Seeking the origins of mankind, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) heads a two-year expedition to a distant planet in search of our creators. What she finds are answers to questions she didn’t ask. As her crew begins dying, they must decide if science is more important than survival.
According to Greek mythology, Prometheus was the Titan who was punished by the gods for stealing fire to give it to mankind. The Prometheus in this film carries a different fire – the fire of burning curiosity. Dr. Shaw is driven by her unrelenting drive to discover the origins of man, yet she alone holds a strong faith and spirituality.
Themes of science vs. religion and spirituality vs. technology abound here, but are poorly defined. Shaw’s spirituality is simply shown to viewers with a few quick lines gently pushing back those who question her faith and becomes symbolized by her cross pendant. Elizabeth Shaw is the only true believer and the only one worthy to discover the truth to the origins of mankind, but her faith affords her no advantage to survival, so what is the message here?
Director Ridley Scott brings us a beautiful film with skilled directing. The all-star cast brings a bushel of talent to the screen and although it is said this is not a prequel to the beloved classics “Alien” and “Aliens,” it is. In these two outstanding films characterization is carefully nurtured, slowly building story and tension to a crescendo.
However, with everything this film has going for it, one important element falters sending this film out of orbit – the writing. The characters have no depth, no sense of wonder, and no sense of gravity for their discovery. The science is rarely shown in its antiseptic, precise manner for this scientific crew uses no protocols while exploring an alien planet. They touch oozing substances, reach out for alien creatures, bring back unquarantined items and remove their helmets on the planet simply because the air is breathable – are these people really scientists?
Ultimately, “Prometheus” is a horror film and good horror films create a mood, build tension and then throw the audience into the middle of the fray. This film has trouble building its tension because it ratchets up the stress before we get to know the characters. Thus, we don’t care as much for their plight and we don’t root for their survival like we did in the other films.
Like the Titan Prometheus, this film must pay for its weaknesses, for the standards of entertainment have been raised dramatically with such a well-storied franchise, as moviegoers find that the answers to their long-awaited prayers are quite possibly a betrayal of faith.
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