Prometheus 2012 ★★★½

There is a very good reason why everyone involved with this movie went out of their way to emphasize that this is not an "Alien"-Prequel, and it's not because they wanted to trick and/or surprise us. Although "Prometheus" may share some of its DNA (to paraphrase Ridley Scott), and the events herein precedent those of the original "Alien" movie, tonally and conceptionally this is a very different (star) beast. Unfortunately, where "Alien" was a perfect organism, "Prometheus" is not without its flaws. Most of the ideas presented here are not particularly new, and while "Prometheus" raises some fascinating and intriguing questions, it mostly fails to provide answers. In "Alien", this wasn't a problem, because open questions like the Space Jockey were window-dressing that added some fascinating layers; but it wasn't what the movie was about. It served more as a foreboding of things to come, and added to the sense of danger and mystery; thus, leaving those questions open was not damning. Here, they are central to the movie, and delaying them for a possible sequel feels quite cynical, and makes "Prometheus" narratively unsatisfying and occasionally frustrating. The movie isn't helped by some plot contrivances that have some protagonists act in an illogical and/or uncharacteristic manner (especially given the fact that most of them are supposed to be scientists) as well as the very ill-conceived and unintentionally funny death of one particular character near the end, which only add to the frustration. Besides, I would have preferred it if the movie would have started with Prometheus already in flight, since the very first scene gave away too many answers to the questions that dominated "Prometheus"' first half, and the second one was absolutely unnecessary, adding nothing to the movie.

There's no denying though that "Prometheus" also has a lot of strengths. Arguably the biggest one are the impressive visuals. "Prometheus" looks absolutely stunning, and definitely should be seen on as big a screen as possible. The character of David is another essential strength of the movie. Michael Fassbender is incredible in the role, giving David an ambivalent and slightly "off" presence that make us question his motives right from the start. Since in "Alien", we didn't know that Ash was an Android, thus having no reason to feel uneasy in his presence, and the only reason we were skeptical towards Bishop were Ash's actions in the predecessor, this is the first time within the "Alien"-universe that we can really understand the reserved feelings of the human crew towards their artificial companion. Most of the really intriguing questions raised by the movie are revolved around him. Further strengths are a couple of tense and gripping moments, some great individual scenes, the impressive art direction and set design, and Marc Streitenfeld's atmospheric score. Overall, "Prometheus" works better as a movie experience than a narratively satisfying movie in its own right. One thing's for sure, though: Whether you find it fascinating or frustrating (or both), "Prometheus" will stay with you long after you've left the cinema. That alone, plus the impressive visuals, make it a must-see for everyone who loves movies.