“Prometheus” is a real looker. And it gets credit for exploring big questions — like where did we come from — well beyond the usual sci-fi scare-adventure.
Ridley Scott's new movie is about humans traveling across the galaxy to meet up with space aliens they think are the origins of life on Earth. It's a first cousin, if not a prequel, to Scott's much-vaunted 1979 megahit “Alien.”
“Prometheus” doesn't measure up to “Alien,” but it grabs you by the eyeballs right away with breathtaking opening credits over an aerial shot of mountains, weathered volcanic rock and a gigantic waterfall.
No effort was spared on the detailed design of Prometheus, the corporate spacecraft journeying to that rendezvous, or the contents of a mysterious dome the crew finds on a distant moon. The cool factor extends to spacesuits, holograms and creatures.
It's the visuals, and that big idea of where human DNA came from, that hold you more than the characters, who won't cause you to feel much beyond morbid fascination as 17 crew members begin to die one by one.
Noomi Rapace (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Swedish version) and Logan Marshall-Green are archaeologists and lovers who discover ancient cave paintings that point them to that dark corner of space. He's basic eye candy for the ladies, while she's lost all the fierceness she displayed in “Dragon Tattoo.”
Charlize Theron fares better as the intense corporate observer aboard Prometheus who is so icy that the ship captain, excellently played by Idris Elba, asks if she is an android. Guy Pearce, in heavy age makeup, has little purpose or screen time as the billionaire who paid for the expedition.
Ironically, it's Michael Fassbender, as the crew's android, who steals the show and makes you feel the most. He's mesmerizing whenever he's on screen.
The rest are the futuristic version of cannon fodder.
Here are some handy lessons learned watching Prometheus' crew in action:
If a life form that looks like an albino cobra suddenly rises up out of a pool of primordial ooze, don't approach it like a friendly pet.
If you're infected and you know it, tell your crewmates.
If a doorway has a pile of bodies in front of it, don't open the door.
If a gigantic doughnut-shaped object is rolling toward you, crushing everything in its path, don't run in the same direction it's rolling. Run to the side, out of the way.
If you come across an urn of indeterminate origin, and you don't know what's inside, it's a bad idea to smuggle it onto the spaceship and open it.
If you create an android, be sure to program it not to secretly experiment on humans.
These may seem common sense to you, but they are not to the crew of the Prometheus.
Still, it's not a bad thrill ride, and one that fans of sci-fi horror and imaginative design should find worth the price of admission.
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