Prometheus (Rated R) 5 Stars06-27-12-movie-prometheus-logo.jpg

I don’t deny that Prometheus (124 minutes) was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it and for the most part I liked the actors. However, as much as director Ridley Scott might deny that the film is a direct prequel to the Aliens franchise, there are several callbacks to the 1979 original that muddle the distinction. While the film was originally conceived as a prequel, when the writers started fiddling with the script and rearranging details there was a concerted effort to move away from the narrative arc of the first two films. For example, the use of the “space jockey” discovered by Ripley and crew in the first part of the original film.

This sort of prequel references the space-jockey image, but reinvents the scene. You will give yourself a headache trying to figure out how the space jockey in this film becomes the space jockey found in the original, so it may be best to just think of this as Ridley Scott’s Evil Dead II. He reimagined his ideas, reinvented his creature, rebooted the franchise and left plenty of room for a sequel. So, Prometheus is modeled on the same universe and uses some of the same locations and imagery, but is a stand-alone film that does not lead directly into Alien.

The film opens on a humanoid, and, in a pretty cool scene, his disintegration leads into the opening credits. The next scene offers a beautiful perspective on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and a helpful time stamp marks the year as 2089. Archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered a bad plot device — the latest in series of ancient star maps shared amongst several cultures that have no history of interaction. They pack up their copies of Chariots of the Gods and hop aboard the spaceship Prometheus to hunt for the planet shown in the star maps.

The Weyland Corporation is funding the expedition, and has thoughtfully supplied an android to look after the crew while they are in cryosleep. David, the android butler (Michael Fassbender), appears to have an unhealthy obsession with Lawrence of Arabia and his speech patterns resemble Hal’s from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also, he has an irritating habit of speaking in quotes, muttering under his breath and acting independently. Nevertheless, he wakes the passengers without incident and all the expendable crew members don their red shirts and head into the briefing room. Corporate rep Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, making some questionable acting choices) explains that the archaeologists and miscellaneous cast will explore the surface of the planet but will not engage with any creatures they find.

A group heads to the surface and finds a constructed dome of some kind that actually has an atmosphere breathable by humans. That’s all Charlie needs to know before immediately ignoring the risk of biological contamination or unknown atmospheric poisons and popping off his helmet. A smart crew would either quarantine him or lock him in the brig for criminal stupidity, but this one just follows his lead, popping off their helmets and wandering around the unexplored edifice of uncertain purpose.

David triggers some sort of black-box hologram that leads the explorers to a body and a room filled with jars. Of course, the group is immediately called back to the ship where shady people begin doing shady things. If you can’t trust the Weyland Corporation, who can you trust?

People start disappearing, and the secrets of the dome are slowly revealed. Overall, the film ends with more questions than answers, and is certainly interesting enough to earn a second look.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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