Lincoln

Lincoln Steven Spielberg is quite possibly America’s most recognizable director. His career spans decades and has produced some of the most memorable films and characters in American cinematic history. Nonetheless, his prominent status has caused skeptics to write him off as superficial, crowd-pleasing, overly melodramatic, and at times corny. These attacks on Spielberg are not always unwarranted, however, his body of work is mostly impeccable and, at times, avant-garde. With Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s 31st film as director, Spielberg focuses on the 16th president’s chaotic battle to pass the 13th amendment. While the battle to make the film was also rigorous, it seems that the final product is worthy of both battles.

Daniel Day-Lewis once again disappears into his role, playing Abraham Lincoln in such a way that it is hard to imagine anyone else capable of playing this historical figure. Day-Lewis plays the part with a quiet confidence. Lincoln’s voice is portrayed with a surprisingly warm, high registered tone. This is apparently, historically accurate and is a nice touch. Spielberg seems to know what he has here and takes a subtler approach from the technical aspect, allowing Day-Lewis and a host of other A-List actors to propel the film. Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader are particularly good as Thaddeus Stevens and W.N. Bilbo, respectively. This subtlety from the director’s chair is a good decision, and while Spielberg’s approach is subtle, the film is complex. It doesn’t hurt that Oscar nominees and winners are in dozens of supporting roles, prompting a superior ensemble experience. Writer Tony Kushner adapts Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography expertly without losing any majesty. Kushner’s dialogue is Shakespearean at times and great importance is placed on what is said, not just who is saying it.

Lincoln wisely examines the final few months of the president’s life as he begins his second term. This is not a traditional bio-pic; it separates itself from the routine of that genre and simply tells a great story about a president who happens to live his life through a series of great stories. Lincoln’s political objective is to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery through the House of Representatives before the inauguration. This plan hinges on swaying lame-duck Democrats who are about to leave office to support his position. The film is truly an allegory for contemporary politics. It is very hard to watch Lincoln and not draw some pretty steep comparisons with the pageantry and stubbornness of today’s political landscape.

Most of Lincoln works very well. Lincoln the storyteller, Lincoln the lawyer, Lincoln the husband, and Lincoln the politician are explored evenly and with merit. The only major flaw comes when the film attempts to examine Lincoln the father. It is a well-known fact that Steven Spielberg has had some father issues. He often directs films with protagonists who have a dysfunctional relationship with their fathers. In Lincoln, this element is investigated through Lincoln’s relationship with his oldest son, Bob (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Unfortunately, this story is immensely under-developed and symbolically vapid. While Lincoln’s home life is deeply important to understanding the man, the misunderstanding between Lincoln and Bob leads to one mildly interesting scene that still would have been mildly interesting even if Bob was not a part of it. Regardless of Bob’s significance, the conflict between father and son seems thrown together compared to the more pressing conflicts in the film, resulting in a missed opportunity.

Meanwhile, Lincoln offers plenty for history buffs to sink their teeth into, and yet the story is accessible to all audiences. Spielberg takes some narrative chances to use unknown history to make well-known history compelling and interesting, especially in the film’s final act. This is Spielberg’s finest effort in some time. All in all, we are given a portrait of a very great man, and we are reminded of what qualities make a man great. A-

Life of Pi

ImageFirst of all, if you like to enjoy a film in its purest and unanticipated sense, just know Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is a spectacular cinematic experience. Now stop reading and go see it. For the rest of you, prepare yourself for The People’s Critic to convince you that you should find a two-hour break in your day to go see this movie.

Ang Lee has been one of those directors who can shatter cultural bias and stereotype and make films that cut to the bone of virtually any genre, culture, or philosophy. A Taiwanese filmmaker, Lee disappears into his material like no other filmmaker. His personal stamp on a film is simply that he gets it right. The Ice Storm revealed his ability to poetically peel the layers off of the American suburban lifestyle and reveal some of the chaos that lies beneath the calm, picturesque surface. His adaptation of Jane Austen’s Victorian Romance Sense and Sensibility was pitch perfect. Additionally he has shown a steady hand at vividly visual genre films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain. These films bare little resemblance to each other, except that they “get it right.” Furthermore, no better example for Lee’s “getting it right” can be given than his adaptation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.

Life of Pi is a narrative framed by Pi as an adult(Ifran Kahn) telling his story to a writer. This frame story can be summed up by paraphrasing a quote by the writer who says he’s a Canadian who went to French-India looking for a story only to find there’s an Indian in French-Canada with a story to tell. The film then transports us back to French-India in the late 1970s where Pi(now played by Suraj Sharma) begins an epic tale of self-discovery.

Now, clearly most viewers will be eagerly awaiting the story of the guy on a boat with a tiger, but this film is much more than this. It is a religious film, but it does not preach. Instead, it takes into consideration all of the ideas, beliefs, doubts, and misconceptions that exist and simply tells a story. Do not overlook or underestimate the film’s opening act; the setup is as rewarding as the visual magnificence that is to follow. Needless to say, it is the visual effects and cinematic beauty that will doubtless be the conversation surrounding Life of Pi and deservedly so. From the moment the map of the Mariana Trench appears on the screen, hold on to your seats! No film, including Avatar, has achieved this level of visual grandeur with 3D technology. What is more, Life of Pi exists right here on our own planet. Lee’s careful precision as a director, takes full advantage of every opportunity to amaze the audience with wonder.

Inevitably, Pi does find himself in the unique situation of living on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. However, this is all that is unique about it. Many films have explored the survivor element of what the limits of human endurance are. What allows Pi to rise above those is the spiritual depth that is created from the film’s opening act and the awe-inspiring visual effects that are second to none.

Life of Pi is a low-key masterpiece. It sneaks up on you and while not complicated, welcomes multiple viewings. The opening credits depicting animals happily living in captivity holds new meaning after experiencing the film for the first time. Lee presents a very enjoyable and thought-provoking version of Martel’s widely admired source material. It was said that Life of Pi was one of those unfilmable stories- that it can exist in the mind of the reader and nowhere else. Lee has proven those skeptics incorrect; however, this film is more than a companion or adaptation of the novel. It has surpassed that into something much more special and distinctive. A

Flight

Director Robert Zemeckis has given us the latest “disaster” movie. In the case of Flight however, Zemeckis’ first live-action film since 2000’s Cast Away, this is less the Die Hard kind of “disaster” and more the Leaving Las Vegas type. Zemeckis is a well-known director, whose films have peppered the pop-culture lexicon for the past 35 years. He is a pioneer who took Marty McFly Back to the Future, taught Forrest to run in Forrest Gump, and broke new ground in live-action/animation film making with films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beowulf, The Polar Express, and A Christmas Carol. This year, Zemeckis showcases his craft with a strong character study of a disturbed pilot in Flight.

The intensity and effectiveness of Flight rests on the shoulders of its star, Denzel Washington, and it turns out Denzel Washington has some pretty strong shoulders. Washington dives head first into the character of pilot Whip Whitaker (a classic “pilot” name). Whitaker is a closeted addict, shrouded in denial. He routinely drinks to excess and uses stimulants to even out before flights. His lifestyle has cost him virtually any relationship or contact with his wife and son and has led him down the path of womanizing and heavy substance abuse as a desperate form of distraction.

Flight sets out to tell a story of moral ambiguity. Its protagonist is one who tests the ethical boundaries of the audience where at one moment we are rooting for him and the next, we are disgusted by him. This ambiguity fuels the pace and power of the film, and makes its 138 minute running time literally “fly” by. Washington is excellent, but Zemeckis is precise in his style, editing, and (yes, Pam and Eric) in his cinematography. Washington makes us see Whitaker’s struggle, but Zemeckis makes us feel it with expert use of camera movements, showing us a static sober Whitaker and a flowing, frantic intoxicated Whitaker. The crash sequence is compelling and exceeds expectations, regardless of its assumed predictability. These nuanced touches make Flight deeply engaging and provide for some harrowingly primal audience reaction.

Furthermore, Washington’s stellar performance is complemented at every turn with a pitch perfect supporting cast including Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman (who is 2 for 2 with electric supporting roles this year with Flight and Argo). While the performances and the story are excellent, Flight does not accomplish all it is trying to do. A motif of religious purpose and providence feels crow barred in. Also, while excellent, the soundtrack is a bit heavy-handed in its relevance to what’s happening on the screen, which can be distracting. However, these are minor quibbles. Overall, Flight is an excellent narrative that explores the dangers of addiction in an impressively unique way. This is a strong film that expertly demonstrates the talent of its cast and director. A-

Towards the beginning of Ben Affleck’s latest film, Argo, make-up artist John Chambers, played by John Goodman, says to CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck), “Even a Rhesus Monkey can direct a movie.” This type of tongue-in-cheek word play signifies a new, and deserved, confidence from the actor turned auteur. Argo is formulaic at best in terms of Chris Terrio’s screenplay, but its Affleck’s direction and the performances from his cast that raise Argo above the bar he set with his previous film, The Town.

Argo is set during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, when a group of Iranian militant revolutionaries storm the US embassy in 1979. However, this film actually recounts a previously unknown and confidential story of six Americans who escaped the embassy and were given sanctuary by the Canadian ambassador. These six are in a unique and treacherous situation of being unknown escapees who, if caught, could be made examples of by irate militants without complicating the heavily observed hostage crisis at the US embassy. Their story becomes the focal point of Argo as the White House, State Department, and CIA all spitball ideas on how to rescue these six trapped Americans before they are discovered by the Iranians. Eventually they settle on a long-shot idea from Mendez, which involves posing the escapees as a film crew scouting locations in Iran for a fake movie by the name of Argo. Terrio’s screenplay does a great job of building tension in all the right places, but it does so in a sort of Screenwriting-101 kind of way. In other words, it’s predictable.

Regardless of predictability, Argo is a deeply involving film. Just because we laugh when we’re supposed to laugh, and we cry when we’re supposed to cry, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. Instead, Argo is a perfect team effort. At its heart, there is a tremendously powerful and amazing story told in an uncomplicated way, which is just what every good movie needs at its core. Additionally, it is expertly cast with terrific performances from John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, and Alan Arkin who steals scenes as the cantankerous Lester Siegel. Arkin and Goodman head up the fake film studio needed to validate Mendez’s plan to disguise the escaped hostages as a film crew. Here, the film adds an enjoyable layer of film-geek enthusiasm. Finally, Affleck outdoes himself as director. Argo has a deliberate and even pace, some historically iconic staging, and camera work that enhances the tone of the film. In fact, Affleck even shows some side-by-side comparisons between historical photos and some shots from his film in the closing credits. His attention to detail brings dimension and realism to the film in a time where real decisions had to be made without the luxury of our modern digital age.

Argo is the first great movie of the fall season and delivers as both a historical snapshot and an edge-of-your-seat thriller. This is a very strong effort that succeeds beyond any Rhesus Monkey’s wildest expectations. A-

Looper

Every fall season a movie comes along that lacks the hype and pandering for an audience. Instead, it is released and looks to succeed by word of mouth. Last year that film was the still under-appreciated Drive; this year my top contender is Looper.

Looper begins by introducing us to Joe, a barely recognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt who performs the title task as a “Looper.” Looper is a time-travel story, but roots itself firmly in a mostly-recognizable version of the near future. The only major difference is that time travel is invented soon after the present setting of the film, which allows for a somewhat confusing, but well executed, original story. Loopers are hired guns who kill for a futuristic mob that sends their hits 30 years into the past before time travel was invented. This allows for mob enemies to simply disappear in their present time and be disposed of in an earlier time when they wouldn’t be investigated. Loopers are paid well to shoot first, ask no questions, and most of all be punctual as hits will suddenly appear in a predetermined location at an exact time. Allowing a “loop” to “run” results in some very unsavory consequences. The downside to Looping is that one day, every Looper’s loop must close, which means the future version of yourself will be sent back for immediate execution. When this happens, a Looper gets a big final pay day and 30 years to enjoy it before the inevitable.

The premise for this film is imaginative and dealt with in a surprisingly cohesive way by director Rian Johnson. As with all great time-travel films, rules must be established so that the viewer may understand exactly what the limits are within these multiple dimensions. I provided a short discussion about some classic time travel theories in a previous blog post that you can read here. In short, this particular film’s view is similar to the Back to the Future variety where you can co-exist with multiple versions of yourself and events that affect the younger version will also impact the later version. Thus, when Joe finds himself face to face with his older self, played by Bruce Willis, he inadvertently allows him to run. However, Willis’ character can not simply run since he knows the consequences against Gordon-Levitt will affect him too.

The story’s arc is much more far-reaching and complex than a cat-mouse chase between alternate versions of Joe. As we learn more about Joe’s future from Bruce Willis, our sympathies are toyed with and our moral centers are jarred endlessly. Johnson’s screenplay and direction provide powerful and conflicting motivations for both characters, making the movie deeply engaging and surprisingly fresh. Additional story lines regarding a futuristic crime boss (Jeff Daniels), a fellow Looper (Paul Dano), and farmhouse mother and her son (Emily Blunt and an Oman-esque Pierce Gagnon, respectively) all flesh out this film and give it real dimension and pragmatism, regardless of its sci-fi, time travel plot.

Looper is a tightly wound, entertaining film that has something for everyone to enjoy. There is a slight dragging feeling at the close of its second act, but this perceived lull is making way for a strong and dominant conclusion. In summary, this review only touches on the surface of what Looper accomplishes; there are multiple surprises in store for all audiences who see it, so let the word of mouth begin! A-

Nashville

NashvilleDirector: Robert Altman

Writer: John Tewkesbury

Cast: Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Geraldine Chaplin, Henry Gibson, Shelley Duvall, and Lily Tomlin

I recently saw Nashville and feel that it is an important movie and has sort of been forgotten over time. Nashville is Robert Altman’s epic study of American culture, politics, religion, and show business. Altman explores the shallowness of American life, the emptiness of politics, the superficiality of religion, and the pure commercialism of show business by following the inter-twined lives of twenty-four characters during a five-day period in Nashville, Tennessee. These themes not only serve as guidelines to appreciating Nashville, but also they are themes vital and present in American society. Powerful and poetic imagery, style, and use of many aural and visual hallmarks aid the expression of these themes that Altman has developed throughout his history as a filmmaker.

The beginning of the film immediately introduces the audience to two of these themes: commercialism and political emptiness. The opening credits to the film are in the style of a stereotypical hard sell television commercial for a country/western album of “twenty-four of your very favorite stars.” The screen is full of attention getting devices with constant movement of images and words in all different directions symbolizing the confusion and uncertainty that the American public constantly faces. Altman’s brilliant trademark use of sound comes into play here as he overlaps at least three layers of sound during this sequence. All at once the audience hears music, lyrics, and the announcer confusing the viewer as to what he or she should be listening. This feeling of confusion is echoed when the announcer making this obviously commercialistic sales pitch ironically says, “… twenty-four, count’em, twenty-four of your very favorite stars…right before your very eyes without commercial interruption,” implying that what he is saying is not “commercial interruption.” After the opening credits, the film opens at the headquarters of the independent (Replacement Party) candidate Hal Philip Walker. Several of the stereotypes that go with politics are present: his truck is red, white, and blue, the slogan is “New Roots for the Nation,” a very general and empty political statement. However, once his voice is heard over the loud speaker, the audience is introduced to an obviously anti-establishment, anti-bureaucracy campaign. Also important to this scene are the obvious abundance of signs and billboards scattered all around the street. Here Altman actually puts the two themes of commercialism and politics against each other. Walker’s campaign van is just part of a sea of commercialism all competing for the attention of the viewer.

Probably the most important theme and message that Altman tries to illustrate is the shallowness of modern American culture. Altman does not say that all of America is shallow, but he tells the audience that this particular view is quite present in society. He personifies this view with Opal (Geradine Chaplin), a BBC reporter who is working on a documentary about (what else?) American culture. Altman uses Opal to relay this view because, as a journalist, she is part of the media where much of the world gets its information and creates its own views about life and society. Unfortunately and ironically, Opal is completely clueless about this subject and there are several instances in the film that make the audience aware of this fact. The first and most obvious instance is that Opal is British. A foreign or “alien” female character is a common element in several of Altman’s films (The Player, Mccabe and Mrs. Miller). Altman uses foreigners to play certain roles in his films, when he wants to create a distance between those characters and the world around them. Opal is completely oblivious to the reality of the society around her. She is constantly drawn toward the fake glitzy surface of American culture like when she interrupts Haven’s son, Buddy’s, song at Haven’s party to go talk to Elliot Gould, a famous actor. She thus denies Buddy his chance to sing, and her chance to report the reality of being the son of a superstar. Another way Opal personifies the shallowness of American culture is during the scene outside the recording booth, where a black gospel choir is being led enthusiastically by white gospel singer Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin). Opal, instead of appreciating this particular American music style, immediately asks if Linnea is a missionary and then exaggerates the situation to the point where she sees the black singers as “tribalistic.” This is an amazingly shallow statement and symbolizes the presence of racism in modern society. Yet another example of Opal’s personification takes place in the big traffic jam sequence. Opal describes the pile up using her own cliches saying that she “saw a leg sticking out,” or “It’s America. Those cars smashing into each other and all those mangled corpses.” She fails to recognize the truth of the situation and describes this small non-fatal pile up for the benefit of her own reporting. Instead, she makes it into a large gruesome crash which metaphors what she believes is “America.” One final example of how Opal represents a view of imperviousness to real evidence about the true nature and culture of America is during the assassination scene at the end of the film. During the tragic and symbolic assassination of Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakely), Opal momentarily steps away and misses the whole thing. She then must ask people around her “what happened,” confirming her neglect for what is going on around her. Altman shows this view of how some people are oblivious to what is actually happening around them to be one of valid concern.

There is one common theme that connects nearly every character in Nashville and that is religion. Religion in Nashville is very superficial and no one really seems to have a particularly strong grasp on his or her faith. Altman shows his careful craft of editing during the church scene where he crosscuts between four simultaneous Sunday services. In each of the services it seems that many of the characters treat church as just another performance. At Haven’s (Henry Gibson) service he stands in the choir and sings very egotistically and loudly. He is actually trying to show off and out-sing the church chorus. Linnea directs a gospel choir at her service and Tommy Brown (Timothy Brown) joins in from a pew separate from the choir as if he were doing a special performance for an audience. Lastly there is Barbara Jean’s service where she sings about herself, pouring her heart out in a slow emotional gospel tune. “ All of these characters hold a very superficial view of religion and take part in it only if they can be seen and heard.

Several of the other characters in the film are indirectly connected with religion. For example, in the scene directly preceding the church sequence, Tom (Keith Carradine) is shown in bed with his band mate, ironically named, Mary (Cristina Raines). Mary has her head on Tom’s chest as she mouths the words “I love you.” The camera slowly moves up and focuses on a Jesus-looking Tom with his long hair and short beard. Altman then cuts to a large stain glass portrait of Jesus Christ at one of the church services the next day. This ironic juxtaposition symbolizes sex versus salvation, again mocking true faith in religion. Another indirect religious connection is with Opal. After the church sequence the scene switches to an auto junkyard. The bells from the church can be heard faintly in the distance as the audience sees Opal rambling on about a pretentious religious meaning she is attempting to gather from a yard of rusty old cars: “I’m wandering in a graveyard. The dead here have no crosses nor tombstones nor wreaths to sing of their past glory, but lie in rotting, decaying, rusted heaps. Their innards ripped out by greedy vultures’ hands. Their vast, vacant skeletons sadly sighing to the sky. The rust on their bodies is the color of dried blood – dried blood. I’m reminded of, of an elephant’s secret burial ground. Yes…These cars are trying to communicate. Oh cars, are you trying to tell me something? Are you trying to convey to me some secret?” Opal, as always, makes no sense and definitely shows little knowledge about the subject of religion and salvation.

Robert Altman’s Nashville is a brilliant and poignant commentary on America that focuses on some of the more prevalent and common themes in society. Altman puts his own personal touch on these issues and themes and creates an epic critique of American ideals and integrity. A

Nashville is rated R and has a running time of 2 hours and 39 minutes.

The Dark Knight Rises

Dark Knight RisesDirector: Christopher Nolan

Screenwriters: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman

The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to one of the strongest trilogies in cinema history. There is so much to appreciate in this film. The menacing tone that lies beneath the surface of Gotham City is felt for all of its 165 minutes. Rises is set eight years after The Dark Knight. Gotham has cleaned up its act due to the events surrounding the false-martyrdom of the fallen “white knight,” Harvey Dent. Nolan uses this perfect atmosphere to resurrect (from the Lazarus pit?) a brilliantly executed return of the League of Shadows helmed by the extremely effective new villain, Bane. The historically epic mission of Ra’s Al Ghul is not complete, and so the battle over mankind’s capacity for redemption wages on. While the plot is engaging, and in my opinion – the best of the three, there is little use discussing it here. Film goers should avoid knowing much else about the events of this movie; in fact a “clean slate” is quite desirable for both the characters on the screen and the viewers in front of it.

Nolan may be slightly criticized for following a bit of a formula for his ambitious and ultra anticipated conclusion to his Batman series, but what a formula! Nolan introduces multiple new characters and effortlessly crafts his story in a way that gives them all their own moments, leaving us wanting even more and perhaps even a tear in our eyes. Veterans Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman each shine bright and make way as Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, and Tom Hardy join the impressive cast along side our central hero portrayed once again with fervor by Christian Bale. I think, taken as a whole, what Christopher Nolan can by most proud of is that he has captured the attention of a massive audience and taught them that escapist entertainment can be thoughtful and precise. He may present some of this grandiose and complex content in a simplified and somewhat self-important/preachy way, but he achieves his grand design of getting us all thinking about our own morality, our limits, and our duties. This is miles beyond what any other so-called “comic book” movie has achieved or has even been capable of so far. I am excited to see where Nolan takes his journey from here and I hope he continues to deepen his material and his relationships with this core group of actors. A

The Amazing Spiderman

ImageThe Amazing Spiderman does a very good job bringing Spiderman back into the spotlight. Many people have speculated whether a “re-boot” of Spiderman is a good idea so soon after the previous films directed by Sam Raimi. There certainly does not seem to be a waning of interest in superhero movies, but what The Amazing Spiderman further proves, is that these stories are so strong and potentially captivating that, if done well, people will be interested no matter how familiar the source material is. I was prepared to find The Amazing Spiderman stale or uninspired. Mark Webb, however, has created a stylish rendition of Spiderman’s origin that is well paced and feels fresh and fun. I think Webb benefited from Raimi’s original trilogy. While this is not a sequel in any way, Webb does seem to be aware of Raimi’s more wide ranged comedic tone and plays this series closer to the vest including some of the more intricate details from the original Marvel comic books. This is not unlike Christopher Nolan’s re-imagining of the Batman story after its complete meltdown. This Peter Parker is more “real.”. He isn’t a loser he isn’t a “cool kid.” instead he’s a quiet genius and this film holds Parker’s intellect in as high esteem as his anticipated super powers. A Spiderman movie can never achieve a level or morality and realism the Nolan has achieved with his Batman films, but that’s not this story. What Webb does is set up a story that unlocks our childish wonder of heroism and does it with panache. Andrew Garfield fits the role very well. He is charming, awkward, funny, and talented. Emma Stone is given little to work with in this film as Gwen Stacy, but she saves the role in her usual fashion. The supporting cast is top notch as well including a Stan Lee cameo that may be his best yet. Overall, the debate on whether this movie was necessary can be settled, no. I hesitate to call any one movie necessary, but The Amazing Spiderman definitely deserves to exist without any superfluous criticism that wouldn’t be levied on the next Superhero action movie. A-

Prometheus

ImageWhile the conversations surrounding Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus are mostly about its relationship to Scott’s early sci-fi horror masterpiece, Alien (1979), there is an unavoidable comparison to be made to an earlier classic: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A scene near the beginning of the film includes a Kubrickian juxtaposition where robot “David” (Michael Fassbender) speaks with a HAL 9000-esque computer to wake up the Prometheus’s 17 man crew from cryo-sleep (a scene reminiscent to Alien, of course). This sets the tone for the film, which has always been one of director Ridley Scott’s strengths. The tone of Prometheus is at first pensive. The film’s momentum is firmly rooted in the mythology of man’s existence. This is not an unusual thematic trapping for sci-fi/horror, but this time it feels fresh. The Alien universe provides curiosity and character development that allows for some unique and clever insights on this idea. Prometheus is also a great looking film. The film opens with beautiful landscapes and Scott’s slow moving, sometimes static, floating camera movements both accentuate the pensive tone and allow the viewer to have time to appreciate and enjoy the film’s look. This is not to say Prometheus is not without its intensity. Plenty of scenes are punctuated by gripping suspense and cringe-worthy extra-terrestrial horror (it is a 17 man crew, or should I say was). The cast is well chosen from the soulless Michael Fassbender to the charismatic and surprisingly effective Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers is an intriguingly mysterious character as well. All in all, Prometheus delivers, and as its namesake suggests, not without catastrophic results. A-

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