Thursday, June 21, 2012

Media Dump June 2012


Got a few more movies that I want to mention but not devote entire posts to.

OSS 117
I had this one in my Netflix queue forever and just got around to watching it a week or so ago. It’s definitely a comedy and a spoof of James Bond/spy movies, but much different from the Austin Powers series – which I still like, by the way.
Before you go in you should know that the whole movie is in French with subtitles, but it really adds to the humor. The main character is Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath and he thinks he is as cool as Sean Connery as James Bond. He starts the movie with zero awareness of what an absolute fucking toolbox he is. All of the tropes of 60’s-era James Bond are present, right down to the style of cinematography. This is truly a masterful spoof and Jean Dujardin is amazing. He is very much his own character, but there are times when you could swear you were looking at Sean Connery on the screen – little moments where the parody almost becomes homage.
The sexy female spy he teams up with – Dolores Koulechov – is played by Louise Monot and she is gorgeous. You really just can’t take your eyes off of her when she’s onscreen and she’s very good in her role besides that. Ms. Monot hasn’t really been in anything else that I’m aware of and that surprises me.
There are some other great supporting characters – an American spy that is a hilarious stereotype, Nazi bad guys, and (main guy)’s boss. But probably the highlight of the movie for me as far as neat little surprises was the presence of two luchadors-for-hire working for the bad guys. It was awesome.
I highly recommend you watch this movie as soon as you can. It’s a whole lot of fun; just be ready for some subtitles.
The Thing (2011)
When I first heard that they were making a prequel to one of the greatest horror movies of all time I was actually excited. It seemed perfectly acceptable to me that somebody wanted to tell the story of the Norwegian research station from the beginning of John Carpenter’s movie. As long as they kept the technology, music, and clothes in the right decade it could be really cool. I was not considering CGI when I thought about this. Why would anybody use CGI when so much was accomplished with practical effects in the original?
The casting seemed solid; there were no indications of a lack of quality when you saw names like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
But the movie totally sucked donkey balls. Rather than give us a new perspective on the alien or try and tell a different sort of story this movie rehashed almost exactly the same sort of events as the Carpenter movie, only with incredibly shitty CGI.
The practical effects looked great. A few of the plot points were actually pretty cool, like the alien just bursting out of the block of ice while Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s character was in the room. And I did enjoy the post-credits sequence that led directly to the opening scene of the original. The actors were all very good. I feel like they deserved a better movie.
So to sum up – blech. Skip this piece of crap. Watch Carpenter’s instead. This one is an utter waste of time.
Harry Brown
Michael Caine plays a former Royal Marine who has retired and moved to some British urban environment. His wife is in the hospital and failing and his best friend is going a little nuts because of the proliferation of young shitbags in the area. Things get really bad and Caine’s character decides he’s going to have to Take Care of Business.
Harry Brown is sort of a classier, more artful, and very British version of Death Wish. I don’t want to give any more away than what I’ve said – just watch this one when you can.

Prometheus
I really wanted to talk about this movie after I saw it. This did not translate into wanting to write a review, as it turned out. Here’s how far I got into that before I decided it just wasn’t something that was working as a one-sided conversation for me:
“Obviously there are going to be some spoilers in this. I’m not even entirely sure how much of a review this is going to be because I really want to discuss the movie more than I want to just talk at you about it.
Prometheus made me think and that’s one of the best things I could say about a movie. It has stayed with me for days after and caused me to seek out people who have seen it so that I can exchange ideas about it. In this way it was extremely successful. I enjoy plenty of movies, but very few make me actually use my brain.
Before I get into any of the aspects of the plot I want to be sure and mention the music. From the very beginning of Prometheus I was struck by how elegant and engaging the score was. That’s kind of all I have to say about it, but the music truly was fantastic. There was no industrial “CHOOM”-ing, no choral stuff (which is fine in some cases but distracting in others), and no guitar riffing. It was perfect for the movie.
Okay, so the movie opened with a (seemingly) male humanoid standing near a waterfall. No explanation of who he was or where he might be. He opens up a container, drinks from it, almost instantly develops a black discoloration that disintegrates his body, plunges into the water, and dissolves. Then the word “Prometheus” appears in a fashion that should be very familiar to any fans of the Alien franchise.
That’s it. No dialogue, no explanation of what the heck is going on. Just that sequence and the beautiful music accompanying it.
The next scene is identified as happening in Scotland. We are introduced to our protagonist, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace). Those of you who are fans of Doctor Who might recognize that name. It belonged to one of Doctor Three’s companions. I can’t help but assume this was an intentional nod. There are no coincidences in science fiction.
Dr. Shaw and her boyfriend are examining cave paintings that depict giant beings pointing towards round objects in the sky - a very specific constellation. This is very exciting for them because they have found similar – extremely similar – cave paintings from different civilizations across the world. Their interpretation of the images in the paintings is that the giant beings are telling them to come visit.
Naturally the Weyland Corporation (not yet Weyland-Yutani) sponsors the trip which, as you might imagine, does not go as planned.
One of the central themes of Prometheus is faith. Dr. Shaw has faith that the way she has interpreted things is correct. Over the course of the movie her faith is tested. The outcome of the narrative is largely up to the audience, many of whom I do not feel came to the same conclusions that I did.
The ship that carries Dr. Shaw and her team to their destination is named Prometheus. The ship’s crew consists of Dr. Shaw and her boyfriend (who is a scientist of some sort and very much a douchebag), captain Idris Elba, Weyland representative Charlize Theron, and some biologists and geologists and random science folk. Not a salvage crew, but not Colonial Marines, either.
Also on the ship is David. David is played by Michael Fassbender, who does a tremendous impersonation of a creepy android. The living crew of the Prometheus are in suspended animation for a little over two years during their trip to the specified constellation. During this time David is riding a bike, playing basketball, watching Lawrence of Arabia, dyeing his hair to look like the aforementioned Lawrence, and watching everybody’s dreams. WATCHING EVERYBODY’S DREAMS. This is just as creepy as you are thinking it is. The sequence of David’s shenanigans starts with him viewing Dr. Shaw’s dreams of her childhood with her father – played by Nite Owl – who was apparently a missionary of some sort. In the dream, she is watching tribes people from some squalid little third-world country on Earth bury one of their own. Young Ms. Shaw asks her father what’s up with their crazy primitive ways and he says they don’t believe the same things about the afterlife that we do. When she wants to know how he knows what’s right he says you gotta have faith.
(video here)
After that David withdraws from his heinous invasion of privacy and runs all over the ship like Billy from The Family Circus. Then an alarm sounds and we get an absolutely awesome sequence of Charlize Theron doing push-ups while wearing gauze undergarments. I heard somewhere that this scene was also shot with Theron nude and I’d like to file a complaint about it being re-shot.
Anyway, the alarm signified the ship’s arrival. Everybody wakes up and we get a segment of hologram Mr. Weyland (played by Guy Pearce under makeup that didn’t even look as good as what the guys on Jackass use) explaining why everybody is there and who’s in charge. He then introduces Dr. Shaw and her boyfriend and the pair explain about the cave paintings. Also, there is an Irish geologist who is obnoxious. You just know he’s going to die badly.”
I honestly didn’t feel like being all clever with this one like I normally am for my reviews and I didn’t feel like doing a recap, either. I just wanted to talk about it.
Prometheus is a stunning, thought-provoking, and massively flawed movie. This does not mean it isn’t worthwhile. As a matter of fact it is the one movie I have seen this year that I would consider a must-see and also the one I am most excited about watching again. It’s weird and beautiful. If you get too caught up in all the illogical stuff you’re not going to enjoy it, but if you can get past the massive number of things that just do not make sense then I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
Here are a couple of other posts that either do a better job of discussing it than I do or just give you a bit more information:
I guess it comes down to the many different ways Prometheus looks at faith. The thing you have to remember when looking at the movie and all of the information it throws at you – not to mention the HUGE lack of information – is that everything we know about the Engineers is told to us by humans who might not know what the fuck they’re talking about. It’s all theory. If you as an audience member choose to have faith in the scientists and what they believe that’s up to you.
Another interesting plot point is how the scientists take the existence of the Engineers as proof that God does not exist. Obviously this is silly. Without even getting into the dispute over whether or not there is a God, the Engineers and their DNA only prove that there is another species with DNA very similar to ours. It doesn’t even prove that the Engineers made us. Again, this is all speculation from the humans in the movie.
I’ll definitely buy this one when it does come out on Blu Ray.
Speaking of Blu Ray, Prometheus prompted me to finally sit down and go through the immense number of special features on the Aliens collection I bought recently. I’ve seen the deleted scenes on most of them before, but I have apparently never listened to the commentaries. They’re fantastic and it is fascinating to hear Ridley Scott discuss the earliest plans for Prometheus with Sigourney Weaver on the Alien commentary. Also, I enjoyed Alien: Resurrection a lot more than I thought I would. It’s still very odd and different from the rest of the series, but it’s very entertaining in its own right.
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed Prometheus quite a bit. I have read other reviews and people who have just ripped the thing to shreds, but really a lot of the stuff they complained about did not particularly bother me.

    The best thing to come out of Prometheus is it got me more interested in the Alien movies in general, so I bought that Anthology Blu Ray set. They're awesome. I still found Alien 3 pretty depressing (I had not seen it since it originally came out in theaters), and it was the first time I ever saw Resurrection. Sure it's not a great film, but I found it very entertaining.

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  2. I still can't wait to see Prometheus again. I might even make a second trip to the theater.

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