‘Prometheus’: The (Early) Reviews Are In!

Critics love the effects and praise Michael Fassbender's performance, but some feel the sci-fi flick gets lost in its own high-mindedness.
By John Mitchell

Michael Fassbender as David 8 in "Prometheus"
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

One of the summer's most anticipated films, director Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," doesn't open until June 8, but early reviews for the sci-fi blockbuster are already trickling in, something many studios would fear so far ahead of a film's release — that is, if they weren't as universally positive.

So far, the consensus is clear: "Prometheus" is a flawed film with a lot of great things going for it, most notably a breakout scene-stealing performance from Michael Fassbender ("Shame"), inspired and amazing 3-D effects and plenty of "jolt and amaze" moments that all but assure filmgoers "will be right back for seconds" when 20th Century Fox releases the film next Friday.

Critics have nothing but praise for the performances of Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba, though they are particularly emphatic in their appreciation for Fassbender as the android butler David. When MTV News caught up with Theron recently, she gushed about what makes Fassbender worthy of all that praise. And for fans who can't wait to see the cast in action, Theron will appear at the MTV Movie Awards, airing this Sunday, June 3 at 9 p.m. E.T. on MTV.

"Technically, 'Prometheus' is magnificent. Shot in 3-D but without the director taking the process into account in his conceptions or execution, the film absorbs and uses the process seamlessly," The Hollywood Reporter writes. "There is nary a false or phony note in the effects."

"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," Variety agrees.

Those going in expecting a straightforward prequel to Scott's "Alien" may be disappointed. While it does answer a few questions burning in the minds of sci-fi aficionados, including some insight into the acid-for-blood aliens of the original series and the spacecraft they are discovered aboard, "Prometheus" is very much its own film.

"Much of Scott's audience are expecting a fully-formed prequel to 'Alien,'" The Telegraph writes, "but 'Prometheus' only really lays the groundwork, leaving plenty of dots disconnected."

Though movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes is only culling from nine reviews so far, many of them are from top critics, and the film enjoys an 88 percent "fresh" rating. That puts "Prometheus," presently, a few points ahead of "The Hunger Games" and a few points behind "The Avengers" in the race for best-reviewed blockbuster of the year so far. And several critics attribute that standing to Fassbender.

"Upstaging everyone is Fassbender, who provides the film's real glint of steel, while decentring its dramatic focus," the Guardian continues. "[Fassbender] steals the film with the chilling, parasitic relentlessness of that first gut-bound alien."

"The film contains the ideal embodiment of its sly existential paradox in David, the man-made manservant whose soulfully soulless presence brings to mind both 'A.I.' and '2001'; he's like HAL 9000 with better cheekbones," Variety concludes. "In a particularly witty touch, Fassbender's droll performance takes its cues from Peter O'Toole in 'Lawrence of Arabia,' a clip of which David continually watches as a model for how to behave around humans."

The ultimate result, according to THR, is 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."

It's a sentiment echoed by The Guardian: "It is a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable. It lacks the central killer punch of 'Alien': it doesn't have its satirical brilliance and its tough, rationalist attack on human agency and guilt. But there's a driving narrative impulse, and, however silly, a kind of idealism, a sense that it's exciting to make contact with whatever's out there."

Are you planning to see "Prometheus"? Let us know in the comments below!

Head over to MovieAwards.MTV.com to vote for your favorite flicks now! The 21st annual MTV Movie Awards air live this Sunday, June 3, at 9 p.m. ET.

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