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.
Top Story: Madonna Turns Book Into Toys
Ever-enterprising Madonna has signed a deal with Signatures Network Inc. to develop toys based on her hit children's book The English Roses, The Associated Press reports. The toys will include dolls, apparel, accessories, cosmetics, stationery, room décor and back-to-school products aimed at preteen readers. "I'm excited about the opportunity to develop a range of beautiful products that will complement the book and continue to spread its positive messages to children," the pop diva told AP. The book has been printed in 30 languages, released in over 100 countries and became the largest children's book release in publishing history with a first printing of 1 million copies, AP reports. The Roses products begin rolling out in early 2004.
Limbaugh Dives Back Into Airwaves
Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who left the airwaves five weeks ago to treat an addiction to prescription painkillers, will pick up the microphone once again to continue his daily radio show. Reuters reports Limbaugh plans to resume his regular schedule starting on Monday, Nov. 17. He told his listeners Oct. 10 he needed to take some time off to get cleaned up and also acknowledged that he was the subject of a criminal investigation but gave no further details, Reuters reports.
Downey Jr. To Wed
Looks like Robert Downey Jr. is heading down the aisle again. According to Access Hollywood, the 38-year-old star will wed producer girlfriend Susan Levin. The two met earlier this year on the set of Downey's upcoming thriller Gothika, also starring Halle Berry, on which Levin received a producing credit. Downey told USA Today, "She has a real life, and she's really organized. It's really cool."
Senate Dives Into Piracy Issue
A bipartisan Senate duo, Sens. John Cornyn from Texas and Dianne Feinstein from California, have sponsored the Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act as the latest attempt by lawmakers to address some of the problems created by copyright piracy, Reuters reports. The legislation, introduced Thursday, would make it a felony to use a camcorder to record a motion picture in a theater and make it easier to prosecute people who illegally distribute copyrighted material before its legitimate release.
Shanghai Next Disney Theme Park Destination
Further attempting to open China to the Western world, city officials in Shanghai, China, are in talks with the Walt Disney Co. to bring a theme park to the area in 2010, Reuters reports. "The parties are still holding talks and if everything goes smoothly, we hope to open a Disney theme park around 2010," Li Wei, an official with the Shanghai government's information office, told Reuters. Disney, however, has stated the ongoing construction of its Hong Kong theme park is its first priority, which opens in 2005/2006.
Franken Contemplates Senate Run
Political satirist Al Franken, whose latest book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, is selling like hotcakes, is considering moving back to his home state of Minnesota and running against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the 2008 Senate race, AP reports. "It's a long way away, five years away," Franken told the Minneapolis' Star Tribune this week. "It might be crazy. I might not be the best candidate. Part of this is seeing what happens next year and what direction things are going."
John Ritter's Mother Dies
Actress Dorothy Fay Ritter, best known for starring B-movie Westerns of the '30s and '40s and mother to the late John Ritter, died Nov. 5 of natural causes in Los Angeles. She was 88.
Role Call: Freeman Could Be "Champ"
Rod Lurie has signed on with Paramount Pictures to rewrite and direct the drama Resurrecting the Champ as a possible starring vehicle Morgan Freeman. According to Variety, the story centers on a 30-year-old sports reporter whose desperation for a big story leads him to track down a homeless man he believes was once a famous fighter. The journalist and the reluctant subject form a father-son-type bond as the writer chronicles the boxer's heartfelt story. When it turns out the subject wasn't completely honest about his identity, the writer loses his job.