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Prometheus Bound and Gagged

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May contain spoilers.

WASHINGTON -- I didn't want to discard one of my only living heroes -- Ridley Scott -- but I had no choice after he crushed Charlize Theron with a giant flying turd.

Actually, it's worse -- and less imaginative -- than that.

In his preposterous, cynical movie, Prometheus, the brown turd in the sky is an alien spaceship full of poisonous glop. It is taking off from an alien planet for Earth when the good guys bring it down. The debris kills Theron, the ice queen villain and corporate shill who is probably an android but who cares because even if she is malware she looks terrific in her Spanks-tight onboard space wear.

What the hell happened to Ridley Scott?

I've been a reporter for forty years (thus, the few living heroes) and a science fiction fan for longer than that. I am religiously devoted to one of the greatest acts of cinematic imagination of all time, Scott's 1982 classic Blade Runner.

He's made other great films as well -- Thelma and Louise and Gladiator being two of them -- and his company has shown class and taste in projects such as the CBS Television hit The Good Wife. Scott even made one of the best, and most influential, TV ads of all time, Apple's "1984" spot introducing the Macintosh computer to the world.

So it was with great anticipation (and deliberate ignorance of the reviews) that I used three hours of vacation time today to see the 3D version of Prometheus at one of America's last great, old-fashioned, big theaters: the Uptown in DC.

Sadly, it's the same theater in which I saw Blade Runner all those years ago. Little has changed, other than the popcorn tubs being twice as large.

And Ridley Scott.

Watching the movie, I decided that Scott himself must have been taken over by one of his alien creatures: a slimy one with the brains and breath of a greedy Hollywood schlockmeister whose only interest was in making a killing, selling popcorn and setting up a sequel.

There is no other explanation. Scott was inhabited.

Yes, as in his genuinely iconic films, there were nods to Scottian "Big Questions." In Gladiator, they concern the nature of heroism and leadership; in Blade Runner, they concern the blurring line between machine-made and human experience.

This time, it was, "Where do we come from?" But the level of the discussion -- verbal and visual -- was so lazily and blandly presented as to be quickly lost as Scott resorted to livening things up with his old Alien shtick of snot-smeared tentacles bursting from bodies and inserting themselves into space helmets and bodily orifices.

You quickly forget about, and never get an answer to, the question. It's not about "Where do we come from?" but "How do we get the fuck out of here!?"

Maybe there was method in this mish-mash; you'll have to pay much more money and buy more popcorn to see sequels attempt a better answer. Scott is 74-years-old, but appears to be in good health, so it could be many more episodes before we get anywhere close to The Truth.

I had at least hoped that the flick would be visually arresting. Scott can be the most intensively pictorial of directors. In hopes of being awed by his visually metaphorical skill, and his wondrous landscapes and set pieces, I was prepared to forgive him the stale plot, which is, roughly, that cave paintings discovered in the late 21st century give us a roadmap to the planet of our ancestors, where we realize that they long ago decided that we suck, hence the glop in the turd.

But the spaceship and space "business" generally are derivative, right down to liquor the color of mouthwash, the scenery on the planet is as dull as rural Iceland (where it was filmed) and the cave of our ancestors looks like a basement full of discarded Halloween Batman suits.

Oh, but wait: Our "engineer" ancestors who hid down there in the cave on that planet play the music of the spheres on an organ-like contraption that looks eerily like a giant, hard-plastic Whack-a-Mole!

How cool is that?

The Prometheus of Greek myth was the titan who stole fire -- and a love of science and the intellect -- from the gods of Olympus. If Ol' Pro' saw this eponymous film, he might keep the fire but give the rest back.