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'Prometheus' hit or myth

Published June 20. 2012 05:02PM

According to Greek mythology, Prometheus created mankind. He was learned in architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine and metallurgy. According to myth, in a dispute with Zeus, god of all gods, Prometheus gave fire to mankind.

It is not known whether Prometheus gave movies to mankind. For that we have 19th century myth-makers, the Lumiere brothers of France (1895), and Thomas A. Edison of the United States (1891) to thank.

"Prometheus" the movie invokes Greek myth in opening and closing scenes, in the appearance of a Greek statue-looking Prometheus, and in scenes when flame-throwers dispatch aliens and alien-infected astronauts.

Perhaps in keeping with Greek myth, motivations in "Prometheus" are never quite clear. That might be OK with gods, or God.

However, in cinema, in story, motivation is crucial. We need a clearly-written protagonist and villain (or opposing force). In "Prometheus," it's sketchy.

There's the android David (the brilliantly chilling Michael Fassbender), the scientist Charlie (a compelling Logan Marshall-Green), the archeologist Elizabeth (a captivating Noomi Rapace of the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), the mission director Meredith (Charlize Theron), corporate chieftain Peter Weyland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce) and the spaceship captain Janek (Idris Elba).

Sci-fi buffs will enjoy the impressive spaceship. Perhaps not since "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" has such detail been lavished upon a deep-space crew. The holographic projections are mind-boggling in Imax 3D. The aliens are disgustingly horrible. "Prometheus" has some incredibly tension-filled moments.

With "Prometheus," billed as a prequel (a series reboot?), director Ridley Scott ("American Gangster," "Kingdom of Heaven," "Black Hawk Down," "Gladiator," "Thelma and Louise," "Blade Runner") returns to the sci-fi genre and connects the plot dots to his 1979-directed "Alien."

The average movie-goer will be at a loss to explain plot and dialogue, of which there is precious little in the screenplay by Damon Lindelof ("Cowboys & Aliens," TV's "Lost") and Jon Spaihts.

"Prometheus," shall we say, myths the point. Then again, my friend, Movie Maven Mike (Michael Gontkosky, a Ridley Scott fan and sci-fi aficionado) assures me there's more to "Prometheus" than meets the eye.

See for yourself.

"Prometheus," MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian) for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language; Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller; Run time: 2 hours, four minutes; Distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Prometheus" was filmed in Iceland, Scotland, Spain, and Pinewood Studios, England.

Box Office, June 15: "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" continued at No. 1, with $35.5 million, $120.4 million, two weeks; "Prometheus" continued at No. 2 with $20.2 million, $88.8 million, two weeks, keeping "Rock of Ages" opening at No. 3, $15 million.

4. "Snow White and the Huntsman," $13.8 million, $122.6 million, three weeks; 5. "That's My Boy," $13 million, opening; 6. "Men in Black 3," $10 million, $152.6 million, four weeks; 7. "The Avengers," $8.8 million, $586.7 million, seven weeks; 8. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $2.2 million, $35.1 million, seven weeks; 9. "Moonrise Kingdom," $2.1 million, $6.7 million, four weeks; 10. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $1.3 million, $38.7 million, five weeks

Unreel, June 22: "Brave," PG: The animation comedy from Pixar about Princess Merida targets archery (shades of "The Hunger Games") with voices by Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters.

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," R: He may have freed the slaves, but he won't free the vampires. The future of the United States is at stake.

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," R: Once again, the oozing charm of Steve Carell gets the girl (Keira Knightley) after his wife (Melinda Dillon) high-tails it out of there before impending doom. We're referring to the approaching asteroid, not Carell's movie career.

"To Rome with Love," R: The grand tour continues for Woody Allen. This time, Italy gives him the boot. In Allen's latest postcard from the edgy, his close encounters of the directorial kind include Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin and Roberto Begnini, as might any Roman holiday.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes Out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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