Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
We Gleeks have endured two seasons conditioning us to accept that the series has become a giant cover-producing machine with some cute little storylines thrown in for good measure. It’s only a few seasons from becoming a full-on variety show. That’s why my new plea to Glee is this: Please, for the love of all the glitter in the world, stop telling us why you’re about to sing. If there’s one thing we expect when we tune in, it’s that you’re going to sing. In fact, it’s really the only reason we’re still coming back. But if there’s anything worse than Sue’s weird in vitro plot-twist, it’s people giving speeches about why they’re singing the song that’s taking the place of actual emotional dialog in the first place. To be fair, this week’s slate of songs off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack needed a little massaging to be relevant to a group of 17-year-olds’ problems, but the writing has lost its season one finesse.
First up: Clumsy explanation number one. Will’s never-ending quest to get the glee club to embrace Disco — and therefore recapture the glory of his youth and the time his club took nationals — continues. This time he has the strength of Sue Sylvester and her conveniently portable light-up plexi-glass '70s dance floor to support his mandate. Plus, he manages to attach a message to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (instead of admitting that his addiction to Disco might be worse than his addiction to sweater vests) with little more than a bottle of Elmer’s glue and some twine. See guys! Saturday Night Fever is the magic little pill that will help you find your life direction in a matter of 45 TV minutes! Thank Travolta.
And what’s Schue’s master plan? Have the three “best dancers” compete for the Tony Manero prize: a custom replica of Travolta’s famous white suit from the movie. (Spoiler alert: The entire Glee club ends up with replica suits — poor seamstress Becky!) But wait, Schue’s rigged the competition and Mercedes, Finn, and Santana are the finalists (which we know can’t be true because Finn’s Frankenstein dance moves are the reason we had to endure three episodes with “booty camp”) who will hopefully find their entire life plan nuggets via the classic movie.
Meanwhile, Kurt and Mercedes encounter a red herring of a storyline that serves to promote a LGBTQ issue and give Jesse St. James a reason to show how much of douche he’s become since Rachel publicly rejected him by making out with Finn onstage at Nationals. They’re approached by a young man named Wade in the halls of McKinley, and he seeks their sage advice: Should he or shouldn’t he cross-dress when he performs with Vocal Adrenaline that week? Mercedes and Kurt immediately shoot it down for fear that Ohioans just don’t understand, but Sue sees a chance to take down VA once and for all by encouraging the young man to be his true feminine self and thus alienate the bigots and intolerant folks of the Midwest. But it turns out that Wade/Unique looks great onstage as a woman and the only person scrambling to judge is the sinister Jesse St. James. He’s just the worst. It’s just too bad that’s the lesson we really learned from this throwaway storyline that involves an issue that really deserves a little more attention and tact.
NEXT: Rachel sends a super message to girls watching Glee everywhere.
This week in the land of Finchel... Baby Barbra and Dr. Frankenstein’s lovable teen monster are on the outs, but as expected, they can’t stay apart for long because they’re like two playschool alphabet magnets: Annoyingly stuck together forever. Rachel flip-flops (again — seriously, is she suffering from some sort of Jekyll and Hyde issue?) and decides she was being too selfish about moving to New York. She loves Finn and she’ll give up her Broadway dreams so they can build their dreams together — which is a super message to send little girls everywhere. If your boyfriend has no dreams, stay home and curtail your own so he can figure his s**t out. Is anyone else annoyed by the fact that they’re way too young for this kind of a compromise? Of course, Finn completely rejects Rachel’s decision to stay in freaking Ohio for Finn when he chucks his college brochures in the hallway trashbin. But thank goodness Schue stalked him on his way out, because he catches Finn and makes him watch Saturday Night Fever so he can identify with Tony Manero and live out his dream in New York City. (I’m sure Schue was prepared with some Clockwork Orange face mask should Finn resist.) Or at least don a white suit with a chipper attitude and zero resistance to the fact that everyone feels less important as soon as they leave their high school glory days by episode’s end.
In second-string romance news, Brittany tries to help her fame-whore of a girlfriend and ensure her rise to insta-fame by splicing together their most recent sex-tape with a video of Lord Tubbington performing household chores and putting it on YouTube. Bless Brittany’s heart, but she cannot be that stupid. I understand her confusing Lesbian with Lebanese and even thinking that Santa Claus could really make Artie walk again, but this is too far. Luckily, it’s short-lived because Sue pulls the duo into her office to figuratively slap them on the wrist for their totally inappropriate behavior before rewarding Santana with a magically obtained full ride to the top cheerleading school in the country. Look, I know that in order to enjoy Glee we have to suspend our disbelief, but anyone who’s ever been to high school knows that sex tapes usually spell expulsion, and college applications are due before Christmas. Of course, that doesn’t allow for dramatic reveals on a television schedule.
Finally, we have Sam and Mercedes, whose storyline is the only one with real charm left. Though she dumped him via Whitney Ballad a few weeks ago, Sam is still has a hunk a burnin’ love for Mercedes, uploading her performance of “Disco Inferno” to YouTube (who apparently sponsored this episode) to show her that the Internet loves her and she can actually be a huge star someday. It was simple, sweet, realistic, and it made sense emotionally. Plus, Chord Overstreet has got the sugary sweet high school boy act down pat. We’ll eat that up any day.
NEXT: "You just got your boob in the door."
In the end, we had a few storylines conveniently cleaned up as we get closer and closer to Nationals and Graduation, plus, we finally solved that age old mystery: What does it look like when Lord Tubbington puts Brittany’s dishes away for her?
Of course, Glee still keeps us pointing and dancing on fog-filled dance floors with its ridiculous asides, so here are some of this week’s best stray observations:
--Jesse St James calls Vocal Adrenaline “The Borg” (Rejoice, Star Trek nerds!)
--“We told Mr. Schue we do not support Disco in this room” — Rachel
--Sue’s cadre of Viennese tailors is just Becky with a sewing machine.
--Puck goes from telling Finn “Two dudes in one bed is, like, confirmed gay” to “When you do find your dream, make it as big as you are.”
--Finn’s aptitude test says he has a potential career as a “competitive eating champion.”
--“Gayberry” is Santana’s name for Kurt and Rachel.
--“I got your tweet: ‘Anyone who’s engaged to me please meet me in the auditorium.’” — Finn
--“You just got your boob in the door.” — Brittany about Santana’s sex tape
--Lord Tubbington is better at performing everyday household chores than I am.
Did you like “Saturday Night Glee-ver”? Are you getting tired of jumpy story and Finchel melodrama? More Samcedes! Are you with me?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter at @KelseaStahler.
Glee Tries on the '70s in Saturday Night Glee-ver Video
Glee Recap: Somebody That We Used to Know
Why I'm Going to Start Watching Glee Again