Prometheus Review (MovieMantz)
First Published: June 7, 2012 1:34 PM EDT Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Lost in Space
Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron
Directed by Ridley Scott
According to Greek mythology, Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from the god Zeus and gave it to mortals. As punishment for his sins, Zeus had him bound to a rock while an eagle ate his liver, only to have it grow back day after day to be eaten again.
In Hollywood mythology, “Prometheus” marks the return of director Ridley Scott to sci-fi, the genre he helped redefine 32 years ago with the trailblazing one-two punch of 1979’s “Alien” and 1982’s “Blade Runner.” Of course, other masterpieces followed in the years since – like 1991’s “Thelma & Louise” and 2000’s “Gladiator” – but when it comes to Scott’s status as a god among filmmakers, “Alien” and “Blade Runner” sealed the deal.
But with “Prometheus,” Scott shows signs of human frailty, following too far behind on the path that he himself paved the way for all those years ago. It didn’t help that the film generated sky-high expectations once the word got out that it may actually be a prequel to “Alien,” but even taken on its own merits, it still qualifies as a disappointment, starting off strong before falling apart in the second half with a payoff that’s far from satisfying.
As the story goes, clues found in ancient caves around the world lead scientists across the stars to a distant moon that may have all the answers to the origin of human life on earth. Among the curious crew of the spaceship Prometheus: Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), the scientist driven by her faith; her skeptical boyfriend, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green); Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a “suit” from Weyland Industries, the corporate entity funding the trillion-dollar mission; and David (Michael Fassbender), an android with motives that remain unclear.
What happens when they reach their destination is a foregone conclusion, and that’s the problem: it’s been done before (by Ridley Scott, no less). The Prometheus lands, the crew does some exploring, all hell breaks loose and the scientists get killed off – one by one. That’s also when the film starts to unravel, since the characters who try to survive those scenes are cliché-ridden and less interesting versions of those from the earlier “Alien” movies (reluctant travelers who are in it just for the big money, corporate employees who have their own secret agenda, etc.).
That’s too bad, because “Prometheus” is such a proficiently-made sci-fi spectacle with awesome visual effects, moments of genuine suspense and some terrific performances. After originating the role of Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Noomi Rapace is the real standout here, invoking the same amount of strength and vulnerability that made Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley such a great heroine in the original “Alien” films. Charlize Theron effectively exudes the steely demeanor of the corporate exec overseeing the mission, while “Shame” star Michael Fassbender brings an eerie sense of calm to his role as the corporate android David.
But the casting of Guy Pearce as the elder head of the Weyland Corporation is more of a mystery, since he is completely unrecognizable under all the makeup required to make him look so old. One has to wonder, why not just get an older actor to play him?
After an intriguing setup that raises some interesting questions, “Prometheus” turns its back on its cerebral promise, settling for a disjointed, uneven and generic action-heavy second half that sets up a sequel while giving “Alien” fans the last-minute money shot they’ve been waiting for. But the impact is anticlimactic, resulting in a flawed movie that doesn’t totally diffuse Ridley Scott as a god among filmmakers, but it does prove that even a god can be driven by human frailties.
Verdict: SKIP IT!
-- Scott Mantz
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