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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.43%
Worth A Look: 10.71%
Pretty Bad: 10.71%
Total Crap: 16.07%

5 reviews, 26 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Are We There Yet?"
3 stars

For everyone that has borded that mysterious spaceship in Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi shocker, Alien, and wondered who that giant pilot dubbed the "space jockey" was, well, forget it, cause this is not an Alien prequel. That is the company line that has been towed since Prometheus was put into production. Ignore that Scott was headed back into territory that produced the two (and only) masterpieces of his career over 30 years ago. Forget how many early photos revealed production design identical to the very images we have seen since 1979. While Fox, Scott and his crew have denied, denied, denied and waved their arms "here, here" like Ripley to convince audiences they were not gearing up for a geek's wet dream in having all their questions answered, we have known better. This is further exasperated as one recognizes that the tactic is more than just a failed smoke screen since one of Prometheus' greater strengths is its connection to the beginning of a universe. Eliminate that and what you are left with is a just another muddled creature feature with ideas more grandiose than the writers hoping to explore them.

In the late 21st century, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover what they believe is evidence of man's creation. Funded by aging billionaire, Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce), they are tasked with a full crew to take them to a planet connected to a series of star maps where our origins may have indeed stemmed from; a planet named LB-223, not LB-426. Accompanied by not only fellow botanists and geologists, they find themselves also in the company of Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a skeptical overseer of the expedition from Weyland Corp who believes this is a waste of time and money. Also on board is the ship's Captain, Janek (Idris Elba) and advanced robot model, David (a great Michael Fassbender), who Weyland casually refers to as the closest thing to a son he has had.

After landing, the crew discovers dark caves and odd holograms of the previous inhabitants suggesting a record of past lives in peril. Behind one closed door they find murels, statues and a collection of cannisters laid out not unlike the original egg configuration we are familiar with. While quarantine procedures will come into question throughout the story, Elizabeth does manage to bring back aboard a severed head from what she believes could be one of the original "engineers." Tests do conclude that this species shares the exact DNA structure of humans, lifting the veil of cynicism surrounding this uncertain mission. If we have come to know anything in the Alien univese though, it is that no matter how far removed we are, one must cast a shadow of doubt on anyone associated with the words "company" and "synthetic."

The mystery behind the production of Prometheus and its eventual plot keeps one glued during the first half as to what Scott and his writers have up their sleeves in terms of ideas or just flat-out scares. Appropriately enough, as the on-board sabotage begins so does the fall of the film. It is a slow fall in terms that we keep hoping that screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof are preparing us for some major third act revelations or satisfying our minds by tying up strands of creation, evolution and humanity's God complex. Lindelof was pretty much a master of stringing along an audience through six terrific seasons of TV's Lost (yes, even the finale), but whether a two-hour running time is not suitable enough for his complexity or he was saving crumbs for the proposed Prometheus 2, the screenplay can not fully conform to what appears to be a higher arc but is full of unsatisfactory loose ends and half-baked ideas. Spaihts contribution as a co-writer of last year's sci-fi abomination, The Darkest Hour, establishes him as the go-to blame guy for the other flaccid elements of the storytelling.

The beginning of life as we know it is a fascinating rumination for a big budget studio film. But it takes more to just asking the questions and laying it out there for an audience. It is about asking the right questions. Terrence Malick might be intrigued at Prometheus' interpretation in the opening scene where the remnants of an alien visitor may have implanted Earth with the seeds of life. Is this post-dinosaur or is this our Adam? The script weaves its way through the usual paces of how easy it is to create life without more of the difficult moralizing queries of whether or not we should and what happens when it goes wrong. In one of several clunky bits of exposition, Elizabeth gets to blurt out her barrenness in this department while clutching her paternally-gifted cross and conversing with her non-believer boyfriend. Even David's role as the film's potential HAL 9000 carries with it the baggage of knowing that the real God behind his existence is a filmmaker who already explored the inner workings of synthetic humans to some classic effect in Blade Runner. That same year in The Wrath of Khan, the building blocks of life in the future began with death. Genesis in name, but an unstable man-made creation nevertheless that questioned our place in God's chair. In Prometheus, the ultimate answers come closer to the disappointing outreach of Star Trek V rather than 2001.

Ambiguity is a fine line and an easy base to setup camp in when you pretend you are reaching further than answers than you actually are. Frequent complaints about Lost involved episodes that would answer one question but then raise three more. But we were assured there was always a plan and a little patience would reward us. However many more Prometheus chapters there need to be to connect the dots to the first Alien film is irrelevant because the groundwork that has been laid isn't stimulating enough to want us to pursue further answers. Logic between the characters ranges from shallow theological observations to giant leaps that frankly are just not human. Many of these involve third act behavior from Captain Janek who somehow solves the entire mystery of the planet in one fell expositional swoop and then gets an all-too loyal non-military crew to say "OK" to above-and-beyond duty when anyone in that situation would take issue with the request. By that point, all the final third has going for it is satisfying some geeked-out notion that we NEED to know how all this fits into the landscape rather than WHY it does.

Take away everything you know about Alien and its sequels and all the fruitless cover-ups to prevent fans from going into this film with grandiose expectations. Take that away and you are left with a pretty uninteresting (though beautifully photographed) entry into the sci-fi canon and a lame creature feature to boot. A self-surgery scene is the closest the film gets to any genuine creepiness and when the slimy entities finally do start to appear, it is easier to forget about Alien and wonder how much Spaihts and Lindelof revere George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan. You can choose to drink the black kool-aid if you want, but Prometheus is a film that ultimately succeeds or fails based on the history it brings with it. If the rumored Blade Runner 2 does ever come to fruition with Ridley at the helm, it would not be surprising at this point if the Weyland took over the Tyrrell Corporation after his death and made the further advances to robot technology that led to David, Ash and Bishop. It only took a century or so to get that right and Prometheus is proof that we are not even close yet.

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originally posted: 06/07/12 15:00:00
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell flawed but interesting gets better with repeat viewings 4 stars
4/02/16 David Hollingsworth Incoherent, misguided and pointless 1 stars
10/29/13 Charles Tatum Worthy, awesome prequel 5 stars
8/16/13 Mr. Appa Visually stunning, worst old man makeup, worst dialog, worst acting 2 stars
8/12/13 herbert excellent--can't wait 4 the sequel 5 stars
7/21/13 Ronin My expectations were too high. The Android is most interesting thing there 3 stars
1/29/13 M. Broxtermann Classic, intelligent SF, with a touch of horror. 5 stars
11/09/12 Eric Stevens EYE-EYE-EYE SEE you Hollywood tricksters- remaking much better films- Shame on you! 2 stars
11/02/12 JP Ward *sigh* 3 stars
10/22/12 mr.mike Intriguing and demands a second viewing. 4 stars
10/21/12 mwilde horrrible 1 stars
9/12/12 Langano Critics are giving it too much credit, lacks substance. 2 stars
7/13/12 Man Out Six Bucks Hell at least it's not a reboot 4 stars
6/20/12 Dr. Isaksson Brett, your review was stunning. I am right with u on all of it. 4 stars
6/18/12 Jiz An empty film more about the scenery than the narrative. Decent, but third act was dull. 3 stars
6/17/12 tooktheredpill wow, bad script and idiotically stupid in parts. 2 stars
6/17/12 Bob Dog A dumb horror movie. 1 stars
6/15/12 Davo Brilliant, just go and see it ! 5 stars
6/15/12 Flipsider This movie will make you think... about how dumb the script is. 2 stars
6/14/12 drdanny Gorgeous to look at, but unsatisfying. 3 stars
6/12/12 action movie fan well cfrafted but dull film alien 1979 was far better in every way 2 stars
6/11/12 KingNeutron Good sci-fi movie; some plot holes, but it should make you think 4 stars
6/11/12 GLC Awesome. A tremendous movie. You can think about it or just enjoy it. 5 stars
6/10/12 K. Sear Fun but not a piece of genius. Worth a look. 4 stars
6/08/12 radium56 Hell yeah! I find the movie perfectly fits Sobczynski's review IMHO. Go&see&have fun! 5 stars
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  08-Jun-2012 (R)
  DVD: 09-Oct-2012


  DVD: 09-Oct-2012

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