Where did humanity come from, and where are we going? These are two philosophical questions that become the backdrop to futuristic action and horrors in Prometheus, writer-director Ridley Scott's prequel to his Alien movies.

Archaeologists and romantic partners Elizabeth Shaw (Noonmi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) think they've found proof on ancient cave drawings throughout Earth that gigantic beings are (literally) pointing the way to a star cluster millions of miles away. The scientists think this is an invitation from "the engineers" who created humanity and, thanks to the Weyland Corporation, lead an expedition on the starship Prometheus to find the origins of humanity. The 17-person crew includes: Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the no-nonsense representative of the Weyland Corporation; Janek (Idris Elba), the ship captain who wants to keep everyone safe; and David (Michael Fassbender), the robot who's unceasingly polite and nearly identical to the humans.

At first, the expedition seems to be an absolute success. However, as usually happens in these movies, things start to go wrong very quickly. A storm separates the crew members, leaving some of them stranded with familiar-looking parasites that bleed acid and try to infest humans as hosts. (Sound familiar?) Meredith may have a corporate agenda she's keeping from the scientists -- and David may have its own agenda he's keeping from Meredith. Pretty soon there's paranoia, betrayal, and lots of killing and explosions.

Prometheus is, despite its massive budget and philosophical underpinnings, another action-horror movie in outer space. We're given a cast big enough to supply plenty of victims, lots of revelations and discoveries that only hurt the characters, and the almost-nostalgic look back at the aliens from the previous Alien movies. The acting tends to be pretty one-dimensional (though Fassbender does make David suitably creepy: a creation who can make others feel uneasy without quite knowing why) and by the movie's end there are plenty of slow-motion scenes and massive crashes. Visually, Prometheus can be quite impressive at times, from a couple of interesting aliens and alien ships to the H.R. Giger-esque caverns of an alien world. But the rest of the movie does feel pretty standard.

Overall grade: C+

Reviewed by James Lynch

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