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.
Two movies opened nationwide and battled for box office booty this weekend, but in the end, as the pirates sharpened their swords, the gentlemen walked the plank.
The swashbuckling tale Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl sailed away with a $46.4 million* booty over the weekend. Since its release July 9, Pirates has tallied $70.4 million.
But not even Allan Quartemain and his legion of historic superheroes could help Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen muster up a defense against Disney's gang of mutinous pirates. The literary action thriller traipsed away with a rather ordinary $23.2 million.
Pirates, which is based on a popular Disneyland attraction, took in an estimated $23.8 million in its first two days in theaters and didn't lose momentum through the weekend.
"It amazes us," Disney Film distribution chief Chuck Viane told Reuters Friday. "Johnny (Depp) is so fabulous. This movie plays great, and that is why you jump out on a Wednesday and go see it."
Last week's box office topper, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, dropped to third place with $19.6 million, followed by Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde, which settled in fourth position with $12 million. The summer season's mainstay movie, the animated fish tale Finding Nemo, rounded out the Top Five with $8.2 million.
Lead by Pirates, this weekend was the first up weekend after four down weekends in a row. The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an estimated $135.9 million, up 3.4 percent from the same weekend last year.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista Pictures' PG-13 rated fantasy actioner Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl bowed in first place at the box office this weekend with an ESTIMATED $46.4 million at 3,269 theaters. Its $14,194 per theater average was the highest of any film playing this weekend. Its five-day cume is $70.4 million.
The film, based on a Disney theme park attraction, centers on the roguish yet charming pirate who comes to the rescue of a young woman and teams up with the blacksmith who loves her to exact revenge on his mutinous shipmates.
Directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated period thriller The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen debuted in second place with an ESTIMATED $23.2 million at 3,002 theaters with a $7,745 per theater average.
Set at the start of the Industrial Age, a league of extraordinary gentlemen, a collection of literary figures with superpowers, must come together to stop an evil force from starting a war between the world's nations.
Directed by Stephen Norrington, it stars Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West and Jason Flemyng.
Warner Bros.' R rated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines dropped two notches to third place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $19.6 million (-55%) at 3,504 theaters (unchanged; $5,598 per theater). Its cume is approximately $110.4 million.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken.
MGM's PG-13 rated Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde fell two rungs to fourth spot in its second week with an ESTIMATED $12 million (-46%) at 3,375 theaters (+25 theaters; $3,556 per theater). Its cume is approximately $62.8 million.
Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, it stars Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Bob Newhart and Jennifer Coolidge.
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo fell only one spot in its seventh week to round out the Top Five with an ESTIMATED $8.2 million (-29%) at 2,643 theaters (-259 theaters; $3,103 per theater). Its cume is approximately $290.8 million and is on the way to surpassing the $300 million mark.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.
Sony Picture's PG-13 rated Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle dropped three places to sixth in its third week with an ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-48%) at 3,202 theaters (-283 theaters; $2,280 per theater). Its cume is approximately $81.6 million.
Directed by McG, it stars Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Bernie Mac.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
DreamWorks' PG rated animated feature Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas jumped a notch to sixth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $4.6 million at 3,086 theaters (unchanged; $1,491 per theater). Its cume is approximately $19.1 million.
Directed by Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson, it features the voices of Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joseph Fiennes.
Fox Searchlight's R rated sci-fi thriller 28 Days Later dropped one place to eighth in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (-29%) at 1,396 theaters (+78 theaters; $3,044 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.4 million.
Directed by Danny Boyle, it stars Cillian Murphy, Naomi Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated The Hulk plummeted four places to No. 9 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.7 million (-55%) at 2,575 theaters (-716 theaters, $1,437 per theater). Its cume is approximately $124.7million.
Directed by Ang Lee, it stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated actioner The Italian Job moved two places to tenth in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $2.7 million (-34%) at 1,364 theaters (-220 theaters; $1,364 per theater). Its cume is approximately $88.8 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.
Paramount Classics' PG-13 rated drama Northfork opened in five theaters with an ESTIMATED $61,364 with a strong $12,273 per theater average.
Set in 1955, the film centers on the town of Northfork, which is about to be flooded to make way for a new hydroelectric project. A team of six trenchcoated men has been assigned to remove the last few stragglers before its Heartland houses will be swept away.
Directed by Michael Polish, it stars James Woods, Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah and Anthony Edwards.
Sony Picture Classics' PG-13 rated romantic drama Cuckoo opened in six theaters with an ESTIMATED $17,209 and a $2,868 per theater average.
The film revolves around a Russian idealist, a Finish college student and a Swedish peasant woman who find themselves confined to a tiny backwoods hut near the end of WWII. Unable to speak each other's language, the two men begin to fall in love with the woman and are forced to let their body language speak for them.
Directed by Alexander Rogozhkin, it stars Anni-Kristina Juuso, Wille Happsalo and Viktor Bychkov.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $135.9 million, up 7.28 percent from last week's take of $126 million. The Top 12 films were also up from the same weekend last year they grossed $131.5 million.
Last year, Sony's PG-13 rated Men in Black II was No. 1 at the box office in its second week with $24.4 million at 3,611 theaters (+54 theaters; $6,760 per theater); Dreamwork's R rated Road to Perdition bowed to No. 2 with $22 million at 1,797 theaters ($12,287 per theater), while Buena Vista's PG-13 rated fantasy actioner Reign of Fire debuted in third place with $15.6 million at 2,629 theaters ($5,946 per theater).