FLIGHT …Zemeckis’ latest…
The Alien franchise hasn’t done very well, at least critically, since David Fincher took on the directing role for Alien 3. Alien: Resurrection and the Alien Vs. Predator flicks certainly didn’t do the franchise any favours. So, it’s with good reason that Ridley Scott’s sort-of-prequel to his strongly influential sci-fi film Alien has been so highly anticipated since Fox announced their idea back in 2009. After many false starts the long awaited flick has finally arrived in the form of Prometheus.
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe they have located a planet that contains the origins of mankind. Once their team arrives on said planet what they find is more horrific than any of them could imagine.
Ridley Scott has assembled one hell of a cast. Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce are all fantastic but it’s Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender that really carry the film. A long way from her turn as Lisbeth Salander in the Milllenium Trilogy, Noomi Rapace is fantastic in an emotional and highly physical performance that rivals that of Sigourney Weaver’s in the original Alien. Michael Fassbender matches her skills in a difficult role that slowly reveals it’s importance throughout the film.
Scott’s Alien was a genuine sci-fi horror film whilst James Cameron’s Aliens leaned more towards the action genre. Prometheus lands somewhere in the middle and doesn’t completely satisfy the horror tones it so promises. The first half of the film takes its time carefully developing its characters and establishing its surroundings. The second half is where the horror/action kicks in. Whilst this half contains some truly spectacular moments it also happens to be where the film’s weak points begin to show.
As usual, these type of films work better when there is more unknown. It’s when the explanations start being revealed that the plot loses some of its initial impact. Also, it feels like the film has been cut down quite a bit. It seems as though there are clues scattered throughout the film of what was initially planned. Certain scenes throw up questions such as: why have Guy Pearce playing his particular role and why, of all people, does Patrick Wilson play Shaw’s father in such a small scene?
Once the first few characters die the movie begins to feel a bit rushed as it speeds towards its final act. It needed to slow down these “horror” scenes to really get the nerves worked up.
These concerns stand out due to the fact that Prometheus really is a damn good film. Ridley Scott is one of the finest directors around and he shows off his talent with some incredible sequences (Shaw’s self-operation is bound to go down as a classic moment). There’s plenty of talent on display here. Arthur Max’s production design is top-notch, Marc Streitenfeld’s score is suitably exciting and Pietro Scalia’s editing is masterful. The special effects are fantastic and its great to see a director using models and physical effects instead of just resorting to CGI.
Fans of the Alien series will love seeing the origins of one of cinemas most famous creatures. Certain questions are left unanswered and the ending allows for a sequel so one would assume a refreshed franchise is in order. Prometheus is an intense and exciting flick from one of cinemas true masters. It isn’t as scary or as creepy as one would hope but its definitely one of the most thrilling science-fiction films to come out in recent years.
Men In Black 3
A suprisingly entertaining and quirky entry into the Men In Black series. Josh Brolin is fantastic as a young Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is likeable as usual. It’s refreshingly creative, fun and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is.
The latest Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration isn’t as good as one would hope. There’s a good sense of fun that runs throughout but there isn’t a lot new here. It’s beautifully filmed with Burton’s usual visual flourishes that his fans have come to love but there’s little else to peak interest levels. Johnny Depp is amusing and Eva Green is great but the dull screenplay fails to make Dark Shadows anything more than some mild entertainment.
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino’s latest is set to be released January 2013.
AMOUR…Michael Haneke’s latest has just won the Palme d’or (Best Film) at Cannes…
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy effort doesn’t follow the candid, reality based style of his previous two films (Borat and Bruno). Instead, he’s gone for a more formulaic approach and given his latest character a straight-forward, adult comedy.
Cohen’s latest creation is Aladeen, a dictator from the middle eastern country of Wadiya. Yeah, the Middle East. So, cue a million jokes of the racial kind aimed at ridiculing stereotypes and racists whilst creating more stereotypes and being racist. The jokes that run throughout are meant to offend and some of them truly hit the mark. It’s not meant to be taken seriously but Cohen’s political and social commentary seems as though it wants to be taken very seriously. A little more subtlety would have helped some of the films points hit home.
This is an “adult” comedy but there isn’t much in it that kids and teenagers don’t joke about. There’s crude humour by the bucket load. It aims to push the boundaries but we’ve seen a lot of this type of “humour” before. Not that it doesn’t have some funny parts. Cohen has great comic timing and some sequences are so over the top that you can’t help but laugh at it and with it.
Director Larry Charles previously directed Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat and Bruno, and it seems as though he works better with the reality based format of those two films. The Dictator isn’t exactly well directed and the production seems to be lacking a certain creative spark that made his previous two films work so well. If you’ve seen the trailer than you have seen some of the films more successful punchlines. It’s not a very good film, but undemanding audiences should still have some laughs with this one.
The Five-Year Engagement
Jason Segal and Emily Blunt provide most of the charm and humour in this overly long romantic comedy. The ‘gross-out’ moments sit uncomfortably with it’s more serious tones and Nicholas Stoller’s (Get Him To The Greek) poor direction doesn’t help either. Still, Segal and Blunt are likable enough to help this film get by.
Jason Statham’s latest action flick is probably one of his least entertaining. Some decent action scenes are scattered throughout a poor storyline and some half-hearted acting. Action junkies should have some fun.
King Of Devil’s Island
This is based on a true story surrounding the events that took place in a Norwegian juvenile detention centre in the early 20th century. It’s a bleak, depressing story that benefits from some great acting, superb cinematography and strong direction. It has a matter-of-fact style of storytelling that, unfortunately, stops some of the drama from hitting hard.
Four Sydney friends go on holiday in Cambodia. Only three return. This is the simple premise that kicks of a story that delves into relationships, families, death and guilt. To give more of the story away would be telling too much.
Joel Edgerton gives one of his best performances in a multi-layered role that demands a level of emotional honesty that he more than delivers. He is perfectly matched by Felicity Price (who also co-wrote) and, in a smaller role, Teresa Palmer. It’s thanks to these three performances that the films emotional core resonates on such a strong level.
The film certainly takes its time telling its story. The Cambodian section of the story is told in small flashbacks that drops small hints of what may have happened to the missing member of the group, while in present-day Sydney we witness the emotional deterioration of the three main characters. Giving small bits of information at a time can often be frustrating but it works well here, ensuring that your interest is peaked throughout.
The entire film is beautifully shot with great cinematography by Jules O’Loughlin and confident direction by Kieran Darcy-Smith. Filming on location in Cambodia gives the film a level of realism that makes the events that take place there all the more powerful.
Writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith (a long-time actor) has crafted a solid drama/thriller that confidently weaves between being a thriller/mystery and a kitchen-sink drama. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but the films backbone lies in all the small nuances that make up the three main characters. It isn’t easy to see where the film is going, but once it arrives at its destination your left both satisfied and affected.
Joss Whedon is indeed the man of the hour. He’s had a long career that’s reached varying levels of success. He began as a writer on the classic TV show Roseanne and really made his mark creating and writing Buffy The Vampire Slayer for television (he had previously written the screenplay for the film in 1992). He’s co-written animated feature films such as Titan A.E., Atlantis: The Lost Empire and was nominated for an Oscar when he co-wrote Toy Story. After all that writing and after directing episodes of well known TV shows (Angel, The Office: US version, Dollhouse, Glee) his big screen directorial debut, Serenity, ensured that he’s fate was sealed.
With The Avengers he was given the unenviable task of ensuring that one of the biggest comic book movies of all time was good enough and big enough to match the hype. So, to the point then: is it any good? The answer is a resounding YES.
The special effects are, of course, fantastic. There isn’t much point praising the visual effects in movies like this. Throw enough money around and you can generally get some great looking explosions and CGI. The writing differentiates this from the usual Hollywood, effects-driven, superhero blockbuster. It’s quite a feat that Whedon's cracking screenplay manages to not only juggle the stories of so many important Marvel characters but it also manages to throw in big doses of humour and great dialogue throughout a cohesive story line. It's an impressive script.
It’s truly fun seeing these characters interact. Whether it be Tony Stark’s hilariously condescending remarks, Steve Rogers’ naive observations or Loki’s deliciously malevolent moments, The Avengers is a movie that works hard to make sure each character is represented fairly and adequately. Fan boys the world over should be having a field day.
The massive cast put their all into their respective roles. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemworth and Samuel L. Jackson, amongst others, are all back. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkey are both suitable and are more than capable of delivering great performances. Also, it’s a pleasure to say that The Hulk has finally been done right. Mark Ruffolo brings a great amount of depth to his limited screen time. He perfectly depicts a man who is struggling to maintain control of his curse/power whilst hating the very idea that he could be a hero.
The Avengers is one of those rare movies that doesn’t let it’s giant scope lose focus of what makes these type of films work. Sure, it’s silly and there’s a nice layer of cheese that makes you feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much, but hey - it’s a comic book flick. For a comic book movie, The Avengers stands up there with The Dark Knight as an excellent example of how to deliver a truly entertaining blockbuster.
P.S.: Stay through the credits.