Embargo blown. Nothing new. Variety and THR typically play with a disregard for rules that comes from decades of cavalier entitlement. I always feel like an enabler when posting things that “leak” but I think we know by now nothing much happens in Hollywood by accident. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter enjoyed Prometheus a lot more than Justin Chang at Variety. Both agree that Prometheus is no Alien. Shock! It’s probably not a cure for cancer either.

McCarthy:

Be careful what you wish for, especially if it involves figuring out who invented humankind. That’s the warning at the heart of Prometheus, a visual feast of a 3D sci-fi movie that has trouble combining its high-minded notions about the origins of the species and its Alien -based obligation to deliver oozy gross-out moments. Ridley Scott’s third venture into science-fiction, after Alien in 1979 and Blade Runner in 1982, won’t become a genre benchmark like those classics despite its equivalent seriousness and ambition, but it does supply enough visual spectacle, tense action and sticky, slithery monster attacks to hit the spot with thrill-seeking audiences worldwide…

Scott doubles his Alien pleasure with not just one but two strong female roles here. Rapace credibly expresses her character’s combined scientific and religious convictions… Blonded up, perfect of diction and elegant of body, Fassbender seems almost alarmingly neutered at first as the ship’s all-purpose valet but excels as he’s allowed to begin injecting droll comedy into his performance. As the captain, Elba has a few strong moments standing up to his “boss,” Theron, while the other actors are mostly cannon fodder…

Technically, Prometheus is magnificent. Shot in 3D but without the director taking the process into account in his conceptions or execution, the film absorbs and uses the process seamlessly. There is nary a false or phony note in the effects supervised by Richard Stammers, which build upon the outstanding production design by Arthur Max. Dariusz Wolski’s graceful and vivid cinematography synthesizes all the elements beautifully in a film that caters too much to imagined audience expectations when a little more adventurous thought might have taken it to some excitingly unsuspected destinations.

I’m pretty much just skimming past the middle parts of both these reviews because I don’t even want to dialogue quoted, much less read a condensed version of the plot. You know where to find more if your idea of fun is hearing about somebody else’s orgasm or their failure to achieve one. Variety’s review, after the cut, along with the most interesting of all the overnight reviews, from Mark Adams at ScreenDaily.

Chang:

A mission to uncover the origins of human life yields familiar images of death and devastation in “Prometheus.” Elaborately conceived from a visual standpoint, Ridley Scott’s first sci-fier in the three decades since “Blade Runner” remains earthbound in narrative terms, forever hinting at the existence of a higher intelligence without evincing much of its own.

a key difference between this film and its predecessor is one of volume. Incongruously backed by an orchestral surge of a score, the film conspicuously lacks the long, drawn-out silences and sense of menace in close quarters that made “Alien” so elegantly unnerving. Prometheus is one chatty vessel, populated by stock wise-guy types who spout tired one-liners when they’re not either cynically debunking or earnestly defending belief in a superior power. The picture’s very structure serves to disperse rather than build tension, cross-cutting regularly between the underground chamber, where two geologists meet an ugly end, and the ship, where efforts to contain the threat are thwarted by the increasingly uncertain chain of command.

Scott and his production crew compensate to some degree with an intricate, immersive visual design that doesn’t skimp on futuristic eye-candy or prosthetic splatter… Also providing flickers of engagement are the semi-provocative ideas embedded in Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof’s screenplay. The continual discussions of creation vs. creator, and the attitude of one toward the other, supply the film with a philosophical dimension that its straightforward space-opera template doesn’t have the bandwidth to fully explore.

Adams:

There were once plans to script a formal prequel to Alien, but the project evolved into Prometheus, which, while its climax offers tantalising answers in terms of the acid-for-blood alien creatures and the space craft they are first discovered in the original film, is very much a stand-alone film…albeit one that is very aware of the place it takes in the mythology of the Alien series of films.

Ridley Scott is a master when it comes to visualisation of the environment his stories are set against, and it is clear from the majestic opening scenes of Prometheus as his camera traverses an alien planet (in truth a blend of Icelandic vistas with more than a little CGI) and a magnificently muscled white skinned alien ingests something that causes him to melt away and genetically mix with the make-up of the world itself.

One thing that Prometheus isn’t is an Alien-clone. Alien – despite that it may feel slowly-paced set against current editing styles – was a film that embraced its horror-in-space format, and after a slow-burn set up and magnificent central gore moment as the mini-alien bursts from John Hurt’s chest settled into a brilliantly shot monster movie before Sigourney Weaver’s final memorable battle. While Prometheus has some striking chilling moments it never plays the all-out horror card, instead developing the science alongside the action and punctuating the film with moments that jolt and amaze.

…Alienfans will be on the look out for horror scenes that are variations on the theme of the ‘chest-buster’ or ‘face-hugger’ in the original film, and while in Prometheus things are never played for pure horror, there are some brilliantly staged scenes that will make audiences jump and squirm, and yes beasties do find their way into human bodies in nasty ways…and want to make their way out in an equally unpleasant manner.

The effects are brilliantly woven into Scott’s film, with cinematographer Dariusz Wolksi delivering some beautiful moments (the 3D is also very easy on the eye, and never too dark), while the production design from Arthur Max and Janty Yates’s costumes help give the film that real sense of a sci-fi epic. A Ridley Scott film is always perfectly shot, intelligently edited and easy on the eye, and Prometheus is no different.