Prometheus is no odyssey. It's more a slog through space glop.
The characters are sketchy, and the plot is scrawny. It goes where a lot of filmmakers have gone before.
However, despite the lack of originality in Prometheus, director Ridley Scott does once again effectively call upon his inner demons and splashes them all over the screen to vivid advantage.
After a fairly lacklustre hour, Prometheus explodes into patented Scott violence. Scott's strengths are his vistas and his violence.
But his characters almost all are easily disposable. Only Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and perhaps the Captain (Idris Elba) would be at all missed if they disappeared. Prometheus even makes Charlize Theron forgettable. That's a titanic feat.
The characters are not even pawns; Prometheus is checkers not chess.
As in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968), a machine is the most interesting character in the film, and has the most personality amidst several one-dimensional humans.
David (Michael Fassbender) - the android - is a head above the others. He is the most intelligent being in the movie, as was the computer HAL in 2001.
The plot of Prometheus concerns a mission to a planet in search of the answers to life and immortality. Dr. Shaw is a woman of faith. Will her faith be shaken by what she discovers? That's about it.
The writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof are earthbound. Or actually more Hollywood-bound. They make several allusions to other movies. David is the android in Prometheus, and Dave was the astronaut in 2001. Prometheus begins with a strange prologue, but there are no apes in Scotland.
One of David's favorite films is Lawrence of Arabia, which he watches and quotes.
And David says to Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, "You have extraordinary survival instincts, Lisbeth." Lisbeth was the name of the intrepid heroine in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Both Lisbeths were portrayed by Noomi Rapace.
But the cleverness often lapses into contrivance. Guess what day Prometheus ends on? New Year's Day. Not much subtlety there.
Rapace has learned English since making The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but she's given such lines as, "OK, OK."
Fortunately Rapace is an agile physical actress. Michael Fassbender is as likable as an android can be.
As one character says about a life form in Prometheus, it is a "bloody ping."
That's not exactly a Star Child. Ping.