Prometheus (2012)

prometheus poster 2012 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Some impressive visuals, interesting themes

Wrong story told in the wrong way forced into an Alien franchise film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Prometheus

Studio:  Scott Free Productions

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  May 30, 2012 (Europe)/June 8, 2012 (USA)

MPAA Rating:  R

prometheus alien engineer

Do we bring answers…or death?

In 2089, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover proof of alien interaction between ancient Earth civilizations and are able to track it to the stars.  In 2093, a Weyland Corporation ship named Prometheus piloted by Janek (Idris Elba) and commanded by Weyland Corporation employee Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) has brought Shaw and Holloway to their ultimate goal.  The team lands on a planet where they hope to find beings they call the Engineers who could be the source of life throughout the universe.  With the help of an android named David (Michael Fassbender), the team seeks to find the origin of life and find horror instead.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Prometheus is a science-fiction horror movie.  The film has original director Ridley Scott returning to the Alien franchise and serves as a prequel to 1979’s AlienFollowing Alien:  Resurrection in 1997, the movie was met with mixed to positive reviews.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

prometheus sean harris monster

Cool…but kind of pointless

The Alien franchise is one of my favorite series.  Even the debatable Alien3 and Alien:  Resurrection have merited points (in my mind).  I was excited for the return of Scott and some explanations of unanswered questions from Alien.  The idea of an Alien prequel has floated around forever and questions surrounding the ship discovered by the crew of the Nostromo have existed since the premiere of Alien in 1979.  The identity of the pilot (now called the Engineer) and how the ship came to rest on the planet were questions that fans really wanted.  Here they are given the answers…sort of.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the review.

The problems in Prometheus arise from trying to make it an Alien franchise film.  Fans want Aliens, and the plot instead tries sci-fi horror again.  In the attempt to appease fan desires, the film digresses from a really “thinking” movie to some average science-fiction and horror.  Smart scientists begin acting incredibly stupid and do not follow protocol that even a layman can recognize they need to follow…all for the sake of horror.  There are some really intense moments in Prometheus (the worst birth scene since Alien), but they sometimes seemed out of place in a movie that seems to be more about ideas and concepts.  The attack of the geologist Fifield (Sean Harris) who became infected, seemed random and felt like the movie producers simply wanted something to happen, much like many of the final scenes in the movie.

prometheus michael fassbender david android

David’s got the whole world in his hands

One of the hardest things in Prometheus to understand is the motivation of the David character (Fassbender).  Fassbender continues to show he is an interesting actor and his combination of a brash Lawrence of Arabia, a cold HAL 9000 attitude, and a walk he fashioned after Greg Louganis, made for a unique character.  I wasn’t sure if he had fallen in “love” with Rapace’s character during the hyperspace or if there was some other reason for him to poison Holloway with the DNA.  Working for Peter Weyland (his creator played in heavy make-up & poorly acted by Guy Pearce), it would make sense if he was simply trying to please his “father”, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  David was sometimes helpful and sometimes destructive.  Obvious parallels between David and the Frankenstein Monster can be made, but the character isn’t that easy.

prometheus birth scene noomi rapace

Congratulations…it’s a squid monster!

Also good were Rapace and Theron who were almost flip sides of the same coin.  Rapace is passionate and open, and Theron is cold and distant (Elba’s character questioned if Theron was an android and it was a valid question at that point in the story).  Rapace however wears her heart on her sleeve and it is an interesting twist from her Dragon Tattoo character who was quite closed.  With two strong characters, I thought the end was quite a cop-out for Theron’s character to go out like the Wicked Witch of the East.

A lot of themes were carried from the Alien films.  The idea of motherhood which was a dominate theme in the Alien franchise was present.  Rapace gives “birth” to an alien creature and the ideas of “mother” popped-up a lot (though the role of fathers also became a theme).  There was the crew of the Prometheus that were rather stereotypical.  In addition to these ideas, there were the basic ideas of the aliens which are evolving throughout the film.

prometheus ending alien

Bring on the Aliens!

The connections to the Alien franchise also create some problems of lining up.  In Alien, the crew of the Nostromo is sent to investigate a distress call (Rapace’s call at the ending?) but it is an alien call so that doesn’t make much sense.  Another problem is that the alien was found in the pilot seat in Alien, this Engineer died in the seat of the ship, not in another ship near the wreckage…plus there were no alien eggs or aliens running around the planet.  Alien/Aliens also made the mistake of giving up the year which doesn’t correspond with this film, plus the movie’s technology (except the long-time space travel) is way too advanced.  Is this really the same Earth or same ship, or is this a Battlestar Galactica type thing where it has all happened before?

The movie does borrow heavy from the ideas presented in Frankenstein (also subtitled The Modern Prometheus when it was published).  Sometimes experiments for the sake of experimenting aren’t always met with positive results.  The idea of life & death and the whys of the universe are the best aspects of this film.  The sheer desire to explore reminds me a bit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Doctor Who (also meets Contact), but the horror stuff gets in the way.  Prometheus is overall a troubling film because it seems to have the right pieces constructed in the wrong way.  Prometheus was followed by the more traditional Alien film Alien:  Covenant in 2017.

Related Links:

Alien:  Covenant (2017)

Alien (1979)

Aliens (1986)

Alien3 (1992)

Alien:  Resurrection (1997)

Aliens vs. Predator (2004)

Aliens vs. Predator:  Requiem (2007)

The 85th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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