I'm a huge Alien fan. Huge. I have a facehugger tattooed on the inside of my left wrist and an alien drone on my right shoulder blade (it was the first tattoo I got when I turned 18). My idea of Heaven is to die and come back as the Alien Queen. As you can imagine, when I first heard of Prometheus, I was stoked.
I wanted to hate this movie, I really did. It is nothing like I expected it to be. The scientists are complete morons and there aren't any facehuggers, chest bursters, or xenomorphs in there (well, not in the traditional sense). The original Alien movies were so freaking awesome because they scared the crap out of me. They are horror films that happen to take place in space.
I remember watching Aliens vs. Predator in a movie theater in Cheyenne, and the guy sitting next to me had never seen one before. He was losing his mind he was so scared. And he was a tough guy with his low-riding pants and gangster attitude. And, honestly, that movie wasn't all that spectacular (I do, however, own them because I love anything to do with the alien. Plus, I have a Predator tattooed on my left shoulder blade!). The same thing would happen when I watched Aliens with people who'd never seen it: it scared the hell out of them. It scared the hell out of me the first time I watched it. I'm pretty sure I was in sixth grade, and we just got a new TV with surround sound. I was convinced there was a facehugger in the closet and we were all going to die.
Promethues did not have that same vibe. There was nothing scary about it. Still, after taking a moment to think about it, I have to say, this movie wasn't as awful as some people make it out to be.
Like I said, there weren't any traditional facehuggers, chest bursters, or xenomorphs in the film, but there were versions of them. The basic premise of the film is that two archaeologists have discovered a common link among ancient civilizations that show them worshipping giant humans from outer space. They decide to find these aliens, they call them Engineers, because they are convinced they created the human race. What they find is more sinister than they expected.
I can't help but wonder if this isn't a metaphor for the entire film. Since the Alien movies came out, there has been speculation of where the xenomorphs came from. It was never answered, but it added to the mystery and horror of the films. Any good author always has the background of their characters in their mind. They know everything about them: where they grew up, what kind of trauma they went through, etc. Rarely do they put that on the page, though, because it doesn't matter. Many times, it doesn't further the story. If they put down every little thing about their character, it would bog the story down and make it unreadable. The past has to be there in the back of the author's mind, however, so they know why the character acts the way they act.
I felt that this was what this movie was. It was the backstory of the xenomorphs, the thing that was always in the back of the author's mind. It doesn't really further the story of the Alien, but it does give an idea of why they act the way they act. One of the most recurring themes throughout the film was: what if you met your maker and their reason for creating you wasn't as glorious/exciting as you though it was? Would you still want to know why they did it?
I think that explains why the film was made. It did explain where the xenomorphs came from, but I don't think it was as glorious/exciting as the audience expected. The film was basically made because it could be made, and they are probably going to make a sequel.
Another theme that recurred throughout the film was the idea of evolution. If this was the backstory of the Alien, all it does is show how it evolved into the creature we know and love from the original films. There's a reason the facehugger, etc., appear so primitive--because they are!
I don't want this post to turn into a huge thing, so I'm going to end right now. Like I said, I wanted to hate this film, but I found myself enjoying the metaphor behind it. With the focus on creation and evolution, it's easy to see how this movie could portray the creation and evolution of an idea and story. Like the characters in the film, once I figured out who the creators were and why they created what they did, I was disappointed. Sometimes, the mystery is what makes the story.