REVIEW: Prometheus

Prometheus
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts (screenplay)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender

Shortly after making his break into the film industry Ridley Scott came across a film titled Star Wars that would rouse him to make Alien, an iconic, genre-defining sci-fi film of his own. Thirty years passed while Scott ventured into mastering other genres—his only other trip to the future being Blade Runner— until he saw another revolutionary sci-fi film that inspired him to take on the genre once again: Avatar.

Three years and dimensions later we have Prometheus, one of the most immersive and gleaming 3D sagas since Cameron’s Avatar set the bar (it’s a fun fact to note that Cameron’s breakout film was Aliens, the sequel to Scott’s original). In what will continue to be feverously debated as his prequel to Alien, Scott pools talents and ideas from various great modern sci-fi to amass an intense, hardwired summer blunder that doesn’t take itself serious enough at times to become as classic as it should.

Prometheus takes place in 2089, a few decades before Alien, when archeologists Shaw (Rapace) and Holloway (Marshall-Green) discover prehistoric wall paintings that suggest an interaction between early civilizations and other worldly life. Left with a hieroglyphic road map to outer space, they are joined by a J.J. Abrams rag tag team with bad accents and poor judgment, a sinisterly adorable robot named David (Fassbender) and the heir (Theron) to the Weyland Corporation that funded the trillion-dollar exploration to seek answers to the universe’s greatest question: how did we get here?

In a genre where everyone seems to be taking influences from everyone (including themselves), Prometheus proves itself a pioneer in atmosphere, aesthetic and marvel while other elements like pathos and consistency weigh down its potential. But that’s not to say Prometheus is by any means a weak film.

Exploring themes of creationism, religion and humanity give the creature feature purpose and prose, but it never lives up to the intensity created technically in the film.

Much of the blame for the film’s lackluster script goes to its co-author Damon Lindelof, who penned and produced similar cryptic mythologies and philosophical puzzles brilliantly on TV’s Lost. Just like the show, the film is interested in posing grand questions and answering each with two more questions— it’s deep and clever without ever being intelligent. Luckily the visuals and acting hide the audible cheese uttered by “first to die” team used to pander to universal audiences.

The script wants to have fun, but it’s at its best when it’s not. Its highlights include its most intense moments and gore. Rapace, Theron and Fassbender all make an undeniably all-star cast of expert focus plunging in and out of Scott’s beautifully crafted set pieces that never leave you at ease. And while we may not have gotten the answers we wanted, we’ll just have to enjoy the film for what it is now and wait for what the future may behold… sequels.

Grade: B-

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Our Favorite Performances of 2011

1. Kirsten DunstMelancholia– In Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic new film, Dunst creates one of cinema’s most fully realized portraits of numbing depression.  In all of her performances, Dunst has shown a skill sometimes greater than the films she is in.  Here, she takes the role of Justine, a woman who self-destructs on her wedding night and takes shelter with her sister as the planet Melancholia goes on a collision course with Earth.  Key Scene: In the deepest part of her depression, Justine even needs help getting down to the dinner table.  Her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) made meatloaf, her favorite dish.  When Justine tastes it, her face crumbles, and she says it tastes like ash.  That’s all that will be left of the planet in a couple days, and she can’t wait.

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REVIEW: Young Adult

Young Adult
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Diablo Cody (screenplay)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson and Collette Wolf

Mavis Gary is one of the most fully realized movie characters in recent memory, and certainly of 2011.  In the span of Young Adult’s 90 minutes, Diablo Cody’s writing, Jason Reitman’s directing and Charlize Theron’s acting fuse together seamlessly to show us her demented, delusional inner workings.

In an early scene, Mavis is going to meet up with an old flame from high school named Buddy (Patrick Wilson).  She enters this small town bar with a tight, skimpy black outfit.  As she looks around the bar, judging every other patron there, the camera shifts to a POV shot as if asking us to judge them too.  When the waiter comes to her table, she rudely tells him to take back the silverware and bring her a drink. Buddy enters, and she lights up with a grotesque fakeness that she dons almost as often as her snide glare.

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10 Memorable Movie Psychos

Instead of a “Scariest movies for Halloween” list, we decided to go with another semi-standard list for this time of year: the best psychotics.  We aren’t limiting it to horror movies: it’s an even playing field for these murderers and madmen.  Let their tricks treat for years to come.  (Entries are placed in no particular order, but feel free to name ones you would’ve picked instead.)

Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)For three movies, no matter your opinion of the sequel and prequel, Anthony Hopkins held your gaze as the calm, collected cannibal.  When you first see him, he stands raised as if he were honoring royalty entering the room, a maddening stillness and calm smirk across his face.  He always appears collected, which makes the madness behind his motives all the more chilling.

Jack Torrance (The Shining)- One of many iconic roles for Jack Nicholson and one of many masterpieces for Stanley Kubrick, this villain stands at the center of a chilling send-up of the American family.  Dad gets cabin fever and starts chasing mom and son around with an axe.  Watching this character descend into madness after seeing him semi-normal is what makes him so effective.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Monster

Monster
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Written by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, and Annie Corley

You don’t have to say someone’s name to show who they are.  Some of the best biopics, most notably this one and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There, never acknowledge the subject’s name until the very end.  On IMDB, Charlize Theron is cast simply as Aileen, not Aileen Wuornos.

Monster is proof of a lot of things, most notably that there really isn’t much to a name when you think about it.  Selby (Christina Ricci) simply calls her new lover Lee, an affectionate name in comparison to what most other people call her.

Street walker, hooker, prostitute- whatever you want to call her job, it defines her more heavily than anything in the sordid past that led her to it.  Monster starts out grabbing for your heartstrings, as Aileen narrates a look at her troubled childhood with a musing about being discovered like Marilyn Monroe.  In the enhanced colors of this dreamy flashback, we cut abruptly to her as an adult in the 80’s, sitting under a highway overpass as it pours rain.  In this movie, there are happy moments, and there is life.

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