In development since 2000 Prometheus received a variety of reviews when it finally hit theaters in 2012. Originally aimed to be a prequel to the Alien series, it was later planned to a reboot. Once Damon Lindelof was brought on to help with the script it was explained to exist in the same universe but not a direct prequel.
I would say the wide range of reviews is because Prometheus is hard to categorize. If you are expecting an epic sci-fi story you are going to be disappointed. Likewise you are going to be let down if you are hoping for a gory Alien vs. Humans story. Instead it’s more of a science fiction thriller, almost like a detective story in space.
Noomi Rapace is excellent as the archaeologist who is out to find why a symbol found among many disconnected human civilizations seems to be pointing to one planet in a far away galaxy. Michael Fassbender is equally skillful as the creepy android David.
Ridley Scott‘s direction is surprisingly subtle. The color pallete is basic film-making (alien locations are dark and dirty with all shades of grey, spaceship is well lit and white) but because of his history of sci-fi storytelling he knows how to not knock you over the head with it.
The story is pretty basic. The intrigue is the main driving force. The “Why?” becomes the “Who?” halfway through. Unfortunately the big reveal/twist is not surprising and the epic ending just isn’t epic and is pretty predictable. And yes many of the scientists, who we are supposed to believe are the best in their field, dp absurd things in order to move the plot along. At times their actions put the Keystone Cops to shame. But overall the story is satisfying.
I really think people need to lighten up when it comes to modern versions of the movies they remember from previous decades. I really enjoyed the movie and the winks it gives to the original Alien movies.
Is it a great sci-fi movie? I can think of dozens that are better. But if you are willing to suspend your disbelief when posed with impossible scenarios and the smartest people from Earth occasionally acting like buffoons then you will have a nice time.