Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The circle is finally complete, after 7 years and three films Chris Nolan's journey through Gotham has come to a close. It's been a pretty crazy week when the fictional world was interrupted by an unfortunately real act of cowardice, terror &  murder. I don't want to go much into the events that happened in Colorado which is being covered to an overwhelming degree on your televisions. Having seen the film it is hard to separate the two of them, they are unfortunately tragically linked. Since this is only an entertainment site and frankly there is enough oxygen being spent on the whys and hows on the 24 hour death channels, so we'll leave it to them. If you click here you'll get a thoughtful look into the debate about guns. As for the film itself this was for all intents and purposes one of the most brutal PG-13 films I've seen in quite a long time. This is not the Avengers or Spider-Man. If my son Nathan is lucky he might be able to see this film when he turns 18, if I have my way.
Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has been on the sidelines for 8 years after the events in the Dark Knight and he appears to have lost his desire to interact with the new world he helped to create in Gotham. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman)  agreed with Batman at the end of the last film that former DA Harvey Dent's turn to madness and death would be covered up and that he would remain the beacon of hope he started and with the Batman taking the blame for his demise. This in turn led to the Dent act which put almost all of Gotham's worst villains behind bars. Gotham has prospered in those years but there is a storm coming as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) tells Bruce and that storms name is Bane (Tom Hardy).

As I stated above this was an incredibly dark and brutal film almost like a Mike Tyson fight. It was incredibly ambitious and there admittedly was some glut in this almost 3 hour film, but make no mistake about it, this was a phenomenal film that, in my mind, closed the door on the trilogy in great way. All of the performances were right on the money. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's John Blake was fantastic. There is more to his character than just a simple beat cop and Nolan wove his story perfectly into the chaos. Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard  were great in their backup roles. I was really impressed with Anne Hathaway I was so sure she was going to be the weak link in the film I found myself enjoying her scenes with Bruce/Batman the most. Those trailers honestly did not do her justice. She was truly a great Catwoman and I wouldn't mind her strapping up in tight spandex again. I also enjoyed the twist at the end even though I wished it was fleshed out a bit more. But then I guess they would have had to tack on another hour on an already long movie. There were long stretches where Batman was rebuilding himself, after he is broken by Bane, we are left with Blake and Gordon stuck in an occupied Gotham very reminiscent of the Great Escape.  Now I know a lot of critics hated this long stretch, for Batman fans I can understand it, but this is Bane and all Batman fans have to know the consequences of what comes with him. In the comic like in the movie Batman and Bane have a devastating showdown that was intense and like in the comic Bane breaks the Bat over his knee. These critics like Harry from Aint it Cool News bemoaned these fight scenes as merely tracking shots and then he cried that he just couldn't feel the blows. I'm sorry, you couldn't feel the blows? I'm assuming Harry wanted Nolan's Batman to leap around Bane using the cape and grapple hook. What we got was Batman in over his head, we got an arrogant Batman, a complacent Batman this is a Batman with a death wish, who on his first meeting with Bane gets his ass handed to him. I know it's hard for Harry to grasp Batman as an actual human being with actual flaws. If you look at the history of this series it's fairly consistent on this point. Which is also why I like it.  Flash has never been a large part of these films, as Ras Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) tells Bruce Wayne as he beats him up in the first film, "This is not a dance!" We got a hard nosed boxing match by two men with the same training and yes, I could feel it.

Speaking of training, why would it enrage you that Bane was trained by Ras Al Ghul? I love the Batman comics too but Harry needs to learn to differentiate the page from the screen. Nolan's Batman is attempting to live in our world not the comic book world.  Bane's Venom, which acts as instant muscle growth, would seem otherworldly here in Nolan's world and it wouldn't work, trust me on this. Also thought one of the best dramatic scenes in the film when Alfred calls out Bruce for his inability to move on with his life and tells him flat out that he won't watch him commit suicide was quite frankly Oscar worthy on Michael Caine's part. So Alfred walks out on Bruce and apparently many critics had a flip out about this as well. Why did this action enrage fanboys so? It was a truly heartfelt scene that I thought played into the larger themes about Bruce Wayne and his journey. Alfred is one of the strongest willed characters in this trilogy as he has been with Bruce through all the craziest that Gotham has to throw at them until the the death of Rachel in the second film and he realizes what Bruce won't that her death has shaken him to the point that he doesn't care whether he lives or dies. Alfred, who for all intents and purposes, is his  surrogate father and he doesn't have the strength to stand by while Bruce kills himself. Makes sense to me.

There were issues though with the film and some of them were a little glaring for one, Chris Nolan needs to pick an archetype for the city of Gotham and stick with it. In Batman Begins, which looks the best, the city looks like a big urban city without looking like any real one you can recognize. You had distinctive landmarks of Gotham like the Narrows, Arkham Asylum, Wayne Tower and the high speed rail that connected them all. Most or all of that disappeared in the second and third films and real cities like Pittsburgh and New York took its place. It's most glaring in this last installment as they show wide shots of the Island of Manhattan that take you out of the action a little bit. Gotham has always been a character in these films and it's sad to see it more as a mish-mash of cities rather than the unique visual we got in the first film. I think the Wall Street scenes benefited the most from shooting in downtown NY as the disparity from rich and poor is amplified. On that front I was also disappointed that Nolan didn't go far enough into these themes as he just touches on them rather than hit it head on. He started to explore the disconnect of Bruce's wealth to his mission to protect all classes in Gotham but then Nolan refuses to actually show the poorest of Gotham especially after Bane takes over the city. We saw the rich elites being dragged from the homes and thrown into the streets which was supposed to remind us of the Nazis evicting the Jews from their houses during the war. It's a powerful image but it strikes a bit false when you don't show the same scene for the less fortunate. This is especially glaring when he exposes the gap really well in Batman Begins.

As you can see there is so much to talk about and discuss about the film whether you loved it or hated it. It solidifies in my mind why Chris Nolan is one of the best Director/filmmakers in the world right now. He still hasn't made a bad film, which is pretty damn impressive. I'm planning to see it in IMAX this weekend so I'll be sure to post whether its worth your time.  I would be surprised if it doesn't work. But if you for some reason haven't seen it, you've gotta go, good or bad, it will certainly keep your brain humming long after you leave the theatre.

Grade: 4 Buckets    

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Who would have thought you could make a raunchy, funny flick about a talking magical teddy bear that still kept the charm all through the movie without feeling like a gimmick?  I sure as hell didn't. This is Director Seth McFarlane's first feature film and he didn't seem to miss a beat. I've seen various episodes of Family Guy and American Dad and there have been some genuinely funny stuff there but it was always hard to think of these shows as anything but a poor man's Simpsons. I always found McFarlane engaging and interesting though when he would show up on Bill Maher so when I saw the first few trailers for the film I was ready to dismiss it but when I saw his name attached, I was curious, where was he going to be able to go with this? First off this flick is drenched with 80's pop culture toys and movies.  My mind was racing at how much they probably had to pay to reference all this shit. I swear I saw a Darth Vader figure carrying case. I personally had the C-3PO one but damn I hadn't seen one of those in years.  This almost felt autobiographical to some degree, he's only a few years older than me so it wouldn't be much of a stretch that he played with the same toys. And I know my friend Boston Mike was excited about the locale in the film. If you haven't been to Boston or the surrounding area this flick will give you a nice tour and you can get a good idea about the local color and cuisine. You can pretty much hold onto your money, throw down your Fodors, Time Out and whatever travel mag you are reading and just go see this movie. Seriously, I think every major landmark from Somerville to Framingham is featured in the movie. I myself recently visited to see my little brother, some cousins and my of course my good friend Mike, so some of the places shown in the flick were fresh on my mind.

When John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was a kid he didn't have any friends and the other kids seemed to loathe him. So one Christmas he received the gift of a giant Teddy Bear aptly named Ted(voice of Seth McFarlane) and he made a wish for him to be real, and it being a Christmas wish naturally means that it will come true.  So one morning Ted actually started to speak to him and they were the best of friends just like any other typical child wish fulfillment film. But it doesn't end there Ted becomes an instant sensation and celebrity as he finds himself on Carson and other shows. But at the end of the day people grow up and move on and even a talking Teddy Bear, eventually, isn't a big fucking deal. John and Ted are now adults and they are still inseparable which causes problems with John's live-in-girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis).

This was a damn funny movie I found myself chuckling at just about everything McFarlane was able to throw at me.  Mark Wahlberg has proven that his funny turn in The Other Guys wasn't a fluke. McFarlane did a great job with the Ted/John fight scene, it was intense which made it even funnier, absurd, but damn funny. And it's always nice to see Mila Kunis she's smart and funny and keeps pace with the guys well, not to mention she's easy on the eyes. Patrick Stewart's narrator was surprisingly one of the best parts of the whole thing. I guess having the voice of Jean Luc Picard cursing and rambling about the awesomeness of Apache helicopters was enough to have me rolling on the floor with giggle fits. Also the inclusion of Sam Jones, the star of the craptastic Flash Gordon movie from the 80's, had me grinning from ear to ear. Now I will admit that it followed this new normal in comedies where the lead characters meet up with a has been actor from a pop culture 70's or 80's tv/movie. But it definitely worked Sam Jones was awesome and it did make me want to see Flash again. There haven't been too many comedies in recent times I could say had me howling on the floor so go and see the flick while it's still in theatres you won't regret it.
Grade: 4 Buckets 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift

So this is the fourth film in the series by the animators at Blue Sky who are also responsible for such animated flicks as Rio, Horton Hears a Who and Robots. Blue Sky has been pretty ambitious and has made some pretty good kids flicks over the years and a healthy bottom line with each picture. I wasn't familiar with this Ice Age series however Nathan had seen the first one on Netflix and liked it. So he was more in tune with the movie than I was from the start. The little guy has been on a big time Dinosaur kick as of late and he's fascinated by early evolutionary creatures like squirrels with sharp teeth, Wooly Mammoths, etc. So this was, in a sense, perfect timing.

The Wooly Mammoth Manny (Ray Ramano), Sabertooth Tiger Diego (Denis Leary) & Sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) are separated from their herd when the continent begins to shift. They find themselves adrift in the ocean searching for a way back home only to run into a band of scurvy pirates led by an ape, Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and his first mate a female Sabertooth Tiger named Shira (Jennifer Lopez) and their ragtag mishmash of animal pirate characters.
To be honest this was not one of those flicks that has something for everyone. On the surface it was cute and simple and followed typical kids animation tropes about belonging and loyalty but there isn't anything surprising or new in this fairly banal sequel. Admittedly I don't have a history following these characters so perhaps there were character jokes here that someone who has watched this series may understand better but personally I enjoyed watching Nathans' reactions to the movie much more.  The location renderings were pretty fantastic though and I'm sure it would be even more entertaining in 3D. If you've read my posts in the past Nathan doesn't have much patience for the glasses so we usually skip the 3D versions. I still contend it doesn't matter but it depends on the age of your kid. If they are between 6 and 10 I would say it would be a waste not to take them to the 3D version. 
In the end it accomplished what it was supposed to, which is to please my kid. Nathan really had fun with it even though he seemed to be a little disturbed by Dinklage's Pirate Captain. He kept mentioning to me about the angry monkey. Otherwise he really loved watching Scrat and his search for Acorn Atlantis, maybe I need to show him more Tom and Jerry, which would mean more of him running around banging into walls and breaking stuff and---uh, maybe that isn't such a good idea. Anyway if you have kids between 3 and 8 I'm sure they will love the flick. Any older and they may revolt on you.
My Grade: 2 Buckets

Kid Grade: 3 Buckets - (scary Monkey downgrade)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

People Like Us

I actually got a chance to see this little film a few weeks ago but hadn't had a chance to post it until now. It's a risky film to release in the middle of summer with Avengers, Spidey and the Dark Knight surrounding it. It's a straight up drama with comedic moments with a great cast but not necessarily a blockbuster one. So why release this now? No clue, that question would have to be answered by the same people who botched the John Carter flick at Disney, I would love to hear the explanation for this though. As one would expect it did get lost in the action shuffle only opening to a measly 4.2 million. The film caught my eye initially because of the cast, Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, and especially the writers and director Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who wrote it and Kurtzman directed. These two guys have really impressed me lately with their body of work on some of my favorite films and TV shows: They are the brain trust behind Fringe, the writers of the rebooted Star Trek, Transformers, Cowboys and Aliens and key writers on Alias and wrote the underrated Mission Impossible III. It did baffle me how many things I have been enjoying lately have come from these two guys. So when I saw they were tackling a straight up drama I was intrigued.

A fast talking salesman, Sam (Chris Pine) finds himself in a pickle at work when he messes up a big deal putting him in the hole for a few grand. Before he can take care of business he learns that his estranged father, a big time Music Producer,  has died. He brings his gorgeous supportive girlfriend Hannah (Oliva Wilde) and they head out to Los Angeles where he is met with another bombshell. His father had a out-of-wedlock daughter that he never knew existed. Sam seeks out his half-sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) but struggles to tell her who he really is.

Honestly I really liked this flick, I didn't think that I would especially based on those trailers which were somewhat uncomfortable as it appeared as if he was going to start making out with his sister at some point. When you watch the movie you realize early on that he's not going to do that but she doesn't have a clue about who he is and the film got uncomfortable real fast when you realize that she is attracted to him. This really was the biggest problem with the script in that it took way too long for him to tell her who he was while she was growing to love him in a romantic way. The script though was very sharp and the performances here were really great especially Elizabeth Banks. I've never seen her play a character like this, a tough single Mom who is struggling to get by. The kid was pretty great too, Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario) he could have really been an annoying bratty kid but his Josh was a pretty honest interpretation of a kid who has just had too many doors slammed in his face. If this had come out in late September or November I would have expected some Oscar nominations for Banks and possibly Michelle Pfeiffer. The reviews were pretty mixed for this flick but mostly I think because of the over-abundance of soap opera like scenarios that they throw in at once that can be distracting.  But I really did enjoy these characters and their arc and if you find yourself looking for a good drama with soap opera moments but solid characters and a great script then you should check out this little flick before it's too late. More than likely you'll have to wait for DVD but it's worth a watch anyway.

Grade: 3 Buckets

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

This past week I had a chance to catch up with some old friends and family in Boston and I was hoping to maybe catch Spidey while I was up there but didn't get the chance. One of my friends from Sony has been anticipating my reaction to the film because he knows what a big Spidey fan I am and probably to see if I'm going to join the chorus of fanboys who have, for some reason, really come after the flick in a negative way. From Aint-it-Cool-News to Film School Rejects the geek quotient on the internet has spoken, at it's best they claim it's lackluster entertainment at it's worst it's a series of studio notes and poorly paced tripe. Having seen the film myself yesterday I would have to strongly disagree with most or all of these issues save one, I do agree that it was just too soon to put another reboot of Spidey back on screen. But I will say that director Marc Webb has done a pretty good job of weaving a solid Spider-Man story he just has way too much to live up to and that, unfortunately, is not something he can control.

So this whole thing started, probably, a couple of years ago when Disney bought Marvel Entertainment. Sony more than likely flipped out at the prospect of the Mouse House buying up one of their biggest properties. So they tried to fast-track a Spidey story with then Director/Producer Sam Raimi with the Vulture as the Big Bad and things went south quickly. The third film in the first series of Spidey films has been and continues to be much maligned. I myself over time have found that the film truly did succumb to the worst instincts of a very talented filmmaker. I also blame Sony a bit for pushing Raimi in a direction he wasn't comfortable going either, namely the Venom debacle. So with Raimi and Toby officially out they had to come up with something so they turned to writer James Vanderbilt to start from scratch. This had to be done because of a certain contract that was set to expire if a film wasn't made soon. Let's make no mistake this was mostly about saving their distribution franchise and probably nothing else. Thankfully for all of us they got lucky with Vanderbilt and director Marc Webb who truly put together a great reboot despite the reckless road Sony put them on.

If you are familiar with the Spider-Man history from the comics or the previous film there isn't too much different here. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), orphaned by his parents Richard (Cambell Scott) & Mary (Embeth Davidtz) after they die in a mysterious plane crash. He is left with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) & Aunt May (Sally Field) as he attempts to get through High School the best he can. Peter falls for the lovely Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who interns at Oscorp working for the very man who may be able to hold answers for Peter regarding his Parent's death, Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans). While trying to learn info about Connors he is bitten by an experimental spider that gives him his spider-powers. They explain it is a cross-species recombination serum in a sense that blends two species together. This serum used by Connors on himself later causes him to transform into the Lizard which wrecks havoc in NY. There were some not so subtle hints at the potential for Norman Osborn to show up. He is unseen through the film but you can feel his influence pulling the strings. As this looks to be a new trilogy I expect Storming Norman to show his Green Goblin face at some point.

Was this as good as previous Spider-Man films? I really don't think it's fair to judge in that way. Even though the origin story is basically the same, there isn't a wrestling scene and the search for Ben's killer is very different from the original and of course the girl is different, instead of Mary Jane we now have Gwen Stacy. This is very much the Dark Knight effect on Spider-Man. The pacing, the edginess and the real world landscape allow this film to fit in more with recent Superhero films. I also really appreciated them coming back to the original web shooters as opposed to the organic ones. It does provide Spidey with more challenges then with the organic shooters. As my wife put it the first Spider-Man films seem more vintage and this one more realism. Or as much realism a giant lizard man running through the streets of NY can allow. I will admit that some of the magic was gone for me from the first time I saw Spider-Man in 2002 versus today. The things you were able to see your favorite hero do in live action can never fully be duplicated. Also I did find myself groan a little watching this Spider-Man spend ten to fifteen minutes learning to use his spider powers in very similar ways to the first one. Which makes me think this film would have been even better if they had cut out or moved around how he received his powers so we could focus on this story rather than his training montage. Take a page from The Incredible Hulk a few years ago and use the flashbacks for quick scenes but we really didn't need to see all of that again especially with Uncle Ben and the mugger. Even though it was written and paced well it just felt a little unnecessary.

I really did love Garfield as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, I thought he really captured the essence of the character from the comic. He played the sarcasm and smart assery to perfection and he demonstrated that there are many layers to Peter Parker as he is trying to come into his own as a hero and as a young adult. I also thought that Emma Stone's Gwen was a perfect foil for him as she provided a true relationship for them to grow on. I read a few reviewers bitching about this relationship that it wasn't fully formed and I have to tell you it made much more sense and was allowed to breathe much more than the Rami Spider-Man was ever allowed to. Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane just doesn't stack up to Emma's Gwen and that's a fact. I also really enjoyed the Lizard I thought the CGI was pretty good and he was a pretty good copy of the Lizard in the comic. He didn't have to be too fangy just big and scary and the team pulled that off well. I also thought that they did a great job with Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) and he did help to ground the story especially when you had a giant Lizard running amok in the sewers, it kind of sucks that he didn't get a little more screen time. I also thought the focus on Peter's parents was a welcome change and it allowed the filmmakers to go in a different direction from the previous installment. I would also recommend you see this thing in 3D Imax it was pretty spectacular, all of the POV scenes and the action pieces really jumped off the screen. I have to admit I felt like a ten year old watching those scenes as I imagined many times as a child what it might feel like to web swing through Manhattan. It was damn impressive, again Sony should be kissing Marc and James' asses for how they saved this film. Not to mention Emma and Andrew, they really did make this a personal film that showed once again why Spidey is above the rest when it comes to balancing action with solid drama.

In conclusion, was this the best movie of the summer or the year? The answer is no, but it was a really great ride with the trifecta of excellence, pacing, writing and characterization. Unfortunately it was probably too soon for a reboot and to be honest Marvel is partly to blame as well. For the past 5 years we have seen something never established in movie making. Characters from other films and even across other studios coming together to form a larger universe. It was a great big gamble but it worked as seen by the big box office of the Avengers earlier this summer. The problem is it worked too well and now all of us fanboys want more. The rational ones understand that because of rights and contracts and studio bullshit that it will always be a struggle to bring the previously sold properties into the fold of the Avengers; like Spidey, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, X-Men etc. And this just bums us out. As fun as it was watching this movie I couldn't help but want to see Stark Industries on some of the trucks or when Connors was working on his serum a part of me wished he had mentioned that super soldier serum that created Captain America. It sounds silly I know but it's part of why I like comic books. I love the characters but I love the Universe and now more than ever it's important for Marvel and the people that make Marvel movies especially ones not within the Avengers Universe that they could all make a shit load more money and fan support if they would drop all of this legal shit and let the whole thing exist in every Marvel film. I know it's a pipe dream but one can always hope.

Grade: 4 buckets

Thursday, July 05, 2012


Took the family to see Brave this past weekend, it was a scorcher outside so it was perfect timing to get out of the blistering heat. Nathan really enjoyed the trailers I was showing him leading up to the flick and I was pretty sure he was going to get into it like most Pixar movies. Tamar and I however were skeptical especially cause this plot seemed a little boring for Pixar. A Princess running from her destiny, been there done that. But this is Pixar and they can make the mundane or normal magical, right?

Teenaged Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is not interested in courtship, not one bit, she'd rather shoot arrows, ride her horse or get into a bit of mischief. Her Mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), is fighting her tooth and nail to get her to fall in line and do her Princess duties by taking a husband and she isn't to be denied, apparently. Her father King Fergus (Billy Connolly) hosts a tournament where the other clans can come and compete for her hand. Merida decides to take off from that scene. She comes across a goofy witch (Julie Walters) who grants Merida a spell to change her Mother--and of course everything goes horribly wrong. Merida now has to fix the disaster that she has caused before the spell becomes permanent.

As with all Pixar flicks I wanted to love this movie, the landscapes of Scotland were absolutely gorgeous, it looked like a travelogue, but this isn't an ad for Fodor's, and this is where the problems begin. You would think with the time period and the lush scenery that there was a great folk tale here. Unfortunately this has to be the most unimaginative plot Pixar has tackled yet, it was predictable and was lacking in the script. Although I did find real attachment to some of these characters especially Fergus and Elinor, the Witch and even Merida even though she was a bit obnoxious and whiny for the first half of the story. The little brothers were cute but they didn't serve much of a purpose to the plot except to get into trouble and, well, look cute. There were glimpses of the signature Pixar characters with some of the background characters like one of the clansmen who is incomprehensible it sort of reminded me of Brad Pitt in Snatch. Otherwise this felt like a safely plotted film with well made characters moseying into Cars 2 territory. It's not as bad as that movie but it's hovering. There is a movie coming out ironically that looks more like a Pixar film than this one, Wreck-It Ralph, but it's being made by Disney Animation. Why couldn't have Pixar made that movie? Well it's water over the bridge for now, but you are on notice Pixar. If I see one more of these Disney-controlled Princess stories I'm not taking my kid to anymore of your movies.  That's almost a promise, you got that Pixar? Anyway, take your kid to see it if they want, there isn't going to be as much for you although they did do a great job as always with these characters. And Nathan really did enjoy it although we may have traumatized him a bit with that giant scary Bear. I would recommend not taking the kid under 5 to see it in 3D unless you want them cowering under their seat. The kid was scared enough in 2D I'd hate to see what he'd do if it was in his face in 3D, nightmares for weeks and no sleep for you.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Kid Grade: 3 Buckets (Could have been 4 if it wasn't for that scary bear!)

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Finally after weeks and weeks I got a chance to go and see the not-Prequel prequel to the Alien series directed by Sir Ridley Scott. My buddy Cody saw it opening weekend and has been dying a little every week that went by that I hadn't seen it because he was deeply frustrated by it. Having seen it myself I would have to concur. Let's just get started cause this is going to take some time.

Prometheus is the story of a group of scientists sent on a deep space expedition to discover the origins of mankind that were depicted on cave walls in Scotland thousands of years previously. The year is 2089 and archeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her husband Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make the discovery of a lifetime as they make preparations to travel to the planet where the first humanoids decided to concoct us out of the goo. The married couple is joined by a crew on the spaceship Prometheus. The Captain is a good ole' boy, Janek (Idris Elba). The cold hearted Corporate shill, Vickers (Charlize Theron), a bunch of geologists and biologists and a couple of soldiers and the most important character in the story, the android David (Michael Fassbender).

So that's basically the premise and the characters go through a series of trials to see the plot through, the only problem through all the breathtaking scenery and fantastic acting is at times a nonsensical script with bits of brilliance as well as mind numbingly dumb decisions by so-called scientists. The first hour is pretty great mostly cause it's all Fassbender and you get a sense about David and what makes him tick. He definitely has an agenda throughout the film but it's not always clear exactly whose agenda he is following. David wakes the crew from the cryo-sleep and the ship eventually lands on the strange planet. With the help of the scientists they locate the origin of the pictures on the cave walls. The married couple are so excited they don't take the Captain's advice about waiting till morning to explore they want to get the fuck out there to see where we all came from. For scientists they are not very cautious, which is in my mind, problem number 1. Anyway, they get to the room that looks pretty similar to the room in Alien where all the horrid nightmares of Aliens popping out of your body come true. Everything, understandably, is dead and Charlie and Lizzie are sad. Apparently Charlie wanted to have a chat with his creators and now that they are all dead he decides to drown his sorrow with the bottle. What kind of intelligent scientist is this guy? Once they are inside the structure on the planet he does a little scan and it tells him that the air is breathable, so he just takes his helmet off despite the objections from pretty much everybody. This guy really likes to take a lot of unnecessary risk. So his wife takes some samples and discovers that the creatures are DNA matches for humans and he doesn't seem to give a shit he's still disappointed that they are all dead. Again, what kind of scientist is this guy? I wanted to like this guy I really did but he did so many illogical things for a scientist that he ended up just pissing me off half the time. His motivations for pretty much everything he does are all over the place which unfortunately have to hit back at the writer of this thing and I'm squarely putting it on writer Damon Lindelof's shoulders.

Lizzie is just as bad at times and I also thought of all of the actors that were miscast it was Noomi Rapace, I'm not sure what Hollywood likes about her so much but so far I haven't been that impressed. She was annoying in Sherlock Holmes 2 and she's annoying in this one. I'll admit I have never seen her Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series, maybe she's better in films overseas but she just seems so out of place here especially when she's in scenes with Fassbender, he just runs circles around her. She isn't the only one however who tend to do annoying things either to serve the plot or for no particular reason at all. There are two scientists in particular who initially seem to be the most with it intelligence-wise when the team reaches the before mentioned nightmare room. Everyone else thinks it's a cool place to hang out but these guys are rightfully creeped out by it and when the suggestion comes up to leave and head back to the ship they are the first to say, good god yes! Anyway so for some inexplicable reason everyone else makes it back to the ship and these guys are wandering around in these vast tunnels and they are now stranded there until morning. By the way one of these guys is a geologist and when they first got there was tasked with mapping the damn caves in the first place. How the hell did he get so lost? They decide to go back to the room that creeped them out initially and not only hang out there but camp out for the night. So now the Biologist who seems skeptical of everything starts treating any life form they come upon as a cute little puppy that is until it does something horrifying like try to worm it's way into his suit. It's characterization like this that is maddening because it doesn't seem to serve any damn purpose except to say holy shit here is where some bad stuff is going down but please don't pay attention to the writer behind the curtain.
These kinds of character flaws are peppered throughout the film and the further down the rabbit hole we go the worse these flaws seem to get. Which brings me to the founder of the expedition the mysterious and very old Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) who sort of shows up near the end, and like his companions, makes some very odd decisions. One point I wanted to speak about why was Guy Pearce chosen for this role? I mean they went through all of this trouble to make him old and then nothing really seems to come of it. We don't ever see young Guy Pearce in the movie so I don't quite understand why they couldn't have just gotten an actually old actor like James Cromwell or somebody. He's a great actor who is old and could play this role ably. Anyway it was weird and what he does in the movie is weird but I won't give that away.
So in conclusion, was this a total shitshow? The answer is no but it wasn't very good either. I truly wanted to love this movie and was denied at every turn. I think it's even worse when you realize how good it could and should have been. They answer all of these questions you had from Alien and it gets into the origin of the Aliens and the space jockey but by the time they tell it I'm too pissed off at the direction this thing went to really care about these revelations. The direction from Ridley Scott was fantastic as was the the acting. In the end it all comes back to the script and those characters and they just didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. Other than David the only other character I really enjoyed was Janek and they gave him almost nothing to do in the movie. If it were someone other then Elba he would have disappeared in the film as another expendable stock character. I also wanted to like Charlize's character but it took too long for her to come around and frankly she has one of the worst, um, end scenes of any character in recent memory. Just terrible. So I recommend you see the movie because there is so much to talk about, the only thing is there isn't that much positive stuff to talk about. It brings up some fanciful ideas and constructs but in the end renders it all pointless and that is almost unforgivable. I had heard that they wanted to turn these into a series of movies and I would have to say, I'm not sure if that's such a good idea. Give Damon Lindelof an editor and don't let him out of the room until he can construct characters in a believable way not just to serve the plot. There are good ideas here honestly they just get muddled and lost in a script that felt rushed and incomplete. Maybe this new series of Alien stories can be salvaged, I want to believe it can but Prometheus is kind of a bad start.
Grade: 2 and half Buckets