Prometheus (6/10/12) &(10/26/12)

Movie One Hundred Forty Two and Two Hundred and Forty One

Thinking they have found a link to the creation of mankind, a team led by two scientists goes off in search of life in Prometheus.

*I will try to be spoiler free but be warned*

When a team of scientists, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of orbs in the same pattern across thousands of years and several continents. Thinking this is not a coincidence, they set out to the star system that matches the glyphs on a trip to meet our Engineers funded by Weyland Corporation (Weyland played by Guy Pearce). Aboard the ship, dubbed Prometheus, we meet the crew including android David (Michael Fassbender). The team investigates a set of ruins and comes face to face with the remains of the Engineers and discover life.

By now, everyone who has seen Prometheus is firmly entrenched in their opinion of the film, whether they loved it or were disappointed. After coming out of the theater on opening weekend I was unsure how I felt about Prometheus. There were parts I loved, there were parts I thought were a bit silly, but one thing was certain: I had a million questions. Perhaps that is the film’s biggest flaw, one that can be attributed to writer Damon Lindelof. While I certainly didn’t expect answers to the creation of man, I did expect *something*.

I think perhaps some of the disappointment was because Prometheus is a precursor to the Alien series and people wanted that origin story. What we got ended up being the precursor to life as we know it so I think it makes sense for a film not to give us all the answers we seek and I can appreciate that it would create more questions for us in the process. Having said that, I do hope Prometheus is its own series of films because otherwise it will have left me entirely unfulfilled. Regardless of funky plotlines, the special effects are simply amazing. The world created here is much different than Alien but it feels familiar enough.

If I had to criticize Prometheus for just one thing it would be the characters. While the actors themselves are all splendid, especially Rapace, the supporting cast is stereotypical or just barely there. I never got a chance to care for any of them (except Shaw) almost to the point of frustration that the film tries to make us care. Perhaps Lindelof needs the runway of a TV series to really take flight and get his ideas across?

As a standalone film, Prometheus struggles to be a classic. It has moments of awesomeness and it also has sci-fi pitfalls and mediocrity. When viewed along the lines as an Alien prequel, it struggles as well but for different reasons. This is not a film like Alien, it is much different. I struggled coming up with a rating for Prometheus because the more I thought about it, and I thought about it a LOT, the more I waffled on it. At times I would give it a 3/5 and other times, even hours later, I would say it’s a 5/5 movie.

In the end, I give it 4 crying Davids out of 5.

[Update]

I watched Prometheus again on blu-ray and was blown away by the presentation. As far as blu-rays go, it’s one of the nicest ones ever produced from what I’ve seen. I have yet to go through all the special features, but the few I watched were very eye-opening so I look forward to seeing what else is in store. After a second viewing, I am less inclined to believe that Prometheus has any glaring plot holes; yes, there are parts with all too convenient writing, and other parts are quite nebulous but that is fiction, people.

Prometheus should not be a movie that explains everything, especially when the point is the creation of life itself. Too much explanation would make for a fumbling movie and Prometheus deftly skirts these issues at times and if it seems like it is tackling something head-on, it drops off just short of giving everything away.Obviously many folks saw this as poor writing and I can certainly see how it’s frustrating to expect answers and not get them. I see it as a puzzle and the movie lays out most of the edge pieces for us but leaves many pieces with the face side down for us to flip over ourselves, or at least theorize what piece goes where.

I appreciated Prometheus much more after a second viewing and I urge the people that doubted it to view it again. The 3D blu-ray package is worth buying for the special features alone, even if you don’t own a 3D player/TV because there is a full disc in this version not found on the regular blu-ray set. Will the special features answer everything? Not likely – but as I said, they shouldn’t answer everything.

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Shame (4/18/12)

ShameMovie Eighty Seven

Shame is a film I would recommend everyone to see. It’s certainly not easy to sit through, but it is absolutely mesmerizing.

I watched writer/director Steve McQueen’s (no, not the Steve McQueen from The Great Escape) previous film, Hunger late last year and found it to be both horrific and beautiful. The acting is some of the finest in cinematic history and instantly shot Michael Fassbender to the top of my greatest actors list. There is a particular shot in that film that lasts for close to 18 minutes and is chock-full of complex dialogue that is probably more dialogue than the rest of the film combined. It’s absolutely amazing. Shame also has several very long shots and some equally awesome moments that show McQueen really can capture lightning in a bottle twice.

For Shame Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. Soon after, his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), visits him and throws his world off kilter. Brandon and Sissy have a relationship that could safely be called “totally messed up”. Brandon clearly has a problem having her around and it seems that could be due to past events we are unaware of, or because it brings his addiction to the forefront of his mind. As the two interact, we find out more about them and their personal issues.

We are never given reasons behind Brandon’s addiction we are only shown it exists and how he deals with it. We see how it negatively affects his life and on a particularly self-destructive bender, we see how sick he truly is and he gets no pleasure from this, only pain. Michael Fassbender is absolutely resplendent in this role and you really sympathize with Brandon’s plight. Carey Mulligan also gives an amazing performance. The beauty in every shot is stunning at times, despite some of the ugly things happening on screen. Steve McQueen is new to filmmaking, but he has proven that his name means quality.

Shame is strictly for adults only. It’s NC-17 rating strikes me as a bit odd since I didn’t think the material was overly graphic, certainly not nearly as much as In the Realm of the Senses. That said, however, the subject matter is also very adult. I’m sure many kids (when I say kids, I mean teens) would see this film for the sex alone and not really grasp the point. Shame is very adult, but it’s not as gratuitous as I was expecting. Michael Fassbender was absolutely robbed for the best actor Academy Award.

I give it 5 singing Carey Mulligans out of 5.

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