From the very moment Alien is evoked Prometheus is doomed, not because Prometheus might demystify the allure of its mother-offspring or be lost in its shadow but because its inheritance inhibits it, paralyses it and brings crashing down. Bathos. Anti-climax. Head tilted heavenward, eyes lashed to the ground. An android because of Alien. An axe because of Alien. A white shirt and panties because of Alien. This is nonsense.
La pregunta de todos : 'Where are we from?' 'Why?' ends with the birth of a spindly creature (the least impressive one of all, despite evolving from the others) hissing unmenacingly. All our journeys, our existential tumult our hope our fear, the awesome void, laic sanctity, divine whim, expectant children are all for nought because all we are doing is meeting an old friend in a strange place.
Small things have big beginnings.
There is such potential in that opening sacrifice, the grandeur, the otherness. There is a frisson and a tremble ("They engineered us"). There is more potential here than in a hundred Aliens. It is always almost there.
Parallels, yes, allusions. Black goo that creates and destroys: oil, Iraq, arrogance and hubris. That works and could have been explored. Feet-washing, miracle births, arms outstretched cross-like, 2,000 years, christological symbolism. A Greek fable in the name and sprinkled around works like a clever wink for a pat on the back.
With little of its own grandness. Prometheus doesn't feel what it says in its sinews and in its heart. It is curiously empty. It lacks atmosphere. There is no time for things to sink in or their significance to be felt. It is one thing after another. Prometheus does have ideas, and complexities and 'themes' but what do they do? They don't flourish through the story or through the people. It knows the world but not itself.
That which it does best is universal: parents and children, bonds of love given, withheld, squandered, unresolved (life, death and sex). Cycles. What is creation? What are we worth? Are we Gods?
Even better, it has thoughts, though rare:
"Why do you think your people made me?"
"We made you 'cos we could"
"Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?"
Eventually all this gets lost.
We want visions, art to give its answers and not more questions. It has that freedom and we give it that right but Prometheus is a timid shout.
All that existential wonder and terror is flattened into fight or flight, aaaah into AARRGH!! Peril and not much more.
Prometheus needs its own story. Why other mythologies? Why Greek , why Christian? Is this so we recognise it as myth, as something important? Abominable monsters and the cold gaze of Engineers ultimately point not upwards to the hands of Gods but down and back to us and what we already knew was not enough to know. We have the Bible, we have Alien and Prometheus stays in their shadow.
Elizabeth is the light of the film, the through-line through the dull gloom, still looking for her God despite, longing for her father gone, wanting to bring life into the world and to understand it. She wants to embrace her instincts and feed her mind. She carries on to another planet, another adventure. She fulfills the imperatives of her faith in testing it. She has dreams and doubts and pains unlike the crew, the room-fillers. We don't believe in them.
One would like to think she is like us.
We should decide : do we go with her now to find our maker, fair, foul or fate, or do we want a story about a story, a myth about myths, truths about truths? Do we want another Alien, a tuppenny fright, or do we want something different; bigger, better, bolder?