It’s rare to see any movie delve into deep theological, ontological, and existential questions that have puzzled humanity for millennia. ”Prometheus” isn’t even a pensive indie – it’s a blockbuster – and it still ponders them deeply in the far reaches of our universe to satisfying and intellectually stimulating effect.
Director Ridley Scott and screenwriters Damon Lindelof and John Spaihts don’t pretend to have any answers. Thankfully, they don’t have that kind of hubris. After all, these are the quandaries that have kept philosophers twiddling their thumbs. But it doesn’t ever feel like a cop out or negligent writing. They effectively stage a thoughtful drama in outer space and pose the questions to a new audience in an freshly compelling frame.
A number of people have quibbled about the small things in “Prometheus,” such as its fidelity to the “Alien” franchise, the plausibility of various events, the nature of the “engineers” that serve as the mysterious beings for the film, and the motivations of certain characters. And if you really wanted to nitpick Scott’s film, I’m sure you could find some flaws and holes in the plot. I, for one, really want to know why people are apparently unable to run laterally a century from now.
But to harp on the fine print is to miss the point of “Prometheus” entirely. It’s a layered cerebral and psychological drama that just happens to use the framework of science-fiction. The film finds fascinating parallels between the mysteries of extra-terrestrial life and the mystery of our own origins and existence. Then, it heightens our senses and gets the heart racing. The mind, naturally, wants to catch up and runs in overdrive after the movie to ponder what it just experienced.