Monday, June 11, 2012


“Ridley Scott is still a director with a strong and individual vision. Prometheus proves that he still has a passion for science fiction as a genre and as a way of telling multifaceted stories that are both inhumane and humane.”

Science fiction, horror and action

Starring - Noomi Rapace, Elizabeth Shaw, Michael Fassbender/David, Charlize Theron/Meredith Vickers, Idris Elba/Janek, Guy Pearce/Peter Weyland, Logan Marshall-Green/Charlie Holloway, Sean Harris/Fifield, Rafe Spall/Millburn, Emun Elliott/Chance and Benedict Wong/Ravel

Director - Ridley Scott

Writers - Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof

Rated R - sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language

1 hr., 4 min.

Prometheus is Ridley Scott’s long awaited return to science fiction and it was definitely worth the wait! Director Ridley Scott has dabbled in all three of my favorite genres: science fiction – Blade Runner, horror – Alien and fantasy – Legend. Out of these three, only Legend is a failure, while Blade Runner and Alien are not only successes, but are considered by many (myself included) to be modern film classics. For this reason, I was looking forward to seeing Prometheus more for what Scott would do in the science fiction genre, than what he would do with the story as it related to Alien. Is Prometheus a prequel to Alien? Yes, it definitely is in regard to story, but not so much in its stylistic or thematic approaches.

“A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race…” or so says the promotional description for the film. The team of explorers is a crew of scientists and ordinary astronauts. The ship they fly in, the Prometheus is paid for by the Weyland Corporation. The crew are all employees of Weyland Corporation as well; with the exception of David, who is an android that was built by them. The founder of Weyland Corporation, Peter Weyland has funded the expedition to a star system that was found in several ancient illustrations discovered by the archeological couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway. It is his and their belief that the “engineers” are a race of superior alien beings, who have seeded the Earth with their own DNA in order to promote intelligent life there and that the planet that they are traveling to will lead them to the engineers home world. Once there, they hope to be able to ask the engineers why they were created and for what purpose. When the crew awakens from hyper-sleep, they are already in orbit around the distant moon LV-223, their destination. They land the ship on LV-223, close to a huge structure that resembles an ancient building, but is much more.

To reveal any more of the story of Prometheus would give away too many of the interesting plot revelations and narrative twists. I will say that the story itself, while thought-provoking on its own - and indeed produces a fair amount of interesting ideas - is not the strongest element of Prometheus. Part of this is due to a lack of a definitive payoff at the end of the film. All the big questions that are asked at the beginning of the film are not satisfactorily answered at the end of the film.  I do wonder why these deeper questions were brought up, only to be mostly ignored throughout the film. Still, the character story arcs, for the most part, are wrapped up satisfactorily and that is an important aspect of the film.

The reason that the characters are so important to Prometheus is because each of the characters represents a differing viewpoint to the idea that aliens may be the originators of the human race. The central viewpoint character is Elizabeth Shaw, one of the archeologists who have gathered the ancient Earth artifacts that contain the message from the engineers. Throughout the film she wears a cross on a chain around her neck, signifying that she has faith in a higher power. Because of this, she looks to the aliens not as gods, but merely as the hands of god and not mankind’s true creator. Her drive to get to the truth behind the engineers is what carries Prometheus. In contrast to Shaw is David, the android manufactured by Weyland Corporation, who is programed with the singular purpose of finding an engineer alien alive and gaining information that is vital to his programmer. David, being an emotionless android, never questions the purpose of the mission or appears to care for its success or not. What makes David interesting is his pacifistic outward demeanor that seems to hide a deeper and more ominous purpose. Meredith Vickers is the head of the mission and the lead representative of Weyland Corp. Her cool demeanor and anti-social behavior give her an enigmatic air, as she apparently sees Prometheus and her crew only as investments. Her external motivation seems only to see the safe return of Weyland property and she seems skeptical about even the existence of the engineers. These three characters are the driving force of Prometheus, because as the film progresses and the story becomes more complex, each of these characters demonstrates more depth of character and purpose than was initially apparent. Prometheus is a film that definitely derives as much story from its characters as it does from its philosophical elements or external conflicts.

Prometheus is not all internal character struggles or theological vs. scientific ruminations. It also has many physical conflicts with the various alien creatures that the crew encounters on the alien satellite. While the film takes some time to set up these encounters, once they do occur they continue on almost without ceasing. Fans of Scott’s ability to craft atmospheric dread will not be disappointed by several sequences that take place on both the terrain and on Prometheus. One of the most disturbing and frightening sequences in the film features Shaw in a mêlée with an alien creature in a truly unique manner. Prometheus not only delivers visceral alien thrills on multiple levels, but in manifold ways and methods.

Ridley Scott is still a director with a strong and individual vision. Prometheus proves that he still has a passion for science fiction as a genre and as a way of telling multifaceted stories that are both inhumane and humane. Anyone who has a love of science fiction and its depiction in cinema should see Prometheus.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 10 Cinematography – 10 Script – 9 Special Effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 10


  1. Enjoyed your assessment here doc. I enjoyed many of your thoughts. I agree the film stands on it's own and places well as a prequel. I'll try and get my post up soon and well touch base again I'm sure.

    I will come back and comment more specifically here later.

  2. Returning as promised.

    Again, your reflections are solid here and, as I said over my way, I thought we agreed more than disagreed, but perhaps not.

    I will say I was never much of a fan of Legend and I'm with you there. I thought that film was exqusitely crafted as far as production and design, like Prometheus and like so many of Ridley's films, but I never relaly connected to that film. Prometheus is far superior in every way.

    While you may have disapproved of my approach to looking at Prometheus it was a natural way for me to approach both films upon viewing Alien and Prometheus just days apart.

    But your post is very siglar in its focus here on Prometheus and you stay very much on target with reagrd to your look at what could potentially be another Ridley classic.

    Like you, I really enjoyed the characters in the film, the philosophical ponderings. It makes for many hapy returns for this fan.


  3. The promotion for this film made it look freakin’ awesome but also, a lot like Alien and I think that’s the big problem with the film. It’s pretty much the same formula used over again and even though Scott tries his hardest to get our heads past that, it’s too obvious, too quick. Good review Fritz.

  4. Thanks for your assessment of my review, Sci Fi Fanatic. I agree that we both liked Prometheus for similar reasons. I do think I enjoyed it slightly better than you, based on your review at Musings of a Sci Fi Fanatic, but not by much. Our major point of contention on Prometheus is that you feel it is a poor prequel to Alien and that I think it is a good film that isn’t a prequel to Alien so much as another story in the same universe as Alien.

    In all fairness to Legend, I haven’t watched this film since 1986, when it was first released on VHS. So I’ve only seen the North American 89 minute cut of the film and not the 94 minute European cut, nor the 113 minute director’s cut, both of which are considered to be superior to the shorter version. One of these days I owe it to myself to give this film another try.

    I intentionally did not revisit Alien before seeing Prometheus, to keep the amount of mental comparing of the two films to a minimum while I was watching Prometheus. I have watched Alien so many times that a re-watch wasn’t necessary for me to notice any connections between the two films anyway.

    I tried to review Prometheus as a whole, rather than dissect its individual pieces, because I didn’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hadn’t seen it yet. I do think Prometheus has a chance of becoming another modern classic in future, because it is a film with many layers to it that gives the viewer things to think about both on a first viewing and many more viewings in the future.

    Thanks for stopping by GotG, Sci Fi Fanatic. Your comments are always welcome here, whether we agree disagree or fall somewhere in between.

  5. Yes, Dan O, the promotions department at 20th Century Fox did their best to make the trailer and the rest of the pre-film publicity look like Alien. That is smart advertising, because they are using brand recognition of the Alien film franchise to sell the film. But I think it is poor marketing, because of the backlash it produced from all the disappointed film goers who were expecting another Alien film.

    While there are many similar details in the plot of Prometheus and Alien, I think that they are very different atmospherically and thematically. Prometheus is much more interested in stimulating our minds with big questions and Alien was much more interested in stimulating our guts with fear and tension. Both are excellent films, they just had different agendas. I disagree that Prometheus was formulaic. In fact, so much of the first two-thirds are spent building up interest and suspense, that the final third seems to go by in a mad dash and makes it difficult to fully interpret the meaning of the various visual plot elements in the film.

    Thanks for checking in, Dan O!

  6. Trust me... I like your approach to seeing this one. I definitely took another and seeing alien w my son was actually a blast followed by Prometheus. But to be clear, I do think prometheus is a ver smart prequel and it's mostly what I hoped for.

    Dan o makes a good point and one I made in my own review that you acknowledge here, they really created a certain expectation in that Trailer and therein lies the rub for some. It doesn't take away the fact Prometheus is an excellent prequel concept but in some measure it doesn't quite match that trailer for me and perhaps many others. I think that's fair to say. But getting a film that was entirely rehash of alien wouldnt have worked and that is exactly why you have to applaud this particular Sci Fi creation.

    Tks again fritz. Sff