In 1968, visionary director Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey, breaking the boundaries of the visuals that were possible given the technology of that time.

Eleven years later, another forward thinker, Ridley Scott (who makes no secret about being a Kubrick fan) made Alien, which crossed over from science-fiction thriller to horror territory, creating not just the creepiest extra-terrestrial ever, but a whole new template for movie buffs and film makers to geek out over.

If you've watched and liked these two movies, this should be a cakewalk.

Close to the beginning of Earth's history, a strange humanoid giant stands at the mouth of a waterfall and commits some seriously messed up suicide by drinking some sort of germy substance. His disintegrating body falls into the water, and a few surviving strands of DNA give way to the fancy opening credits.

Cut to the 2080's - a jump that rivals the flash forward in Kubrick's 2001 - where two scientists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discover some ancient cave paintings that point them towards the stars in the search for answers to life's big question.

One last fast-forward to 2093, and the same scientists are on board the starship Prometheus. Along with the crew are Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a representative of the private company that sponsored the trip, and David (Michael Fassbender), the world's first perfect android. They soon arrive on the planet indicated by the star system in the cave paintings, a place with a curiously Earth-like environment, and with what appears to be a massive tomb. And that's when everything goes horribly wrong.

The good:
It's hard to say much about the pros and cons of this movie without giving away spoilers, but even if you've just seen the trailers, you can tell that the visuals rock. This is one of the few movies where the use of 3D is actually justified. Ridley Scott has created a visual feast that manages to capture the larger-than-life canvas and themes of the story. The casting has also been perfect, with each actor delivering just what the role demanded of them.

Noomi Rapace brings her trademark toughness, Charlize Theron is sexy and sinister, and Michael Fassbender is impeccable as always. The plot avoids entering cheesy territory by providing a cutesy explanation for the larger questions, and although it echoes the developments in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it emerges from it with a hopeful, rather than a bleak outlook about humanity. There are also plenty of subtle references that will keep the film geeks and theorists busy.

The bad:
The movie has way too much going on for the casual viewer to keep track of, and there's more subtext than actual action, which is what elicited complaints about the 'holes' in the plot. The film demands active engagement, and you'll have to do some work connecting the dots, or leave feeling unsatisfied. While the two lead characters played off each other very well, the secondary characters could have been better fleshed out. The biggest flaw, however, is the pacing. With so much to pack into such a short amount of time, you get the feeling of being rushed along instead of being allowed to savour it. This further adds to the sentiment about plot-holes and cardboard characters.

As mentioned above, if you liked 2001 and Alien, you'll enjoy this. The good mostly outweighs the bad - for the serious viewer. If you prefer something easier on the synapses and packed with decent visuals and action, you're better off watching something else, like The Avengers.


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