A small pat on the back for the University Near Here: they've taken over the niche once filled by dinky private-sector theatres driven out of business by the big chains: they show second-run movies, often just before they're about to come out on DVD. If you're within a reasonable distance of Durham, New Hampshire: the upcoming showings are here. Prices, even for non-students, are reasonable. Parking… well, that can be a challenge. E-mail me if you need advice.
So that's how I saw Prometheus in (woo!) 3-D, finally, after missing it in the theatres.
Produced and directed by Ridley Scott, who directed Alien back in 1979. It's a sorta-prequel; you might want to re-watch Alien to refresh your memory before you watch this.
(I say "re-watch Alien", because if you haven't seen Alien, my guess is that you're not the sort of person who would want to watch Prometheus.)
Anyway: a trippy opening scene shows a primeval lifeless Earth being visited by a flying saucer; a humanoid being disembarks, imbibes a burbling substance, and immediately disintegrates into the surrounding environment, his bodily fluids setting things up to produce… well, us.
And then we jump from the distant past to the (comparatively) near future, where star travel has become possible. A team of archaeologists discover ancient clues pointing to humanity's origins in an obscure star system many light-years away; one of the moons there just might be able to support LifeAsWeKnowIt!
So a fantastically expensive expedition to the system is mounted, bankrolled by the mysterious Weyland Industries. (They even have their own website.) Two of the archaeologists, Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are onboard. There's an android, David (Michael Fassbender), to take care of the crew in hibernation. An ice-princess representative of Weyland, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Piloting duties are handled by Captain Janek (Idris Elba). And there's an assortment of scientists and grunts, who, for purposes of this movie, might as well have been given red shirts with "Purina Alien Chow" stenciled on the back.
Although Shaw hopes to find Answers to Big Questions, like "How was humanity created?", she and the rest of the crew rapidly turn to more mundane questions, like "How do I kill this thing?" and "How do I get off this planet alive?"
It's a cliché to say a movie's visual effects are stunning. But—holy cow—the visual effects are really stunning. You'll believe a big-ass spaceship landed on a strange world, and is immediately dwarfed by the landscape and alien artifacts. It's very impressive. And, once the violence begins, perpetrated by all sorts of hostile beasties, you'll believe that too. I found myself averting my eyes at one particularly nasty 3-D bit.