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 God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Backstage, Best Actress winner Kate Winslet (The Reader) gushed, "It's just dawning on me now that I've won an Oscar. It's just starting to sink in. Oh my God...And as someone who's been nominated before, I can tell you winning is really a lot better than losing. Really a lot better."
When a gossip columnist insisted Winslet give an answer for who she would pass the nude-scene torch to, she took some time and then replied with a glint in her eye, "Susan Sarandon."
Following are select remarks from other Sunday night winners:
Best Actor Sean Penn (Milk):
Remarking on the protesters outside the Kodak Theater, Penn said, "I'd tell 'em to turn in their hate card and find their better self...It's very sad in a way, because it's a demonstration of such cowardice, emotional cowardice, to be so afraid of extending the same rights to your fellow man as you would want for yourself."
Penn also extended his tribute to fellow nominee Mickey Rourke as "someone I've alternatively looked up to and advised," adding that Rourke "quite literally had me almost throughout 'The Wrestler' weeping."
"I've known Mickey for over 25 years. He's an excellent bridge burner at times, but we've had for the most part a very close friendship. Comebacks are funny, and we talk about it with him, but everyone in this room has to make a comeback every day. Life is tough. What I think is sensational about (Mickey) is that he's simply one of the great poetic talents in acting."
Bset Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire):
"You see Heath Ledger's work acknowledged in The Dark Knight, and it is extraordinary work. But like virtually everybody, Heath started small, he started in small films. Everybody does, and we've got to protect them. The first film I made cost a million pounds, and that's where you learn your craft. And you don't know what you're doing - and I'm a big fan of keeping it that way."
Slumdog producer Christian Colson:
"Even the studios will take note that we made this for 7 million pounds. It's gonna cross $100 million in the US Tuesday or Wednesday. That's good business for them."
Supporting Actor Heath Ledger's family (The Dark Knight):
Ledger's father said the statuette will go to the actor's daughter with Michelle Williams, Matilda, when she turns 18. "Michelle will make the decisions here, when it's appropriate to celebrate this kind of thing, when she'll be at an age when she can celebrate it."
Ledger's mother remarked, "Just to look at Matilda, she's totally like her daddy. She has the same mannerisms. I really feel he's in her."
Original Screenplay winner Dustin Lance Black (Milk):
Winning for Black was "sort of an out-of-body thing...I don't believe it yet. Maybe when I see my mom in a few minutes."
Choking up, he said he didn't have his speech planned in full. "My whole thing was just to pay it forward. Harvey (Milk) gave me his story and it saved my life. My whole thing was to tell those kids out there that they'll be alright."
Supporting Actress Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona):
Acknowledging that before her recent success, she had to weather a lot of criticism, particularly of her Spanish-accented English, Cruz said, "You have to keep climbing mountains, and sometimes there are things that it's better not to listen to. In this room, how many accents are there here? We are all mixed together, more and more everyday, and that has to be represented in cinema. I'm happy that finally, that door seems to be more open."
Best Adapted Screenplay winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire):
"I learned to stop being English about things like love. If you make a film in England about love, it's hugely complicated. It's all about saying what the weather is like, and you're secretly telling someone you love them. You know what the English are like; they're very repressed people. You don't get that in India. India is incredibly un-cynical about love. It's a not a complicated thing. It's me, you, love. Let's go."
Kunio Kato who won for animated short commented on his favorite moment of the evening through an interpreter, "Meeting Mr. Jack Black was the most exciting thing. I always wanted to be as funny as he is."
Departures director Yojiro Takita admitted, he expected to hear Waltz with Bashir read out as foreign-language film winner. "I didn't believe it. It was unbelievable."
James Marsh who won the documentary feature prize for Man on Wire escorted the film's subject Philippe Petit backstage with them. The wire-walker said he's not done taking chances. "It's in my veins, I have to keep walking. I'm going to walk in NYC in the fall, to a library, I won't tell you which one. It's a walk for literacy to inspire kids to read."
Cinematography winner Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire), said he brought some of the skills he'd learned in his documentary work to Slumdog.
"You have to see what's going on in a short space of time and grab it. Maybe my background from documentary is more relevant."My main brief was to learn how to run with the boys, run with them at a certain height and certain pace. And that was no small thing in the slums of Mumbai."
Other tidbits from EW's Hollywood Insider coverage:
*Philip Seymour Hoffman explained his hat saying he's in a film with "crazy hair" and would "rather deal with hat jokes" than hair jokes.
*The kids from Slumdog Millionaire were regular autograph hounds asking Meryl Streep and Daniel Craig for their John Hancocks.
*Robert Pattinson remarked that the Oscars are "more organized. At Twilight premieres, you think you're going to die."
*Doubt writer/director John Patrick Shanley says he's working on an original script next with a one-word hint: "Magic."
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Pop sensation Justin Timberlake confesses he still misses his old flame Britney Spears. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the lead singer of the boy band 'N Sync said, "I may not ever get over her. I really do still love that girl." Timberlake, 21, broke off their 3 ½ year relationship earlier this year, saying Spears, also 21, cheated on him (she has denied any indiscretions on her part, Reuters reports). Timberlake even took a jab at his ex in the video for his new song "Cry Me A River," where it shows the singer getting even with his wayward girlfriend--a Spears look-alike. Timberlake also told the magazine 'N Sync is planning to start recording a new album in the fall.
That's Sir Ridley to you. According to Reuters, director Ridley Scott and actor Alan Bates (Gosford Park) each received knighthoods Tuesday. Also receiving British honors were actor Brian Cox (Adaptation), who became a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) and actress Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies) who became an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).
Angelina Jolie continued her efforts as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees with she recently visited Kosovo's minority community, The Associated Press reports. She told the AP Monday she was troubled by the conditions there. "People think that when a war is over, everything goes back to normal," Jolie said. "But in Kosovo, the security situation remains questionable for minorities."
A plan to name an Atlantic City, New Jersey, street after fight promoter Don King may or may not happen. According to the AP, the proposal, which would designate a portion of Mississippi Avenue as Don King Boulevard, received some flack from critics who felt there were others more deserving. It was pulled from the City Council's agenda Monday but King sponsor William Marsh said he would resubmit the plan at a later date.
The producers of the Oscar-winning indie biopic Pollock are suing the film's foreign distributor, Splendid Pictures, Inc., claiming they haven't seen "a single dollar of the millions" they were promised in foreign sales, Reuters reports. In an April 2001 deal, Splendid Pictures promised $5.3 million in sales to 35 foreign cities.
Honoring Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president Jimmy Carter, A&E Network will air the two-hour Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which featured performances by Jennifer Lopez, Santana, Willie Nelson and Hall & Oates, Jan 10 at 9 p.m. The concert took place in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 11, with Jessica Lange and Anthony Hopkins as hosts.
The inevitable Enron TV movie is finally making it to the small screen. CBS' The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron is based on Brian Cruver's book Anatomy of Greed. As an eager MBA grad who joined Enron only to be laid off eight months later, Cruver's birdseye view of the demise of the company is part tragedy, part farce. The TV movie will air this Sunday at 9 p.m.
BBC News reports the funeral service for The Clash singer Joe Strummer, who died last week of heart failure at the age of 50, took place in a private ceremony at the West London's Crematorium. It was attended by his wife Lucinda, two daughters and a stepdaughter, plus the other Clash members, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon.