Watching Prometheus upon release, it was hard not to sympathise with scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Having spent years hoping to find the “Engineers” who brought about the genesis of mankind and left cryptic messages painted on cave walls, he found himself filled with existential despair, upon finding only their corpses. I walked out of Prometheus with the same reaction, a pervading sense of dissatisfaction with a film that fell woefully short of its potential.
Rewatching the film a year later, I was more forgiving. The film’s biggest problem stems from its script – written by Lost’s Damon Lindelof, it shares that series’ obsession with posing momentous questions and its complete disinterest in providing satisfying answers (see the Blu-Ray packaging quote: “Questions will be answered”). Treating the film as a cipher to be decoded is intensely disappointing, highlighting the script’s glaring flaws.
Prometheus is more satisfying when approached as a big-budget, beautifully executed slasher flick: leagues short of Alien, naturally, but entertaining nonetheless. This approach explains the characters’ (numerous) foolish decisions as consequences of horror movie logic, and lets you soak in the gorgeous special effects and appreciate the ominous atmosphere. The “answer” to Prometheus is simply to lower one’s expectations.