“Prometheus,” is a visually epic film that fails just as epically with its incoherent storyline. The plot is filled with more holes than craters on the surface of the moon. Ridley Scott’s prequel to, “Alien” felt like a more aesthetically pleasing episode of the History Channel’s, “Ancient Aliens,” but an hour longer and even less sagacious.
The movie begins with Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her lover/colleague Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discovering pictographs on a cave wall during an archeological expedition to Scotland. Having discovered similar pictographs around the world, the archeologists, without explanation, jump to the logical conclusion that the paintings are a map to a distant planet and our creators. A decade later, and with no clarification, Shaw and Holloway is able to convince Peter Weyland (a significantly aged Guy Pearce) of the Weyland Corporation to fund a trillion-dollar expedition to the planet. The 17-person crew of Prometheus is awoken after two years in a cryogenically induced coma by a cyborg named David (Michael Fassbender) who models himself off of Peter O’Toole’s, “Lawrence of Arabia.”
After being introduced to your typical group of sci-fi characters – a beautiful heroine with an otherworldly will to live (Shaw), her lover (Holloway), a creepy cyborg (David), Meredith Vickers, a heartless corporate villain played by the incomparable Charlize Theron, Janek, a token and alcoholic captain played by Idris Elba, and a hodgepodge of throwaway characters bound for a gruesome fate – Vickers brings them together and the viewers are offered a half-hearted explanation for the exploration.
The crew hastily begins exploring the planet despite dwindling sunlight and come upon a mountain with an endless cave system created by some form of intelligent life. As the crew explores the system, David for some unknown reason begins punching alien codes into the wall that releases a sort of holographic depiction of an event in the past – David’s actions and allegiance throughout the film are bewildering.
The crew discovers a well-preserved alien body and huge cavern with a gigantic humanoid head and thousands of containers. At this point, two of the crew members become frightened and decide to head back to the space ship – confusingly none of the other crew tries to stop them despite only being on an alien planet for a few hours.
A massive storm appears out of nowhere with hurricane-type winds, so the crew is forced to head back to their ship – Prometheus. Finally, roughly an hour later, we see the two crewmembers, who headed back to the ship early, meet their sad and gory ends after getting lost in the labyrinth of caverns. Unfortunately, there was no register of shock amongst the audience – they’ve been there, done that circa “Alien,” 1979.
The rest of the story follows a conventional plot with the characters being reduced with more predictability due to equally predictable deaths.
It’s revealed that our creators, or “engineers” in fact share our DNA, but for some unexplainable reason are 12 feet tall and built like Mr. Olympia. Furthermore, they hate their creation – again no explanation – and are bent on destroying us.
The film’s saving grace – beside the stunning visuals – is Rapace.
Her character is significantly different from the one she played in the original, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but equally impressive. She’s very convincing as an archeologist powered by faith and the need to understand life’s existential question – why are we here and where did we come from? The movie ultimately ends as though it were a preview for the sequel, which despite the horrible storyline I’ll likely attend – if Rapace is recast. Visually it’s breath taking, and there is enough shock value for most sci-fi fans – like a self-administered cesarean section – to be content.
However, it’s really a B minus sci-fi flick at best. Catch “Prometheus,” on DVD or Netflix it, if possible.
2 stars out of 5
“Prometheus” is rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.