Not to simplify things, but the extent that you will enjoy Prometheus most likely depends on your personality type. Are you the kind of person who enjoys mystery, preferring to leave the particulars of any story to the ether of the universe? Well, you will wince a few times during Prometheus, but you’ll still enjoy the ride. Are you, on the other hand, a person who loves it when a puzzle fits together with mathematic preciseness? If you need every stone unturned, even if a few of the stones have silly explanations under them, you will fall in love with Prometheus.
I leave only those two options because I can’t really imagine the person who will absolutely loathe Prometheus, the latest by director Ridley Scott. I can’t imagine that much hatred because it is a truly impressive spectacle that just happens to take place in the same universe as Alien and its sequels. I can imagine, though, a person who isn’t completely in love with Prometheus, as I am one of them. Prometheus spends a large portion of its time explaining the conditions that led to the crew of the Nostromo to explore a certain ship with a certain nasty creature on it. And for my part, I’m not entirely sure that was necessary, or even welcome.
For all its spectacle and allusions to the Alien universe, Prometheus stumbles noticeably when explanations of that universe happen. Stumbling along as Ridley Scott and the writers, Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, try to figure out how to explain this universe. Those explanations, of course, lead to the origin of this universe’s most beloved resident, that lovable double jawed alien. I suspect they stumble mostly because a reasonable explanation of a xenomorph with acid for blood is probably one of those stones that should’ve been left unturned. That creature is terrifying because it is unknown, and nearly indestructible, unless you know some colonial marines of course. It is not terrifying when it is explained with an equal mix of science, pseudo-science, and pop philosophy. That approach simply makes the alien seem less threatening and more a part of our own communal primordial ooze.
I won’t spend any time on the actual synopsis of Prometheus because the experience of the audience will be enhanced by going in blindly. Trust me, blindly walk into that familiar Alien universe and take a look around, you’ll have way more fun that way. That is what really worked in the movie and made it, if nothing else, a fun ride through a familiar environment. The majority of what really works in this film is that return to familiar set pieces, along with introductions to a few incredible, previously unseen set pieces. That portion of Prometheus makes a person remember why we fell in love with these movies in the first place.
Though the script stumbles a bit through plot points and explanations, and even an unexpected jaunt into that pesky “meaning of life” question, the visuals and the resulting atmosphere is nothing less than incredible. On a visual and technical level, it would be easy to believe that the 1979 Ridley Scott stepped up to the director’s chair and politely asked the present day, G.I. Jane, Ridley Scott to step aside. And I, for one, was glad to see that guy.