Movie review: Prometheus

By Columbus Alive
From the June 7, 2012 edition

Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t get everything you wanted for Christmas? You may have been disappointed, but, hey, it’s still Christmas.

Well, that’s “Prometheus” for me. Did it live up to my wildly lofty expectations? No. Was it like getting a package of socks? Absolutely not.

“Prometheus” was No. 2 on my list of most anticipated summer films (behind “The Dark Knight Rises,” duh). Ridley Scott returning to the vein of “Alien”? I’m in.

Scott’s return to sci-fi after a decades-long lull and some inspired movie trailer badassery that revealed next to nothing were a stew for excitement. And that excitement is fertile ground for letdown.

It frankly was a letdown, if only because I expected to have my new Christmas socks knocked off and only got an abnormally smart, visually spectacular sci-fi epic (with some story problems).

Note: If you already wanted to see this movie, you’re probably not reading this, but I promise to spoil nothing.

Basically, you’ve got a team of scientists traveling to the outmost reaches of space in search of … something. Possibly the beginnings of mankind. And, as you may expect, they find something. Is that vague enough?

The script by Jon Spaihts and “Lost” mastermind Damon Lindelof asks some big questions. It occasionally feels like the sort of deep philosophic discussions that tend to come after a few too many glasses of wine — for better and worse.

While the filmmakers have often been reluctant to label it as such, “Prometheus” is indeed a prequel to “Alien.” It will function on its own, but its impact certainly lies in touching our memories of that film. And “Alien” is certainly better.

There are flaws, but the strengths outweigh them. The casting is absolutely superb. Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth in the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy) is a strong female lead sure to evoke memories of Sigourney Weaver. Michael Fassbender’s eerie android is the scene-stealer — a creepy, walking, talking HAL 9000.

It’s a visual mindblower as well. Because it was actually shot in the format, it’s that rare 3-D movie that actually demands to be seen that way. The 3-D is lush and immersive without being distracting … and the scary moments are truly disconcerting.

Summer thrill-seekers will be divided. The aforementioned “big ideas” become unfocused — one wonders if a longer cut might have actually helped. There’s a lot of atmosphere and setup, so don’t expect a Michael Bay barrage of headache-inducing action.

If you’re stoked for “Prometheus,” stay stoked. Just know that there are a few pairs of socks under the tree.