Prometheus is a movie about a space expedition searching for a planet that they believe hosts the aliens that created human beings. With this philosophical and controversial goal in mind, they take to the stars to arrive at this far distant destination only to find that something went terribly awry. As they try to unravel what happened on the planet, horror ensues.
Over the past weekend, I had nearly a half dozen people mention the movie Prometheus to me and voice their desire to see it. I was somewhat surprised by this, not because I wasn’t equally interested by the captivating trailers, but we all admitted to knowing little about the actual plot. The trailer showed stunning images of spaceships and stars, and conveyed a suspenseful tone, but it told us little about what to expect. This advertising tactic seemed to be rather effective in its endeavor to intrigue people as Prometheus had a solid opening, making $51.1 million.
For those of you who don’t spend time analyzing movie openings, $51.1 million is fairly typical for a big movie. In fact, Prometheus didn’t even capture the coveted #1 spot in the box office this weekend, as Madagascar 3 comfortably took that honor. Still, Prometheus is both a science fiction and a horror movie, two genres that only appeal to specific groups of people. Consider the movie Pandorum which came out in 2009, a film which also fused these genres but only grossed a little over $20 million in its entire lifetime.
So, what made people pack the theatres this weekend for Prometheus? A few things. One was the big budget of $120- $130 million dollars. This was nearly $100 million dollars more than the comparable Pandorum and it certainly shows. The special effects were astounding, and while I didn’t see it in 3-D I am sure it had a lot of people jumping even more than usual. Big budget also means big advertising, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it was nearly impossible NOT to see the adrenaline rush of a trailer that was plastered all over TV.
The next important thing to keep in mind is that Prometheus is a Ridley Scott film, and Scott is a legend in this genre. His list of production and directing credits is astounding, and very heavy on the science fiction and action categories. But most importantly, he is the director of what is arguably the most famed science fiction/ horror film franchise of all times; Alien. For those of you who don’t know, it is no longer a secret that Prometheus contains secrets that relate to the creation of Alien. And this has been driving Alien fans to the theatre in a frenzy to learn more.
Without spoiling anything, I will let you know that the connection between Alien and Prometheus is tenuous and not critical to any understanding of this movie. To call it a “prequel” would be a stretch. So, with the Alien connection aside, does Prometheus really deliver as a quality science fiction/ horror? In my opinion, that’s debatable.
Every good science fiction movie requires cool special effects, advanced looking technology, and attention grabbing action scenes. You can check all those off for Prometheus. Horror movies require suspense, mystery, and often, gore. Again, a check on all three, especially the gore. Prometheus is not for those with a weak stomach.
Still, there was far too much that was confusing about this movie and left those in the theatre scratching their heads on the way out. There have been rumors that this movie was intended for a sequel, but even if that is true, there were too many loose ends that needed to be tied up. This is too often a failure in the sci-fi genre; creating too many questions and not enough answers.
As far as the scare factor of this movie I will admit I was on the edge of my seat a few times, but mostly I was just squirming in discomfort at the gory scenes that were peppered throughout. Mind you, this wasn’t a Saw type of blood bath film, but it did have some very cringe inducing moments. That being said, this was certainly not the scariest space horror I’ve ever seen. Maybe in an era of video games like Dead Space and Doom 3 I just have high expectations for the creepiness factor.
I wasn’t thrilled with Prometheus as a horror or as a science fiction. Visually it was impressive, and even the acting was better than the usual science fiction standard. Yet the twists weren’t all that interesting, and the mysteries weren’t satisfactorily resolved.