R, 124 minutes
Narratively speaking “Prometheus,” director Ridley Scott’s long-awaited prequel to his seminal 1979 space/horror film “Alien,” is one big mess. But it’s still a worthy cinematic experience, a potpourri of Scott’s flair for sumptuous visuals and sly, creepy mood-building.
Set some decades before Ripley and her gang encountered the black and spidery beasties, Scott and his screenwriters take us back to those same locales and themes. The protagonist is again a female, archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), who thinks she’s found an invitation from the creators of all life. It turns out to be more of a deathtrap, as the crew is slowly dwindled one by one.
Along for the ride is Charlize Theron as a hardcase representative of the profit-minded company financing the mission, the usual collection of disposable crewmates, and an android assistant named David (Michael Fassbender) who, like all of his ilk, turns out to be less helpful than his cheery nature might suggest.
Things really get strange when they discover a massive alien ship filled with vials of black goo, video records of an accident killing most of the crew, and a 10-foot-tall bald humanoid with a seriously bad attitude.
“Prometheus” is a real head-scratcher, a riddle of a movie that doesn’t really care about finding an answer. The odd, discomfiting journey is its own reward.