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.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Roberts vs. Roberts – Two very different cinematic paths taken by sibling actors
Sibling rivalry is rarely as publicly manifested as it will in this weekend’s box office horse race as Julia Roberts and her big brother Eric Roberts go head to head in a familial box office smackdown. Eric joins the testosterone-laden ensemble cast of Lionsgate's decidedly dude-friendly “The Expendables,” while Julia stars in pretty much every frame of Sony's “Eat Pray Love,” a film that instantly appears if you look up “chick flick” in the dictionary.
Julia of course is one of the biggest stars in the world and has cultivated an iconic image of the beautiful woman with the million dollar smile, perfect hair and a winning personality. From humble beginnings as a guest star on Michael Mann produced TV shows such as “Crime Story” and “Miami Vice,” she made the transition to feature films in 1988’s “Mystic Pizza” and 1989’s hit film “Steel Magnolias.” However, it would be her third film, 1990’s “Pretty Woman” that would make her a worldwide sensation and allow her to embark on her star-making journey. The fourth highest grossing film of 1990 with $178.4 million (or an inflation-adjusted $332 million) it landed only behind “Home Alone,” “Ghost” and “Dances with Wolves” in that year’s box-office rankings. This was quite an achievement for up and coming actress in only her third movie.
Fun acting rivalry fact: Actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine had an uneasy relationship from childhood and in 1975 the sisters stopped speaking to each other completely.
Julia’s brother Eric started out promisingly enough, giving three terrific performances in notable mid-80’s films, one of which he co-starred as the brother of “Expendables” cast member Mickey Rourke. 1984’s “The Pope of Greenwich Village” was a film that showcased Eric’s range and vulnerability on screen and whose character could not have been more different than 1983’s “Star 80” and his scarily intense turn as Paul Snider, the real life boyfriend and eventual murderer of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. Another amazing performance would complete this acting triumvirate in 1985’s “Runaway Train” which pitted the young actor against screen giant Jon Voight as they played two convicts on the run and on a train; Roberts impressively matched Voight scene for scene. Eric has since that time appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies and has, count ‘em, 195 acting credits to his name!
Now the tale of the box office tape:
Julia has had enormous success for nearly three decades with her 32 big screen films since 1988 generating an incredible $2.3 billion in domestic box office revenue. She even had a very “Tom Cruise-like” run of three successive $100 million plus late 1990’s hits including “Notting Hill,” “Runaway Bride” and “Erin Brockovich.”
Eric has appeared in approximately 26 theatrically released films with total combined box office revenue of about $710 million. However, his appearance as a crime boss in 2008’s mega-hit “
The Dark Knight” accounts for the lion’s share of this revenue with its $533.3 million chart-topping haul.
How ironic would it be if big brother Eric was to beat his cash-generating little sister at the box office this weekend? Regardless of the outcome this is a match-up that is the very definition of sibling rivalry.
Other cool entertainment-related sibling rivalries include: Musicians Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks and John and Tom Fogerty of CCR.
Herbert Ross, a choreographer and the director of many Oscar-caliber films including The Goodbye Girl and The Turning Point, died Tuesday. He was 74.
The cause of death is not known, but he had been hospitalized for the past three months, Barbara Wrede, media relations manager for Lenox Hill Hospital told the Associated Press.
Ross began his career as a choreographer on Broadway but got into film when he choreographed the musical sequences in the 1954 Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge. His first major film as a director was Goodbye, Mr. Chips in 1969 with Peter O'Toole.
Ross' virtuosity as a director became clear in the 1970s, when he began a longtime collaboration with playwright Neil Simon, directing Simon's The Sunshine Boys, California Suite and the The Goodbye Girl, which won Richard Dreyfuss the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also directed Woody Allen's hilarious Play It Again Sam and Barbra Streisand's The Owl and the Pussycat.
In 1977, Ross put on his dancing shoes once again and directed his classic The Turning Point, a study of the ballet world, starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, and received his only Academy Award nominations--for Best Director and Best Picture.
In the 1980s and 90s, he turned out critical and box office success such as The Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox, Footloose with Kevin Bacon and Steel Magnolias with Sally Field and Julia Roberts.
Ross' first wife, prima ballerina Nora Kaye, died of cancer in 1987. In 1989, he married Lee Radziwill, the sister of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. They divorced in 1999.
Actress Halle Berry is being investigated by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in connection with a hit-and-run accident last week.
Halle Berry The felony occurred at North Doheny and Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood in the early-morning hours of Feb. 23, according to the sheriff's headquarters bureau. Berry, 31, was in the car, a rented Chevrolet Blazer, but it was not clear if she was driving or a passenger.
She received minor injuries and sought medical treatment, while the driver of the other car, a female adult, suffered a broken right arm and was treated at a hospital. Berry's rented vehicle was impounded pending further investigation, said Deputy Carlos Lopez, but no arrests have been made. Calls to Berry's spokesman were not returned.
Berry won a Golden Globe last month for the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," in which she portrayed the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. She is engaged to R&B singer Eric Benét.
AWARDS, AWARDS, AWARDS: The Oscars are less than a month away, but some nominees dusted up their acceptance speeches Saturday.
The American Cinema Editors' 50th Annual ACE Eddie Awards gave top honors to "Being John Malkovich" and "The Matrix." The two films won editing honors in the dramatic and comedy categories, respectively. Meanwhile, "Sleepy Hollow" was lauded at the Art Directors Guild's 4th Annual Production Design Awards.
The American Cinema Foundation, which honors film and television for their positive social values, will give "October Sky" its E Pluribus Unum prize Thursday. Eric Roth and Michael Mann will pick up the Writers Guild of America's Paul Selvin Award for "The Insider" on Sunday, and finally, Aaron Spelling and Jerry Bruckheimer will each receive a lifetime achievement award from the Producers Guild of America on Thursday.
IN THE DOGHOUSE: Pamela Anderson Lee and rocker Tommy Lee are back in court, and for once it has nothing to do with their marriage.
This time it's about their pet Rottweiler. A woman is suing the couple, saying the dog bit her during a visit to the couple's hilltop home near Malibu, Calif., in 1997.
"This dog had a vicious nature, disposition and propensity, which was known or should have been known to the defendants," the lawsuit said. And yes, we're sure she wasn't talking about Tommy.
QUICK TAKES: There's bubble-gum pop, and then there's just bubble gum. Teen popster Britney Spears is merging both with Britney Spears CD Bubble Gum, a promotional component to her upcoming tour. The gum, made by Famous Fixins, will give part of its proceeds to The Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit organization that encourages athletes and entertainers to raise money for charitable causes. ...
... John Stamos is putting some of his things on the auction site eBay, including the underwear of his supermodel wife, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Stamos, 36, recently made the announcement on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," adding, "I told her I wanted to sell her eggs, but she didn't like that idea." ...
... Ads for Julia Roberts' upcoming film "Erin Brokovich" reveal more than early-early Oscar buzz. Roberts, who plays a single mother-turned-legal-crusader, sports some newly um, enhanced -- décolletage. But not to worry, she swears it's the miracle of Wonderbras. "I'd gone 30 years without cleavage and suddenly, pow!" Roberts said of her new look. The look was dramatic enough that when she sent boyfriend Benjamin Bratt some snapshots, he replied, "You can't go out like that."
THE RUMOR ROUNDUP: The New York Post reports that rocker Lenny Kravitz, 35, has been snuggling with Kate Hudson, 20, the actress daughter of Goldie Hawn. Spies say they've been spending time together in Malibu, Calif., "snogging and acting cuddly." People "in the know" say the two are "definitely a couple," but a rep for Hudson says they are "just friends." ...
... He may be 55, but Michael Douglas still knows how to party. According to the New York Daily News, he and pregnant fiancée Catherine Zeta-Jones had a double date recently with his deejay son, Cameron, and his girlfriend, at a New York club. While Cameron spun the discs, dad and Zeta-Jones danced in the deejay booth before leaving at 1:45 a.m. At this rate, Douglas will have no trouble staying up all night to change those diapers.