Let’s get this straight: “Prometheus” is not a direct prequel to “Alien,” “Aliens” or “Predator.”

However, “Prometheus” does exist in that particular universe. And Ridley Scott, who started it all with his iconic “Alien,” is once again at the helm for a marvelous science-fiction piece that is just as serious as, and maybe even more thought-provoking than, “Alien.”

Clues to what this movie is all about are in its one-word title. According to Greek mythology, Prometheus created human beings and gave them the gift of fire because he loved his creations.

At the beginning of the movie, we see a humanoid creature drink some kind of liquid and fall to its demise in an ocean where it disintegrates into … something. We also see two explorers in the not-too-distant future who come upon an image in a cave — an image that is similar to others that have been discovered throughout the world.

The two explorers are scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, “Devil”). They join a crew led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, also appearing as the wicked queen in “Snow White and the Huntsman” on a neighboring screen) to seek out “the engineers” — that is, the beings who may have created humankind. The rest of the crew involves an android named David (Michael Fassbender, “Shame”), the captain (Idris Elba, “Thor”) and a number of other interesting characters who awake from hyper-sleep while their spaceship, the Prometheus, approaches a planet that is in orbit around a sun-like star.

David, because he is not human, may be the most complex member of the crew. His motivations are inscrutable. At times, he seems to admire, and even possibly be somewhat envious of, his human crewmates; at other times, he seems to dislike them. He resembles Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia” and even has an affinity for that film, which plays in the background.

The movie has several ewww-inspiring moments and terrific action sequences, some of which include some fascinating creatures that do not arrive on board the ship. The script also touches on some philosophical and disturbing questions: Will discovering “the engineers” affect our faith? Who really made us — and do they necessarily want to encounter their creations?

“Prometheus” will keep your mind wandering as you make your voyage home.

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3½ stars

Running time: Just a smidge more than two hours

Rated: R for foul language, sexual situations, violence and gore