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.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Jimmy Fallon is living the dream. On Late Night last night, he and Paul Simon played a rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Cecilia" with the performance group Stomp providing the beat -- and it was nothing short of awesome.
Also on Late Night, Fallon talked with Donald Glover about an interesting Twitter experience that Glover had lately: watching and twitpic-ing people having sex in Bank of America in Manhattan. Eesh.
Danny McBride chatted with Conan about insulting British people with his accent in Your Highness and the inception of the movie. Apparently, he came up with the idea of a drunk and high Lord of the Rings-style quest when, well, he was (probably) drunk and high.
Don Rickles stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman to share what he really thinks of Regis Philbin, and what he really thinks is that he's like Charlie Sheen and he's "got a problem," except the only problem is that we don't really understand what he means.
Matthew Morrison talked with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show about how NYU's Tisch School of Arts gave him an extremely prestigious alumni award. There's one major problem: he didn't graduate!
They will share the stage with Glee stars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, as well as Lost actor Jorge Garcia, Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon and Ricki Lake for The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute later this month (Oct10).
The show, which also features a costume ball for guests, will be held to raise money for the Painted Turtle, a charity set up by late actor Paul Newman to help children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
The musical will feature choreography from famed dance guru Kenny Ortega, while Lou Adler, who executive-produced the 1975 big screen version of the Rocky Horror stage show, is taking charge of the production.
He tells Variety, "It is terrific to have such a diverse cast of actors in support of a great cause - The Painted Turtle. Each of these individuals will bring a unique performance to the tribute and make for an incredibly memorable evening."
The show wil take place on 28 October (10) at the Wiltern Theater in L.A.
The never-before-seen launch trailer for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones will make its worldwide premiere Sunday, March 10 on FOX. Shown in its entirety, this two-and-a-half minute trailer will air between original episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and The X-Files.
In the past, fans have gone to extreme measures to be the first to see a Star Wars trailer. On Sunday, March 10, fans all across America can be first while sitting in the comfort of their living rooms and watching Fox.
After this world premiere broadcast, moviegoers can experience the trailer on the big screen exclusively in theaters with Ice Age, beginning Friday, March 15.
Attack of the Clones is set ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace. The galaxy has undergone significant change, as have Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, who are thrown together for the first time since the conflict between the Trade Federation and Padmé's home planet, Naboo.
Anakin has grown into the accomplished Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan, who himself has transitioned from student to teacher, while Padmé is a distinguished Senator. Anakin and Obi-Wan are assigned to protect Padmé, whose life is threatened by a faction of political separatists. As powerful forces prepare to collide in epic battle, Anakin and Padmé find themselves torn between duty and honor and a love that is forbidden. These heroes face choices that will impact not only their own fates, but the destiny of the Republic.
The film was written and directed by George Lucas, co-written by Jonathan Hales, produced by Rick McCallum and stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen and Samuel L Jackson. Additional cast members include Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lee and Temuera Morrison.