Running Time: 124 mins. Rating: 2 1/2 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Rafe Spall, Patrick Wilson
During one of the golden ages of sci-fi pictures, the 1950s, the principal theme often spoken by scientists at the conclusion was “Maybe we were not meant to tamper with nature.” You’ll find this theme in such (sometimes laughable) films as THE THING, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, NEANDERTHAL MAN, TARGET EARTH and a few gems from Abbott and Costello.
Precisely that theme overrides in PROMETHEUS, budgeted at $120 million—which could have made four years’ worth of 1950’s movies—and which has more eye candy than anyone from that repressed era could have imagined. Whether eye candy is enough is up to those who pay their money and make their choice at the box office beginning June 8th. For me, I like a story with my sci-fi, especially one that is not filled with gaping plot holes and the lack of effective forward momentum. Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, basing their screenplay on elements created by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, along with design elements by H.R. Giger, have not provided much of a narrative. Without an effective narrative, you’re watching cinematic treasure, all right, but one that lacks soul.
The film is edited by Pietro Scalia with scenes that abruptly change without reason; such as one near the opening that finds a strange fellow swallowing something that causes him excruciating pain, leading to another that locates Patrick Wilson’s character explaining to his daughter that people have different ideas about what happens to us when we die, and then morphing into some cool shots exposing some of the wonders of the universe.
PROMETHEUS, which takes place from 2089 to 2094, gets its name from the spaceship bearing a crew of seventeen determined to find who created us human beings, upsetting centuries of Darwinian certainty while presumably annoying people who accept traditional religious beliefs. What these space people do not realize is that their voyage will provoke reversals among our creators that will make them change their minds, causing them to wish for our planet’s destruction. Having opened a can of worms, some aboard the ship, particularly its captain (Idris Elba), want to redeem themselves by destroying the aliens, while others, like corporate employee Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), wish to return home post haste and take their chances that the Earth will survive the predicted onslaught.
The chief roles belong to Michael Fassbender as David who, as a robot, is not nearly as horny as he was in the role of Brandon Sullivan in SHAME and Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, who looks more human than she did as Lisbeth Sander, the title woman with the dragon tattoo in Niels Arden Oplev’s film. David, who is handsome and helpful, is hiding an agenda unbeknownst to the crew and perhaps the movie audience while Dr. Shaw, who undergoes a Caesarian section desperately wanting to “get this thing out of me,” is most effective at showing fear and pain. The two shine while other performers seem earthbound.
The first half of PROMETHEUS ranks with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as a movie during which not much happens. All hell breaks loose in the second segment, but the creatures that are provoked into hostile life by the crew are no different from the weirdos we’re familiar with from ALIEN such as Predator, Face Hugger, Chest Buster, and hybrids. There are sudden comings-to-life of these Frankenstein monsters but without periods of silence that could define real menace. Prosthetic splatters are just so much last decade or more. There is a rare minute of so that demonstrates real acting, that of Peter O’Toole, but he is unfortunately not part of this cast but exists only as a segment of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that David watches as a model of how to behave.
PROMETHEUS, both the name of the ship and the incarnation of a Greek mythological figure who stole from Zeus and as punishment is chained to a rock, an eagle digging out his liver which grows back for the next day’s meal, was filmed in England, Iceland, Spain and Scotland, all with the use of 3D cameras. In this case, the use of the third dimension is justified.
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