It took a while, but with Prometheus, Ridley Scott made a return to sci-fi- a genre which he helped transform greatly during the late 70s and early 80s. It's a nice homecoming, too.
The anticipation was ungodly high for this movie, and it's easy to see why. It's been in development for years, it was initially pitched as a fifth film in the Alien series (likely a prequel), and as mentioned above, it's a genre definer making a come back.
While the film is undeniably linked to the alien series (it shares the same universe/tons of elements), I am unsure as to if it truly belongs in that camp or not. Scott said it's similar, though meant to stand on its own. That might be true, but I think it might be more related than he's willing to admit as well. If it is supposed to be a lead up to Alien, well, it's not quite successful. I think you'd need at least one more film to fully bridge the gap.
Looking at it purely on it's own terms though, it's a really good film. It doesn't totally live up to all the hype (how could it?), but it does deliver the goods. It's not quite as intelligent as it should be or thinks it is, as many of these characters act less smart and professional than they should, but it at least tries to be smart, and is far better at it and in general than basically almost all other recent sci-fi films.
The plot focuses on a group of scientists out on a space expedition to investigate what could be origins of humanity. What they stumble upon is potentially revolutionary, but it might not be quite what they were searching for, and it definitely brings with it something far darker and sinister than what they anticipated as well.
A good mix of brains and monster movie, this film is, above all, a visual masterpiece. The look is great, the cinematography and visuals are absolutely stunning and gorgeous, the effects and art direction are top notch, and you ca ntell a lot of work went into this.
It's not all style and flash though. There's brains, though as I said, it's not quite as smart as it thinks it is. Still though, this asks some big questions, has lots of ideas going on, and, like some of the best sci-fi, doesn't always provide the answers. I was mostly happy with that last part, though I know a lot of people wouldn't be. I think it can get away with not giving some answers, but unlike 2001, not everything needs to go unanswered here. It's not deserving of that distinction.
I myself have lots of questions, and hopefully a sequel or tow could answer some of those, but at the same time, I think it should also have tried to have been as self contained as much as possible, which, given some of my questions (which I won't share) can't necessarily be done. Maybe that's just me though.
Even though the film has really gotten a mixed reception, it's at least getting people talking and thinking, and that's where it counts. I feel odd when I have to praise a film for forcing people to think, which is something all films need to try to do on some level to begin with.
I knew this was going to be a lengthier review, but I'll try to wrap it up. Guess I'll do that by finally getting to the acting. Noomi Rapace is really good as the lead scientist, and while she will probably receive (unfair) comparisons to Weaver, she's really good, and it would be great if we could see more types of characters like hers more often. It's perplexing to me as to why Guy PEarce was needed for his role, and why they had to make him look so old when they could have just gotten an older actor, but whatever. He doesn't make the film any better, but he doesn't hinder it either. I think more could have been done with Elba, but he's okay. Where the film really cooks is with Michael Fassbender (definitely the best character and performance), and Charlize Theron (second place). These two are chillingly, compelling, and really dominate a lot of the scenes they are in. Also, these are two of the cases where I'm more fine than not with the ambiguity, speculation, and questions are concerned.
Even I have mixed feelings toward this movie, and yeah, it is quite flawed. Yet, like The Dark Knight Rises, it does so many things right that, despite the flaws, it's still some great film making that deserves to be seen.