The short version is: I REALLY liked the movie, maybe even loved it! Just for the record: I concur with the general buzz about the movie’s strengths. It’s hard not to, because the visuals and atmosphere are really great. However, unlike what seems to be the majority of the fans and press, my enjoyment does not end there. I think it’s best to address what most people don’t like about this movie instead of raving about the good stuff you’ve already heard.
1. “There are some really stupid decisions made by the movie’s characters!”
Yes, there are. Taking off your helmets in any alien environment is grade A stupid. Millburn’s reaction to the black goo and the snake was not smart. I have to admit that my answers to this criticisms are the most subjective, biased ones. Basically, it comes down to this: There was some stupid stuff, but I didn’t mind it because there’s so much cool stuff going on. At least for me, it never got in the way of things. In any case, I also never felt that the stupidity was out-of-character. Holloway was kinda set up to be a hotshot and a jerk. Shaw’s decisions, while not always very clever, were driven by her personality (I refer to the “catching the Engineer helmet inside the storm” scene). And Fifield was, well, Fifield. As a side effect, the characters weren’t as likable as they could have been. But personally, I was not so much interested in the characters as I wanted to see a new intriguing chapter of the Alien universe that expands on the existing stuff and provides new insights. Which brings me to the next complaint…
2. “The movie posed too many questions without delivering any answers! It’s just one big setup for a sequel!“
This one was what probably influenced my expections the most before seeing the movie. It’s also the one that would have crippled my enjoyment the most, since I know Damon Lindelof’s work from LOST, which in my opinion was okay but less than perfect, considering the great setup. Oddly, I was pleasantly surprised. For instance, the movie ended more than three decades of speculations about the origin of the Xenomorph by strongly implying it was a bioweapon created by the Engineers. At least for me, that was one hell of an answer! Was this something completely unexpected? No, but since Matrix Revolutions, I take “not very surprising, but logical and consistent” over “yes, unexpected, but WHAT THE HELL were they thinking!?” anytime. Now, you may say: “Yeah, but if the Engineers want to kill us, why did they create us in the first place?” This is where I see some severe nerd rage about Lindelof’s involvement, insofar that it made the people oversensitive to questions left open by the movie, considering how he handled LOST. But bear in mind that, if anything, this is the BEGINNING of a larger story, NOT the end. When people complain about sequel baits and sequel-mania, I can see where they coming from. However, it’s a problem with modern blockbuster cinema, not a Prometheus-specific issue. I admit that there are loose ends, but would you blame “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” or better “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes” for its loose ends? Leaving questions unanswered does not a make a movie bad by default, just as answering all questions does not make a movie good by default *cough*Matrix Revolutions*cough*. As far as it concerns me, the sequel baits were rather moderate, at least not in any quantity that it would warrant such criticism, and the movie provided enough answers for me to create the feeling of watching one movie that can stand on its own instead of just the first half of a longer one.
3. “The movie began too ambitious and degenerated into a mere monster flick!”
Okay, first, it’s an Alien movie! Of course, it’s also a monster flick! I bet you would have been pissed if you hadn’t gotten some monster brawling at the end. I also think that the public buzz and, to be fair, Ridley Scott himself greatly exaggerated the preconceptions regarding the movie’s ambitions and, thus, creating expectations for something that I think simply is not there. Yes, of course it is built around fundamental implications regarding the origin of mankind and science vs. faith, but it is first and foremost a sci-fi thriller, and by no means an M. Night Shyamalan flick. I thought that the movie always stayed true to its roots, and I never felt any inconsistencies between different parts of the movie. I also felt that Weyland’s arc, the search for immortality, upheld the level of ambition throughout the movie’s last third. By the way, I thought it was a nice character dynamic between him and David: Weyland created David and made him basically immortal, and David, grateful for his creation, wanted to give his “father” immortality in return.
4. “The biology of the Black Goo is fricking confusing!”
This is one criticism I have to admit I share. I definitely have to create a flipchart for this one!
All in all, I admit that, yes, this movie has its faults and I can even understand why people may not like it. For me, Prometheus is a great way of expanding the Alien universe and a treasure trove of information. I prefer a movie that aims high and misses to a mediocre flick that is executed perfectly.