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IN SHORT: By itself, a good sit. As part of the Alien opus, uh, it's more like Alien One-and-a-Half, a prequel. Still, a good sit.. [ Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language . 124 minutes]
For a film which spent its pre-release life denying that it was a prequel to Alien and all that followed, Prometheus opens with a drop dead confusing scene in which an alien being dies on Earth, leaving his DNA behind to fertilize the planet and bring forth humanity . . . if film critics weren't around to explain it, you'd have no idea . . . and eventually gets to what appears to be a tacked on scene to make sure (just in case you weren't thinking that the film wasn't a prequel at all) that you know that it is a prequel. Whether or not the "big question" that is left open at film's end is big enough to justify another movie is in your hands. Or, more specifically, your wallets.
Those seeking logic should blink and miss the opening scene and open wide as, in 2089, archeological geologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), working a dig in Scotland, discover prehistoric cave paintings -- as we'll find out, the fifth or sixth in a series -- of early man pointing to a star system. The latest find is enough for aging zillionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) to commit the resources of his company, Weyland Industries, to sending an exploratory team out towards the space cluster indicated in the drawing.
Again, there are numerous drawings that indicate the location, spread across thousands of miles and years that indicate that the original drawings were no fluke or forgery. Then read (last week's) TIME magazine about computers building themselves bigger and faster starting in 2045 and you'll understand this film's proto-human, "David" ( (Michael Fassbender) who maintains the starship Prometheus as it travels towards the alien galaxy, human crew in stasis. "David" spends most of the two year journey watching Lawrence of Arabia, and models his behavior based on Peter O'Toole's characterization of said film's lead role. Considering that Lawrence is a film whose subtext is "one Empire bring down another Empire" it's an apt choice, from our viewing perspective.
Of course, those on board have no idea what is coming their way. That would include the aforementioned geologists, the android David, Mission Commander Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), Prometheus Captain "I Just Fly Da Ship" Janek (Idris Elba) and other alien fodder we'll mention along the way. The target in the distant star system is an Earth-ish planet with an atmosphere more carbon dioxide than "air" -- two minutes in it without a breather and you're dead. We'll call it LV-223, because some fanboy yutz behind us couldn't shut up while making comparisons to Ridley Scott's original, and get on with it.
At LV-223, the Prometheus searches the planet for a landing site and evidence of some kind of population. Vickers gives strict orders to stay the heck away from any life forms (living) ones) that may be discovered but, save the occasional worm, none are. What is discovered is a cave of some kind that houses something "man-made" (you should excuse the expression). A skeleton is found. DNA samples are taken by the medic (Kate Dickie). The android David manages to translate alien symbols and, wouldn't you know it, open doors into other areas of "the cave" that contain lots of stuff . . . that would be telling . . . There are holograms functioning in this complex and looks can be deceiving.
But David has moved farther into the field than the crew. What he finds, though, is not a life form. There is a room filled with looks like some kind of alien furniture (sic) and another with the sarcophagi of ancient beings. Maybe. Maybe not ... a storm descends on the exploration site. The explorers gathers up their finds and everyone rushes back to the safety of Prometheus. Well, everyone but crew members Milburn (Rafe Spall) and Fifield (Sean Harris) who are stuck at the dig for reasons we won't reveal.
Oh, that thing David brought back to the ship starts leaking; a small drop of black liquid that David sneaks into Holloway's drink. Do not ask why. The script will eventually catch up on most everything, with characters spurting out explanations of story and the actions therein that they shouldn't have any knowledge of. You'll know it when you see it 'cuz you'll be waiting for them nasties to show up. While you wait for big black creatures you must first enjoy the a little dance Prometheus does on the graves of religious philosophers as geologists Shaw (Christian) and Holloway (unbeliever) debate the nature of God and the ever popular question: "Who created the Creator?" and
That question is important because Shaw wakes up the next morning, after a good romp with her partner, the "dosed" Holloway -- actually a lot of the crew decide to hook up that first night -- and, give or take a couple of hours, she wakes up three months pregnant. Her man, Holloway, doesn't feel right, either.
And that's all we'll say 'cuz from here on out, as the crew returns to the exploration site, all bets are off. Yeah, something else was in the site besides the two left behind crew members and the worms mentioned above. By definition, what is there is "alien" but that doesn't mean what you think it does. You'll get there. You know what we mean.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Prometheus, he would have paid . . .
Prometheus does yield a sit that would have been a pretty good movie all by itself, if it didn't have all the baggage of the . . . well, the good Alien films that came before. Parts of the film feel as if they've been inserted after the fact just to make fans happy (or happier). They won't but we can't say why without giving away a major plot point.
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