Friday Flicks: How Does Prometheus Rank Against the Alien Movies?

NewsFeed's guide to the films to see (and avoid) this weekend.

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Tagline: The Search For Our Beginning Could Lead To Our End

Whatever you’re thinking about dropping into any conversation about Prometheus, don’t even think about calling it a prequel to Alien, especially if director Ridley Scott is in earshot. He’s been at pains to define his new film as its own entity — going so far as opening up the potential for there being at least two more movies before we even reach the date in which the first installment of the Alien series is set.

So what do we know and what are we allowed to say? It’s probably for the best to not read too much about one of the year’s most anticipated releases. But it shouldn’t ruin the experience if we reveal that a team of explorers (starring the likes of Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender) discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth. But this being part of the bigger Alien picture, they’re forced to fight a battle to save the future of the human race.

For the most part, film critics seem happy to go along for the ride. The New York Times says that “Scott’s sense of visual scale, which has often produced hectic, hectoring grandiosity (are you not entertained?), achieves, especially in the first hour, something like genuine grandeur. Roger Ebert, meanwhile, calls Prometheus “a magnificent science-fiction film, all the more intriguing because it raises questions about the origin of human life and doesn’t have the answers.” But to the Village Voice, “Scott seems a bit like David carefully arranging his hair in imitation of O’Toole’s Lawrence. He can still mimic the appearance of an epic, noble, important movie — but the appearance is all.” And as TIME’s own Richard Corliss notes in his review, “Impatient readers will observe that I have craftily deferred revealing any salient shocks from Prometheus. But that’s exactly what Scott does for the first third of his new movie.” As the tag line for the original Alien might have put it, when it comes to negative reviews, everyone can hear you scream.

MORE: Prometheus Decoded: Investigating Ridley Scott’s End Credits Secret

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