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In Greek legends, Prometheus was the titan who stole fire from the gods, gifted it to humans, and was punished by having his liver picked out day after day by a ginormous eagle. In cinematic history, Prometheus will go down as the curious lead balloon even a decade-plus of director Ridley Scott’s research, passion and dedication could not float.

It’s a great concept: in the late 21st century, definitive evidence of humankind’s origins is unearthed by some sexy archaeo-scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green). Prune-faced money magnate Weyland (Guy Pearce) funds a reccy mission to the ‘home planet’ along with his android son David (Michael Fassbender), maybe-android maybe-daughter Vickers (Charlize Theron) and a gang of scrappy, multi-ethnic crew members about whom you appropriately care very little.

A few electrical storms, penis snakes, scenes of flute-playing and weapons of mass destruction later, and it becomes brain-bashingly obvious: Mama and Papa Alien (who, for some reason, look like cranky albino gym junkies – maybe that explains their mood?) really hate us, and are not afraid of a little infanticide.

The Promethean spark is certainly there – we especially glimpse it in Fassbender’s intriguing, amoral android – but unfortunately it fails to ignite into anything more than the runty addition to the Aliens franchise it started life as. (AB) **