July 10, 2012

The extraterrestrial vistas in Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to his 1979 blockbuster hit Alien, are handsome (Dariusz Wolski shot them), but the movie is an expensive dud, dull and incoherent.

The script, by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, has something to do with the bond between creator and creation, but it’s not exactly Frankenstein. A pair of anthropologists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green), who believe they have tracked human creation to a race of space travelers, are hired by a corporation to guide a mission into space to try to locate their progenitors in a pyramid that—surprise!—turns out to house the fanged, shape-shifting reptilian creature familiar from the previous Alien movies.

Rapace’s obsession with finding the creator of the human race is supposedly linked to the loss of her father (Patrick Wilson, in flashbacks), and their relationship has sinister echoes in those of the corporation’s decrepit founder (Guy Pearce, wasted under acres of age makeup) with his robot “son” (Michael Fassbender) and with the voyage’s official boss (Charlize Theron).

Fassbender’s elegantly ironic delivery pierces the monotony somewhat, but the only actor who gives the impression of human dimensions is Idris Elba as the ship’s captain. If the movie’s ambitious themes suggest that it has some depth, think again.