I went and saw Prometheus last week, in full Imax 3D at the local Cineplex. I have to say it was not the best science fiction/fantasy movie I have ever seen. It was not even the best I had seen this year. Of course, since the Avengers came out this year it would be very difficult for any movie to measure up to that blockbuster. But Prometheus was not a bad movie. Now maybe it was to people who went in expecting Alien V. Which, due to all the hype and news, all of which pointed out the fact that it wasn’t really an Alien movie (as in the acid blooded parasite/predators that Sigourney Weaver battled) shouldn’t have surprised anyone. But some people still bring their expectations to movies and expect to see what they expect to see. And curses upon the movie maker who doesn’t fulfill that expectation. I used to be that way as well, but learned over the years to treat each movie as an independent vision. Not an exact representation of a book (can’t be done unless you make every movie ten hours or so). The comic book movies have especially driven this home. I see the heroes I grew up with, but the mythology is changed to the point where they are completely new stories. I used to rage against these changes, but they didn’t listen to me for some reason. So now I just accept them as they are. If the story is good, the effects are very good, and the acting is excellent I really don’t care how much the story is changed. And if the effects are excellent I can even stomach some bad acting, like that kid in the first of the new Star Wars films (or are those old Star Wars films, I can never keep that straight). The only ones I can’t forgive are those two very different but very poor representations of Conan in the movies. The big guy just deserves better.
So I went into Prometheus with my science fiction writer’s eye and enjoyed the movie without passing judgment on it. And I did enjoy it. Some things were similar to the older Alien movies, even with updated effects translated into better looking technology for a more primitive (chronologically) ship. It was a very good hard science fiction movie. Why hard science fiction? No magical devices were in evidence, everything was tech as we understand it and that would be possible in the next century. Like the older alien movies the means of traveling multiple light years was never shown or commented on, and that’s OK. The story did fine without that explanation, the hard scifi fans knew it was there, and those less versed were not confused by something that might not have really made sense to them. My writer’s eye was looking for things that might spark ideas that could be used in my own fictional Universes. I came away with an appreciation for HUD (Heads Up Displays) on space suit helmets, and a love for the little laser scanning robots that flew around the underground structure automatically mapping it. The autodoc (right out of Larry Niven) was also kind of cool, wouldn’t mind having one of those at home. And an appreciation for exploration suits a little more robust than those used in the movie.
***Warning: Spoiler Ahead. Don’t read further if you haven’t seen the movie.***
Now I have seen discussions on the net about if the planet portrayed was the same one from the original Alien movie. I don’t believe so. The one in Alien, that Nostromo landed on, was not described as a moon around a gas giant. And as others have pointed out, the derelict ship had a feeling of great age about it. I believe that the Engineer civilization that created the Aliens as a bioweapon were wiped out by their own weapon. That’s why they didn’t come back to Earth to finish the job. And this would have had to happen quite some time ago, to fit in the mythology of the Alien vs Predator movies (not that they really have to fit that in, they can essentially ignore them if they want, since this is a movie after all). The Aliens being genetically engineered weapons also answers some of the complaints that have been leveled against the original Aliens being too generalized (able to survive anything from vacuum to dense atmosphere, jump, crawl, swim, something that most naturally evolved animals cannot do). They were designed to be all those things.
Now the one thing that still bothers me about this movie and the original movies was all the crap about the Earth being destroyed if an Alien gets back there. Unless they are dropped en mass over the entire surface of the planet they are defeatable. The acid blood really doesn’t help over a dirt surface, and an armored division and a couple of nukes could contain any infection of aliens. The only way they could defeat the military and civilian powers would be if they spread and multiplied into the millions before they were detected (unlikely). But that is just nitpicking on my part. The premise is still cool, and the movie was still enjoyable and interesting, and I would recommend it to any science fiction fan.