Movie Review: Prometheus (2D) (2012)

June 8, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

I just watched one of my most anticipated films of the year, Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s is-it-or-isn’t-it prequel to Alien, his 1979 classic. There is an answer to that question but it’s not a particularly important one, because Prometheus stands on it’s own extremely well. It’s not the classic Alien or Aliens is, but hey, few films are. If you measure the film by the impossible standards of those films, of course it is going to fall short. But by ordinary standards this film is freaking awesome. Visually stunning, with excellent performances and plenty of suspense. It’s not groundbreaking by any means but takes the successful Alien/s formula and places it on a much larger and different angled palette.

Set late in this century, it tells the story of a group of private sector space travellers who head to the moon of a distant planet to seek the origins of mankind. What they find, of course, is not quite what they expected.

This is a very different film to those in the Alien franchise (I am going to pretend, by the way, that the Alien vs Predator pieces of crap never existed). This is a ‘big ideas’ movie, or at least it tries to be one, and the scale and grandeur dwarfs anything that has been attempted in those earlier films. The special effects and the sets and make up are simply mind-blowing. The introductory scene sets the tone perfectly and is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.

At it’s heart though, Prometheus is still a sci-fi mystery horror, and in that regard it delivers. Even when you have a fair idea of what is likely to happen it’s still suspenseful — and often, extremely gross. It has scare tactics that will remind viewers of the Alien franchise though I wouldn’t call it ‘recycled.’ There are also one or two memorable scenes that will probably linger in the back of my mind forever.

The screenplay is written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Spaihts previously wrote the script for The Darkest Hour, which was a horrible movie but not because of the writing (I thought the idea was decent). Lindelof, on the other hand, is the co-creator of and writer for one of the most fascinating and frustrating TV shows of all time, Lost, and his fingerprints are all over this one.

On the bright side, the plot unravels like a brilliant mystery, akin to slowly peeling off the layers a giant onion. When you’re not terrified you’re fully engaged trying to figure out what the heck is going on. On the other hand, Prometheus is full of plot holes, loose ends and unexplained stuff that will frustrate a lot of viewers to no end. It’s almost as though it was written with a sequel in mind, or perhaps, like Lost, the writers just did what they thought was cool at the time without giving much thought to whether they could make sense of it later, if at all.

Being a film about finding the origins of man, there are of course some philosophical considerations. On this point I felt Prometheus was also very Lost-like; that is, a lot of interesting questions but not a lot of answers, a lot of style but not a whole lot of substance. That said, I didn’t really care. Intellectual stimulation was not high on the list of reasons why I wanted to watch this film.

The cast is super. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. No weak link in that line up. The Assbender, though, is the clear standout as David, a mesmerising guy you quickly find out is not quite the same as the others. It’s not a stretch to say the Assbender carries the bulk of this film. 300, Centurion, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, Shame and now Prometheus. The dude has become one of my favourite actors.

Rapace gives a sound effort as scientist Elizabeth Shaw, though it’s rather unfair to compare her to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) because they are such different personalities. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even channel her inner Lisbeth Salander, which might leave some of her Dragon Tattoo fans disappointed. Despite her name being the first in the credits, Rapace doesn’t stand out throughout the first half of the film, which I’m not sure is by design. However, she does have one ripper of a scene later on, possibly the best sequence in the entire film (and an instant classic), and more or less redeems herself by the end.

So yeah, Prometheus is pretty cool. Flawed but very enjoyable if you can look past its most egregious problems. At the end of the day, I didn’t watch Prometheus expecting it to be as good as Alien/s. I didn’t watch it expecting to gain more insights about where we came from. I watched it expecting to be entertained, awed and terrified for a couple of hours. And I was.

4.25 stars out of 5!

Series Finales: Lost and 24

June 1, 2010 in Entertainment, Shows

Well, I finally finished watching the series finales of two of my favourite shows of all time, 24 and Lost. Here are some thoughts.

24

“Dammit!”

I started watching 24 from the beginning while the show was in its fourth season (2005) and have watched every episode religiously.  To me, it’s one of the most addictive TV shows of all time.  It’s the only non-comedy show that I can watch episode after episode all day long without wanting a break.

Season 8 is the final season for the series, and while it doesn’t have the freshness of the earlier seasons, this one was by far the most explosive (well, at least since the third season when we found out the President was the baddie!) and the most strenuous for Jack (with the exception of that time when he died for a while).  In the 24 hour time frame, Jack was stabbed (twice), shot, tortured, beat up, lost the woman he loved, committed treason (technically) and almost single-handedly started WWIII.  Not bad for a day’s work.

I would rank Season 8 up there as one of the better seasons of the show, probably somewhere around the middle.  It’s probably a good time to end the series, given there are only so many national security threats writers can come up with.  There have always been minor variations on the plots but honestly it’s pretty much all the same.

As for the ending, there was no big battle scene where Jack saves the day, but it does finish on a more subdued note that went for the emotional angle.  At the same time, it opened up the potential for a full length feature film.  I’m not so sure how well that would work though.  The previous experiment, 24: Redemption, was not totally horrible but there just wasn’t enough time to give justice to the plot or the characters.  Unless the film is effectively an immediate continuation of Season 8 then I think it would be extremely difficult for them to pull off.

That said, I’ll still watch it if it is ever made!

Lost

The most apt title for a series ever.  I started watching Lost from the very beginning in 2004 and have endured every single episode up to the bitter end.  It’s been one of those shows that blew me away at the start with all its intrigue, compelling characters, mysterious setting and hidden dangers.

However, as the show dragged on, it also became one of the most frustrating shows of all time, as questions were answered with more questions and flashbacks became flash forwards then flash sideways (WTF?).  All I ever wanted was some answers, and thanks to my stubbornness and stupidity I stuck with it, hoping that in the end all would be revealed.

How naieve I was.

The sixth and final season of Lost brought back an excitement I hadn’t experienced since perhaps Season 2, back when the storyline was not so convoluted that I had trouble remembering what the heck had happened before, in the future, and in all the different parallel worlds they existed in.  This was the final season, and we were finally going to receive some answers to questions that have lingered for 6 years.  Or so I thought.

Alarm bells started ringing when halfway through Season 6, we were still getting more questions than answers.  That’s not hard when you’re not getting any answers at all.  I started to fear that the rumours were true — that the writers, despite saying they knew how it would end, were simply winging it this entire time.  Or perhaps they were telling the truth in that they knew they would end it with a big fat question mark and leaving audiences more confused and “lost” than ever.

If that was their intention, then they certain succeeded.  The lengthy finale I suppose was satisfying on an emotional level.  We got to see most of the characters over the years come together in one cheesy, quasi-religious reunion full of hugs and kisses.  Yay.

But what I really wanted, just a couple of freaking answers, never came.  The only thing that became apparent was that the flash sideways in Season 6 were a kind of purgatory, a limbo world where each of the characters went after they died, whenever and wherever that may be.  But what about all the other million unanswered questions from the previous 5 seasons?  What the heck was the island in the end?  What the heck was the Dharma Initiative?  What the heck is the smoke monster thingy?  What the heck is the light?  Where did all these people come from and what the heck are they doing?  Why did I watch this show?

I’m lost.

Old Shows, New Seasons, Rants

February 5, 2010 in Entertainment

The Final Season of Lost has a lot of expectations to live up to

I’ve been catching up on a lot of TV lately (hence the lack of movie reviews).

It’s a big year for television – Lost is entering its 6th and final season.  Jack Bauer is going all out in the 8th and final season of 24.  The heroes from Heroes are still plodding along into a 4th season, the cast from Gossip Girl (I know, I know) is heading to college in season 3, and given the disaster it has become, season 9 of Smallville might very well be its last too.

Here are some random rants on how each series is panning out this season.

(Click on ‘more…’ to read on)

Read the rest of this entry →

Full UK Review, Part III: TV

July 20, 2009 in Entertainment

Over 9 months in the UK, I also watched 17 seasons of 11 TV series

Some were for the first time, others continuing.  Here are the TV series and the relevant seasons watched (and rating in parenthesis):

For the first time:

arrested_development

Can't wait for the Arrested Development Movie

Arrested Development S1, 2, 3 – after being told by friends for years to watch this show, I finally relented and began watching it for the first time in the UK.  And I can’t believe I almost went through my entire sad, wretched, pathetic life without having experienced this brilliant show.  I must have watched all 3 seasons at least 5 times each.  It’s that good, and sadly way too short.  Bring on the new movie! (5 out of 5)

Weeds S1, 2, 3, 4 – wasn’t really sure what to expect with this one at the start, but as the episodes went on it kind of grew on me and now I’m looking forward to recommencing my adventures with Nancy & Co in the new Season 5.  Wacky and seriously disturbing at times, but it has a heart. (4 out of 5)

Fringe S1 – look, it’s not the X-Files (I don’t think any show can be the (early seasons of the) X-Files anymore) but I like the story arcs and the characters.  Some episodes are a bit messy but on the whole there were some fascinating episodes.  Will definitely keep watching from Season 2. (3.5 out of 5)

true_blood

True Blood

True Blood S1 – there are some decent elements in this highly sexualized vampire romp but it hasn’t been as good as most people are telling me it is.  Maybe it’ll grow on me a little more in season 2. (3 out of 5)

Gossip Girl S1, 2 – just to set the record straight, it was not MY idea to watch this…though I will admit that for a while at least, this was the most addictive show I was watching.  Leighton Meester’s Blair Waldorf definitely steals the show as the funniest and most intriguing character, but the others aren’t too bad either.  However, somewhere during the 2nd season I started wondering whether it was going anywhere, or if it was just going to keep rehashing the same storylines over and over in a big loop.  Hopefully next season should be different as the characters move on to college (3.5 out of 5)

dollhouse

Cast of Doll House

Doll House S1 – very interesting concept, with some interesting characters and plotlines, but some episodes were poorly executed in this uneven series.  Not to mention some appalling acting – no need to mention any names.  Overall still has entertainment value.  (3 out of 5)

Continuing series:

I’ve been watching these because I watched all of the earlier seasons.

heroes

Still trying to save the world...Heroes Season 4

Heroes S3 – it has gotten to a point where I wonder if there is a point to anything that happens because powers come and go, people die and resurrect, storylines get butchered – on just about every episode.  Even some of the more appealing characters from the start have become annoying (eg, Hiro).  They can still save the show – they just need to pear things back a little and maintain some stability and direction.  (2 .5 out of 5)

Smallville S8 – possibly the worst show that I still watch slavishly because I’ve already endured 7 seasons.  This season was not as bad as say the one where Lana becomes a witch (from Charmed), but let’s face it – the show needs to wrap up – for the sake of the last few loyal fans like me.  Losing Lex was a huge blow, and the new characters (Tess, Davis) don’t live up to their initial hype.  The Green Arrow is the only character that adds a little spark occasionally.  Things picked up a little towards the middle but it killed all merit by staging possibly the worst season finale of all time. (2 out of 5)

24 S7 – I’m not going to lie and say I was not excited by the latest season of 24, one of the most addictive shows ever when it wants to be.  This season was somewhat uneven, but even a bad season of 24 can still be highly watchable.  Of course, the return of my favourite character (Tony Almeida) gave it bonus marks, but unfortunately the season fizzled out towards the end and felt slightly contrived.  But it is still good enough to keep me eager for Jack’s sendoff in the final season. (3.5 out of 5)

Prison-break-4

Didn't they break out in Season 1?

Prison Break S4 – like most fans of the show, I’m just glad they ended it before it became a joke (some say it already is).  Season 1 was one of the best of any show I’ve seen, but every season thereafter just tried to cash in on the initial success.  Finally, all that goodwill has been exhausted.  Season 4 does wrap things up nicely (including a 2-hour special that goes back to the show’s roots), but boy did it take its time getting there.  Any longer and Wentworth Miller would get too fat to fit on the screen (sorry, I just had to mention what everyone’s been talking about). (3 out of 5)

Lost S5 – another one of those shows that I watch against my better judgment because I’ve followed it from the beginning.  Surprisingly, the penultimate season of Lost was not as frustrating as the last couple because it actually starts to give some answers (to questions we’ve mostly forgotten about already, but at least we’re not going in circles anymore) – well, of course until the season finale, where it tread a fine line between intriguing and just plain stupid.  (3 out of 5)