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.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Socialite Nicky Hilton is being sued by a Chicago development group for breach of contract over a hotel renovation project in her name.
The 23-year-old is accused of not keeping her end of an April 2006 agreement to promote the redevelopment of 'Nicky O's Chicago,' a Nicky Hilton hotel.
Robert Falor Investments and Grand USA Hotel Supply also claim Hilton contracted out interior design work she was supposed to perform and tried to charge it back to the developer. Paul Fisher, Hilton's agent, is also named in the lawsuit.
Elliot Mintz, a media representative for Hilton, says, "Things are not always as they appear.
"When the facts surrounding this matter are known to the public I think you will find out that the person who has been most impacted by this action will be Nicky Hilton.
"In the meantime, I don't think anybody should draw any conclusions based on the simple filing of a lawsuit."
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Director Steven Spielberg wanted this E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial to be something extra special. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the film's release this Friday will have more than 140 shots reworked, including making the little alien more lifelike and replacing the figurine of Elliot riding his flying bicycle in front of the moon with a real child. Bill George, who supervised the special effects changes for Industrial Light & Magic told The Associated Press, "What worked in 1982 doesn't quite hold up."
Singer Sir Elton John, actors Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson and other British celebrities signed a petition to free 23 gay Egyptians who are imprisoned because of their "habitual practice of debauchery" after attending a boat party in Cairo, Reuters reported. The campaign, led by Michael Cashman, British Labor member of the European Parliament, will try and change Egyptian policies on homosexuality, which the mainly Muslim majority considers taboo.
While promoting her new movie Showtime on ABC's Good Morning America Thursday, actress Rene Russo, 48, publicly thanked Rosie O'Donnell for her outspoken opposition to a Florida ban on gay adoption and admitted she herself had been raised by lesbian friends of her mother after her father left. "I wanted to call my mom to say, look, mom, I'm going on national television to say thank you for all your friends, because she was just pretty much abandoned and a lot of her friends came and helped her to raise me and my sister," Russo said on the show.
Britain's Prince William's life is coming to the small screen. Walt Disney Co. will be producing a television movie entitled Prince William, which will follow the then 15-year-old young prince from the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car wreck in 1997 to the present. No one has been cast, but Disney-owned ABC hopes to air the movie by fall on Wonderful World of Disney.
Do we want to keep Watching Ellie? Maybe not. Since the NBC show starring Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus debuted Feb. 26, the ratings have been sliding steadily, fueling speculation that it will be yanked soon and become another notch in the legendary Seinfeld curse. NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker told the Daily News, however, "We feel very positive. It's been a solid performer. Obviously, it's too early to make any announcements." Sure. He's paid to say that.
Just when you thought it was safe to turn your TV back on, there is going to be more celebrity boxing. Because of the success of last Wednesday's special, which drew in 15.5 million people, Fox is going in for round two. Someone of the "boxers" being considered are Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire bride Darva Conger and Joey Buttafuoco, whose wife was shot by his lover, Amy Fisher.
A British court heard testimony regarding charges against REM guitarist Peter Buck, who apparently had a little too much to drink on a British Airways flight in April 2001, created a disturbance and assaulted one of the cabin crew in a fit of rage. Buck is denying any misconduct.
Anglophile Madonna will be performing the theme song to the next James Bond flick Die Another Day, the 20th in the series, due to be released Nov. 22. She may also put in a cameo, if she can work it into her schedule.
Sebastian Bach, the former lead singer for the heavy metal band Skid Row, has been arrested for making "terrorist threats" and drug possession Wednesday. In what started as a bar fight, Bach got into an altercation with a Middleton, New Jersey bartender and threatened to get a gun to shoot him. When authorities arrived, they took the singer into custody after finding two bags of marijuana in his possession. A court date remains to be set.