?
- that medical pod is calibrated for males only?! Now, I get that that whole part of the ship is probably meant for Weyland. But at that time it was being used by Vickers, a woman. Would this machine not be retuned for her?
- unless there are a whole lot of scenes involving a young Weyland left out of the film, why not employ an old man to play an old man? I am sure that it would look more realistic.
- a general air of a script needing much more intelligent plot and dialogue! Embarassingly, and somewhat fantastically, I was reminded more than once of scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (and that is not to denigrate that film which is great). I think that Dan O’Bannon is missed more than we know.
- now this might be me losing it, but it feels that it has an anti-scientific – even creationist – viewpoint in places, which certainly offends me. As I say, I might be wrong here! For a much more rigorous analysis see “The Science of Prometheus“.
Sorry, but it is quite bad! Now, if after a single viewing I have made mistakes in any of my points above, then I am open to correction. Yes, I can imagine someone telling me “get over it – it’s just a film”. True. But, as I said above, are we not expected to take it seriously when we watch it? If not, then perhaps it is not worth watching in the first place.
At some point it obviously changed from a more direct Alien prequel into what it is now. Of course, I would have preferred the former. But I can understand them wanting to try something new. If you’re going to do that at least make it logical, coherent and whole. As the ending suggests a sequel then maybe it should be called “Prometheus Part I“. That would be more honest. Regardless of whether a sequel is planned – and I must say that I would be very sceptical about one – each individual film should be satisfying by itself. This isn’t.
As a die hard Alien fan, I went in knowing it could not meet my expectations. Even dialling those down it still falls short. This film desperately needed more work on the script before any filming started. I think I have read Scott being sniffy about the Alien vs Predator film (the first one I guess – the second truly is an abomination). Well, it is no masterpiece, but for me it has no more logic failures and plot holes than Prometheus. I think that The Thing prequel is better than this. Hell, I think that The Phantom Menace is more satisfying than this. Perhaps this whole saga should have stopped after Aliens in 1986. Something has gone wrong with Scott’s last few movies in my opinion – is he trying to make comedies? For example, I thought that his previous effort, Robin Hood, made the Costner version look great by comparison – medieval “D-Day landing boats” anyone?! The screenwriters have now joined my film watching shit list, such that I would actively avoid any future film with their involvement. It is all such a shame.