Sanctimonious sci-fi

Submitted by Matthew on 20 June, 2012 - 9:38

Emma Rickman reviews Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, in cinemas now.


Prometheus is the prequel to the Alien trilogy; a series of battles in the bellies of spaceships with a creature that hatches through the rib cages of its human “wombs”.

The (infertile) human heroine pursues the mother alien in a fight to the death, through three long sequels.

The predecessor in Prometheus to the heroine in Alien (Sigourney Weaver’s character) is a “believer”. She and her archaeologist husband board the ship Prometheus in search of “the engineers” (giant humanoid aliens that resemble statues of Greek heroes), who have left their symbols on artefacts across human history. The believers commit themselves to understanding the reason for the creation of mankind, and in the process unleash the alien which, as in the Prometheus myth, tears out the entrails of the crew members until there is no-one left to spawn from.

Prometheus is interesting in its narrative on man and “the Gods”, childbirth, parenthood, and sin. The heroine experiences an abortion while conscious; but, no, the foetus lives to save her life. The “child” of man, the robot, listens in on their dreams and plots his freedom.

Despite its beautiful cinematography and vast alien architecture, the film’s characters are unbelievable and hollow. The pilot is the worst token black character I’ve ever seen, gladly sacrificing himself, along with the other ethnic minority pilots, to save mankind from mass destruction. The believers cradle their crucifixes. The least robotic character is the robot.

The Alien series was terrifying because it mirrored our primitive fears about childbirth; the strangeness of having another living thing inside your body and growing, waiting to force itself painfully and possibly fatally out of your body and demand your life.

But Prometheus is not frightening, it’s clichéd and sanctimonious; the Gods hate us; our children hate us; faith is better than ambition; original sin begets a monster; knowledge brings only destruction.

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