Yet another generic outer space movie where the plot relies heavily on really smart people doing really stupid things.
- Who's going to like it: People who really haven’t seen enough good sci-fi movies.
Prometheus is a spaceship designed to travel into deep space with a crew of scientists who will try to discover the origins of our DNA and if we were actually created by aliens. It’s around the year 2090 and a couple scientists have discovered a hieroglyph which is shared between cultures that are separated by thousands of years. There’s only one explanation: this must be an alien message. So, a group of scientists hop onto an inter-stellar spaceship and head off on a trillion dollar journey to find out if this hieroglyph is a map to our origins.
It’s no secret that ‘Prometheus,’ directed by Ridley Scott, is one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the summer. It’s visually stunning computer graphics work to create a striking, atmospheric look, but that’s where the greatness ends. ‘Prometheus’ is a generic outer space action movie, wrapped up in some of the prettiest packaging you’ll ever find.
One of the biggest problems with the movie is that during its entire two-hour runtime it hints at a better, more thoughtful movie lying just below the surface. There are glimpses of a movie that deals equally with spirituality versus the natural world; faith versus science, that sort of thing. Only those ideals are simply glossed over so the movie can quickly reach its climactic action, which relies on generic horror devices such as really smart people doing really stupid things.
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is the head scientist of the group. It’s her life mission to find out if she was right about the hieroglyphs she found on Earth, even if that means spending two years in cryo-sleep, traveling through deep space. David (Michael Fassbender) is a humanistic cyborg who keeps an eye on the crew and the ship as they travel silently through space. He passes the time by watching ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and playing basketball. The opening sequence with David milling about the ship is some of the best stuff ‘Prometheus’ has to offer. It’s hinting at a much more subtle movie somewhere in the works, but in the end this little sequence only proves to be a fun beginning to the movie and nothing else.
Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is the ship’s captain. She’s a hard-nosed woman with a few secrets that are hinted at and never really explored. Janek (Idris Elba) flies the ship, but is simply there to offer quick-witted retorts. The rest of the crew amounts to dispensable action fodder who will at some point will be killed during quick and messy action scenes.
The first 20 minutes or so sets up a movie that never fully realizes its potential. Dr. Shaw’s battle of faith is touched on, as we see her constantly playing with the cross around her neck, but it has little to do with the overall story. You’d think the cross was important because it pops up again and again, however, there’s no real substance to it. After the crew find a facility on a distant planet – I’m always amazed how sci-fi movies that require traveling to a distant planet always end up with the ship landing just where it needs to be on an otherwise vast planet surface – they begin to explore. It doesn’t take long before they’re confronted with alien life that has malevolent intentions.
There’s a backstory here about the previous inhabitants of this now seemingly derelict facility, but we’re only given bits and pieces. Honestly, we’re given just enough information to lead us into the movie’s action scenes which are all based upon the idea that really smart people will do really dumb things if given the chance.
‘Prometheus’ has promise and shows it on a few occasions. There are some tense scenes, like one where Dr. Shaw performs impromptu surgery on herself to remove a foreign body from her abdomen. Those scenes are few and far between though. Much of the suspense has been ruined by all-encompassing trailers which show just about every good scene in the movie. In the end ‘Prometheus’ feels like just another action movie set in space. It fails to live up to the movie that it hinted at in the beginning and instead devolves into something we’ve seen time and time again, only this time it’s really pretty.
(2 1/2 out of 5)