Will 'Prometheus' Top 'Alien' Or 'Blade Runner'?

Director Ridley Scott has made two of the best science fiction films of modern times, Alien and Blade Runner. Prometheus is more involving than this year's summer blockbuster competition, but by the standards of the director's earlier films, it's a disappointment.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ridley Scott has made two of the most acclaimed science fiction films, "Alien" and "Blade Runner." Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review of the director's newest sci-fi effort, "Prometheus."

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Prometheus" ends up with less to say than it thinks it does. It's more involving than many of this year's summer blockbuster competition, but by the standards of the director's earlier films, it's a disappointment.

"Prometheus" begins in the year 2089 with an archeologist played by Noomi Rapace making a startling discovery: a 35,000-year-old pictogram that shows humans worshipping an enormous figure who points to the stars. Could it be that beings from outer space had a big hand in creating life on Earth?

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PROMETHEUS")

MICHAEL FASSBENDER: (as David) Doctors, Ms. Vickers would like to have a quick word.

TURAN: Before you can say "Buck Rogers," a spaceship is on its way. In charge is an icy capitalist played by Charlize Theron.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PROMETHEUS")

CHARLIZE THERON: (as Meredith Vickers) Let's say we do find these beings down there. You won't engage them. You won't talk to them. You'll do nothing but report back to me.

LOGAN MARSHALL-GREEN: (as Charlie Holloway) Ms. Vickers, is there an agenda that you're not telling us about?

THERON: (as Ms. Vickers) We've only paid a trillion dollars to find this place. Had you raised the money yourself, Mr. Holloway, we'd be pursuing your agenda.

TURAN: Theron has clearly found her comfort zone with ice-cold roles, but from the acting point of view this film belongs to Michael Fassbender. He plays the spaceship's resident android, David, who's smarter and more capable than anyone else and very much knows it. But once alien contact is made, can he be trusted? Maybe and maybe not.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PROMETHEUS")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) What are you doing, David?

FASSBENDER: (as David) I'm attempting to open the door.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Wait. We don't know what's on the other side.

FASSBENDER: (as David) Oops. Sorry.

TURAN: This is the point where archeologist Rapace discards her tree-hugger personality and comes into her own as a fighter as things start to go south in a major way. It will come as a surprise to no one that everything is not exactly sweetness and light on the planet where the Earthlings land in search of those aliens. All kinds of awful, increasingly grotesque and horrific stuff starts to happen, and having someone like "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" around is a major plus. In a film like "Prometheus," hugging trees can only take you so far.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times.

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