Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Prometheus" and its ambitious reach

In Ridley Scott's ambitious "prequel" -or so its touted- of his 1979 Sci Fi classic Alien, Scott tackles the biggest question of all of humanity; our existence. In Prometheus the year is 2093 and a team of scientists journey through the universe on the spaceship "Prometheus"  to investigate Alien life forms, what they find is a possible answer to whom our creators might be. A question arises as the film's central theme, would we be greeted with hostility and violence if we ever had the chance to meet the creators that made us? It's deep, dark stuff that is handled with real intrigue by Scott and his screenwriters John Spaihts and Damon Lindeloff.  Think of it as The Tree Of Life for the summer blockbuster crowd, although Prometheus doesn't really need to be compared to Terrence Malick's masterpiece. That would only lead you to believe it is a whole other movie than it actually is. It isn't.

Scott stages the actions scenes remarkably well. He's always had a gift for creating character in a sea of action. Think of Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and -more recently- American Gangster. His films have wounded male characters who's lives are filled with violent pasts and presents. In Prometheus, male characters come and go but Scott creates a true action heroine for 2012 in Noomi Rapace. The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ignites the film with enough gas to fill a tank. She's dynamite and becomes a true heir to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the first two Alien films. The same brilliance can be attributed to Michael Fassbender who plays the deceiving android that accompanies the crew on their journey. The best compliment I can give Fassbender is that I forgot it was the actor just acting and actually did believe his David was a droid. The whole cast is solid and to reveal more plot would be to ruin Prometheus' dark surprises.

There are holes in Prometheus, its 124 minute running time is overdone and Scott doesn't always know when to stop. Yet its claustrophobic atmosphere is palpably intense. A mix of rich visuals and a thinking man's movie. The questions asked in the film don't all get answered and it infuriates just as much as it entertains. However the ambition of Prometheus is what makes it a solid blockbuster in a sea of muck. The ideas spin out of control and Scott's story somewhat gets out of hand but there's something refreshing about watching a summer movie with ideas. A concept that has not existed in any of the popcorn movies released thus far this summer. Come on, as if The Avengers had a deep layer of existential thought in its candy colored brain. Not that there's anything wrong with just wanting to entertain but sometimes a little extra thought would suffice along with the diversion. Prometheus has that, even when it sometimes misses its swing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Headhunters" brings the buzz

Headhunters is a Norwegian thriller that will make your head spin faster than a pop of ecstacy in the mouth.  We first meet Roger Brown - a solid Aksel Hennie.  During the day Roger is a top notch go-to headhunter for the rich and during the night a forging high art burglar. You see, Roger is actually close to going bankrupt and he wouldn't even dare say it to his hot, blonde, tall wife Lotte whom he thinks married him just for his millions. The plot thickens as Clas Greve is introduced to us via charm and charisma. Greve is a millionaire himself, having invented the GPS system in holland and basking in the riches of his invention. He owns a piece of high art at his new apartment that could be worth more than 100 million bucks. Brown sees this as an opportunity to commit the perfect heist yet he gets more than he bargains for in the process. I won't spoil anything else for you except to say that Headhunters - directed with sly wit by Morten Tyldum - bites more than it can chew and overloads on subplots near its closing. Its disappointing second half can't match its sexy, hypnotic first half. Nevertheless this is more than solid entertainment if you are capable to suspend your disbelief.

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