Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The first, great-looking hour of the 3-D and IMAX-enhanced spectacle "Prometheus" had me sitting straight up in my seat, nerve endings fully engaged by director Ridley Scott's vision of cave paintings by early man, spanning continents and millennia, pointing to a distant planet that may hold the secret of the origin of humanity. The script adverts to several of the most fundamental questions of our existence, from natural selection to the existence vel non of a deity to whether we are fundamentally good or evil.
In the second hour, though, Scott shows his true colors, and "Prometheus" becomes a grotesque, at times unwatchable, monster movie, with lead scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) giving birth to a gigantic mutant creature that looks like a cross between a crocodile and Audrey II. A biologist on board the starship thinks the slimy creature oozing out of a bubbling pool of water looks "cute" - until the thing attaches itself to him and sucks him in like a Hoover Deluxe. Another creature is a sort of combination Blob and boa constrictor that tightens your arm until it breaks off and ends up slithering its way down your throat. There are some scares and some shared-horror giggles, but they undercut the movie's philosophical pretensions, which in turn weigh down the cheap thrills. You end up wishing Scott had picked either the low or high road and stuck to it.
To no one's surprise, Michael Fassbender does the best acting work in "Prometheus," as the self-teaching robot David, whom the crew uses for everything from serving tea to decoding the runic language in which the extraplanetary humanoids communicate. Charlize Theron has the truly lousy role of Meredith Vickers, the tightly wound suit whose Weyland Corporation bankrolls the expedition, while Guy Pearce goes unrecognizable as Peter Weyland, the firm's practically ancient (and possibly deceased) namesake. Rapace, in her first big Hollywood lead, proves wan and forgettable, severely lacking in star wattage. If you had to liken her to a food, she'd be those light-brown M & M's they discontinued years ago.