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Before I go on about Prometheus, I must stress that I really loved the Alien movies. As a big fan of those films (except for the latter entries following 2 and 3), I was excited to finally discover the fate of the Space Jockeys. Alien and Aliens were both masterful executions of suspense horror, intertwined with moments of intense action, violence, and elements of the sublime. Both films are counted among my top scifi flicks of all time, and the chance to learn more of the lore through Prometheus really jumped out at me. But boy was I misled by the intense trailers and positive press surrounding the film. Instead of getting the movie equivalent of a hot rod, I got the gelapi.
Prometheus centers around man's beginnings as a team of explorers race to find our makers. Employed by the Weyland Corporation, the team of engineers and researchers is led by a cold, calculating Weyland commander portrayed by Charlize Theron. The premise is high-falutin' and sounds fairly interesting, right? If you're an Aliens buff, you already know Weyland isn't the world's most honest company. Why on Earth would they come to some godforsaken moon where man supposedly comes from? These questions, among others raised by the film, are either left unanswered or given completely unsatisfactory resolutions. Nothing in this film really makes sense from the plot perspective, and the way events are portrayed is often disorienting. I get the impression that Ridley Scott was intentionally as cagey as possible in order to set Prometheus up for a sequel. With all of that in mind, you'd hope the heady cosmological and theological questions raised help to make up for the movie's vague explanations. Sadly, they don't.
What's worse is that the film's content really doesn't have anything to fall back on. The cast of characters shows little signs of development and all are caricatures of how real people behave. While some of this should be expected for a Hollywood film, it makes the entire cast look like a bunch of morons. Take, for example, the biologist. [mild spoiler alert, though it doesn't really mention any plot details]
He decides it's a great idea to reach out and touch the hissing snake thing coming out of this black goop on the ground. WHAT THE HECK WAS HE THINKING?! Why on Earth would you reach out and touch a hissing, shrieking snake thing that looks horrendous?
If the biologist's behavior is anything to go by, the entire crew of Prometheus is already screwed. And indeed, most of them die because of their own idiotic behavior and wooden dialogue. Seriously, the lines in this movie really do kill. They're delivered with such forced candor and emotion that it's hard to imagine the actors were really trying with this film. None of it's believable, and it lacks the realism of Aliens, where the marines actually did real marine-like things. They didn't take off their helmets whenever they felt like it. They didn't wander off alone like morons when the aliens are hunting them down. Just like the original Alien (which was actually good, mind you), Prometheus's characters do stupid, stupid things.
My biggest issue with Prometheus is that it lacks a general sense of focus. Aside from the bad script and wooden cast, it felt like the movie tried to move in too many different directions. What made the Aliens movies great was the singular objective of survival against a hostile alien species. There weren't half-arsed glimpses of humanity's origins. There weren't (unresolved) complex theological questions raised that diverged so far off the path as to be irrelevant. Most importantly, the movies added just the right amount of tension, shock value, and violence to make a great film. Prometheus fails at all of these core elements.
In summary, Prometheus is just a bad film. It tries to take a philosophical approach to the horror genre but fails miserably. The characters are unbelievable, the gratuitously violent moments are forced and uninteresting, and the unresolved plot threads are boring and ill-explained. My recommendation: skip it.