REVIEW SUMMARY: Ridley Scott returns to science fiction with a lifeless, derivative prequel to one of his most famous movies.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After finding identical cave paintings throughout the world, a pair of scientists boards the starship Prometheus bound for an alien planet to uncover the origins of humanity, and uncover horrors they never anticipated.
PROS: Strong casting, especially of Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbinder; good looking visuals; strong incorporation of 3D technology.
CONS: Derivative screenplay and underwhelming direction; never engaging emotionally or intellectually; too familiar ground covered.
Like the prodigal son returning home, Ridley Scott comes back to science fiction after more than twenty-five years. The count includes his beautiful but deeply flawed fantasy Legend; the last time he focused his camera on true quill science fiction was thirty years ago, with the now classic Bladerunner. And if one judged Prometheus solely on the year-long anticipation and hype surrounding it, to say nothing of the viral future dispatches from Weyland Industries, its grosses would match Joss Whedon’s Marvel’s The Avengers within ten days and we would acknowledge it as an instant classic. Hugo voters no doubt would bestow the 2012 Dramatic Presentation award early, sight unseen.
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A couple of weeks ago, I used this space to speculate about the possibility that director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Prometheus may prove to be a kind of heady hybridizing of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Lovecraftian horror. Now comes the news that the Lovecraftian elements of Prometheus may be so close to certain key aspects of Guillermo del Toro’s long-planned and long-anticipated adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness that they may have killed the project. And this comes straight from the mouth, or rather the keyboard, of the man himself.
By now, I probably don’t need to rehash the long and winding saga of del Toro’s plan, currently approaching two decades old, to bring Lovecraft’s Madness to life as a lavish, big-budget movie with all of the monsters, horror, and gore intact, since it seems to have entered the horror and science fiction wings of contemporary pop culture as a kind of living urban lore. One of the best accounts of the whole thing was published last year by The New Yorker in a feature article/essay/profile that presented del Toro as a genuine auteur and creative genius with a defining bent for the dark fantastic. The bulk of the piece hinges on his efforts to get Madness made. In case you haven’t seen it, here are key passages that convey both the nature of del Toro’s struggle through the Hollywood minefield and the nature of the movie he hoped to make:
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