This prequel to Alien (1979) does a good job of tantalizing its fans with bits that link the two films, but might have been a more interesting movie if those echoes were more faint. Showing us the alien at the end was too blatant, for instance. (Also, oddly, the film starts to set things up so that the Engineer will be where the crew from Alien finds him, and then doesn’t follow through.) Prometheus suffers slightly from having a less streamlined narrative than the original. The focus is a bit diffuse, creating a bit of a stop-start rhythm. Exposure to the dark liquid leads to too many different results, and there are too many characters with different agendas. The movie also sacrifices credibility at times, having its characters behave in unbelievable ways in order to move the story forward. It made no sense for Milburn to exercise so little caution when faced with the snake-like life form. Shaw’s self-surgery also strained credibility, as did her ability to engage in vigorous physical activity immediately afterwards. Janek’s suicide mission wasn’t properly built up to, which made it hard to swallow. Having trouble believing in what the characters do might be one reason why none of them are memorable.
These are obstacles in what remains a compelling, inventive, solidly entertaining story. And the film is gorgeous to look at. Director Ridley Scott hasn’t lost his painter’s eye, or his talent for creating mood and generating suspense. He successfully conveys the thrill of discovery, and deploys his (often gory) special effects smartly.