I've been debating whether I should do a review of Prometheus. I saw it on opening day. I enjoyed it. Didn't love it and didn't care about the characters but admired the look and attempt to make a thinking movie with B-movie elements.
Of course, because it's a thinking movie, I've been...thinking about it. Off and on. Read some reviews, including Film Critic Hulk's. All have good points. I'm not going to repeat what's already been said or summarize the good and bad. Instead, I'm going to compare and contrast it with another movie with similar themes.
And no, it's not 2001.
Look, the plot, characters, and story don't mean shit in this movie. It's all about themes. Those themes are species creation and adaptation.
Creation being creating new life.
Adaptation being that new life...uh...adapting to its environment.
Everyone got that?
Okay, so that's the themes of Prometheus. Creation and adaptation. Yes, there's also quest for knowledge and searching for origins and fear of death but those feed out of the main two: creation and adaptation.
That being said, what other movie addresses these same themes?
What? That Victorian era movie about magicians?
The Prestige is also about creation (magic) and adaptation (adapting to competition and improving said magic). In the flick, two magicians battle each other for...prestige. To be the best at their craft, no matter the cost (financially, emotionally, and physically). One employs natural slights of hand. The other employs money and science.
So, anyway, early in The Prestige, we learn the three parts of a magic trick. The Pledge, in which the magician tells you what he's going to do (cut this lady in half). The Turn, in which we put the object in a impossible situation to escape or return (cuts the lady in half). The Prestige, in which everything returns to normal thanks to magic (the woman is put back into one piece).
The two magicians employ this structure to perform the same trick (the teleporting man), only in different ways. The methods are the secret. And once each has perfected his trick, we are left with the wonder of how it's done. That's what makes it magic. The lack of knowledge of how. Because in the end, as you pass from Pledge to Turn to Prestige, you want to know but at the same time, you don't. Because once you know, the magic is gone.
As you watch this movie about magicians, you start to realize the movie itself is one big magic trick. Once you reach the end, you get the how of both magicians, at terrible prices. Because this flick has a third theme that Prometheus doesn't. One of revelation. More on that later.
Prometheus attempts to do the same thing. There's a Pledge (the discovery of our species' creation), there's a Turn (uh, not what we thought. This is fucking bad), and there's a Prestige...no, no there isn't a Prestige (we sort of learn something but it's minute to what's left unanswered). It's like they sawed the lady in half and then gave both halves to the audience and said, "You fucking figure out how to put her back together."
Seriously, it's like that.
Back to the theme of Revelation (and as you now know, there's nothing revelatory about Prometheus). The Prestige rightly points out that we don't want to know how the trick is done. We don't want the magic ruined. But at the same time, it shows us the how because we need the revelation to both mysteries of the magicians to adequately resolve the story. And in doing that, we learn the horror the scientific magician engaged in.
Prometheus doesn't tell us shit. It leaves us to deduce shit. But all the clues are circumspect at best. Inception didn't give us an answer but it gave us enough to make our own call. Prometheus, not so much. It literally ends with the main character taking off and going in search of more knowledge (i.e., how do I put the fucking lady back together?).
Look, if you're going to make a movie that makes you think, give us a way out. 2001 showed us the fucking star child. Inception gave us enough info about the spinning top we could decide if that bastard kept spinning or toppled over at the end. The Prestige showed us the horror behind the magic.
Prometheus cock teases you and leaves you with blue balls. It also leaves you wondering whether you should just rub one out to ease the pain or enjoy the suffering.
It's not a terrible movie. There are cool parts to it. And I'm sure more will be answered in future films. But as a stand alone, don't expect to get off. Expect the stripper to promise the best lap dance and leave you wanting your own hand.
For more on unanswered questions, check out this video from the guys at HALF IN THE BAG.