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.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Top Story: Halle Berry File for Divorce
Actress Halle Berry has filed for divorce six months after separating from her husband of three years, R&B singer Eric Benet. Berry's publicist confirmed the filing Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, The Associated Press reports. The couple met in 1999 at an HBO party for the premiere of the biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, in which Berry starred as the first black woman nominated for a Best Actress Oscar with 1954's Carmen Jones. They married in January 2001. At the time of their split, tabloids speculated Benet's faithfulness was an issue in their marriage. In a statement issued by her publicist in October 2003, Berry said: "Eric and I have had marital problems for some time now and have tried to work things out together. However, at this point, I feel we need time apart to reevaluate our union." This is the second divorce for Berry, 37, whose previous marriage to Cleveland Indians outfielder David Justice ended in divorce in 1996.
Jackson Personally Terminated Lead Attorneys
Michael Jackson said in a statement posted on his Web site Monday that he personally "terminated" his two lead defense attorneys--Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman--in his child molestation case. The statement was made in defense to press reports that the two legal eagles had stepped down. On Sunday, Brafman told Reuters Sunday he and Geragos had resigned from the case over "complicated legal and practical issues" that he could not discuss. Jackson, however, did not come out and say why he dismissed his two lead attorneys, but hinted: "It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me. My life is at stake. Therefore I must feel confident that my interests are of the highest priority."
Godsend Web Site Causes Controversy
Web surfers have started petitions to close a Web site to promote Lions Gate's upcoming drama Godsend, in which a couple clone their dead son. The site, www.godsendinstitute.org, promotes a fertility clinic run by a Dr. Richard Wells, billed as "the top genetic engineering researcher" in the United States. The problem seems to be the fact that the site doesn't mention the film or that the Godsend Institute is fictitious and its Dr. Wells is actor Robert De Niro. "Almost everyone who goes to the site thinks it's real, but by the time they leave, most have figured it's fiction. Some even applaud it," Tom Ortenberg, president of film releasing for Lions Gate, told Reuters. He added that the studio is getting several hundred phone calls a day to the fake clinic's toll-free number, but none have been from people actually looking for help.
Blake's P.I. Won't Testify Before Trial
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp ruled Monday that prosecutors in the Robert Blake murder trial couldn't take pretrial testimony from a private investigator hired by actor to dig into his wife's past. Blake allegedly hired Jordan to investigate Bakley during a custody battle for the couple's 3-year-old daughter daughter. According to Reuters, prosecutors had wanted to examine 77-year-old William Jordan, a former police detective, under oath before the trial starts because of his age and the importance of his testimony. But Schempp rejected the motion because it is too close to the trial date. Blake is scheduled to go to trial in Sept. 9 for the May 4, 2001, murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. The Baretta star is free on $1.5 million bail
Stern's Ratings Soar Despite Crackdown
Even though federal regulators have recently tighten restrictions on indecency, specifically targeting shock jock Howard Stern, his radio show's ratings have only gone up. Reuters reports the show scored major gains in listenership during the winter quarter ended Mar. 31 in the three biggest U.S. markets--New York, Los Angeles and Chicago--according to figures made public on Monday by the Arbitron radio ratings service. In Stern's home market of New York, where his show is broadcast on WXRK-FM, he topped all morning drive-time competition with a 7.2 share in total audience, up 22 percent from the fall quarter and 18 percent from last winter, Arbitron said. Stern's show had dipped slipped to No. 2 in total audience last fall.
Blanchett Becomes Mommy for Second Time
Oscar-nominated actress Cate Blanchett and husband writer Andrew Upton welcomed their second son, Roman Robert, last Friday, Blanchett's publicist told Reuters. The couple have a 2-year-old son, Dashiell. The 34-year-old actress will be seen next in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, portraying screen legend Katharine Hepburn.
Pointer Sister Faces Drug Charges
June Pointer Whitmore, the youngest member of the '70s hit-making group the Pointer Sisters, was charged Monday with cocaine possession, Reuters reports. She was arrested last Thursday with two other people outside the Hollywood apartment of her older sister, Bonnie, but was released on bail. Details of Whitmore's arrest were sketchy, Reuters reports, but a spokeswoman for prosecutors said she and her co-defendants were confronted by police officers who responded to citizen complaints and found them in possession of cocaine and cocaine pipes.
Role Call: Polanski Finds His Oliver Twist
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, who is helming an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel Oliver Twist, has found the right young actor to portray the title character, after a search of London's drama schools. After a screen test in Prague, where Oliver Twist will be shot, 10-year-old Barney Clarke won the role. Ben Kingsley will play Fagin. Shooting begins July 12.