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July 23, 2017

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'Prometheus' a gorgeous, intense trip

Nothing could possibly satisfy the fervent expectation that has built for Ridley Scott's sort-of-prequel to his genre-defining "Alien," but "Prometheus," the director's return to science fiction for the first time in more than 30 years, comes close.

Strikingly beautiful, expertly paced, vividly detailed and scary as hell, it holds you in its grip and doesn't let go. You'll squeal, you'll squirm — at one point, I was curled up in a little ball in my seat — and you'll probably feel a lingering anxiety afterward.

But the further you get from outer-space journey, the more you may notice some problems with the plot — both specific, nagging holes and a general narrative fuzziness. Describing some would give too much away. We'll just say that Scott and writers Damon Lindelof (executive producer of "Lost") and Jon Spaihts vaguely touch on the notions of belief vs. science and creation vs. Darwinism, philosophical debates that never feel fully developed.

Still, the performances are excellent, especially from Michael Fassbender as a robot with the looks and impeccable manners of an adult but the innocence and troublemaking instincts of a child. His character, the genteel, fair-haired David, serves as an homage to Scott's own work as he calls to mind Ian Holm's android Ash from the original "Alien." His eerily calm, precise demeanor also is reminiscent of the HAL 9000 computer program in "2001: A Space Odyssey," and the pop-culture influences that shape David's habits and speech are a clever celebration of the power of classic cinema in general. ("Prometheus" probably will not go on to be considered one of Scott's classics in the same category as "Alien" and "Blade Runner," but you've got to admire its ambition.)

David is part of a crew of space explorers traveling to a remote moon on a trillion-dollar mission in the year 2093, hoping to find answers to nothing less than the origin of mankind on Earth.

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