Prometheus (2012) a (right on time!) review

Of the films scheduled for release this summer, there were only a couple I really, really wanted to see in theaters.  Of those, there was one I absolutely would not miss:  Director Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe, Prometheus.

In spite of my excitement to see the film, I tried to keep my expectations low, for I knew that sometimes those things lead to a huge let down.  In the end, I chose to see the film in as “good” a format as possible:  In IMAX and 3D.  I sat in the theater and, for the very last time, kept my hopes in check.  The film played out…

…and I found myself incredibly disappointed.

A few days have passed since then, and I’ve taken some time to process my thoughts.  I still feel this film is a major disappointment, and presents the viewer with too many inept moments and silly character actions, yet I nonetheless can’t help but admire what Mr. Scott and company tried to do, rather than succeeded in actually doing.

Prometheus, as the name should imply to anyone with even a casual knowledge of mythology, relates to the Titan Prometheus, who in the fables created man from clay and stole fire from the Gods.  The main theme of the film relates to this as well as the parent/child relationship.  On the surface and just below, this film is filled with references to how children and their parents interact…or don’t.

The protagonist of the movie, Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw, is presented as a person that is, ironically, both outside and tied in deep with parent/child concerns.  On the one hand, she’s an “orphan”, who as a young girl lost her father…yet has strong memories of him and hopes to emulate him.  On the other hand, it is revealed that she is incapable of having children of her own, thus of becoming a parent herself.

The two other main characters to follow, Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers and Michael Fassbender’s David, have their own parent/child issues, but to go into details about that would involve considerable spoilers.

The symbolism present in the film, I have to admit, has kept me from writing Prometheus off completely, this despite the fact that the film is remarkably -surprisingly- sloppily made, with way too many story holes, paper thin characters, and general stupidity.  Further, the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, trying for a “Chariot of the Gods” type story for much of its run time before lurching into horror only in its final act.

I could spend way too much time going over things that didn’t make sense or were muddled in their presentation, but I’ll focus on one specific thing that bothered me more than anything else in the film…and I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible:

Why exactly did David spike the drink?

There is never a clear explanation of this, though there are hints, particularly David’s talk with Vickers just before.  But why was it done?  What was the purpose?

Despite some intriguing symbolism, in the end I remain roughly where I was upon walking out of the film.  I admire the attempt to create a “deep,” mythical story, but I simply cannot recommend Prometheus.  I’ve heard there is a longer “cut” of the film that features at least 20 additional minutes of material not seen in the theatrical release.  Perhaps when that version is released, those twenty minutes might explain the whole spiking the drink thing…though I doubt they’ll help make some of the movie’s other problems, including the cardboard side-characters and their fate, any more interesting.

A real shame.