By Forrest Hartman
3 stars (out of four)
Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and language
20th Century Fox
Available now on digital download. Available Oct. 11 on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and on demand
It’s been 30 years since director Ridley Scott made a science-fiction film, so his return to the genre created a lot of excitement. The anticipation was warranted because Scott is a fine craftsman and his early science-fiction efforts, “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” are classics.
With “Prometheus,” Scott is back in the “Alien” universe, telling a story that takes place before the events of his original, 1979 movie. Although “Prometheus” is a prequel in the technical sense, one needn’t have seen the other “Alien” movies to enjoy or understand it. Longtime fans of the series should be pleased to know, however, that Scott elevates the material far beyond the schlock of the “Alien Vs. Predator” efforts, bringing the franchise back to its more serious beginnings.
The plot centers on Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), archeologists who believe they have discovered alien relics that can lead them to the forerunners of the human race. With funding from the massive Weyland Corporation, they travel to a distant moon with a scientific exploration team that includes Weyland executive Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and an android named David (Michael Fassbender).
Upon arrival, the team discovers that the moon has indeed hosted beings that have human DNA, but all of them seem to be dead. Before the team can decide what this means, they are exposed to an oily, unknown substance with terrifying side effects.
“Prometheus,” which can be viewed in either 2D or 3D, is beautifully shot, and Scott does a fine job recreating the eerie atmosphere that permeated the first “Alien” movie. The cast is also outstanding, with Fassbender in particular turning in a memorable performance. Although an android, David looks exactly like a human being, forcing Fassbender to create physical and mental tics that set the character apart without becoming distracting or campy.
Despite the beautiful visuals and strong performances, the movie has faults, most notably that it takes two hours to deliver a story that could have been successfully condensed to 90 minutes. Also, despite the long run time, the movie features dangling plot threads which are sure to eat away at attentive viewers.
None of this means “Prometheus” is a flop. It’s still an entertaining movie that should be applauded for reinvigorating the “Alien” franchise. Just don’t go in expecting Scott to recreate his 1979 magic.
“Prometheus” is available as part of multiple home video releases, including a four-disc collector’s edition. Extra features vary.