Tag Archives: Sigourney Weaver

Prometheus Shrugged, and you will, too.

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Quick version?  Ridley Scott‘s return to the Alien mythos is a mess.  I can’t think of a bigger disappointment that I’ve had at the cinema in years.

“Prometheus” isn’t a total wash-out but as a companion piece to Scott’s series-opening movie in 1979, it so completely fails to live up that movie’s enduring excellence that its existence can be owed mostly to Fox wanting a sci-fi summer blockbuster and Scott feeling that it was time to dip his toes back into xenomorphic murky waters.

The good parts?  Production design is amazing – the clean sleekness of the “Prometheus” ship is the reverse of the lived-in, grotty, ‘haulage vessel-in-space’ environment’ created by Scott and his craftsmen in the first movie but is no less convincing and eye-catching.  Similarly, the alien structures echo the past but somehow manage to be new and different enough to convince you that you’re not just checking out Giger off-cuts from 1979.

Effects are excellent for the most part – there’s a particular make-up job which I had some reservations about – and the sound mixing is amongst the best that I’ve heard in a theatre since, ooh, “Black Hawk Down“.  Yeah, Scott and his sound team know how to make your ears sit up and pay attention.

The acting’s pretty decent – with a single caveat.  Noomi Rapace‘s heroine, Dr Elizabeth Shaw is an excellent character study to join Sigourney Weaver‘s iconic Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley.  She’s a person of faith thrown into a conundrum which challenges her assumptions and sends her on a ride through a very demanding, quite personal Hell.  Rapace is captivating in every thing that I’ve seen her in, but she’s perhaps the single-best thing about this opening visit to the “Alien” universe.

Similarly, Idris Elba convinces as stoic ship captain Janek, as is Charlize Theron, who plays the traditional role of buttoned-up corporate weasel, Vickers and gets to add colours and tones of underpinning decency and humanity which previous emissaries of the Weyland company haven’t been allowed to show.  Michael Fassbender is also superb as the creepy, box-fresh, Peter O’ Toole channelling android, David.

On the debit side, Logan Marshall-Green didn’t do anything for me – his scientist character doesn’t really register next to Rapace and brought to mind the dreaded Matthew McConaghey during his frequent moments of shirtless pouting.  He may be a very fine actor in different material – but in this, he’s a set of abs with no discernible personality to distinguish himself from A.N. Other young male actor.

The biggest problem with the film is the screenplay – it just doesn’t have a very interesting story until the proverbial last gasp of the film.  The core theme – were we created by a divine being or by extra-terrestrial engineers engaging in inter-stellar DNA experiments? – isn’t dealt with particularly well and the exploratory tone of the first half of the film soon gets jettisoned in favour of the body horror and revulsion at human physical decay which we encounter in a lot of the series.

When the gloop starts to hit the screen my interest waned, particularly as the gore and grue isn’t as inventive or well-realised as it was in “Alien”.  There’s one particular scene – I’ll say the words ‘non-elective surgery’ and leave it at that – which was a trial to sit through.  In some ways, it may become the classic scene of this film but I found it messy and gross, if adhering closely to some of the memorable moments of the “Alien” sequence.

The ending is…okay, actually.  It promises a much more interesting entry in the series than this film delivers.  I’d rather that we skipped this movie entirely and cut-and-pasted the best bits of this film into a pre-credit sequence for that hypothetical sequel.

Oh, Ridley, what are we to say of this film.  If you’re an “Alien” fan, you would be daft to miss it, particularly on the big screen.  If the series means nothing to you, there’s every chance that you might see this film and wonder what all the fan boys have been wittering on about all these years.

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Jeunet’s Filmic Spivet

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Anybody who knows me realises that I have a very big man crush on French film director Jean Pierre Jeunet.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, how about a picture by way of a clue?

No closer?

Typical randomness from Delicatessen

I’ve even got a soft spot for this flick, despite it buggering up Joss Whedon‘s screenplay and not being half as good as it should have been.

My favourite Jeunet film, though, isn’t “Amelie” or one of his early collaborations with Marc Caro – nope, it’s this literary adaptation.

Audrey Tautou and Jean Pierre Jeunet, on the Musee D’Orsay set of A Very Long Engagement

If you watched “Amelie” and found its depiction of Paris troubling (this ain’t the same European capital portrayed so viscerally in “La Haine”, for example) and it’s tone too cartoon-like (kind of missing the point, but I can see why someone might be of that mind), “A Very Long Engagement” is the Jeunet film for you.  By turns bleak, romantic, despairing, uplifting, surreal and possessed of one of the most quietly heart-rending endings of any film that I’ve ever seen, I suggest that you watch it on Netflix, rent it or just grab it off Amazon – just writing about it makes me want to watch it again, which is the sign of a great movie.

In some respects, it suffered at the box office because despite reteaming Jeunet and his “Amelie” muse, Audrey Tautou, it defiantly wasn’t “Amelie 2: The Quirkening” – a fate which also befell Jeunet’s subsequent and quite charming anti-gun violence fable, MicMacs.

Refreshingly, Jeunet doesn’t appear to be deciding on taking the easy road with his next film, “The Selected Works Of TS Spivet”, based on a novel by Rief Larson and marking Jeunet’s first engagement with 3D (having seen and loved Scorsese’s “Hugo” a few weeks ago, I’m quite cheered to learn that Jeunet is collaborating with the stereographer from that film on this tale).

Empire Online has a story today on what Jeunet’s cooking up – Helena Bonham Carter and Kathy Bates have been added to the cast, Canadian genre staple Callum Keith Rennie is also aboard and young Kyle Catlett plays the titular lead, with shooting to begin in Canada in June.

doesn’t make a film every couple of years, but when he does it’s usually worth it.

 

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