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.
From the moment Hailee Steinfeld enters the frame in Joel and Ethan Coen’s magnificent western True Grit an adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel (or re-adaptation — John Wayne's 1969 version got to it first) the film belongs to her. This is no easy feat especially for a 13-year-old actress making her feature-film debut but Steinfeld not only holds her own alongside such heavyweights as Jeff Bridges Matt Damon and Josh Brolin she often upstages them.
The film which is set in the 1870s stars Steinfeld as Mattie Ross a pigtailed 14-year-old sent to the frontier town of Fort Smith Arkansas to settle the affairs of her deceased father an honorable man murdered for two gold pieces by a monstrous simpleton named Tom Chaney (Brolin). Mattie also comes seeking justice: Chaney is still at large having escaped to the dangerous foreboding expanse of the Indian Territory and she intends to see to it that he is captured and brought to trial.
Frustrated by the local authorities’ ambivalence toward tracking down her father's killer Mattie turns to Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) a slovenly alcoholic U.S. Marshal renowned for his cruelty and itchy trigger finger. Were there a Miranda warning in 1870s Cogburn would have little use for it; chances are few of his perps would understand it through his grouchy guttural slur anyway.
Pleading to join their makeshift posse is LaBoeuf (Damon) a pompous upright and overly chatty Texas Ranger — the Good Cop to Cogburn’s Bad Cop — who covets Chaney’s Texas bounty which holds more value than his Arkansas bounty. Cogburn agrees reluctantly to take him on recognizing that Chaney now likely holed up with his criminal gang a vicious bunch headed by a spittle-spewing snaggletooth named Lucky Ned (Barry Pepper) is too formidable to approach alone. Cogburn and LaBoeuf are natural rivals and long rides on the trail of Chaney afford them ample time for dick-measuring contests which invariably necessitate the intervention of their teenage mother hen Mattie.
Mattie may be the most mature member of the posse but she is nonetheless still a child — eventually the job of exacting final vengeance must fall upon the men with guns. Here Mattie’s stout heart has an ennobling effect on Cogburn who after briefly giving up during a booze-fueled bout with self-doubt stiffens his resolve to see things through.
Compared to its predecessor the Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit is both funnier and less sentimental. There is little room for tenderness or romance on the Coens’ frontier but opportunities abound for the kind of black humor for which the writer-directors have become so famous. As in Fargo they have a great deal of fun with language; characters speak in a laughably rigid formalized manner almost Shakespearian in its tongue-twisting complexity. The film's ironic conceit that such codes thrive in a land ruled by violence and chaos is best illustrated in Mattie’s constant almost charmingly naive threats of legal action against her adversaries. They react to her threats with a kind of befuddled amusement; the phrase "I'll see you in court" is still several decades away from joining the popular lexicon.
Critics often bemoan the abundance of remakes in modern risk-averse Hollywood. A more productive strategy at least for the cause of quality filmmaking might be to properly exalt the better ones. This True Grit may be the best of them combining the look and feel of a classic western with a distinctly Coens brothers tone. And Ms. Steinfeld is nothing short of a revelation.
January 09, 2002 12:32pm EST
Pierce Brosnan was named the sexiest man alive by People magazine in its issue released Thursday, Reuters reports. Previous recipients of the title include Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and George Clooney. Benjamin Bratt took honors for the sexiest single guy alive and Mexican president Vicente Fox was named sexiest world leader. Brosnan, who starts working on his fourth Bond movie in January, married his long-term girlfriend Keely Shaye Smith in Ireland in August.
Geena Davis is expecting a child in April with husband Reza Jarrahy, Reuters reports. Davis, 45, and Jarrahy, 30, were married in September. This is the actress's fourth marriage. She was previously married to restaurant manager Richard Emmolo, actor Jeff Goldblum and director Renny Harlin.
Dudley Moore received his Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award from the Prince of Wales at London's Buckingham Palace on Friday, BBC News reports. Moore, who currently lives in New Jersey, flew to London this week to receive his award. The actor suffers from a rare brain condition called progressive supranuclear palsy and attended the ceremony in a wheelchair.
Actor Albert Hague died Monday in a hospital near Los Angeles after suffering from cancer, BBC News reports. The 81-year-old actor played the bad-tempered music teacher Mr. Shorofsky in the 1980 film Fame and for five years on the television series.
Robert Downey Jr. appeared in court for a progress report on Thursday and thanked a judge for allowing him to continue treatment in a live-in drug rehabilitation program, Reuters reports. Downey, who was sentenced to a year in a drug treatment center after pleading no contest to drug charges in July, tested negative to all drug tests.
Former Baywatch babe Yasmine Bleeth
was charged on Friday with two counts of possession of cocaine (a four-year felony) and one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of narcotics (a misdemeanor) in Romulus, Mich., AP reports. The 33-year-old actress was arrested Sept. 12 after police investigating an accident involving her car found cocaine in her purse. Charges also stem from a subsequent search of Bleeth's hotel room. Bleeth pleaded innocent and posted a $10,000 bond. A hearing is set for Nov. 30. The actress had no comment.
A stunt double for Robert De Niro was charged Wednesday with two counts of criminal impersonation and released on $100 bail. According to The Associated Press, Joseph Manuella told Vietnam veterans in Port Jervis, N.Y., that he was filming a documentary about the war so they would lend him props. He also received discounts on lodging and filmmaking materials and even acquired a credit card in De Niro's name. The former New York City firefighter worked with De Niro in The Fan and Great Expectations.
The plot thickened in the Screen Actors Guild election debacle Thursday after polling administrator Sequoia Voting Systems revealed that there were 260 more ballots counted in New York than deposited at the official post office box by union voters. Sequoia executive Robbin Johnson blamed this new discrepancy on the U.S. Postal Service and denied any stuffing of the ballot box. Johnson already admitted to removing signature lines from 24,800 New York ballots, Variety reports.
Howard Stern's production company is developing a first-run syndicated comedy for CBS, Variety reports. Kane will center on a woman who returns to her husband and kids in the Deep South after a long absence. The deal comes as the syndicated Howard Stern Radio Show, which has been in repeats on CBS since August, goes off the air this weekend.
Mick Jagger, whose new album Goddess in the Doorway hits stores next week, performed at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday to promote the release, Reuters reports. Concertgoers consisted mostly of young models, who were paid $100 each to surround the small stage and shriek and claw at Jagger's legs. Celebrities in attendance included Meg Ryan, Billy Crudup, David Spade and Heath Ledger.
Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney will team up for Joel and Ethan Coen's next project for Universal Pictures, Variety reports. Intolerable Cruelty is described as a Howard Hawks-style old-Hollywood glamour picture in which Clooney and Zeta-Jones will play bitter rivals who fall in love.
Barbie maker Mattel, Inc. challenged 20 Hong Kong students to come up with the creative outfits for the 42-year-old doll, Reuters reports. The most eye-catching design unveiled for the media Friday was an off-the-shoulder, backless dinner gown which showcased a stunning dragon tattoo running down Barbie's back. Mattel has no plans to mass-produce the "Tattoo Barbie" designed by Hong Kong Polytechnic University student Wingo Wong.
Adam Sandler will develop a pilot for NBC starring Jon Lovitz and Norm Macdonald, targeted for fall 2002. According to Variety, Lovitz and Macdonald will play mismatched roommates. The comedy will be written by Tim Herlihy (Big Daddy