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.
This week's Boardwalk Empire -- after some action and murderin' the past few weeks -- slowed things down a bit. The episode, appropriate titled "Home," spent the majority of its time developing our characters by revealing a bit more about their pasts. And guess what? Surprise, surprise -- Nucky Thompson has daddy issues.
I say that because it's been clear throughout the show's first season that Nucky Thompson has had something to prove. Until this episode, we didn't know much about his background other than he was Irish and his brother was the police chief. There weren't many hints as to why he got into a life of crime or what makes him break the law (except for the obvious monetary factor). And quite frankly, I didn't believe Nucky just wanted to be rich. He has too much to risk in his life for it to just be about the cash. So, this week's entry into the series answered a few of my questions. Nothing specific, but I think I understand him more. Nucky had a tough childhood with an abusive father. Whether he knows it or not, he operates like he has a chip on his shoulder.
But what's so interesting to me about Nucky's career as a criminal (or, "politician" as he prefers) is how smart he is about it. He's a thoughtful, pragmatic man who doesn't act on a situation without knowing all the angles and potential results. How he learned this approach versus, say, his brother who is quick to lose his temper, is still a bit of a mystery. But regardless, it works for Nuck. And my theory was underscored near the end of the episode. "You were never worth a damn," his father says, standing in their completely redone kitchen. Nucky stands stoically, appearing to not be shaken by his father's harsh words. And then seconds later, he burns the place to the ground and tosses his associate Damian Fleming, the man who was going to take the house for his new family, a wad of cash and tells him to find a better place to live.
I can't write enough about how well Nucky's character arc was done. He began with the idea that he could heal his childhood wounds by being a good man and giving the house to one of his friends who needs it. He feels that rebuilding it would make the pain of what he went through with his father go away. But the more the house becomes an actual home again, with painted walls and clean floors, the more his plan works in reverse. Instead of making him feel better, seeing the property restored just reminds him of all the awful things his father did. For example, he reveals the scar on his hand to Margaret, telling her how his father put it there with a fire poker because Nucky grabbed bread first at dinner. And that's just one instance. Each time Nucky arrives at the house, it's obvious he's more and more disgusted until finally he can't take it anymore and acts on the pain, burning it to the ground. But sadly, I fear that this irrational act -- very uncharacteristic of Nucky -- only momentarily relieved him and he'll continue to want to prove himself to his father.
Ep. 7 Clip: Nucky and Eli and Dad's Dilemma
Now let's talk about Margaret for a moment. First let me say, I really, really like Margaret. She's one of my favorite characters, mainly because I think she's smarter than everyone she talks to. She's very perceptive. She talks with Harry Prince's girl -- her neighbor -- about her situation with Nucky. The woman advises her that she needs to look out for herself, because there's no guarantees in the situation she's found herself in (the woman notes that Lucy was with Nucky for a very long time, and now was kicked to the road). Her neighbor also tells her how she can't be too involved in Nucky's personal life. And for a moment, it seems Margaret listens to the woman. While at the house as Nucky is telling her this childhood sob story, she quickly stops him. "I'm not stranger to a man's cruelty," she says. " Sometimes it's best to leave the past where it is." This surprises Nucky, because he's not used to being called out like that, and initially, it feels cold from Margaret, like she's taking her neighbor's advice. But then later, at dinner, we learn that Margaret wants to be close with Nucky. She wants to be more than just someone to share his bed, and her comments earlier were not out of coldness, but actual care. She thought he should move on. And now, she wants to know how he feels, his thoughts, his past. And I think this is brave, and smart, of her. She does the opposite of what her neighbor says. She pushes into Nucky. She wants him to understand that they are connected. And I genuinely believe that Nucky feels the same way about Margaret, so he does open up, once again proving that she is different from other girls in Atlantic City.
Meanwhile, back to crime in Chicago. Jimmy's leg hurts (understandably too, did you see that effin' scar? Jesus.). He goes to the doctor and the doctor wants him to take a psychology test to see if he's crazy and if the pain is just in his head. At the doctor's office, he meets the creepy, missing-half-his-face-so-he-has-to-wear-a-tin-mask Richard Harrow, a former sharpshooter in the war. (A note of awkwardness: Jimmy is reading The Tin Soldier when they meet). The two find solace in one another, probably because they're actually both war veterans. They eventually have drinks, share their stories, and Jimmy gets Richard laid. What a guy!
This is really important for Jimmy, because I think this is the type of relationship he initially hoped for with Al Capone. But Al lied about being a vet and the two just never gelled on a personal level (at least not to the level he's approaching with Richard). Richard is a broken soul, and we all know that Jimmy considers himself a changed man because of the war. So, they are a perfect bro-mantic match. And the fact that Richard is more than willing to help Jimmy out and murder the man who killed Pearl shows that they're now close, and as they say, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Now that I'm writing about the assassination, let's talk for a moment about how beautifully that was shot. Simply seeing the glass pitcher explode, and pausing a few seconds to comprehend what had happened before seeing the results, was a brilliant way to show the man's death. Plus, it followed a very intimidating and threatening monologue from Jimmy.
And speaking of Jimmy, Boardwalk set itself up for some action. Agent Van Alden finally found his link between Jimmy and liquor heist earlier this season. The owner of the car that blocked the road to stop the cargo. And the man committed to testifying in court. Did you see the smile that crept across Van Alden's face when he got that information? That must have been how you said "booya" in 1920. And one more notable piece of narrative development: Arnold Rothstein's boy Lucky Luciano talked to a bunch of thugs about robbing Nucky's casino. Uh oh.
Ep. 7 Clip: Chalky Gets a Visitor
So despite the slow development, "Home" was one of my favorite episodes of the season. We learned so much about our characters, so much that we're finally understanding how they're thinking and why they're thinking that way. And, the episode definitely set things up for the next few weeks. Maybe now we'll have some car chases and shootouts.
Baz Luhrmann workshopped his Great Gatsby project in New York last weekend with Leonardo DiCaprio reading the part of Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Rebecca Hall in for Daisy Buchanan. Both Deadline and The Wrap reported the news on Monday.
Luhrmann, who has not yet decided whether Gatsby will be his next film, is writing the project with his frequent collaborator, Craig Pearce, and is producing with Catherine Martin and Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick. The project is set up at Sony. According to Deadline, the reading went well.
Also per Deadline, Luhrmann workshops every script he's considering and there's no guarantee those actors will wind up starring in the film. Reports have also mentioned Amanda Seyfried as a possible Daisy while Deadline's Mike Fleming says he's heard Luhrmann is sweet on Natalie Portman.
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