The only thing Prometheus accomplishes by being a somewhat prequel of the groundbreaking Alien series is tarnish its image. Ridley Scott, who helped define a new subgenre by fusing sci-fi and horror with the first film, this time replaces nuance with style, logic and the ability to awe us with senseless, recycled concepts and his own sense of minimalism with an exercise in excessiveness.

Set during the last decade of the 21st Century, the film opens with gorgeous visuals, showing us a version of prehistoric Earth that is as stunning as it is captivating. This is Scott exercising his now perfected skills at Art Direction but also a portent for discerning viewers about the superficiality of it all. The setup features the spaceship Prometheus, en route to a faraway galaxy where a planet similar to Earth has been discovered by a pair of scientists who found numerous, disparate cave drawings that clued them in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Awoken after over two years of ‘cryosleep’ during the end of their journey, the space crew lands (conveniently and without the help of any coordinates) right where some sort of strange structure has been built that might contain answers that are sought by everyone onboard. Things of course turn out differently. Discoveries are made, sides are taken and well, after awhile, hell breaks loose. That description, vague as it is, should indicate to you how generic the films structure and flow feel. It has no big ideas, nothing that sets it apart from the crowd and so many silly plot devices and irrational character motivations that you may find yourself trying not to think about what and why and just be indifferent to it in order to enjoy it.

Despite this, everything the film throws at viewers hints at it being the answer to some great puzzle. Even the film’s title begs for a measure of greatness – a pivotal moment in the history of mankind, a great revelation, something profound. In the words uttered by a ludicrous looking Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, the explorations billionaire sponsor, in explaining the raison d’être for the mission, it is about “where do we come from, what is our purpose, what happens when we die”. The closest answer the film provides is probably to the first question, via a stale, half baked concept that hints at a silly version of creationism that’s been explored in film before (Brian De Palma’s much maligned Mission to Mars for example). The problems don’t just stop there. Prometheus is so unimaginative, so devoid of any sense of trepidation or amazement at exploring the unknown and the undiscovered that it never even seems like it’s attempting to even be convincing. All of the characters serve a role type casted by their prevalence in science fiction films – the sceptic, the biologist, the opportunist, the bitchy boss. The list goes on with only Michael Fassbender’s android David and Idris Alba’s cool, indifferent pilot being remotely interesting. There is nothing here that you haven’t seen before and very little that makes the mind wonder.

Even if you are able to set aside these problems, many of which appear rather early on, the plot feels lazy and yes, even borrowed and unoriginal. There is none of the ingenuity that Scott himself brought to the first film, the fear of closed spaces, the frenzied fright of not seeing something completely, nor the adrenaline pumping excitement of James Cameron’s masterful Vietman War analogizing sequel, Aliens. Instead what you get is a film that is meant to pull in weekend multiplex crowds and serve them schlock B-movie horror and insincere moments of excitement that seem disconnected from what is happening (such as the gruesome yet silly operation scene and its even sillier aftermath).  Prometheus may be narratively set high above in space, but it remains, sadly, rather grounded with what little it achieves.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and