PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 13, 2012

So that’s what happened before ‘Alien’

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— For my money, the most highly-anticipated film of the summer movie season is “Prometheus,” the shrouded-in-mystery project from Ridley Scott that is something of a prequel to his 1979 science fiction masterpiece, “Alien.” This is a film that promises answers about the origin of the now-iconic alien monster, but Scott has bigger goals in mind. He wants to talk about nothing less than the origins of mankind on Earth.

Obviously, this is more than just a by-the-numbers space  horror flick. Scott has never been known for just making simple genre pieces and “Prometheus” is one of his more ambitious films in years. The story mostly begins with the discovery of star chart on an ancient cave wall in Scotland. Similar maps have been found in artifacts throughout ancient history, which gets a couple of scientists/archeologists thinking that this is a clue to the location of some of earth’s earliest extraterrestrial visitors.

So naturally they blast off in the spaceship Prometheus, thinking that the cave paintings are an invitation to visit. They don’t stop to think that these pictures may have also been a warning.

“Prometheus” does turn into an outer space monster movie in the end, but that’s really the lesser part of the film. The original “Alien” was mostly about dealing with the monster, whereas “Prometheus” seems more concerned with exploration and the search for answers to mankind’s biggest questions. It’s thrilling, thought-provoking stuff that will have fanboys obsessing over the film for years to come.

This is a remarkably beautiful film, and one of the few that I’ve seen recently where the 3D is truly worth the extra ticket price. Scott shot the film with 3D in mind, whereas most directors simply do a post-production conversion to 3D. That forethought makes all the difference in the world, making “Prometheus” into a treat for the eyes as well as the brain.

Acting-wise, the film left me a little cold, with the exception of Michael Fassbender playing the role of the android, David. Anyone who’s seen “Alien” knows that androids are not to be trusted, but Fassbender gives his character enough human-like motivations that you empathize with his actions. That’s more than can be said for the rest of the cast. They come across as an oddball collection of stereotypes and eventual monster snacks. That’s okay for the most part, but I would have liked to have seen more from the three main leads (Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron).

I would have also liked to have seen more legitimate scares from the monster. The horror doesn’t even begin until halfway into the film, and it almost feels like something tacked on as a way to end a completely different film. That’s a problem, but given that the other “different film” is so filled with amazing ideas and images, it’s a problem that is easily dismissed.

“Prometheus” doesn’t live up to the standards Scott set with “Alien,” but it does showcase an amazing director who is still at the top of his game. It may never rise to the level of science fiction masterpiece, but it’s destined to be a cult film classic, delighting fanboys with the film’s details for years to come.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published twice weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.