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.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Actor Richard Crenna, better known as Sylvester Stallone's former commander in the Rambo movies, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Crenna, 76, died of heart failure resulting as a complication of pancreatic cancer. The actor first gained attention as a squeaky-voiced juvenile on radio serials, including A Date with Judy and Burns and Allen, and as the dimwitted lovesick teen Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks. He grew up to star in such TV series as The Real McCoys and Slattery's People. Crenna moved into feature film in the early '80s, starting with the steamy film noir remake Body Heat and later in The Flamingo Kid and First Blood. Crenna had beaten cancer once already, but was diagnosed with thyroid cancer about five years ago and was struck by fatal pancreatic cancer late in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Penni, daughters Seana and Maria, son Richard and three granddaughters.
Robert Downey Jr., who was at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend to promote the dark comedy The Singing Detective, told reporters that his bouts with cocaine addiction and subsequent jail time have not only made him older and wiser, but a better actor. "My frequent appearances on Court TV have brought me to another level than just always 'the acting guy'... I think I've become very, I don't want to say real, but I'm very tangible to people...because of my fallibility."
Actor Steven Seagal may testify in a racketeering trial targeting the mob and is expected to eventually take the stand in the prosecution of Peter Gotti, brother of the late mob boss John Gotti, and other alleged members of the Gambino crime family, The Associated Press reports. The star's troubles began when he had a falling-out with his former business partner, Julius Nasso, whom authorities allege was a Gambino associate who turned to the crime family to help him settle the score.
The Directors Guild of America will honor Gangs of New York's Golden Globe-winning director Martin Scorsese with a lifetime achievement award during its 55th annual awards ceremony March 1, the AP reports. Scorsese's directing career spans more than four decades and his work includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, Mean Streets and Goodfellas. Scorsese, 60, is being honored for nurturing young filmmakers and his fight to preserve the legacy of motion picture.
Filmmaker Spike Lee, who was a keynote speaker Saturday at two events in Lauderhill, Fla., told teens at the Boys & Girls Club that he didn't laugh at jokes aimed at civil rights icons Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in last year's comedy Barbershop. "To me, some things aren't funny," Lee said. "If our young children grow up thinking this, and that's all they know about (Parks and King), then we're in trouble."
The NBC news magazine Dateline will dedicate a special edition next month to pop oddity Michael Jackson's face and how it has dramatically changed over the years along with the highs and lows of his career. Jackson's Los Angeles publicist told Reuters she is outraged at the concept. "I think it's horrible that NBC is planning on doing a special on Michael Jackson's face," she said. "The network should focus on more important issues in the world."
NBC president Jeff Zucker said the network's hit comedy Friends, now in its ninth season, will positively, absolutely end its run after its upcoming 10th season. "Yes, that will be the final season. Even I acknowledge that--the 10th and final year of the best comedy on television," Zucker said at NBC's winter showcase for television critics. "The door is not open after that." NBC struck a deal last month with Warner Bros. Television to bring the show back in the fall of 2003 for 18 more episodes for a reported license fee of $10 million per episode.
Fox has officially picked up the drama pilot Skin, which uncovers the adult film industry. According to Reuters, Skin, is described as a "modern-day Romeo and Juliet" set in Los Angeles against the backdrop of the world of Boogie Nights. It centers on the daughter of a porn industry mogul who falls in love with the son of a district attorney, whose quest is to take the porn king down. The project comes from Jerry Bruckheimer and Jim Leonard, whose TV credits include Thieves and Night Visions.
A record collector in London says he has found a previously unknown recording--a jam session between Beatle John Lennon and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger--which he plans to auction off next month, Reuters reports. Auction house Cooper Owen said the old blues song, Too Many Cooks, features Jagger on vocals with Lennon singing backup. It was recorded during Lennon's so-called "lost weekend," an 18-month period he spent in 1974-75 estranged from wife Yoko Ono when he made few recordings of his own and occasionally with such rocker friends as Elton John and David Bowie.
The Walt Disney Co., reopened its theme parks in the U.S. on Wednesday, one day after a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York, Reuters reports. The last time Disneyland was closed was in November 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The theme parks have apparently heightened security to safeguard guests.
The Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday canceled all of its social events, including its closing party. Many stars were prevented from attending the festival, including Mick Jagger, who was to promote two of his films, The Man from Elysian Fields and Enigma. The legendary rocker was set to arrive at the festival on Tuesday from London via New York.
New York's much anticipated Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which takes place twice a year at midtown's Bryant Park, has been tentatively rescheduled for Oct. 22-24. According to Reuters, one show was held on Tuesday before the tragic events unfolded, but all remaining shows were canceled. The firm that has organized the event since 1993, 7th on Sixth, has offered use of the Bryant Park tent for emergency services.
Laura San Giacomo, who stars in the NBC comedy Just Shoot Me, is talking publicly for the first time about her son's struggle with cerebral palsy. In the October issue of Rosie magazine, San Giacomo said that while she wanted to protect herself and her son, she did not want people feeling sorry for them.
Robert Pisano, a former MGM executive, has been named the new director for the Screen Actors Guild, The Associated Press reports. Pisano was hired Monday and was appointed chief executive officer and national executive officer.
Rapper Timbaland has announced plans to release a duet with Aaliyah and Beck on his upcoming album Indecent Proposal, Sonicnet.com reports. "I'm Music" will appear as a single on Timbaland and Magoo's second album due out Nov. 20. Though Aailyah's label Background Records confirmed the song will appear on the album, they said they had no knowledge of the song being released as a single.
While Metallica postponed recording sessions for their new album following guitarist James Hetfield's treatment for substance abuse, they are still apparently keeping busy. According to Sonicnet.com, guitarist Kirk Hammet and drummer Lars Ulrich invited rapper Ja Rule into the studio to record a rap for a new track. DreamWork Records would not provide any details on the compilation, but did say the album would likely hit shelves in early 2002.
After a commanding performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last week, sales of Alicia Keys' album Songs in A Minor rose to the No. 1 spot after 11 weeks in the rankings, Variety reports. The album has sold more than 2.1 million copies to date. Several other star saw their albums climb back up the charts following their VMA performances, including Break the Cycle from Staind, Hybrid Theory from Linkin Park and J.Lo from Jennifer Lopez.
Country singer Kenny Chasney had been scheduled to shoot a video for his single "The Tin Man" on Tuesday in New York, just blocks from the World Trade Center towers. The video shoot was canceled after executives at BNA records decided the song was doing well and didn't need further promoting. Chesney told The Tennessean Wednesday he feels terrible for all the families affected by this, but was glad he wasn't there.
Bob Dylan's childhood home sold on eBay for $82,000. The house where Dylan lived the first six years of his life sold after a 15-week bidding war on the Internet. According to AP, the former owner Kathy Burns bought the house, which is located in Duluth, Minn., in 1996 for $62,000.
Concert promoter Clear Channel Entertainment, which canceled or postponed most events at its 120-venue network, said shows would resume on a case-by-case basis, Variety reports. Some shows reported canceled include Maxwell's Washington concert and shows by Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, 98 Degrees, P.O.D. and Blues Traveler. The Backstreet Boys' Toronto concert as well as Weezer's Oakland show will continue as scheduled.
Pierre Hugo, the great-great-grandson of author Victor Hugo, has lost a bid in Paris courts to ban a contemporary sequel to the 1862 novel Les Miserables, Reuters reports. Francois Ceresa's Cosette or the Time of Illusions takes the villain Javert and turns him into a hero. Hugo alleged that that Ceresa's novel broke a French law that protects the integrity of works of art. A Paris civil court ruled that Hugo could not pursue the case on behalf of his great-great-grandfather and instead noted that Victor Hugo had insisted his classic should go on into the public domain upon his death. Hugo's descendants also contested Disney's version of Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1997.