Let's All Manage Our 'Prometheus' Expectations

Ridley Scott's big mysterious sci-fi scarefest Prometheus opens in two short days, and it seems fair to say that anticipation levels are riding pretty darn high. But hold up.

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Ridley Scott's big mysterious sci-fi scarefest Prometheus opens in two short days, and it seems fair to say that anticipation levels are riding pretty darn high. But hold up. We have seen the movie (we'll have a formal review on Friday) and we're here to tell you to, well, maybe chill out a bit. Or at least try to reshape your expectations, because it's not exactly The Movie in the way we once thought it might be.

Where did all this Prometheus hype come from? Obviously the Ridley Scott pedigree is there, and the Alien tie-in had lots of sci-fi nerds curious, but really the strongest foundation of the excitement was that first expertly cut teaser:

Grand and scary but also withholding, our first glimpse at Prometheus hinted at a serious, large-scale movie with the same grim thrill as Inception. It created a game of trying to figure out what the movie was about, and because it was such an artfully crafted game, people were eager to play along. Suddenly Prometheus was the summer movie to see, eclipsing even The Dark Knight Rises in the fervor of speculation. The marketing for Prometheus has been ingenious, and should be studied by other films trying to present themselves with the same classy, tantalizing allure.

The first full-length trailer expanded upon our excitement while narrowing our idea of the story. It presented us with the simplest of plot frameworks and shed a little more light on the aesthetics and special effects of the movie. We were still very excited! More so, even. But then, hm, we saw the international trailer, which showed maybe a bit too much, and we backed off slightly. The more we saw, the more our appetites were oddly satisfied rather than whetted. Maybe the fun was in all the wondering and guessing rather than in the finding out.

Without spoiling anything (hopefully), we'll just say that that sentiment applies to the experience of watching the whole movie. While the film makes stabs at bigger ideas, it is ultimately just a scary monster movie. An ingeniously done scary monster movie with at least two soul-rattlingly frightening sequences, but a scary monster movie nonetheless. So our caution to you is this: Don't go into Prometheus expecting something monumental. The marketing and mythos surrounding the production of the film — How closely related to Alien is it? What is the grand secret they keep hinting at?? — has made the thing seem far bigger a film than its actual scope allows it to be. We say this because we don't want you going in expecting some kind of epic and leaving disappointed. Trust us, for your own good, go in with an open mind but without hopes higher than the film can reach. Our own experience was marred by our outsize expectations (which roared on despite the oversharing foreign trailer) so we are trying to save you from the same fate.

That isn't to say you shouldn't see it. Again, we'll post a full review on Friday (or possibly tomorrow night), but know now that there is plenty of really well done stuff in Prometheus to make it worth the price of admission. But there is also a lot that doesn't work, or that is at least confusing to the point of frustration. So keep that in mind when getting your moviegoing outing together this weekend. Don't go in all Debbie Downer (like we're being right now — but this is your medicine, it's good for you), but do try to safeguard yourself against bitter disappointment upon leaving the theater. Who knows, you could absolutely love the thing! Plenty of people in our audience did. But, with all the hubbub and hype surrounding the film, there is enough potential for upset "That's it?" reactions that we thought it best to gently try to talk you back down to Earth. We don't want anyone feeling bummed out this weekend. It's summer, after all.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.