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Movie Reviews: “Prometheus,” “Madagascar 3,” “Crooked Arrows”
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
2 and 3/4 out of 4 stars
NOOMI RAPACE, MICHAEL FASSBENDER, CHARLIZE THERON, IDRIS ELBA, GUY PEARCE
This big-budget, special effects juggernaut is living proof that a story with holes can work as long as it looks cool enough.
Borrowing so heavily from the “Alien” films that it feels familiar from the get-go, the latest film from director Ridley Scott overwhelms our earthbound senses after an explorer’s discovery sends a team to a far corner of the galaxy in search of intelligent life.
From the cool ship they fly in to the sleep chambers they climb out of to the vehicles they use to visit a huge structure on the foreign planet, it all looks so amazing, so neatly alien.
It’s a shame the characters aren’t quite as strong and the story has plot holes you could drive a planetary rover through. Like when the members of an exploratory team find atmosphere inside an alien structure, then take their helmets off just moments after fretting over contamination.
Some plot assembly is required. We have to try and cobble together what the aliens were doing on the planet, and on Earth, and on a planned visit back to Earth.
If you strain and use every clue, you kind of get it. But it’s fuzzy and by no means a straight line.
Just as goofy is the way the crew handles things when trouble starts to happen, including the fact that they lower a ship’s gate to deal with the threat of contagion.
Did I mention that the strong female scientist in the crew (Ripley, anyone?) gets treated roughly and then some? She takes a beating, from an improvised operation in a hospital pod to doing battle with everything from aliens to sliding ship parts.
Sure, that’s the stuff of sci-fi, but I would have liked to see a little smoother script that made for a few more strong characters in the cast.
But, man, does this thing look cool, with action on a scale we seldom see.
A connection to the “Aliens” franchise and a sure-fire setup for a sequel, Prometheus does what it needs to as a summer sci-fi adventure.
Rated R for sci–fi violence including some intense images, and language. 124 min. [MC, PV, RA]
“MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED” (PG)
3 out of 4 stars
VOICES OF BEN STILLER, JADA PINKETT SMITH, CHRIS ROCK
This is family-friendly fun, with Chris Rock and Ben Stiller providing voices of main characters that keep the laughs flowing.
There’s even a pretty unique “bad guy” here, a female French animal control officer who can do everything from sniff out critters to fire tranquilizer darts from a trusty pistol.
The story itself is pretty silly: our stranded zoo animals need to get through Europe and back home to the Big Apple.
But with high-flying action scenes and troubles aplenty, not to mention the antics of those cagey penguins—it’s a fun ride.
Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. 85 min. [MC, RA, RF]
“CROOKED ARROWS” (PG–13)
2 and 1/4 out of 4 stars
BRANDON ROUTH, GIL BIRMINGHAM, CHELSEA RICKETTS
Despite all the things wrong with this David vs. Goliath tale, it still manages to evoke a measure of interest and sympathy by film’s end.
Problems? Uneven acting, the use of white actors (Brandon Routh of “Superman” as a native American?), a clichéd script, heavy-handed treatment of tribal culture and story points you see coming a mile away are just a few.
Plusses? The lacrosse action is fun, the true heritage of the game in Native American culture is inspiring and yes, even if he doesn’t look a bit like an Indian, Roth is a pretty good actor.
His character is a son who’s stint coaching a lacrosse team on the reservation helps him reconnect with his roots.
Don’t miss U.Va.’s lacrosse coach along with other big names in the sport with cameos in the finale.
Rated PG–13 for some suggestive references. 105 min. [RF]