Ridley Scott's return to the sci-fi genre is a glorious extravaganza for the eyes, stunningly designed in such a way that while obviously the technology has improved since Alien's release in 1979, this 2012 creation could still work visually as the predecessor to that '79 sci-fi horror film. Scott's Prometheus is also one of the few films that legitimately deserves to be seen in 3D. The 3D helps immerse you in this cold alien world, without gimmicky excesses or lengthy lapses when the format isn't put to use brilliantly.
However, the story itself is actually a bit of a letdown, with a third act that feels cobbled together and forced into a direction that doesn't play well with acts one and two.
The less you know, the better. Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered that cave drawings created thousands of years apart all indicate the presence once upon a time of an alien life-force on Earth. Shaw believes these aliens created humans and that they want us to seek them out for answers as to how and why we came to exist.
Fast forward and Shaw, Holloway, a handful of additional scientists, and the spaceship Prometheus' crew have been in suspended animation for years (necessary because of the voyage's length), watched over by an android named David (Michael Fassbender) who spends his hours watching old movies and learning languages and who has his own objectives to accomplish on this mission. They awaken on a distant planet which promises to hold the key to Earth's mysteries. Funded by the Weyland Corporation, represented by the no-nonsense Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the scientists have made this incredible journey in hopes of discovering the intelligent life-form that created the human race on Earth.
However, once they start to explore this alien landscape, it becomes quickly evident the aliens are not going to provide the scientists with the answers they were expecting. And it also becomes increasingly clear this alien race doesn't hold the lifeforms it created in high regard.
The Bottom Line:
Scott is a master at the genre, and we welcome him back home with open arms. And if he wants to delve back into this alien world again, we'll show up to see the results of his efforts. But Prometheus, as absolutely gorgeous as it is to look at, doesn't quite live up to the hype.
Ridley Scott and screenwriter Damon Lindelof do a terrific job of building up the tension over the course of the two hour running time, however the big payoff isn't quite as satisfying as we'd hoped. Fortunately, none of the film's shortcomings have anything whatsoever to do with the cast of Prometheus as Scott's gathered together a fine group of actors at the top of their games to bring his tale to life. Noomi Rapace is the prequel's answer to Sigourney Weaver, and Rapace shows again here why audiences and critics lavished her with praise for the performance she delivered as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Charlize Theron's coolly controlled performance as Meredith Vickers shows an impressive amount of restraint. She's tough and unquestionably in charge of the operation, waking up from stasis and immediately forcing herself into a series of push-ups. Idris Elba provides a few lighter moments as the ship's captain, but it's the performance of Michael Fassbender as the android David that truly stands out. Fassbender doesn't make a single misstep as this synthetic human who studies us - including surreptitiously spying on our dreams - and appears to find us infinitely fascinating while at the same time holding himself above his human creators.
Overall, Prometheus is worth seeing on the big screen - in 3D - but revise your expectations downward before sitting down to enjoy Scott's return to sci-fi. It's beautifully crafted, has a decent amount of thrills (but no real scares), and even includes scenes that would have fit snuggly in Alien, but there's something lacking in the story which denies Prometheus from attaining Alien and Alien 2 levels of brilliance.
Prometheus was directed by Ridley Scott and is rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.
Theatrical Release: June 8, 2012