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.
Fired CSI actor wants back in
Actor George Eads, who, along with actress Jorja Fox, was fired from the hit CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation last week for failing to show up to work, called the dismissal a "big misunderstanding," The Associated Press reports. At the Television Critics Association meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles, Eads, who was there to promote his upcoming TNT movie Evel Knievel, told the group he wasn't staging a salary holdout when he missed work, as CBS and its chief Leslie Moonves have claimed--Eads says he simply overslept. "They think it's about money and it's not," Eads said. "I overslept…I woke up white as a sheet 3-1/2 hours after I was supposed to be on the set." AP reports Eads said he wants to speak with Moonves to resolve the issue but had yet to reach him. "Let me tell you, I've apologized nine ways to Sunday. It's a big misunderstanding, straight up," the actor said. "I want all this to work out. CSI is a part of who I am."
Ronstadt gets asked back to casino
After being summarily booted from the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas over the weekend for her complimentary comments about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, singer Linda Ronstadt was welcomed back by one of the hotel's partners, AP reports. Planet Hollywood CEO Robert Earl, said he'd like to take Moore up on the filmmaker's offer to join Ronstadt on Aladdin's stage and sing "America the Beautiful" when Earl's management team takes control of the bankrupt casino, as early as September. "We respect artists' creativity and support their rights to express themselves…and we will continue with that policy once we take ownership," Earl said in a statement Wednesday. Current Aladdin president Bill Timmins, who is British, had Ronstadt escorted off the property after her concert because she called Moore a "great American patriot" during a prelude to her encore.
More on rockers who speak out…
Winding up her summer tour across Europe, singer Bonnie Raitt added her own two cents about President Bush, dedicating her song "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)," AP reports. At the Stockholm Jazz Festival Tuesday, Raitt declared, "We're gonna sing this for George Bush because he's out of here, people!" which drew thunderous applause.
It's the Tom and Jerry show
In an odd pairing, Tom Green and Jerry Springer are developing a "week in review"-style program tentatively dubbed Fairly Unbalanced for Lions Gate Television. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show would feature the eccentric comedian-actor and raucous talk show host discussing headlines and newsmakers and generally offering their observations on political and pop culture-oriented topics. "We've conceived this as a weekly series that reviews current events and pop culture in a populist way from the off-center perspective of two larger-than-life, outrageous, irreverent and endearing personalities, who don't always agree," Lions Gate Television's president Kevin Beggs told the Reporter. "It will be informative yet entertaining. Just the thought of these two guys together makes you laugh."
Dick dating Assistant contestant
Comedian Andy Dick admits he was dating one of the female contestants from his hit MTV reality show The Assistant, AP reports. Dick let the cat out of the bag during a radio interview with Howard Stern Monday and was confirmed by Dick's publicist, Nicole Chabot, who told AP, "They've gone out on a couple of times post-show." According to Stern's official Web site, after The Assistant wrapped, Dick "gave everyone his cell phone number and some of the girls called him to hang out. Now he's seeing one of the girls from the show, but he's not ready to settle down with just one girl." The MTV show features an egocentric Dick bullying 12 young people hoping to make it in the entertainment industry. The winner receives a new wardrobe, car and an entry-level Hollywood gig.
SAG sells films in foreclosure
The Screen Actors Guild is selling the rights to seven small films in an effort to recover more than $400,000 in residuals owed to actors such as Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart and David Bowie, AP reports. Even though disputes are typically resolved using arbitration or other methods, SAG said these recent sales mark the first time the union has taken advantage of a clause in its contract with producers that allows SAG to foreclose on a film if royalties remain unpaid. Among the films are The Linguini Incident, a 1991 film featuring Rosanna Arquette and Bowie; Blood Money, a 1996 film with James Brolin; and Telling Lies in America, a 1997 film with Bacon and Flockhart.
DreamWorks Animation goes public
DreamWorks is moving forward with an initial public offering of its animation unit, which will offer fresh funds and a higher profile to the studio's most promising business, Variety reports. In a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, DreamWorks--which was founded almost a decade ago by Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg--said it plans to sell up to $650 million worth of stock in DreamWorks Animation, which will become a publicly traded company seeking the exalted status and lofty trading multiples of rival Pixar. Katzenberg will be CEO of the new company, which he and Geffen will control though a special class of supervoting stock. Spielberg will not have an operating role in the new company but will concentrate instead on DreamWorks live-action division, which is remaining a private company.
Composer Jerry Goldsmith Dies
Academy-Award winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, best known for his scores for classic movies and television such as The Omen, Chinatown and the Star Trek series, died in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Frampton sues over bikini shot
Rocker Peter Frampton is suing popular surfwear manufacturer Billabong for selling a bikini that features his face on the rear and the phrase "Baby, I love your waves," Reuters reports. The British-born singer, 54, is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop sales of the "Frampton Bikini" saying the phrase is "an obvious reference" to his 1975 hit record "Baby, I Love Your Way."