The opening scene of Prometheus features an alien landing on a lifeless earth, drinking some black goo, and then dissolving into a cloud of life-granting DNA.

I missed that scene.

The movie makes a lot more sense without it.

Prometheus is a prequel to the seminal 1979 sci-fi horror flick Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. It’s not a “side-quel” as originally suggested, it’s a straight-up prequel that explains how the alien-infested ship in the first movie came into being.

Sort of.

Prometheus can only marginally be said to explain anything. Well, that’s not fair: It actually does explain Alien. It does so in such a way that raises a whole bunch of other questions that it can’t possibly answer.

New franchise anyone?

The Red Letter guys did a bit where the one guy (who plays “Plinkett”, I think, in the mega-star-wars-hooker-killing reviews) just fired off a series of things that don’t make sense for about five minutes while the other guy sat there dumbfounded.

I thought one of the questions missed something pretty obvious, and a few others were deliberately raised, but there were a bunch of illogical things in the film, and a few of them bugged me. There’s a couple of twists toward the end that are so obvious from the beginning that they’re silly.

Actually, if the movie suffers from anything, it’s the number of well-established sci-fi/horror tropes it hits—which it then feels the need to spell out. Not often in great detail or anything, but it has been over 30 years since the original Alien and we all know the drill by this point.

That said, I confess I liked this movie. I guess a lot of people had higher expectations because they were thinking “Ooh, Alien! By the original director! And the guy who did Blade Runner!” And maybe a few were thinking Gladiator, too. But, of course, those are three films over a 35 year career. And, if you think about it, it’s really H.R. Giger’s alien design in Alien—and a whole mess of visionary artists in Blade Runner—that make those films so iconic.

Not to minimize Scott’s contributions to those movies in any way, but it’s remarkable lightning struck twice in his career, and that shouldn’t be confused with an ability to call lightning at will.

But I do tend to like his films, and I include this one with it. Noomi Rapace, the formerly dragon-tattooed girl, shows another side of herself: Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character is split between her, on the softer side, and Charlize Theron, whose character seems to have been almost entirely transplanted from Snow White and the Huntsman. Irdis Elbra reprises a character close enough to Al Matthews’ Sgt. Apone in Aliens to where I started to wonder why they didn’t just call him Sgt. Apone, Sr.

Other than that, there’s Guy Pearce in ridiculous old-age makeup. As I mentioned in my review of J. Edgar, old-age makeup is always bad and that doesn’t usually bother me. In this case, it called to mind an episode of “The Brady Bunch” where Peter (I think) plays Benedict Arnold on his deathbed. He’s supposed to look like he’s only got a few days to live, besides being 112-years-old or something.

The other characters are alien-fodder. The attempts at characterization clearly buckle under the larger need to put said characters in jeopardy.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about the film was the way it referenced and set up the original. The original, if anyone were to think about it, makes no sense either. How does it happen that a bunch of creatures on a forsaken planet are waiting there—completely untended—for untold time for compatible biological life to come along? It don’t make no sense.

This, at least points to a connection that, if not plausible, is still way more plausible than any aspect of the “Star Wars” prequels. But there were nice directorial touches, shots and moments that pleasantly recalled the original.

You could say, in fact, this is one of the better Alien rip-offs. That’s damning with faint praise, of course.

The Boy was fairly “meh” about it. Not too impressed, and a little insulted by the lampshade hanging, I think. Well, not really lampshade hanging but maybe more Narrating The Obvious. Ridley Scott hasn’t directed a sci-fi or fantasy movie in over 25 years, but I am beginning to suspect he hasn’t seen one in at least as long.

But, look, if you go in with modest expectations and a high proficiency at belief suspension, you’ll see an expertly shot movie that moves almost fast enough to escape it’s own illogic. Well, okay, not really, but you might not care.

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