This image a metaphor for the entire film. A beautiful mess.
Imagine Die Hard. (If you're on this site, I'm gonna assume you've seen it at least once. More than likely, you're like every other geek who counts it as a "Christmas movie" and watches it several times every December.)
Die Hard is a great movie. I'll go out on a not-very-dangerous limb here and say it actually defines the action movie genre, in the best possible way. So picture it in your head: An average schmo -- middle aged, balding, blue-collar looking dude -- finds himself in a crazy terrorist hostage situation on Christmas Eve. Dude's just trying to patch things up with his wife, and he suddenly he has to be John Wayne.
As we all know, at the end, the villain gets thrown out of a window and plummets 30-some floors to his death.
Now imagine the end of Die Hard, and picture Hans Gruber slinking away laughing "I'll get you NEXT TIME, JOHN MCCLANE, MUAH HA HA!" Winky wink to the camera, fade out, credits up.
Be honest. You'd want to punch that movie in the dick.
Picture The Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West doesn't melt. Dorothy still goes home to Kansas, but this crazy bitch with the flying monkeys lives to torture midgets another day.
Picture an Indiana Jones movie where Nazis don't get their faces melted off.
Picture Goldfinger, only Goldfinger gets a parachute, too.
A lot of stories that are pretty good still rely on the villain getting his in the end. If you leave a popcorn movie with an open-ended question of whether or not there's more to the story, the audience is going to be annoyed. It doesn't matter how great the first two hours are, if you get through a movie where there is a clear villain/hero setup, and the villain gets away with it, I call shenanigans. It seems like Hollywood is more interested in trying to set up sequels by not killing off a perfectly good bad guy, than by actually attempting to make a blockbuster movie that's one complete story.
This situation, of course, is less black-and-white for other sorts of films. I can't imagine The Way of the Gun or John Carpenter's: The Thing or even Casablanca having resolutions where everything is happy or explained completely, wrapping up the story up in a neat bow. Those other sorts of movies have something that Prometheus doesn't, though: they're actually smartly written. They aren't obnoxiously ambitious. They're evenly composed. And though their resolutions may not be storybook, they're on par with the rest of the story.
The first two Alien films were both smartly written and pretty much self-contained. In Alien, the end suspense is in Ripley's multiple attempts to destroy or escape the alien creature. We keep thinking she's safe, she keeps finding out it's crawled in to an exhaust port. Then you get to the very end, where it finally seems like she's killed the thing and put herself in to statis. Credits up. Hooray.
Aliens surprisingly follows almost the exact same format for its ending, though you might not have noticed. Ripley tries a couple times to kill the alien and get away, and at the very end you think she's actually done it. (Until Alien 3, whose merits we can debate another time.)
The important thing about Alien was that you left the theater thinking "She got the bastard, ha ha!" not, "I hope in eight years that dude who made The Terminator finds a way to add a shitload more special effects and then kill Paul Reiser." It was a complete story. And the brilliant thing about Aliens was that it found a way to bring back the alien, and be a sequel in a believable sort of way, and, it also manages to be its own movie. It has a different tempo and sensibility, but it can stand alone. In fact, lots of people either forgot they've seen Alien or have never seen Alien, and they love Aliens, that's how well each movie stands on its own.
Let's leave aside that Prometheus is full of plot holes. Let's also forget all the metaphors and religious pondering and everything that makes the movie tedious to sit through at times. Let's even set aside the sometimes hammy or clunky dialogue and the unsurprising plot twists and the two dimensional characters. Most of the previous problems I can live with if the movie has a decent payoff. (The Losers would have been something I would have lovingly suggested people try and catch the next time it's on HBO if the villain had just died in the end instead of literally getting on a bus and getting away.)
My main problem with Prometheus is two fold. [SPOILERS AHEAD] (One) The opening scene never ended up making much sense. Here's this alien guy, he's maybe some sort of priest (he's wearing a robe and has what looks like a ceremonial tea cup full of tar), he's watching a spaceship take off, and then he drinks the bubbling goo and dies. I was confused, but I thought perhaps the film would eventually explain everything.
In fact, I probably wasn't as bored as my husband was during the rest of the film, because the entire time, I kept thinking back to that alien from the opening scene. Did he know his beverage was poison? Was he committing suicide? Later, when you find out the goo is biological weaponry that was headed towards Earth, I wondered if he was taking some sort of stand against his buddies. Or was he was just bummed because the spaceship was leaving without him -- wait, was that spaceship taking off or landing? Was he on his planet, or the planet they were manufacturing the disease on? Was he doing some sort of experimentation? Was he trying to create a master race of super alien?
It doesn't matter. Because (Two) you're never going to find out in THIS movie. We're making a FRANCHISE, everyone! Open-ended resolution! The alien was not only NOT killed, a NEW alien springs up! And it looks exactly like the aliens you've come to know and love, HO HO HO, origin story and the launch of a new series! EVERYONE SHUT UP AND ENJOY THE SPECIAL F/X.
And that's when I realized I should've instead caught Cumberbatch as Frankenstein's Monster in this theater the day before.
I have no idea how the original comic series The Losers actually ended. Perhaps there was only one villain throughout, and the movie only tells one of the many stories these guys have in regards to pursuing their foe. But you can't approach a movie thinking you're going to have a second or a third chance to finish telling the story. You just can't.
I'm less impressed with the attempt to incorporate Alien Vs. Predator via the Predator-like design of the alien spacesuits than I think they wanted me to be. I'd rather just re-watch Predators, because Adrien Brody is an awesome Batman.
“It has absolutely no message,” insisted Scott of the first Alien. “It works on a very visceral level and its only point is terror, and more terror.” [source] -- really, Ridley? So would you say Prometheus is therefore all point and very little terror? Because there were only a couple cheap thrill moments in the whole movie.