Prometheus (2012)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 6/8/12
Producer: Ridley Scott
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce

A smug and pretentious Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots with a disappointingly derivative effort that collapses under the weight of its own self importance. In "Prometheus", a group of archeologists discover some shocking evidence that Earth was visited by extraterrestrials thousands of years ago, who may have been responsible for creating the human race. A scientific expedition is led to the aliens' point of origin, but nothing can prepare the crew for the horrors that await them.

While it certainly is a good looking and well made film, something didn't settle well with me. The constant riffs on "Alien" (1979) seem superfluous and insincere, serving more as a way to ensure box office success and rile up sci-fi geeks with fan service than to actually support the story. The cast is quite able and does an excellent job, but some of the dialog is just painfully awful. Seriously, with a production of this scale you couldn't come up with a better script? Noomi Rapace begins as a complacent and starry-eyed idealist who is buoyed up by her self-contradictory and misguided faith, but she manages to transform into a true warrior and survivor by the end of film. Impressive work, with the highlight being an incredibly intense and horrific emergency surgery scene, which is alone worth the price of admission. Charlize Theron is the corporate bitch in charge of the operation, and apart from some dreadful lines (and some hideous shoes), she's utterly delightful. While Rapace and Theron make superb leads, it's Michael Fassbender's unsettling performance as the team's android that holds the film together. He is supremely creepy and dominates every scene that he's in. Whether intentional or not, you can't take your eyes off of him.

The visual effects are excellent and the creatures are appropriately icky. Borrowing heavily from "Alien", there is a lot of H. R. Giger inspired design, which lends a creepy familiarity to the environment. Unfortunately, the film tends to get so wrapped up in its own lore that it has a hard time moving forward. It also has a hard time deciding what it wants to be. Is it speculative science fiction? Is it an exploration of faith? Is it action? Is it horror? The disparate elements never seem to gel. Still, for all of my complaints, it manages to be an enjoyable, if unnecessary, tie-in to Scott's original masterpiece.