Polarizing Views On Prometheus

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus brought out significant debate among our writers who fell into two differing camps. Presented are two separate viewpoints on the film, both pro and con. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

PRO: This is an excellent movie!

According to the folks behind the film, it’s supposedly “not-an-Alien-prequel” set in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe. The story revolves around the Weyland Corporation crew of the spaceship Prometheus searching for life on a far away planet. Not just any life, but searching for ones who may have created the human race.

Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron both did a great job in Prometheus portraying scientist Elizabeth Shaw and Weyland administrator Meredith Vickers respectively. Also, I should mention the acting of Guy Pearce (as Peter Weyland ) and Michael (X-Men: First Class’ Magneto) in another great role as the android David. Good casting all around.

The first Alien movie creeped me out for years. Jim Cameron’s Aliens was more action and suspense. Prometheus is more about discovery, revelations of the origin or mankind, alien biohazards and questioning religious faith in the disturbing world of the Alien universe. Fans of the original film were begging for Scott to return to the Alien Universe. After a few false starts, he finally was able to get the greenlight to direct Prometheus.

It should be noted that 1979’s Alien was a co-creation of a core team of brilliant filmmakers. Directed by Ridley Scott; alien designs by H.R. Giger; interior spaceship designs by Ron Cobb; spacesuits by comic book artist Moebius; produced by Walter Hill and David Giler and written by Dan’O Bannon and Ron Schusset. But no one individual could have produced the first movie on their own. There was no singular vision from one of them. It was a dynamically active collaboration between all of them during the production of the movie. It’s like they all have shared creative custody to the dreaded Alien creation.

After plenty of sequels which were not directed by Scott, it was nice to see many of Alien’s original founding fathers return—with plenty of ideas– Scott, producer Walter Hill, Giger and his designs. Many unexplored concepts that those original Alien founding fathers had are readily extrapolated in this movie.

The settings of the first Alien movie are there, like the space jockey’s horseshoe-shaped ship; the Weyland Corporation; a seemingly psychotic android; a relief sculpture inside the horseshoe spaceship, seen in darkness when a character points the flashlight on the wall that looks like Giger’s alien; human victims unwillingly hosting alien parasites (plenty of those). Also, all the ancillary Giger grey, bony biomechanical structures of the alien ship and tech are very well recreated. It’s got plenty of elements from the Alien universe.

The bio menaces in the movie are built up to show it’s not-the-face-hugger, not Giger’s alien, not-the-eggs, so there’s a whole new set of bio menaces in Prometheus. Believe it or not (can’t help it), Scott’s movie appears to take it in a new direction. Set-in-the-Alien-universe-but-seemingly-not-Alien this new movie proves that Scott is a sly guy. The final seconds of the movie reveal how this movie ties into Alien. Not to spoil it too much, but during the final seconds, the audience in my theatre expressed their approval by uttering, “wowwww”, “nice”, Oh, ok!”

The production design & CGI are truly well done, kudos to the crew. I’m ordering the book Art of Prometheus and the Cinefex issue with the article on the movie.

Thumbs up. Go see Prometheus in theatres. There’s nothing like being spooked by these master storytellers who helped create the Alien franchise. And finally, don’t believe the “not-an-Alien-prequel” marketing campaign. It’s a great addition to the franchise and stay to the end.

GEO

Con: While I do agree with GEO on many of Prometheus’ technical merits (production design, effects, acting), I had many problems with the film.

The first half of the movie was fine, good buildup and all. It begins with humanoid Engineers seeding a planet with their DNA, then Earth scientists in 2089 discover ancient clues leading to the Engineers’ planet. The film jumps ahead a few years later to a spaceship called Prometheus arriving at an Engineer planet with a scientific crew. At this point, I give the filmmakers credit for trying to do more than just a prequel to Alien and the approach was different. Instead of a grungy, beat-up and cramped spaceship like the Nostromo, we get a spacious, state-of-the-art explorer craft with eye-popping holographics (one of the best reasons to see Prometheus in 3D).

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But in the second half of the film, after the crew awaken things that should be left alone, then the film just fell apart thanks to the sloppy writing that left plot holes larger than those organic looking entryways into the Engineers’ ships.

Characters do dumb, illogical things, plot points are brought up, dropped without warning then taken up again; seriously how rushed were writers Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts? No one in production or in the editing room brought up these glaring mistakes?

Let’s go over some of them. During an expedition into the Engineers’ deserted pyramid, two scientist freak out and decide to leave the main expedition, but get stranded inside the structure when a storm approaches. So what do they do? They camp out in a chamber that holds countless vases with mysterious goo and after seeing a hammerhead slug-like creature they act like it’s a puppy, approach it and get attacked! Weren’t they scared by the entire place? Where did their scientific training go? Why not back away instead of leaving yourself open to attack? All of this could have been taken care of if the creature attacked them by surprise.

Later, the Prometheus crew goes back to look for them, finds only one body, make a comment about needing to find the other scientist and the matter is dropped for the next plot development. Of course, the other scientist shows up later and attacks the crew when a few thrills were needed.

Then there’s Elizabeth Shaw’s unexpected pregnancy. That entire plot development was chilling and worked well until after she has the alien fetus removed surgically. Shaw gets up and runs around afterwards after having major surgery! Any woman will tell you who had a cesarean, that running and even walking are impossible. That surgery slices open abdominal muscles that are needed for just walking. The film could’ve thrown in some line about advanced healing therapy in the form of an injection (as was shown later when a paraplegic Weyland was able to walk), something real quick could’ve been shown. But no, this glaring plot hole eluded the production team.

Another problem stemming from this sequence is that nothing is done about the alien fetus by the rest of the crew! No one really pays much mind to Shaw, despite the fact that by this point she’s running around all bloodied and that earlier she was treated as someone who was contagious! The list just goes on, but the point is that these glaring plot holes just took me out of the film.

Ordinarily, minor quibbles can be glossed over and forgotten but when a film just piles one shoddy mistake after another then that’s a problem. I can forgive the fact that the film never answers why the Engineers are so hostile to humans and so on. Those are valid questions set up for a sequel. But when characters lose all common sense and behave irrationally or plot developments don’t make sense, well then it’s time to admit that the film is flawed. Prometheus has many things to admire about it, but sadly too many detractions as well.

José Soto

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Top 12 Most Anticipated Films Of 2012

2012 promises to be an exceptional year when it comes to sci-fi, fantasy and horror film releases. These are the top twelve picks (being that it’s 2012 “gulp!”) plus some promising runner-ups. Let’s hope these films live up to the hype.

12. Rise of the Guardians

This animated holiday offering by DreamWorkshas a fun premise; mythical characters like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost join forces to save the world from the evil Boogeyman. Release Date: November 21.

11. Wrath of the Titans

A sequel to the surprisingly good Clash of the Titans remake. Just based on the trailer, expect more heroics, monsters, angry gods, and giant cyclops, oh my! Release Date: March 30.

10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It’s astonishing but the placid trailer didn’t really capture the public’s eye except hardcore Tolkien fans. Lots of talking heads and makeup. But being this is Peter Jackson’s follow up to his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s sure to stand up to his previous Middle Earth saga. Release Date: December 14.

9. Chronicle

Another one of the found-footage films; this is about a trio of young men who acquire super powers. The fun they have soon gives way to dread as one of the friends lets the power get to his head. Release Date: February 3.

8. World War Z

This adaptation of Max Brooks’ zombie epic would’ve scored higher on the anticipation scale but the word that it will be a PG-13 film and changes from the novel brought about some caution. (The book is told from the point of view of many people across the world. This film seems to be more linear with Brad Pitt in the lead role.) Release Date: December 21.

7. The Cabin in the Woods

This Joss Whedon-produced film was finished a while ago but sat on the shelf until this year. Promising to turn on its ear the cliché of a remote cabin found by a some young people, the buzz surrounding this film has begun to percolate due to Whedon’s genre clout (i.e. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly). Release Date: April 13.

6. John Carter

The trailers keep looking better and better, capturing the fantastic swashbuckling feel of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars. Directed by Andrew Stanton (who won Oscars for Pixar’s masterpieces WALL-E and Finding Nemo) the film about a Civil War vet’s adventures on the planet Mars could continue the trend of notable animators making successful transitions into live-action filmmakers (see Brad Bird with his Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Release Date: March 9.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s pretty obvious that Sony is cranking this too-soon reboot to hold on to the lucrative franchise but it looks very promising. Andrew Garfield has an eerie resemblance to Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s mechanical web shooters, the evident back to basics approach and Marc Webb’s distinct visual style makes this film one to keep an eye on. It could be this year’s version of X-Men: First Class. Release Date: July 3.

4. Gravity

Alonso Cuaron who directed the best sci-fi movie of the last decade (Children of Men) as well as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban helms this film about two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) trapped onboard a damaged space station and their efforts to return to Earth. Release Date: November 21.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan concludes his acclaimed Batman trilogy with the Caped Crusader’s greatest struggle in a Gotham that has shunned him. Meanwhile Batman’s absence leads to the rise of one of his deadliest villains, Bane and sexiest, Catwoman. Given the runaway success of The Dark Knight, this film is certain to be a monster hit. BTW, Robin (supposedly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is rumored to make his debut in the film. Release Date: July 20.

2. The Avengers

Any fan boy’s (or girl’s) dream come true. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk team up and portrayed by the actors originating the roles (except for the Hulk). Add in other characters like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury and that’s a recipe for a blockbuster. While not as dark and serious like The Dark Knight Rises (just wish Marvel Studios would stop with the too-loud rock music in their trailers!), this Joss Whedon super hero mash up could be the big one for the summer. Release Date: May 4.

And the most anticipated film to be released in 2012 is (insert drumroll sound effect)….

1. Prometheus

Ridley Scott returns to science fiction in a big way with this prequel to Alien. Actually while it takes place in the same universe the ugly xenomorphs are nowhere to be found in this film. Not much is known about the plot outside of hints that it deals with astronauts trying to learn humanity’s roots and encountering the alien space jockey’s race (that creature was seen as fossilized remains in the original Alien). Once the official trailer was released, the film’s buzz level reached fever pitch. Release Date: June 8.

Others To Look Out For:

Looper (a time- travel actioner with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt); Men In Black III (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Earth’s best illegal alien hunters with a time-traveling twist); The Hunger Games (based on Suzanne Collins’ novel about young people surviving deadly combat games in a brutal post-U.S.); Cloud Atlas (The Wachowski Brothers return with this centuries-spanning story with an all-star cast; significant segments of the film take place in the future); Battleship (big, splashy alien invasion tale with plenty of action, effects and military hardware, thankfully Michael Bay isn’t directing this one); Iron Sky (a zany premise involving Nazis escaping to the moon’s dark side and returning to Earth a few years from now); Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (hey if the trailer has the balls to show Ghost Rider peeing fire, then the film deserves to be checked out!), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (adapted from the best-selling novel); Brave (Pixar’s newest film about a heroic Scottish girl in ancient times);  Skyfall (the next James Bond film is directed by Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig returns as the grittiest Bond); and The Divide (Michael Biehn stars in this claustrophobic apocalyptic thriller).

Remember all release dates are subject to change and add in a few other films (notably Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli’s delayed Area 51 that could debut anytime) that were left off or without official 2012 release dates but may impact geekdom in a huge way.

José Soto

UPDATE: Both World War Z and Gravity have been pushed to 2013. With Gravity’s case, this was due to some reported mixed reactions to a test screening.

‘Tis The Week For Trailers!

As this year winds to a close and the anticipation rises for next year’s film offerings one thing to whet our collective appetites are the trailers. This week it seems as if Hollywood as decided to send some gifts to us fans by releasing trailers for some of the most anticipated flicks for 2012.

Moviegoers who watch The Adventures of Tintin on Wednesday will be able to see a trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will be enough to fill the seats the same way those Star Wars: Episode I trailers filled then emptied movie houses once those trailers ended. In the same fantasy genre, there is another new trailer for Wrath Of The Titans the followup to Clash Of The Titans.

Released this week exclusively on iTunes and certain to be embedded soon is the official trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, and it looks just as badassery as the previous Batman film.

In addition to a new German trailer for The Avengers, a trailer was released today for another trailer due in three days: Ridley Scott’s supposed Alien prequel Prometheus. (Technically it isn’t a prequel since Ridley Scott just confirmed the Xenomorphs don’t appear in this film but it supposedly takes place in the same universe.) It sounds absurd, a trailer for a trailer, but after such a long wait and with so little to go on, it’s a terrific appetizer for the main course! And it’s really great hearing that eerie Alien music last heard waaaay back in 1979 during previews for the first Alien.

Waldermann Rivera

UPDATE: Well, here it is, the official trailer for Prometheus, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s a prequel to Alien. Frankly, the countdown teasers for this has been worth the wait!

Forget Summer 2011, Bring on Next Summer’s Films!

Well the summer 2011 movie season is drawing to a close. Yes, August isn’t even here yet, but almost all of the big guns from the studios have been fired. There are just a handful of anticipated, genre flicks that haven’t been released yet. They include Rise of the Planet of the ApesConan the Barbarian, Fright Night, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Final Destination 5. With this year’s Comic-Con, all the buzz is still about next year’s, and more specifically, next summer’s film releases. Here’s a list of what to look forward to:

May 2012

May 4–The Avengers–What better way to kick off the summer movie season (and Free Comic Book Day) than with a Marvel superhero film? Continuing a years’-long tradition, Marvel Studios is releasing its most anticipated film that teams up its A-list superheroes; Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. Plus, it’s directed by fan favorite Joss Whedon so expect it to make some moolah.

May 11–Dark Shadows–Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp (again!) in this remake of the popular 1960s soap opera about the vampire Barnabas Collins which predates True Blood, Twilight and all the other hot vampire shows and films.

May 18–Battleship–The Internet’s been percolating with a newly released teaser trailer. At first people were scratching their heads over the idea that Universal Studios canceled Ron Howard’s production of The Dark Tower saga in lieu of this reportedly $200 million sci-fi film directed by Peter Berg (who’s last film Hancock didn’t exactly thrill audiences). But the sight of U.S. Navy ships getting ready to square off against Transformer-like alien ships won over many doubters.

May 25–Men In Black III–Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld reteam for the third outing of Earth-based illegal alien hunting agents. Little is known about the film, only that it involves time travel which is impossible according to some scientists in Hong Kong.

June 2012

June 1–Snow White and the Huntsman–Starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, this reimaging of the classic fairy tale is supposedly more action packed and darker. Already people are clamoring for it or dismissing this as another Twilight clone. Given Stewart’s popularity with Twihards it may do well at the box office.

June 8–Prometheus–Perhaps the most anticipated sci-fi film of 2012 as Ridley Scott returns to the director’s chair to helm this prequel (?) to the Alien franchise. Little has been revealed about this film that might be about the alien space jockey whose skeleton was seen in the first Alien film. This veil of secrecy hasn’t been seen in a film for a while and its whipping up interest among fans burned out by the awful Aliens vs. Predators films.

June 8–Madagascar 3–Dreamworks Animation’s big offering for the summer brings us the further adventures of Alex the lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo as they try yet again to find their way back to New York’s Central Park Zoo. Reportedly the gang winds up in Europe and a traveling circus; the kids already can’t wait!

June 15–Jack the Giant Killer–Bryan Singer directs this fantasy epic about a young farmhand who battles against a race of giants. Described as an adult take of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale this film features Ewan MacGregor and Stanley Tucci.

June 22-Brave–Pixar’s latest film has many firsts for the acclaimed animation studio; its first fairy tale, its first film directed by a woman and the first one to feature a girl protagonist. Its appeal to young girls who favor Disney films and Pixar’s brand for putting out animated masterpieces  should make a killing at the box office.  

June 22-Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter–Based on the popular novel of the same name it’s directed by  Timur Bekmambetov (his last film was the action-packed Wanted). It’s an interesting alternative for moviegoers who may not be into the month’s fairy tale releases.

June 29–G.I. Joe 2–The first film wasn’t exactly beloved even by those who swear by the Transformers films. But it made enough money to warrant a sequel. The question is how will it hold up to the heavy hitters released around the same time? It has got to have a killer trailer or word of mouth to get some momentum.

July 2012

July 3–The Amazing Spider-Man–Sony’s reboot of the Spider-Man film series has many Spider-fans torn over the need for a re-imaging so recently after Sam Raimi’s flicks. Yet again maybe the studio wants to get rid of the ill will the last film generated. Still no matter what critics say about Andrew Garfield looking like an emo, he does resemble Peter Parker and the mechanical web shooters will be used!

July 13–Ice Age: Continental Drift–The prehistoric mammals (featuring a wooly mammoth, a saber-tooth cat and a ground sloth) from the kid-friendly movie series return in this story that has them trapped on an iceberg and off on a seagoing adventure.

July 13–TedFamily Guy’s Seth MacFarlane makes his live-action directorial debut about a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his childhood teddy bear that comes to life. Sounds like a combo of Harvey and the recent TV show Wilfred. If Mike Judge could make the live-action transition then so could MacFarlane.

July 20–The Dark Knight Rises–OK hands down this is the BIG ONE for moviegoers. Whether or not you are a Batman fan you can’t deny the phenomenon of the last Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film. Touted as his last film and with Catwoman and Bane as the villains it might be the year’s biggest hit. In fact it’s expected to be so successful that it seems as if the rest of the summer season is drawing to a close afterwards.

August 2012

August 3–Total Recall–Colin Farrell and Bryan Cranston star in the remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi movie that was based on a Philip K. Dick short story. Farrell stated recently that the film, like the original, will differ from the author’s tale.

August 17–ParaNorman–A stop-motion animated film that takes place in a town besieged by zombies. The citizens then call upon the services of a boy who is a sort of zombie whisperer to take care of the problem.

Of course, these release dates are subject to change and will most likely do so. Already, the new Star Trek film that was scheduled for the summer has been pushed back, so it won’t be surprising to learn that one of the above films has been removed from the schedule or another will join the list. No matter what, it’s good to know that there are plenty of films to choose from for next summer.

José Soto