The difference between (most) literary science fiction and (most) sci-fi film is the depth of ideas portrayed in the material, as well as the use, in the latter, of specific visuals and not the audience’s imagination.
Prometheus begins with a standard but solid literary SF premise – scientists searching for the origin of life – but ends in a typical sci-fi movie fashion. Between these are some of the most stunning visuals yet in a sci-fi film. Computer generated imagery has finally allowed movie effects to mimic the realism and detail of the human imagination, save for Guy Pearce’s horrible old man makeup.
Unfortunately, once the opening and thematic question is abandoned the film becomes, essentially, a retread of Alien. Certain set pieces are tremendous, the surgery is unrealistic but intense and innovative, but too much of the plot is intentionally held back for the obvious sequel.
While the visuals may approximate the depth of human imagination, the ideas remain millennia behind. [subscribe2]