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.
Tina Fey stole the show at the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, receiving top honors on Sunday's, September 21, event for her hit series 30 Rock.
The series, starring creator Fey,
Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan, won the Outstanding Comedy Series award, while TV series Mad Men claimed its own top honor for Outstanding Drama Series.
Fey and Baldwin each took home top honors of Outstanding Lead Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series for their roles on the show.
Fey took the stage, musing of her honors: "I thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do."
Historical series John Adams, executive produced by Tom Hanks, was the most-nominated show of the year, taking in five awards of its record 23 nods,
including a win for Outstanding Miniseries. Actress Glenn Close also claimed victory, picking up an honor for her lead role on dramatic series Damages.
Close paid tribute to actresses in her category: "We're proving that complicated, powerful, mature women are sexy and are high entertainment and can carry a show. I call us the sisterhood of the TV drama divas."
In a first-time category, Best Reality-TV Competition program went to Amazing Race, the show's sixth award.
Elsewhere, the spectacular ceremony was marked by a performance from American singer/songwriter Josh Groban, joined briefly on stage by Ed McMahon during a musical salute to television history. Groban took to the stage, singing a medley of songs inspired by TV themes including songs from South Park and
This year's show, opened by talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, was hosted by reality-TV stars American Idol's Ryan Seacrest, Project Runway's Heidi Klum, Dancing with the Stars' Tom Bergeron, Deal or No Deal's Howie Mandel and Survivor's Jeff Probst.
The full list of Grammy Award winners is as follows:
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Jean Smart - Samantha Who?
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Zeljko Ivanek - Damages
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Dianne Wiest - In Treatment
Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: Louis J. Horvitz - 80th Annual Academy Awards
Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: The Colbert Report
Commemorative Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety:
Tommy Smothers - The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Laura Linney - John Adams
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Tim Conway - 30 Rock
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Kathryn Joosten - Desperate Housewives
Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series: Barry Sonnenfeld - Pushing Daisies
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Recount
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Tom Wilkinson - John Adams
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Series: Jay Roach - Recount
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Kirk Ellis - John Adams
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Eileen Atkins - Cranford (Masterpiece)
Outstanding Reality-TV Competition: The Amazing Race
Outstanding Miniseries: John Adams
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Don Rickles - Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Glynn Turman - In Treatment
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Cynthia Nixon - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series: Greg Yaitanes - House
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Matthew Weiner - Mad Men - "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (Pilot)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Paul Giamatti - John Adams
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Glenn Close - Damages
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Outstanding Host for a Reality Competition Show: Jeff Probst - Survivor
Outstanding Comedy Series: 30 Rock
Outstanding Drama Series: Mad Men
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It was this time last year that Kathy Griffin was making headlines for dissing Jesus on stage at the Creative Arts Emmys. The carrot-topped comedienne found herself in hot water for off color remarks like, "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus…This award is my god now!"
But that was last year – this year Griffin’s My Life on the D List earned her a second Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program and the queen of comedy learned her lesson. Still the most brash of all the speeches, a mild “here we are again f*ckers” and “I love this Emmy, I would make love to it if I could” was the extent of it.
Afterward, Griffin admitted, “I’m trying not to get fired between now and next Sunday, because I can’t believe they are allowing me to present at the fancy schmancies (Primetime Emmys)…I didn’t want to get that call like I did last year on Monday. I [was] thinking it was a riot and then I [got] the call saying; ‘You can’t come.’ I’ve got the dress and everything. I’m presenting with the Don Rickles. I didn’t want to fuck that up.”
Griffin wasn’t the only funny woman to take the stage this year at the ceremony celebrating guest roles, reality shows and television’s top talent behind-the-scenes. Sarah Silverman took home a golden statue for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for her mega-hit “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” from her ex’s Jimmy Kimmel Live show. Silverman ended her acceptance speech by recognizing Kimmel “who broke my heart – I mean [for whom] will always have a place in my heart.”
When Glynn Turman came to visit us backstage after winning Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his role on In Treatment he confessed, “My wife said that I could not weld this on the hood of my car. That would be tacky she said, so I’m looking to the mantel.”
While Turman’s win was his first, the same can’t be said for Tim Conway. The veteran actor started receiving nominations in the 1960s for McHale's Navy, The Carol Burnett Show and even Coach. This year he took home another, this time for his unforgettable guest role as Bucky Bright on 30 Rock.
“I should [be back next season],” Conway says. “I did a wonderful job and brought this [award] to them, but I don’t know. They are so stuffy [laughs]. No, I had a wonderful time working with Jack [McBrayer] and Tina [Fey] and Alec [Baldwin].”
Other notable winners included Cynthia Nixon for her guest spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Kathryn Joosten for her role as Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.
For a chance to watch the whole show, hosted by How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Chalke, tune into E! next Saturday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.
Will Barbara Walters manage to make Tom Cruise cry? We'll see when the veteran newswoman airs her 21st annual pre-Academy Awards show on ABC March 24. She'll be talking to Cruise, Monster's Ball Best Actress nominee Halle Berry and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker. The special will air at 7 p.m. EST and will play immediately after the Oscars on the west coast.
In more Cruise news, the charismatic star has signed on to play a colonel in The Last Samurai. In the story, his character assists 19th-century Japanese samurai in new fighting techniques. Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall) will be directing.
In the season finale of NBC's Friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) will give birth in a rather long and drawn-out labor--it's a guarantee, say show creators Kevin Bright and Marta Kaufmann. She won't die in childbirth, however, despite a recent tabloid report. Bright told Reuters, "This year, we know Rachel is going to have a baby," and Kaufmann quickly added, "And she's not dying in childbirth." Whew, that's a relief!
Musician Bob Dylan is making his way to the big screen for the first time in 15 years, starring in a film tentatively titled Masked and Anonymous for Intermedia Films. The 60-year-old will play Jack Fate, a "wandering troubadour who is brought out of prison by his former manager for one last concert," Variety reported. It'll be a stretch for him, but we have every confidence he can pull it off.
After the California Supreme Court overturned the "Son of Sam" law last week, allowing convicted criminals to sell their life stories to the media, Hollywood Reporter reported that Showtime was given the go-ahead to start production on Stealing Sinatra. The cable film, which will star David Arquette, William H. Macy and Thomas Ian Nicholas, is based on kidnapper Barry Keenan's account of the 1963 kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. It may also get a theatrical release before it premieres on Showtime.
Late Night talk show host Conan O'Brien should be feeling the love now. His contract with NBC has been extended for four more years, which will give O'Brien nearly $8 million a year. O'Brien, who decided to stay with NBC after being approached by Fox, said in a statement, "I'm very excited to be staying at NBC. By my 13th year, we should really know if this thing works or not."
Cynthia Nixon, the winsome actress who plays cynical lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO's Sex and the City, is speaking up to get more funds allocated toward New York public schools. The New York Gov. George Pataki and his administration is appealing a landmark 2001 state court decision that ordered the state to spend more than $1 billion more on New York City schools, the Associated Press reported. "If Miranda were real, I would try to persuade her to send her son to a public school because I believe in them," Nixon told AP in Albany on Tuesday, as she lobbied state legislature.
NBC wins the gold with the Winter Olympics. The peacock network came in first place in both total viewers and the coveted 18-49 demographic, winning the Nielsen race for all 17 nights of the Olympics. Fox and CBS shared second place in the 18-49 demographic, and CBS also took second in total viewership.
Bond has a new TV home. TNN, CBS and UPN--all owned by Viacom, Inc.--have joined forces to buy the exclusive two-year television rights to the first 15 James Bond films from MGM. The approximately $30 million pact was made after the titles became available when both ABC and TBS declined to renew their deals for the Bond flicks.
Hip-hop star Lil' Romeo will star in the film Shorty, produced by his father, Master P, about a diminutive alien who lands on Earth and becomes a rapping, hip-hopping partner with a 12-year-old (Lil' Romeo). They try and enter a MTV talent contest. You watch, it'll probably make a lot of money at the box office.