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.
NBC’s new sitcom Whitney, created by and starring comedian Whitney Cummings, will be welcoming another standup to the cast for an upcoming episode: Lisa Lampanelli, who, like Cummings, has built her comedy career on embodying the antithesis of “traditional femininity,” will play the part of a dog pound manager under whose jurisdiction it falls decide whether or not Whitney and her live-in boyfriend Alex (Chris D’Elia) can adopt a dog. Lampanelli’s episode is slated to air in late October or early November. Whitney airs at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -Vulture
One of the most interesting developing reality projects surrounds a family who isn't famous in the traditional reality fashion: the Mandelas. The series will star three adult grandchildren of anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela: Dorothy Adjoa Amuah, Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini. The three young women (aged 27, 34 and 32, respectively), will use the program as a plateau for creating identities for themselves independent of their grandfather's legacy, but not at the expense of their family's dignity. Swati tells Deadline, "We're definitely not the African Kardashians." Seeing as Dorothy has a law degree and an MBA, Zaziwe is a mother of two and involved in the Mandela-Dlamini Associates company, which specializes in international business consulting services, and Swati, also a mother, is setting up a foundation concerning housing, education and medicine programs, that really goes without saying. The series is expected to air early in 2012. -Deadline
Melinda McGraw enjoyed a formidable stint on Mad Men as Don Draper’s mistress Bobbie Barrett—the ‘60s were big on alliterative naming. The actress will be taking another guest role as a woman with a complicated romantic history with a series’ leading man (maybe that’s just her very specific M.O.). McGraw will be guest starring on NCIS as one of many ex-wives of Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on a November episode titled “Devil’s Triangle.” McGraw’s character Diane will, incidentally, also be the ex-wife of NCIS recurring character FBI Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano). So…the crime probably isn’t going to be the most complicated thing in this episode. NCIS airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVGuide
Earlier this month, FX’s Rescue Me was set to rest after seven fruitful seasons, and costar John Scurti is already back onscreen. The series’ lovable Kenny Shea will make a guest appearance on House, playing a clinic patient—presumably with bizarre disease; bizarre enough to attract Dr. House’s (Hugh Laurie) attention, anyway. Scurti’s House episode will air sometime in Nobember. House’s eighth season premieres Monday, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine
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.