Now Playing: Ridley Scott’s Triumphant Return to Science Fiction

While I enjoy the first two ‘Alien’ movies, I’m no fanatic of the series. My opinion of Ridley Scott’s new quasi-prequel ‘Prometheus’ is based solely on ‘Prometheus’. For years now, geeks have speculated about how much ‘Prometheus’ will tie into ‘Alien’. There are already plenty of spoiler-filled reviews out there on the web, so if you want that answer, look elsewhere. For those who’d prefer to go in blindly, rest assured that the following review is absolutely spoiler-free.

Well, fanboys and girls, it’s finally here. Ridley Scott has finally returned not only to science fiction, but to the science fiction franchise that landed him on the map as a director. And this, a remake-ish prequel to ‘Alien‘, is the best film that he has directed in over a decade.

Although much is shown, little is spoiled in the trailers for ‘Prometheus’. The less you know, the better it will be, so I’ll only tell you the gist of what the story’s about.

‘Prometheus’ is set in the universe of ‘Alien’, but takes place nearly 30 years earlier than the first film in that franchise. Based on this detail, ‘Prometheus’ is technically a prequel, but the way that it unfolds feels very much like a remake. The setting, location and events will appease those wanting a sequel, and the formula (which somewhat resembles that of ‘Alien’) will win over audiences unfamiliar with the franchise.

When ‘Prometheus’ opened overseas last weekend, I was disappointed by the chatter of some self-proclaimed die-hard film lovers who bragged about downloading bootleg torrents before the movie even hit theaters. Fools. ‘Prometheus’ is a movie that must be seen on the biggest screen possible. The melodic opening credits sequence shows sweeping shots of a land foreign to most of us. It’s breathtaking. After this beautiful intro, we meet our central character, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), in the year 2089, as she discovers the final clue to proving the existence of extraterrestrial beings that created human life. There’s nothing that she wants more in life than to meet her maker (just not by dying).

Cut to four years later, we meet the rest of the 17-man (and woman) crew of the Weyland Corporation’s ship, Prometheus. They’ve followed the hieroglyphic clues to a distant corner of the universe. After two years of stasis, they’ve finally reached the Earth-like moon that they’ve been led to. There, Shaw and her team explore strange structures that resemble Earthly ruins.

That’s it. I’m not giving you any more plot than that.

I not only suggest that you see ‘Prometheus’ on the biggest screen possible, but that it should also be a 3D screen. I know, I know… I’ve only ever recommended seeing a couple of movies in 3D, but I urge you to fork out the extra cash to see ‘Prometheus’ this way. Ridley Scott never once uses 3D as a gimmick to make things pop out at your face. Instead, he uses it to give depth to the image. The world of ‘Prometheus’ extends beyond the screen. Scott just might be the director to use the medium best. Although the majority of the movie takes place in dark underground sets, the image is never pitch black (which typically causes 3D to lose its extra dimension). Scott manages to light those dark sets in a way that doesn’t erase the 3D, while still making the film feel dark and tense. I don’t know that I’ve ever said this about any other movie, but the 3D truly enhances this moviegoing experience and is the best way to view ‘Prometheus’.

Do yourself a favor and pick up any of the four main ‘Alien’ Blu-rays individually at Best Buy – that is, if you don’t own them already. They’re on sale for $9.99 each and all come with $10 in free Movie Cash towards ‘Prometheus’. Put that discount towards a 3D IMAX showing and you will not be disappointed. You don’t need to know the ‘Alien’ movies in order to follow this one, but the more familiar you are with them, the more fun ‘Prometheus’ will be.

Rating: ★★★★½


  1. Drew

    I agree with every word! This film is positively brilliant. I would also score it 4.5 out of 5. I’m so happy I didn’t read any of the early reviews. And I won’t say anything about it now that might spoil it for anyone else. The less you know, the better. Get out this weekend and see this in IMAX 3D. I’m going at least once more, if not a few more times, myself.

  2. So cant wait, one of the few movies that we got a babysitter for, heading to a nice dinner and the IMAX3D version on Saturday, I’m guessing that I will be floored as I LOVE Scifi movies like this, hit up the original Alien last night and it is still breathtaking with its sets and visuals and I can only imagine how awesome this will be on that giant screen 🙂

  3. EM

    I’ve been following a plan I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago: I’ve been introducing a young friend to Alien and Aliens in anticipation of Prometheus. His appetite is now whetted. And so is mine. I’m trying not to hype the movie in my mind, though.

    • Luke Hickman

      If HBO would approve a HUGE budget, I’d be all for it. I’m now a lover of this property and can’t wait to see where it goes. Lindelof and Scott forever!

  4. JM

    ‘Prometheus’ was shot in 3D via Red Epic, mastered at 2K.

    2.39:1 in theaters, 2.0:1 in IMAX.

    The blu-ray transfer should be flawless. I wonder which AR they’ll pick?

    • Luke Hickman

      I cannot wait to see it on IMAX. The opening credits sequence alone is completely worth it.

    • Also, I don’t really understand what there is to be “spoiled” in this movie. It follows the same exact outline as so many other “travel to a distant planet; encounter weird shit” movies.

      • Luke Hickman

        I believe that there are definitely things that should not be spoiled here. Not only that, but Lindelof has embedded a bunch of “between-the-lines” stuff that I’m dying to discuss and revisit.

      • EM

        Well, thanks a lot, Aaron…now you’ve spoiled the outline and its lack of twists. Killjoy.

      • bob hickman

        let me know when that happens. It outta be a bloodbath and much more exciting than the ending to this turtle’s rear end. 🙂

  5. JM

    At our megaplex, ‘Madagascar 3’ gets all seven ultrascreens.

    ‘Prometheus’ gets one little theater.

    Baby needs to make $350M to greenlight the trilogy.

  6. I went to see Prometheus last weekend as it opened a week earlier in the UK. My friends and all were all really disappointed in the movie, I’ll avoid any spoilers but the last act was far too formulaic. I’ve seen this movie as least a dozen times before and it was done better

    • Luke Hickman

      Will you please cite an example of when it was done better? I don’t ask this with a dick-ish tone, I’m just wondering what you think was made better than this?

      (I hate trolls and am afraid of being mistaken for one since tone isn’t something you can completely convey through text)

      • JM

        Wikipedia “ancient astronauts in popular culture” for 100 variations on ‘Prometheus’s premise.

        It could be argued that Arthur C. Clarke did it better.

      • The first two ‘Alien’ movies for example. Other much better sci-fi films include, but aren’t limited to, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Moon,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ and ‘The Wrath of Kahn.’

        • Wrath of Kahn? While I love some classic Star Trek, I wouldnt lump that cheese infested classic in with serious scifi genre fair like 2001, Moon, and Blade Runner, I’m really not sure how a Trek movie like that is going to be better than Scott’s Prometheus, but I’ll find out tonight 🙂

        • EM

          Frankly, I would have trouble taking The Wrath of Kahn seriously anyway. Would it be like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein? Oh Madeline!

          Chaz, I like your Alien-esque graphic. Even if you and Aaron are not good spellers, at least you are a good egg. 😛

    • ‘Contact’ has a better sense of what kind of movie it is, what kinds of questions it’s asking and what kind of answers its purposing.

    • Barsoom Bob

      Good call, Contact is the middle child between these films. Love Contact even if it was a little more sentimental than I normally care for, but still, first class Sci Fi.

      I’m with JM on being wary of Lindelof, LOST was the biggest, most frustrating cock tease of my life. Total bait and switch on that ending. Up to the episode with Alison Janway it was in a perfect approach pattern for some thing along this ancient aliens theme, the was just something so other worldly about her character, and then out of left field they throw away everything they have been exploring and make it “Owl Creek Bridge” for the Christian rightsiders.

      But in fairness, there is nothing wrong with asking questions that you don’t have answers for, if they make you think. It has worked out rather well for Bob Dylan.

      I trust Ridley and although people tend ot slag on his recent work, I enjoy the hell out of his movies.

    • bob hickman

      Contact is really one of the few real science fiction movies that, even though not following the book point for point, actually covers the points generally made in real science fiction.

      Most sci fi on film is really horror, terror, alien vs human, etc. In other words, action-adventure. Many more films are just modern versions of cowboy and indian movies of the 40s. Hell, there is an equal amount of science fiction in this movie has “Spaceballs” but without any of the humor!

      The basis for real good sci fi has to deal with Life, Death, God, Politics, Religion, and Philosophy and how they interact with the situation the characters find themselves in.
      The thing that really pissed me off about this flick is that the beginning promised such a discussion and sequence of events to evolve. Instead we get gooey snakelike critters who take over human bodies (why?), an alien popping out of another alien at the end of the flick (why?), the highly impossible escape of at the end which only serves to lead to a sequel if this turd makes any money.
      I hope they do not turn Ender’s Game into such a fiasco. I already saw them turn Heinlein’s powerful book “Starship Troopers” into a COMEDY Action Adventure and barely touched upon the underlying political and philosophical views without which, Heinlein would never have written a word.

  7. JM

    My theory is that aliens used time travel to seed earth to harvest our movies, but once our artistry went into decline they created a biological weapon to destroy us.

  8. JM

    Did ‘Prometheus’ keep enough characters alive so that the sequel has enough meat for the beasties?

  9. JM

    Will ‘Prometheus,’ like ‘Kingdom of Heaven,’ have an extended director’s cut on blu-ray to flesh out the character work?

  10. Wayne

    Thank you for recommending big screen, and 3D and pointing to the blu-ray deal… boy am I glad I got $10 off this movie. Aaron is right on all points, but you should still go see it.

  11. I was rather disappointed in Prometheus. The general ideas are good, if nothing original (they’re pretty much what fan’s have speculated ever since Alien). Scott’s direction and production design is as always impeccable.

    It’s just let down by weak characters, and some really shockingly stupid and contrived moments. There are a lot of parts of the film that felt like something from a B-movie story (ie, stupid person does stupid thing to move the plot along, because the script writer didn’t have the wit to think of a better way to get the story from A to B)

    Here’s my review, if anyone’s interested… 😉

    I think ‘frustrating’ is the word that best sums it up. All of the major character/story problems were things that Ridley has himself done better in previous films (primarily.. um… Alien!!). He really should’ve known better, than some of the silly contrived moments that let Prometheus down.

  12. Drew

    I’d love some discussion of the opening scene. Opinions please. Why does he willingly drink that? What is he trying to accomplish? What does it mean?

    I’ve heard so many arguments. I’d love a definitive answer if someone has one. I’ll leave my opinion out of it.

    • It’s a scene designed specifically to get you wondering (at the motivations, anyway). In a literal sense, I think it is quite clear he is seeding Earth with the genetic information for life (or humans at any rate).

      (Apologies for any spoilers) As for why he drinks it and thus willingly kills himself in the process… There are no definitive answers unless Ridley Scott eventually spells it out. Personally, I think it was ritualistic and that his species see it as an honour to sacrifice themselves in seeding life in this way (And the life of the individual may mean very little to them). But there could just as easily be many other motivations for the scene.

  13. Drew

    Thulsadoom, I think that you feel that certain things were contrived, only because the story proceeded to where you expected it to. Nothing was contrived in this film. Every moment was meticulous advanced the plot in an organic fashion. There was no, “stupid character does something stupid, to move the story from point A to point B.”, as you state. Just because you don’t agree with the actions of the characters, or you feel like some of their behavior was predictable, does not mean anything was contrived. Luke’s review is much more accurate.

    • I’m sorry, but that’s a bit of a pointless statement. I may as well say “Just because you believe it moves things smoothly, doesn’t mean it isn’t contrived.”

      It’s just my opinion, but to me, it was heavily contrived. There was no ‘organic’ plot advancement (except in the most literal fashion… ahem). Things just conveniently ‘happened’ when they needed to.

      As for me not agreeing with the actions of the characters… That’s the whole point. If a character acts in a way contrary to how common sense dictates they should, then it becomes contrived because the writer is making the character do something out-of-character in order to force plot progression. Admittedly, for the most part there was very little character for some of them in Prometheus anyway, but there was enough for many actions to be foolish and yes, ‘contrived’.

    • bob hickman

      C’mon. go back and watch the really bad sci fi movies of the 50s and the characters are the SAME as the ones on this ship…. The actions are just as stupid and unreal as those corny flicks. I almost expected the dude who had been running for his life in the buried ship to try a cobra dance on this critter. I mean, what was he going to do, pet it? And the daughter commander was cartoonish and wooden. She flies out of her time to replace her daddy, the real boss? C’mon, Cartoonish I tell you.

      • EM

        Yet without cheesy movies such as 1958’s It! the Terror From Beyond Space, would Alien have ever existed?

        • bob hickman

          Whoa! When I was 9 years old I saw that movie and was scared to death. so much so that me and my buddies rode our bikes to the Gem Theatre and saw it about 3 times. In 1958 you rarely saw a movie at the theatre more than once. When I saw Aliens in 1979 I thought that it was such like that movie in the way it built up the tension and terror of what the Alien was. How nice to know that someone else made the same connection between those two flicks. What is funny I have seen that movie about a year ago and Alien a few weeks later and not only were both cheesy now, they both packed a punch when first seen.

  14. Bob

    I haven’t seen Prometheus yet, but I did see the extended trailers my last visit to my local IMAX theater. It has recently converted to digital 3D and the trailers support what you say about the movie & the sound that goes with it. I have it on my list for next week after the major rush crowd has thinned out somewhat and even though I know the basic plot and storyline, I want to see it just because of the imagery and sound. Will be looking forward to it.

  15. This movie is HORRIBLE. I wish I could go back in time a day and warn myself not to watch it. It ruins everything good about Alien. I can’t imagine how it could be worse. I hated hated hated fucking HATED it.

    • Alexws

      Agreed. The way they handled the space jockeys show the lack of talent and creativity of the writers. What a cop-out.

    • Alexws

      And I incidentally just bought the Alien box-set on Blu. The best scene of the first movie – when they discover the eggs – is more or less ruined now. All the wonder and suspense I once felt will be gone every time I see it now.

      Hope I can still enjoy Aliens at least…

    • bob hickman

      What a great point…. After enjoying the first 30 minutes of the flick, I got so pissed with the ending that I considered trying to get my money back.

  16. Drew

    Not to mention, your comments are pure troll, “I can’t imagine how it could be worse.” Whatever you’re trying to do, just save it. Let’s have respectful discussion about it, or save our comments for another day. If you want to say you dislike it, fine, but at least offer some intelligent remarks about why that’s the case. Comments that are only meant to spark a fire, well, I know how you feel about them, so take your own advice, please.

    • This is a non-spoiler post (and comment thread), and I would prefer to keep it that way. We’ll have a spoiler post on Monday. In the meantime, I feel it worth warning fans of the Alien franchise to don’t see this movie. It could make you hate the Alien franchise. It may be prettier to look at, but it’s even dumber than ‘Alien vs. Predator’. By a mile.

      Oh, and I saw it in IMAX and the movie more or less stops being 3D halfway through. Even that aspect of the production is half-assed.

      • Dumber than Alien vs. Predator? you are the only person I’ve seen completely hate this and even come close to making that comparison, so needless to say I dont think this opinion will even be registered in my head. Still going to see it and trust me, it wont make me hate the franchise, if both AVP movies didnt do it (and I enjoyed them for what they were) this certainly wont, coming from the man who started it all

        • The AvP movies are merely stupid franchise extensions. Prometheus goes further by actively ruining all the mystery of the Alien universe the same way that the Star Wars prequels ruin Darth Vader by showing us that the galaxy’s supreme badass is really just a whiny brat with mommy issues. Can you watch Star Wars again without seeing that douchebag behind Vader’s mask?

          I’m not saying that the Alien has mommy issues, exactly. I’m saying that the “answers” to the mysteries of the Alien and the Space Jockey and other things are incredibly stupid and undercut everything that was ever appealing about them. Once you see Prometheus, you’ll have trouble rewatching Alien without thinking about the totally idiotic chain of events that supposedly led into the beginning of the movie.

          If you’re still determined to see it (and honestly, I can understand that), be sure to check our post on Monday and tell us what you think.

          • EM

            Yes, I can watch the original Star Wars without the prequels’ blunders interfering with my enjoyment. Star Wars (Episode IV) invites questions about backstory, and of course the prequels provide some answers—but I’m just as capable now of providing my own speculative answers as I was before the prequels were made.

            I haven’t yet seen Prometheus; but even if it is profoundly terrible, surely it could be made even worse. I have two words for you to consider—actually, it’s just one word that, for fully debilitating effect, should be iterated twice in a row. That word is Jar.

        • bob hickman

          Good stuff, Josh. I think you and I have many of the same complaints about this giant turd.

  17. Brian Hoss

    Wow, it sounds like this movie infected you, thereby compelling you to excise everything good about Alien from your person. I recommend any great David Lean/ Peter O’toole collaboration as remedy.

  18. Drew

    Just want to point out something interesting, for those that might be curious. I saw it twice more today, less than 2 hours apart. Once in real IMAX, and once in digital IMAX. It actually plays better in digital IMAX, hands down. The 2:1 OAR works perfectly for this film, and it’s awesome to have it fill up the entire screen for the duration of it’s run time. The video quality is also noticeably better when viewed on digital IMAX. This is most likely due to the fact it was shot with RED EPIC digital cameras. If you are going to see this in IMAX 3D this weekend, and are considering which type of IMAX to see it in, go with digital IMAX. I never would have thought it could be true, but digital IMAX is definitely superior in this case.

  19. Brent Umina

    To a generation brainwashed into thinking movies with more explosions than story are “great” films – please jump off a cliff. Prometheus was beautiful sci-fi and it DOES answer a lot of questions about the Space Jockey and the origin of the alien creature. Sure there is some fill in the blank stuff left over, but anyone who actually watched this movie instead of bitching about it can connect the left over dots. If you followed the story completely then you can understand the opening scene pretty easily….I won’t spoil it here, but it makes perfect sense. Here’s hoping Ridley Scott makes the bridge from Prometheus to Alien in a future sequel.

  20. Bob

    Just got back from seeing it at an IMAX 3D theater. The movie plot wasn’t the greatest and as many have implied, borrowed from other sci-fi genre but the image and CG were well worth seeing. Best use of “holographic” type instrument consoles on the ship I’ve seen and the 3D version of the command deck of the “Engineers” ship was impressive. Some scenes were very dark and lacked details in the shadows. The plot was probably the movie’s shortcoming, but I definitely wouldn’t say this was a bad or terrible or poor sci-fi flick. Mediocre maybe, but not bad. Anyway, it’s really worth it from the eye candy perspective (at least in IMAX 3D).