Australian Council on Children and the Media

Prometheus (2012)

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Not suitable for children under fifteen years of age due to themes, violence and disturbing scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Prometheus (2012)
  • a review of Prometheus (2012) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 June 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not suitable due to intense violence and disturbing scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 15 Parental guidance recommended due to intense violence and disturbing scenes and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Prometheus (2012)
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate science fiction violence and a medical procedure
Length 124 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The movie begins in a cave on the Isle of Skye Scotland where archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient cave paintings. These identify the origins of an Alien race referred to as “The Engineers”, who Shaw and Dr. Holloway believe are responsible for the creation of the human race.

We next see Shaw and Dr. Holloway in the year 2093, when they are on the Starship Prometheus approaching the distant moon identified in the paintings and have been awakened after spending the past two years in cryogenic sleep. Among Prometheus’s crew of 17 are an android named David (Michael Fassbender), who appears to have his own clandestine agenda, ageing zillionaire and project funder Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and project boss Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). After landing, a small exploration team including Shaw, Holloway and David leave the safety of the Prometheus to investigate gigantic alien made structures discovered on the moon’s surface. While exploring these structures Shaw and her team discover a chamber containing dozens of long dead giant alien bodies piled against a door that leads to a room containing hundreds of vase-like cylinders all of which begin to ooze organic fluids when the door is opened. We learn later that the cylinders contain alien creatures created by the Engineers, which have been designed to either impregnate humans with a nightmarish alien foetus or infect humans with a virus that turns humans into mutated homicidal monsters.

An approaching storm forces the team to temporarily abandon their find and return to the Prometheus, but not before the android David steals one of the cylinders which he sneaks aboard. David’s actions have devastating consequences, with Shaw being impregnated by an alien foetus and Holloway infected with the alien created virus. To make matters worse, the crew of the Prometheus learn that the real aim of the Engineers is to use their biological horrors to destroy the life they once created on Earth. The explorers are determined to prevent that from happening. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Alien life forms and planets; genocide; weapons of mass destruction/biological weapons; androids; mutating viruses; pregnancy termination

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of violence and peril including some disturbing images of very brutal violence with realistic depiction of blood and gore. The film also contains a scene depicting a highly intense and graphically realistic surgical procedure. Examples include:

  • A long snake-like alien creature bites a man on the hand and then attaches itself to his hand and wraps itself around his arm. The man screams out in fear and pain as the snake creature snaps his forearm in half with bone and flesh protruding from the wound. A second man attempts to cut the snake creature from the first man’s arm, causing acid-like blood to squirt out of the creature and cover his helmet.  The visor melts onto the man’s face, leaving him screaming in agony. 
  • A man who is infected with an alien virus is burnt alive after he begs to be burnt. He stands engulfed in flames as he is set on fire by a flame thrower and eventually collapses to the ground.
  • After being impregnated with an alien embryo, a woman races against time in an intense and disturbing scene to have the alien embryo surgically removed before it kills her by exploding out of her abdomen. We see images of the alien embryo trying to push its way out of her stomach. The woman straps herself into an automated surgical unit and an automated laser makes an incision in the woman’s stomach; with blood and gore as the incision is made. A second mechanical hand spreads open the wound with a claw-like apparatuses reaching into the wound and extracting the alien foetus just moments before it awakens. Several times throughout the surgical procedure the woman convulses in pain and injects herself with unknown drugs. Following the extraction an automated arm fires staples into the woman’s abdomen to close the wound. Later we see the woman with her abdomen and thighs splattered with droplets of blood and see clear images of her stapled wound.
  • In one brutal, disturbing and graphically violent scene, a mutated man infested with an alien virus goes berserk and attacks his colleagues in a fit of rage, killing several men. In one instance the infected man clamps his fists together and brings them down on a man’s helmeted head as though a sledgehammer, smashing the victim’s head open with blood sprayed in all directions. The infected man is shot numerous times, set on fire by a flame thrower and then run over several times by a heavy vehicle before he is finally overcome.
  • A man punches a woman in the stomach, knocking her to the ground, and a second man says “If she talks again shoot her”. 
  • We see distressing images of a giant humanoid alien grabbing the android David by the throat and lifting him off the ground and then twisting and ripping his head off, his headless body falling to the ground.
  • A woman is crushed beneath a gigantic alien ship. We do not see her actually crushed, but hear her screaming and see her body disappear beneath the falling ship.   
  • There is a fight between a giant alien squid-like creature and a giant humanoid alien creature. A snake like appendage shoots out of the squid alien’s mouth to force its way inside the humanoid alien’s mouth. At the end of the fight the humanoid lies on the floor with its head and body completely covered by the squid-like alien.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

The film contains intense sequences of violence and peril including some disturbing images of very brutal violence with realistic depiction of blood and gore. The film also contains a scene depicting a highly intense and graphically realistic surgical procedure. Examples include:

  • A long snake-like alien creature bites a man on the hand and then attaches itself to his hand and wraps itself around his arm. The man screams out in fear and pain as the snake creature snaps his forearm in half with bone and flesh protruding from the wound. A second man attempts to cut the snake creature from the first man’s arm, causing acid-like blood to squirt out of the creature and cover his helmet.  The visor melts onto the man’s face, leaving him screaming in agony. 
  • A man who is infected with an alien virus is burnt alive after he begs to be burnt. He stands engulfed in flames as he is set on fire by a flame thrower and eventually collapses to the ground.
  • After being impregnated with an alien embryo, a woman races against time in an intense and disturbing scene to have the alien embryo surgically removed before it kills her by exploding out of her abdomen. We see images of the alien embryo trying to push its way out of her stomach. The woman straps herself into an automated surgical unit and an automated laser makes an incision in the woman’s stomach; with blood and gore as the incision is made. A second mechanical hand spreads open the wound with a claw-like apparatuses reaching into the wound and extracting the alien foetus just moments before it awakens. Several times throughout the surgical procedure the woman convulses in pain and injects herself with unknown drugs. Following the extraction an automated arm fires staples into the woman’s abdomen to close the wound. Later we see the woman with her abdomen and thighs splattered with droplets of blood and see clear images of her stapled wound.
  • In one brutal, disturbing and graphically violent scene, a mutated man infested with an alien virus goes berserk and attacks his colleagues in a fit of rage, killing several men. In one instance the infected man clamps his fists together and brings them down on a man’s helmeted head as though a sledgehammer, smashing the victim’s head open with blood sprayed in all directions. The infected man is shot numerous times, set on fire by a flame thrower and then run over several times by a heavy vehicle before he is finally overcome.
  • A man punches a woman in the stomach, knocking her to the ground, and a second man says “If she talks again shoot her”. 
  • We see distressing images of a giant humanoid alien grabbing the android David by the throat and lifting him off the ground and then twisting and ripping his head off, his headless body falling to the ground.
  • A woman is crushed beneath a gigantic alien ship. We do not see her actually crushed, but hear her screaming and see her body disappear beneath the falling ship.   
  • There is a fight between a giant alien squid-like creature and a giant humanoid alien creature. A snake like appendage shoots out of the squid alien’s mouth to force its way inside the humanoid alien’s mouth. At the end of the fight the humanoid lies on the floor with its head and body completely covered by the squid-like alien.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and scary scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and scary scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.



Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • After losing their way and becoming isolated from the rest of the crew, two male crew members are told by their male captain, “Try not to bugger each other”.
  • We hear a man say to a woman, “If you want to be laid you could just say, ‘Hey I want to be laid’. When the woman remains stone-faced the man asks the woman if she was a robot to which the woman responds, “My room, ten minutes”.
  • In one scene after being medically examined, we hear Shaw being told that she is pregnant and hear her being asked if she had engaged in sexual intercourse with Dr. Holloway.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A man and woman kiss passionately and see the woman removes the man’s top before the scene ends. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Prometheus captain smokes a cigar.
  • A couple of scenes depict characters drinking vodka martinis and champagne.
  • One scene depicts a character smoking inside his space suit. One man asks the man in the space suit if it is tobacco smoke he can see inside the man’s helmet, with the reply that it isn't. The man sucks on a tube inside his helmet and we hear the sound of air bubbling through water with the clear implication that he is smoking cannabis.
  • During and following a caesarean section a woman injects herself, as well as consuming a couple of tablets.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • damn, shit, hell, goddamn, Martian piss, crazy bastards, son of a bitch, fuck, bloody and Jesus Christ.    

In a nutshell

Prometheus in 3D is a sci-fi action film, containing horror images and brutal violence. It is a prequel to Ridley Scott’s (1979) film Alien and answers some of the unexplained questions from that first film.

The film is targeted at a wide ranging audience from older adolescents to adults, but is totally unsuitable for younger audiences. Parents should know that it was originally rated MA15+ by the Australian Government Classification Board, but the rating was lowered to M by the Classification Review Board after appeal by the distributors.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Human are forever seeking the knowledge of where they come from and what happens when they die.
  • Curiosity can kill the cat: it was the expedition’s thirst for hidden knowledge that ultimately led to their death. 

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Self sacrifice: repeatedly throughout the film both humans and androids sacrificing their own safety to save shipmates. At the end of the film a number of crew members willingly sacrifice their lives to prevent the annihilation of the human race.     

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • The android David appears to have no emotions; he is unable to understand happiness, love, greed etc. However, on numerous occasions throughout the film the android appeared to be more human than the humans. Parents may wish to discuss with their children just what it is that makes us human.

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