Home Reviews Second Opinions: Prometheus 3D – Promises the world, then trolls the audience

Second Opinions: Prometheus 3D – Promises the world, then trolls the audience

6 min read

You’ve read Kervyn’s original Prometheus review. Now let’s find out if the man was being too harsh… or too generous. As a “He Said She Said” counterpoint, here’s another take on Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated sci-fi thriller.

Prometheus is actually a pretty difficult film to review, given that any discussion of it almost automatically veers into spoiler territory. As such, I will try to avoid the biggest revelations but be warned if you have yet to watch the film. This review may be best read once you have experienced Prometheus for yourself.

In short, Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott’s much trumpeted return to the science fiction genre is a big fat dud. Prometheus is a disappointment in virtually every category, sunk particularly by a lazy script that deprives both characters and plot of the believability that’s essential for the audience to become invested in events onscreen.

To be fair, Prometheus starts off fantastically, with breathtaking shots of Earth in its most primordial, untouched state. Taking its cue from the Greek myth of Prometheus, the audience witnesses what we can assume – given later events in the film – is a rebel alien being gifting our world with its DNA.

Fast forward millennia and at the end of the 21st Century, a crew of 17 humans awake from cryosleep in their spacecraft, the Prometheus, as they approach what archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) insists is Mankind’s homeworld. Shaw is determined to find an extra-terrestrial reason for humanity’s creation and withered Weyland Corporation founder Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) shares her passion for answers, privately funding this trillion dollar mission into deep space. This is much to the disgust of Weyland’s risk-averse representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Anyway, our heroes land on the storm-ravaged planet, the scientists head off to investigate a towering alien structure, and things go terribly wrong.

To start with it’s all slow burn stuff, playing out like something akin to a BBC anthropology documentary, but that’s fine. What isn’t fine is the utterly illogical and frustrating behaviour of characters. In essence Prometheus depicts Mankind’s first contact with extra-terrestrial life, finding indisputable proof of its existence. This is arguably the most important discovery in humanity’s history, yet with the exception of Shaw and her partner-beau Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), the crew acts like they don’t give a shit. Nobody shares in this excitement. And nobody, apart from Vickers, responds to the complete unknown with expected wariness.

Our band of scientists just walk right into the alien dome, whip off their helmets and start touching everything. There’s no scouting of the structure by drones beforehand, or an attempt at securing the site with an armed contingent. When a pair of scientists – who really don’t want to be there despite this being the project of a lifetime – are stranded, they’re left to their own devices, as unmonitored as the ongoing digital mapping of the alien dome. And despite the fact that they have spent the entire movie up until this point running at the slightest whiff of danger, these scientific geniuses set up camp in the most dubious spot and start poking at alien specimens with their fingers.

Just as bad, characters in Prometheus have been painted with the broadest strokes. They’re types; not people. Our sweet, soft-spoken heroine wears her father’s crucifix and insists there’s no threat from the aliens simply because that’s what she “believes.” Meanwhile it’s easier to identify the unnamed and undeveloped supporting cast as “guys placing bets”, “chick with Scottish accent” and “Techno Viking”. To be fair, having just revisited 1979’s Alien this week, I can confirm that the crew of the Nostromo also go undeveloped as characters, but their camaraderie and increasingly terrified response to their situation is at least credible.

Fortunately, there are a few faces that get to emerge above Prometheus’s murky mediocrity and leave an impression. Idris Elba’s likeable spacecraft captain is one of the few characters to feel “real” and he provides some much needed warmth – enough in fact to melt through Vickers’s icy exterior. Theron for the record is also great, pushing her “robotically stiff bitch” onscreen persona to the limit, even if her character’s motivation is yawn-worthy when it’s revealed.

The real standout character and performance of the film though is Michael Fassbender as creepy android David. David has spent two and half years proudly caring for the Prometheus and its comatose crew, only to be greeted with disparaging comments from his expedition mates and even his “father” Peter Weyland. For a being that’s supposedly incapable of emotion, David’s stung arrogance and jealousy are obvious for anyone who cares to look… but the humans around him are too stupid and self-absorbed to notice.

Basically broken into three distinct Acts, Prometheus is tonally unsettled. The film has its high intensity moments but even the heavily flawed Event Horizon still easily trumps this one for getting under your skin.

Again, this seems due to some jarringly unrealistic script choices that are impossible to overlook. For example, a desperate, emotional Shaw fights off the crew and runs to the Prometheus’s automated surgery unit. The fact that nobody pursues her is so hard to swallow that you end up wondering if she’s perhaps just having a nightmare. Then, a few scenes later, the captain of all people – who hasn’t even stepped on the planet’s surface – is the one who conveniently explains to Shaw, and the audience, the nature of the aliens’ base.

*Deep sigh*

Many critics who have grumbled about Prometheus’s plot have praised the film for its visuals. The production certainly looks impressively big budget, with the CGI-effects top-class and convincing. This said, despite having been shot for 3D, the format adds nothing memorable to proceedings, and the film just replicates the look of the original Alien planet set for large chunks.

Speaking of which, at the end of the day, it would have been better if Prometheus had nothing to do with the Alien franchise. Yes, the film is a prequel despite all the contradicting denials and teasers of the past few months. However, there’s a strong sense that attempts to shoehorn the series’ big unanswered questions into this tale has left a convoluted mess. The process of creating the first Alien-style xenomorph is especially overcomplicated, and frankly you feel that all the hype build-up has only resulted in an even greater let down, because Prometheus only sporadically touches on horror/thriller turf.

I briefly flirted with giving Prometheus a passable 2 stars out of 5. However, the final few scenes pushed me over the edge. The film’s conclusion – and sequel set-up – honestly feels like someone is taking the piss, with our hero heading off into space on an intergalactic revenge quest, assisted by a head in a gym bag. Seriously.

I actually burst out laughing, and that is definitely not the response you want to receive in the closing moments of your supposedly dark, philosophical sci-fi yarn. Massively disappointing. Sorry, Ridley.

Last Updated: April 27, 2017


  1. Wtf101

    June 11, 2012 at 10:57

    I dunno.  I have to disagree with you on this one Noelle.  I saw Prometheus this weekend, and aside from a grievance here or there (Shaw being able to use the gazillion dollar med pod with no outside interference from a crew member as you have mentioned)  I thought this to be a good entry into the Alien mythos.

    Your gripe about the probes issue for example.  Yes, it would make sense to send in the probes before the humans go in.  However, what we would have here is either a)  They see the place is dangerous, have a vote and decide to leave, or b)  they wait for the probes to finish their jobs and then go in anyway, making the movie unneccessarily longer than it needs to be.

    We are after all, watching a movie.  And armed contingent?  So what, that the first gung-ho GI Joe could blow up the alien when it emerged?  Roll credits…

    And should all the human crew members have rolled out of bed, kissed David’s Shiny Metal Ass for keeping them alive?  This is humanity we are talking about here.  We cannot appreciate our own flesh and blood brothers and sisters, and you expect them to like an android?

    As to the head in the bag… You did see that Shaw lowered his body out of the ship as well?  And that would imply that she is planning on fixing up David again.  How, I don’t know exactly.  But still.  Having something implied is not a bad thing.

    As to the overall tone of Prometheus?  I am glad that the sci-fi/horror stuff has been left back a little.  Would it worked on me?  No.  I think anyone that saw the original film and the sequel Aliens as much as I have would have been left with a bit of a yawnfest feeling afterwards.  Hey, for all I know, Scott may have realized this as well.  Let’s face it, the alien franchise is not going to be scary any more for fans of the series.  Alien 3, Alien Resurrection and the Alien Vs Predator movies made sure that the Xenomorph is no longer a scary monster.  Cool yes.  Scary?  Not so much.

    This movie gave me a very good idea where the xenomorph from the first movies came from.  And for that, I am grateful.  I never expected to see a full reveal about the Alien in anycase.  And I never got the idea that this is what the movie promised…

    I loved the exploratory route that Prometheus took.  Loved all of it. Well, except maybe the fact that people in movie land for the life of them cannot think to run say, I dunno, 300 yards to the left or right to get out of the way of the big rolling alien space ship that wants to make you its pancake bitch!

    One star is harsh.  this movie is far from perfect, but I cannot help but wonder if reviewers that pan this movie does so out of a sense that their preconceived expectations were not met by this. 


    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 11, 2012 at 11:27

      Do I agree completely with Noelle on her 1 star rating? No, I clearly don’t. However I do agree with her on certain points and I also find the fact that people keep calling out every bit of negative criticism of the film as being as a result of preconceived expectation, as being a bit ridiculous.
      Let me state it clearly here, unequivocally: The things I didn’t like about Prometheus was not because I was expecting Alien. I didn’t like them because I found them bad.

      The characters were almost all woefully under-developed, with the bulk of them acting like bad horror movie extras instead of the supposed scientists that they were supposed to be. And you yourself alluded to some of the really dumb script moments that these characters were doing, which just completely pulls you out of the experience of enjoying the film.

      And you can’t accuse me of overthinking this one either. If this was the next Rob Scheider “comedy” then sure, go ahead. But I take offence when the entire premise of a movie is to get you to think about big questions, and then requires you to switch your brain off to enjoy certain parts.

      And while I am not a fan of stories being spoon fed to me (my favourite author is Steven Erikson, for craps sakes), I do have a problem with a script that requires the audience to do ALL the heavy lifting. Had this been billed as part 1 of 2 or 3 part story, then I would have been far more forgiving of the non-story that we end up with. But that’s not how this was sold.

      And at this point the sequel, which would hopefully resolve the story issues is not even confirmed. It had a decent opening weekend, but with negative press building, and with the film’s R-rating cutting out a lot of potential viewers, it still remains to be seen whether it will have any box office legs. Especially since we’re about to enter the heart of blockbuster season. 

      All of which means that Ridley Scott might just have left us not with a prequel to Alien, but a prequel to a movie that’s never going to be made.


      • Wtf101

        June 11, 2012 at 12:20

        Kervyn,  get of your little high horse here boet.  I never accused anyone of anything.  I said I cannot help but wonder if…  (Forgive me if I am no Professor X capable of reading peoples minds.)  However, I have to draw your attention to this from your response:  “…that they were supposed to be.”  Can you understand what I mean by preconceived ideas?

        However, if you see anything I have said as accusation, then by all means go ahead.  Noelle mentioned some points, I had some counterpoints to make.  (Which I thought was fine, by the way, seeing as I am able to write these comments to these articles)

        Unfortunately there are mules out there that will follow the score a review gives to a movie as a guidline if they will go and see it or not.  (Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, as for example, Twilight proves.  Critics pan it, fans love it.)  And I felt that Prometheus is given a bum rap when it comes to reviews.

        Now you weep at the possibility that the sequel might never be made.  Do you really think that giving a movie a one star review is helping the possibility of a sequel at all? 

        Am I asking that we give a movie undeserved credit where it is not due?  Not at all.  If a movie is crap, call it crap.  Was Prometheus one star crap?  No. It was not.  Was it the perfect movie?  Again, no, it was not.  But I do think that it was WAY better than say, I don’t know, The Animal  (Seeing that you brought Rob Schneider into this)


        • Kervyn Cloete

          June 11, 2012 at 12:59

          Ah, stupid internet words with no context. I didn’t explicitly mean you. Within minutes of my Prometheus review going live, I had that thrown at me twice on Facebook and thrice on Twitter. Every single negative review I’ve read has had a plethora of people all “accusing” the reviewer of the same thing. It’s become an almost knee jerk reaction, which I think is unjustified.

          As for “…that they were supposed to be…” I really don’t think it was far fetched of me to expect scientific experts, people chosen to represent our race in potentially the greatest discovery in mankind’s history, to show even the tiniest bit of brain power. 😉


          • Kervyn Cloete

            June 11, 2012 at 13:06

            Forgot to mention, I would really LOVE to see a sequel to this. Seriously, I would. Because I hate unresolved stories. I NEED to see how this plays out.

            What gets to me is that there was absolutely no need for a sequel though. Every single thing could have been tied up perfectly in this one movie. And I’m not talking massive 11th hour exposition dumps either. By threading small little hints throughout, we could easily have drawn our own conclusions. And make it ambiguous by all means, but for the love of Krom, just actually offer something.

          • Wtf101

            June 11, 2012 at 14:27


            The minute that I see a reviewer using frases like:  “They were supposed to be…” or “of me to expect…”  then I cannot help but think that a reviewer has already lost the plot, and I can forget about a balanced review of a movie.

            Both you and Noelle have now confirmed that you expected the scientists to react in a certain way.  Why?  Because they are scientists, should they act all aloof and go “Oh Deah… Would you look at this marvelous inscriptions on the wall, what?” whilst glaring at each other over their spectacles?

            Because hell, that is how I expect scientists to act.  Now do I go and kick Scott in the proverbial nuts because his scientists never “acted” like “…experienced, field-trained scientists in jaw-dropping wonder of their discovery.”

          • Noelle Adams

            June 11, 2012 at 14:37

            Yeah, I’m afraid the “you’re being harsh because of your preconceptions” criticism of reviewers doesn’t work for me either. You can expect something, and I suppose it can bias you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the reality of what you experience. I wasn’t expecting Prometheus to be a Anthropology documentary and I thought that was the strongest part of the film.

            Personally character remains one of my chief focuses in a film, and on those grounds along Prometheus really under-delivered. 

            As for the ending, that’s an awful, cheesy starting point for a sequel. I really don’t want to see a follow-up film. I don’t care at this point. Let’s just assume that an infected Engineer on his way to Earth goes down with his full payload of goo capsules, crash landing on the planet that the crew of the Nostromo find. This said, the creation of a xenomorph seems super hard to duplicate – infected human semen -> human womb -> Engineer stomach:P

            They should have just ended Prometheus with the destruction of the ship/s leading to some kind of reverse terraforming event, transforming the planet into the ravaged world of Alien, left for the xenomorph (a queen perhaps?) to populate.

          • T-wholf

            June 24, 2012 at 23:40

            I agree with Wtf… u have an idea in your head how this movie should have been panned out and the fact that it doesnt irritates u.. youre like a child trolling….would expect this in the comments section but youre like a child throwing his toys out the cot……..read quite a few of your reviews and I have to say i disagree with alot of them… youre reviews lack analysis and really show an immature overreaction to small gripes.. also theres other movies that are horrible that u rate as good… sorry dude but this review was the final straw… youve lost a reader

  2. raveburger

    June 11, 2012 at 11:05

    I wonder if after all these years he ever knew anything about story telling, or if he just pumps whatever script he’s given with symbolism and calls it a day.


  3. Tauriq Moosa

    June 11, 2012 at 11:49

    Great review. I think one star is too harsh, but all your points are valid. I enjoyed the exploration and the discovery part; I liked the flirtation with “hard sci-fi’. My biggest gripe was the bizarre motivations and behaviours of the characters. I’m glad you touched on the “surgery scene” (don’t want to spoil it) when absolutely no one responds to her, or even to the greatest discovery. Very annoying. I would give this at least 3 out of 5. As far as I can tell, you saw almost nothing redeeming about it. Oh well. Great review nonetheless.


    • Noelle Adams

      June 11, 2012 at 12:35

      One star is pretty harsh I admit. If I was feeling more generous I would have said 2. However Prometheus is A-grade all around with a top, talented cast and technical polish to the max. For it to drop the ball so badly has resulted in an especially strong punishment on my part. I may have been more forgiving of the flaws if Pometheus had been made by a first time director and cast of unknowns/B-graders…

      This said, even without changing Prometheus’s plot at all, the film would have scored much higher simply if the scientists had behaved like experienced, field-trained scientists in jaw-dropping wonder of their discovery.


    • Noelle Adams

      June 11, 2012 at 12:39

      I also had a serious issue with the surgery scene. Sure it had me squirming in my seat, and I’m no medical expert, but the whole process seemed a bit clean and easy. Surely it takes more than some skin staples to round off a procedure like that? Shaw would be hemorrhaging badly and messily. Did they even tie off the umbilical cord?


      • Tauriq Moosa

        June 11, 2012 at 12:59

        One explanation was the number of times she used the injections: no reason to think those didn’t pull a deus ex machina, solving all her medical problems post-op. My major problem was the lack of people and no one, including Shaw, talking about what just happened. It ties in with the general apathy and lack of wonder, which is my biggest gripe of the whole film.


  4. James Francis

    June 11, 2012 at 12:07

    You all raved about John Carter – I’m still miffed I saw that on your recommendation.


    • Noelle Adams

      June 11, 2012 at 12:24

      Now now, I gave John Carter 3.5 stars. For me it got the throwback spirit right for all its other flaws. Prometheus is soulfully dead.


      • James Francis

        June 11, 2012 at 12:54

        So was John Carter. It had no soul to speak of, just a muddled mess of acts and an unconvincing lead character. I was actually wondering how solid actors like Bryan Cranston and Dominic West find themselves in such shit?


  5. Kervyn Cloete

    June 11, 2012 at 13:11

    Complete and total nit-pick, but did anybody notice that at the start, Shaw chips away like a hand sized hole in that cave wall, and manages to spot the drawings through the gap.

    She calls for Holloway, who appears to arrive there just a few mins later, yet somehow in those few mins she’s completely excavated the cave, cleared away the rubble, installed lights, everything. 

    Was Shaw like a graduate at Hogwarts or something? 😀


    • Wtf101

      June 11, 2012 at 13:44

      Or it could be that this movie plays of well into the future and they had Bender E Rodriguez there to excavate the cave for them?


    • Noelle Adams

      June 11, 2012 at 14:04

      lol, I noticed that as well. 

      Also, a hilarious tweet I’ve read: “Prometheus teaches us that British children grow into Swedish adults.”


      • Kervyn Cloete

        June 11, 2012 at 15:35

        I picked up on that on my first viewing, so on my second viewing I intentionally listened to Noomi Rapace’s speech patterns.

        And when Shaw tells David that it’s impossible for her to be pregnant, for that single line of dialogue and that line only, she develops a serious English accent. Like something out of a Dicken’s story.


  6. Gavin Mannion

    June 11, 2012 at 14:15


    My biggest complaint about the story would be that the engineer threw his DNA into the water of earth and then millions of years later we arrive, via evolution, to look exactly like him..Seriously what are the odds of that actually happening?

    And then yes, two guys who ran scared from the aliens decided to camp out in the place they ran from? Seriously why not camp closer to the exit it’s not like they were at the mercy of the elements.

    Not to mention.. WHO TOUCHES AN UNKNOWN ALIEN.. jeez people haven’t you watched any movies before?


    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 11, 2012 at 15:32

      I’m still trying to figure out how they got lost when they had a 3D map to work from. Fifield even makes a point of telling them how his “pups” can guide them.


    • Noelle Adams

      June 11, 2012 at 15:43

      My apologies for quoting Bangers and Nash here but the last sentence made me laugh:

      “Is the captain (Idris Elba) a drunk? Or is he just acting hardcore? Why have they developed his character in this way? Is he ever going to pick up a gun? WHAT IS HE ANGRY ABOUT? Is he drunk? Why is he allowed to drink on a ship that is run so tightly by Charlize? She burns a man to death with a flamethrower because he is sick and wants to come on the ship, but is ok with the captain being drunk?”


    • Gerhard

      June 22, 2012 at 12:39

      I only watched it yesterday and it is total rubbish. I am a fan of the Alien movies, but this was a big dissapointment. 1 Star for visuals is all it deserves!


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