It looks like the next 80 years will bring some furious innovation. We’re going to get faster-than-light travel, ultra-realistic androids, hibernation chambers, flying laser balls, and misogynistic surgical robots. All of these and more are aboard the spaceship Prometheus when it sets off in 2091 for its two-and-a-half year journey to a distant planet.
But it all starts with ancient cave paintings. You’re probably familiar with the crude artwork created by members of earlier cultures, but you probably didn’t know that a lot of them feature alien imagery, often including the same planetary formation. By studying this formation in combination with celestial maps, anthropologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) were able to identify that formation in the universe, and they were able to convince the mega-rich and mega-old Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) to send them there, along with crew led by Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and overseen by Weyland representatives Meredith (Charlize Theron) and David (Michael Fassbender).
The Prometheus makes the trip without incident, and upon arrival they see evidence of intelligent life, but no creatures come to greet them (or attack them). They set the ship down near a large dome-shaped structure and send a team inside to investigate. There, they don’t find any living creatures, but they do find lots of dead ones, and some mysterious vase-shaped containers arranged in one of the rooms. But their exploration is cut short when they must quickly return to the ship in order to avoid a nasty storm moving in. And that’s when the real action starts.
The problem, though, is that the action is simply not good. The film is visually impressive but mentally lacking, with a number of elements that don’t make sense upon first watching the movie, and more flaws that continue to reveal themselves the more you reflect on the film. It’s hard to point out some of the more egregious logic problems without the risk of spoiling parts of the movie, but others (like some crew members seeming to meet each other for the first time after coming out of hypersleep) are evident within the opening moments.
Despite director Ridley Scott’s insistence to the contrary, Prometheus is absolutely a prequel to Alien. The films exist in the same universe, and Prometheus attempts not only to provide a glimpse into the origin of the creatures that we see in Alien, but into the beginning of human life as well. Along the way, it tries to get in a few potshots at a belief in God as a creator, although in a very “pot versus kettle” kind of way that only succeeds in highlighting its own logic problems while doing very little in the way of an effective attack against religion.
The big disappointment behind Prometheus is that it is simply unnecessary. It doesn’t add anything at all to the story that had been crafted in the previous Alien movies, nor is it able to stand on its own as an independent narrative. There are many problems with the film and it doesn’t provide anything of value that might cause us to overlook them.