So here we are, after all the hype, the leaked scripts, the rumours – is it an Alien prequel? Ridley says no, everyone else says yes – and Prometheus turns out to be… well, just another monsters-inspace movie. That’s not the whole story, of course – this is a pretty expensive, epic, ideas-heavy example of the genre. But it’s far from the game-changer some had hoped for, and it may in fact leave some viewers entirely baffled. In the year 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) stumble across a pictogram hidden in a cave on the Isle of Skye. Matching it with etchings found across the globe, they conclude that the drawings constitute a star map. And when dying multi-billionaire (Guy Pearce) agrees to fund a mission, the two doctors head out into the cosmos aboard the starship Prometheus to find, they hope, an answer to the questions of life, the universe and everything. What they find is, of course, far slimier and less friendly. Arriving on a distant rocky moon in the company of android David (Michael Fassbender), hard-ass corporate stooge Vickers (Charlize Theron), cigar-chomping ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) and sundry other scantily characterised and wholly expendable shipmates, they stumble across a giant structure buried in the soil. Could this hold the key to mankind’s origins? There’s plenty to recommend in Prometheus: the photography is pleasingly crisp and the design is stunning, nicely redolent of Alien and its sequels. There is a small handful of truly bracing set pieces – one scene inside a medical pod is without doubt heart-poundingly memorable moment. But its flaws are impossible to ignore. The script feels flat – a few pleasing nods to the original movies aside, the dialogue is lazy, while the plot, though crammed with striking concepts, simply fails to coalesce. After an enjoyable setup, the central act is baggy, confusing and, in places, slightly boring, while the climax has flash and fireworks but no real momentum. Fans of Alien will feel shortchanged: the script makes no real effort to pre-empt that film, and in fact is happy to ignore it altogether while at the same time eagerly exploiting its beautiful HR Giger spaceship design. There’s no denying that Prometheus will make for a perfectly entertaining night at the movies – but we were promised so much more.
By Tom Huddleston on May 11 2012 4.30am