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Critics, So Far, Like ‘Prometheus’

But is it really a good contributor to the Alien franchise?

“Prometheus” hits theaters in North America this weekend after an early international premiere. And so far, it seems movie critics like the latest outing for director Ridley Scott, revisiting a franchise he made famous so many years ago.

Rotten Tomatoes has already tracked a little under 140 reviews of the film so far, and about 73 percent of them liked it. The same could be said about the nearly 38,000 people who have already checked in from sneak previews and midnight showings, with 87 percent of them on board already.

No one seems to love it as much as Chicago RedEye reviewer Matt Pais, however, who described “Prometheus” as something “so beautiful, it belongs on the Maxim Hot 100.”

“The movie mournfully recognizes the devastation that unknowing beings bring on themselves with curiosity that’s uncommon for big-bidget summer spectacles,” Pais said. “It’s a spellbinding take on the universe’s domino effect, maintained by ideas and underlined by the never-ending search to find the one that started it all.”

Some of the positive reviews liked the look, but not necessarily the dialogue and acting. But that wasn’t true for E! Online’s Peter Paras, who liked the acting, despite the Damon Lindelof story itself unraveling from “a compelling ‘Tree of Life’ with monsters, to simply just monsters.”

“Director Scott hasn’t made a sci-fi flick since ’82 and that was ‘Blade Runner’ — so no pressure,” Paras said. “Yet his style of intricately detailed ginormous visuals balanced with tiny moments of suspense still impresses. Every lucid image is matched with a thoughtfulness rarely seen in summer blockbusters.”

One critic not singing the film’s praises is Ty Burr from The Boston Globe who described his experience watching it like “opening a deluxe gift box from Tiffany’s to find a mug from a dollar store.”

“The first ‘Alien’ succeeded because it was demonically streamlined — it was ‘Halloween’ in outer space, no less and, as it turned out, a whole lot more,” Burr said. “The second film, James Cameron’s ‘Aliens,’ remains one of the purest, most beautifully crafted action movies of all time, with a resonant core of mother love to give it heft.

“‘Prometheus’ is just big, beautiful and empty.”

Variety‘s Justin Chang talked about how “Prometheus” ignored the elements of its predecessors that made them popular — all because there’s too much volume. As in sound 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,” Chang said. “‘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.”

Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal may not have been the biggest fan of the movie, but at least one actor really stood out for him.

“Michael Fassbender’s David is a robot, and he steals the show,” Morgenstern said. “The theft is accomplished by a combination of smart writing and Mr. Fassbender’s delectably minimalist technique. David is a walking, smiling, outwardly self-assured HAL who might have an agenda of his own.”

“Prometheus” almost certainly will top the box office this weekend, thanks to the marketing hype and the fact that fans have been hungry for some kind of good Alien feature for a long time. Plus, critics have stayed more in the positive than the negative for the film, which would be hard to please everyone no matter what it did.

And that might be just enough for you.

“If you just want some good scares you’ll find them here alongside the weighty considerations,” said Chris Vognar of The Dallas Morning News. “Scott’s horror timing remains impeccable. If you have fond, 33-year-old memories of averting your young eyes from a propulsive parasite critter, ‘Prometheus’ might just be your kind of return trip.”

“Prometheus” also stars Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green, with a smaller but interesting role from Guy Pearce. It was written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, and directed by Ridley Scott.

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