Friday movie roundup: Great Scott, he's back in space
Science-fiction fans have been waiting decades for this: Ridley Scott's return to the genre.
The man who made two of the classics of science-fiction â "Alien" (1979) and "Blade Runner" (1982) â is back with "Prometheus," which does have some links to "Alien," but holds up on its own as a sturdy action drama with some thoughtfulness, too. It follows two archaeologists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) as they lead a space exploration to a moon pointed to by ancient Earth artifacts. Their thesis: An alien civilization came to our planet and populated it with, well, us. But the search gets complicated by nasty creatures outside, and the mixed motives of the android David (Michael Fassbender), which gives "Prometheus" some daring "2001" overtones. Scott gives us some hellacious action set pieces, a powerful female heroine in Rapace (the Swedish "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), and plenty of ideas to chew on.
Another franchise kick-start comes in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," a frenetic and sometimes quite funny continuation of the computer-animated series about Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller) and his Central Park Zoo buddies. This time, they leave Africa for Monte Carlo, and end up getting chased by a deadly animal-control officer (voiced by Frances McDormand), from whom they seek refuge by joining a group of circus animals. The story is a mishmash, mostly connecting one over-the-top sequence to the next. It's fun but forgettable.
This art-house slate is topped by the French comedy-drama "The Intouchables," a based-on-true-life story of a rich quadriplegic (Francois Cluzet) who forms a friendship with his live-in caretaker, an African-born ex-convict (Omar Sy). The story goes in predictable, Hallmark Channel, directions. But the easygoing chemistry between Cluzet and Sy makes it pleasant.
"Peace, Love & Misunderstanding" has a great cast, but then doesn't give them much to do. Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen play three generations of women in one family. Keener plays an uptight Manhattan lawyer who brings the kids north to meet their hippie grandma (Fonda) in Woodstock â while Olsen plays Keener's college-age rebel daughter. Director Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy") is good to his actresses, even with a underfed script.
Lastly, there is "The Turin Horse," Hungarian director Bela Tarr's tragedy of 19th-century farm life. The Cricket was unable to screen it this week, so you're on your own.