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: The End of the Road for "Raymond"?
Say it isn't so! Comedian Ray Romano is dropping hints that the ninth season of his hit CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond may be its last. Romano, who attended a concert Saturday in Las Vegas to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation, joked about how he keeps the series fresh and original: "You stop after one more year." The comedian credited his writers for always drawing on their own lives and bringing new material to the show, but said it's hard work. "You start to repeat yourself," Romano, 45, told The Associated Press. "The trick is to get out when you're still wanted--not too soon, but not too late."
Juliette Lewis Files for Divorce
Natural Born Killers star Juliette Lewis has filed for divorce from her husband of nearly four years, professional skateboarder Steve Berra. Lewis' publicist told the AP Thursday "the divorce is mutual and amicable." It was Lewis' first marriage. The 29-year-old actress was nominated for an Oscar for playing a teenager stalked by a deranged convict in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear.
Buscemi Protests Close of NY Firehouse
Actor Steve Buscemi joined about 50 demonstrators in New York Saturday to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's cost cutting proposal to close eight firehouses. Buscemi, who starred in films such as Fargo and Reservoir Dogs, was a New York City firefighter from 1980 to 1984. Bloomberg said last week at least 30 more might have to be closed if the city does not receive state or federal to close a $3.4 billion budget deficit, the AP reports.
Dangerfield Moved From ICU
Rodney Dangerfield was moved from the UCLA Medical Center's intensive care unit to a private room Friday, the AP reports. The comedian's publicist said he might be allowed to go home in the next few days if he continues to recover. Dangerfield, 81, underwent a 12-hour brain surgery April 8 to improve his blood flow for an upcoming heart valve replacement, tentatively planned for late May.
Grammys, American Music Awards Change Dates
The 2004 Grammys are switching from its usual late-February date to Sunday, Feb. 8 to avoid a head-on collision with the Academy Awards, which will move next year from March to late February. Billboard reports that next year's Grammys are also expected to return to L.A. after this year's stint in New York. The American Music Awards, meanwhile, are set to move from early January to Nov. 16, 2003 so the show can air during sweeps. In its January slot, the AMAs found itself competing with too many awards shows.
Pop Stars Unite for Iraqi Children
Pop stars including Paul McCartney, George Michael, David Bowie and Avril Lavigne released an album Monday to raise money for child war victims in Iraq, Reuters reports. Profits from the album will go to War Child, a relief and development charity set up after the war in former Yugoslavia. The charity said the album, Hope, was not political. "The plight of children transcends politics. These songs are a plea for hope without which the children of Iraq have nothing at all."
New Museum Dedicated to Science Fiction
A museum dedicated to the art, literature and film of science entertainment is set to open in Seattle thanks to billionaire Paul Allen. Tentatively named the Science Fiction Experience, the exhibit is slated to open in the summer of 2004 in Allen's Experience Music Project (EMP). Visitors can expect to see science fiction props, including Captain Kirk's original command chair from the Star Trek TV series, a complete set of autographed first editions of the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov and a collection of Astounding Science Fiction magazines and artwork depicting the future.
Blacklisted Actress Karen Morley Dies
Actress Karen Morley, who starred in early 1930's movies such as Mata Hari and Dinner at Eight, died of pneumonia on March 8 at the Motion Picture Country House in Woodland Hills, Calif., the AP reports. She was 93. Morley's film career was cut short in 1947 when she testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and refused to answer questions about her possible enrollment in the Communist Party. Afterward, she continued promoting left-wing causes and, in 1954, ran unsuccessfully as a New York lieutenant governor candidate for the American Labor Party.
Quintessential Western "Shane" Turns 50
Paramount Pictures premiered the Western Shane starring Alan Ladd 50 years ago this week in New York, the AP reports. The cowboy pic, based on a 1949 book by Jack Schaefer, went into general release over a five-month period and garnered six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. It only won one for cinematography (Loyal Griggs). Shane follows a disillusioned gunfighter who becomes an unwilling participant in a feud between an old ranching family and new homesteaders. It is told through the eyes of the son of a family that takes Shane in and famously ends with Shane riding off after he's been shot in the climactic gunfight with the boy hollering "Shane ... Shane ... come back!"
Role Call: Silverstone Joins "Scooby-Doo" Sequel
Alicia Silverstone, best known as Cher in the 1995 hit Clueless, will star opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini and Seth Green in Warner Bros.' Scooby-Doo sequel for director Raja Gosnell. Silverstone will play a relentless reporter named Heather. The sequel begins shooting April 14 in Vancouver and is slated for release March 26, 2004.