[UPDATE: More Prometheus Reviews Have Emerged Online. Scroll Down to Read Them.]

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is not just one of the most anticipated movies of 2012 – it’s also one of the most mysterious.  We’ve heard all about how the film is prequel/spin-off of Scott’s famous sci-fi/horror film, Alien – though the exact details of that connection remain vague. But aside from the explanation of how Prometheus and Alien fit together, there is one question that the general moviegoing public wants an answer to: Is the film any good?

One critic has already posted his review of Prometheus online, giving us an initial impression of what we can expect. We’ve kept things SPOILER-FREE, but needles to say, if you’re trying to stay totally in the dark until you have a chance to see Prometheus for yourself, STOP READING NOW.

The review in question came from Justin Chang over at Variety, who may have jumped the designated embargo date, giving us a look into Prometheus before 20th Century Fox intended. As it stands, here are some RELATIVELY SPOILER-FREE snippets of what Mr. Chang had to say:

Landing in a parched-looking valley on an unfamiliar planet, the scientists venture into an underground cavern whose malevolent contents immediately bring “Alien” to mind, and it seems at first that “Prometheus” will follow a similar outline, as the crew unwisely decides to bring specimens back to the ship.

Yet a key difference between this film and its predecessor is one of volume. Incongruously backed by an orchestral surge of a score, the film conspicuously lacks the long, drawn-out silences and sense of menace in close quarters that made “Alien” so elegantly unnerving. Prometheus is one chatty vessel, populated by stock wise-guy types who spout tired one-liners when they’re not either cynically debunking or earnestly defending belief in a superior power… 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.

Also providing flickers of engagement are the semi-provocative ideas embedded in Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof’s screenplay. The continual discussions of creation vs. creator, and the attitude of one toward the other, supply the film with a philosophical dimension that its straightforward space-opera template doesn’t have the bandwidth to fully explore… Still, the film contains the ideal embodiment of its sly existential paradox in David (Michael Fassbender), the man-made manservant whose soulfully soulless presence brings to mind both “A.I.” and “2001”; he’s like HAL 9000 with better cheekbones.

There is much more to the review, but it is admittedly filled with loads of MAJOR SPOILERS. Head over to Variety if you wish to read it.

UPDATE: Additional reviews pretty much fit in line with Variety‘s assessment:

THR: The buildup and arrival are the best part of the film, suggesting a sense of inquiry and genuine sort of thoughtfulness that promise a truly weighty slice of speculative fiction. Not that this territory hasn’t been amply mined in the past: In fact, the particulars of the ship’s interior design, visual projections, hibernating crew members, sports workout routines and Michael Fassbender‘s robot character as a sort of ambulatory HAL… are unavoidably reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Technically, Prometheus is magnificent. Shot in 3D but without the director taking the process into account in his conceptions or execution, the film absorbs and uses the process seamlessly. There is nary a false or phony note in the effects supervised by Richard Stammers, which build upon the outstanding production design by Arthur MaxDariusz Wolski‘s graceful and vivid cinematography synthesizes all the elements beautifully in a film that caters too much to imagined audience expectations when a little more adventurous thought might have taken it to some excitingly unsuspected destinations.

From Time Out London:

There’s plenty to recommend in ‘Prometheus’: the photography is pleasingly crisp and the design is stunning, nicely redolent of ‘Alien’ and its sequels. There is a small handful of truly bracing set pieces – one scene inside a medical pod is without doubt the most heart-poundingly memorable moment of the blockbuster season so far.

But its flaws are impossible to ignore. The script feels flat – a few pleasing nods to the original movies aside, the dialogue is lazy, while the plot, though crammed with striking concepts, simply fails to coalesce. After an enjoyable setup, the central act is baggy, confusing and, in places, slightly boring, while the climax has flash and fireworks but no real momentum… There’s no denying that ‘Prometheus’ will make for a perfectly entertaining night at the movies – but we were promised so much more.

In case you have a hard time wrapping your head around all that, here is a SPOILER-FREE breakdown of the overall impression:

  • Prometheus is visually impressive.
  • It’s louder and more “busy” than Alien‘s quiet, stripped-down aesthetic.
  • The actors do a fair job in their roles.
  • Michael Fassbender’s David and Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw are standouts (surprise).
  • The script makes you think (a little bit) but leaves a lot open for a sequel to resolve.

Questions about the sheer level of tension and/or terror, or the specific connections (or lack thereof) to Alien remain just that… questions. On the whole it would seem (at least from this review) that Prometheus is neither a big disappointment nor a rousing success for Ridley Scott – instead it is something different (worse?): A middle of the road movie experience.

We’ll see if these initial impressions hold true for the general public, as Prometheus hits 3D theaters this week in the UK, and on June 8, 2012 in the US.

Check out the extended trailer for the film, below:

Source: Variety & The Hollywood Reporter