PROMETHEUS (Ridley Scott) - 3.5/5
With each review for ‘Prometheus’ prefaced with the familiar ’33 years after he redefined the genre, Ridley Scott is returning to it’ one could only be led to expect a similar turn of events on its release. Enter Cousin Disappointment. Not as strong or as belligerent as Father Disappointment but still maintaining the power to leave you sucking on the gristle of your own expectations. After a series of discoveries from many unconnected civilisations all pointing towards the same star system, a team of 17 (employed by Peter Weyland, seemingly the galaxy’s only contractor) lead the vessel Prometheus to a moon with an atmosphere suitable for life. Scott has often denied that this is a prequel to Alien, and to a certain extent this is true. Instead of searching for the origins of the Xenomorphs who play an incidental role here, the true search is for ourselves and our own existence leading to the beginning of a whole new franchise away from Ripley’s tightie whities. After a slow but not arduous introduction consisting of shots that Terrence Malick might be proud of we find ourselves faced with a pale, deeply defined and muscular man, shedding a robe atop a waterfall. Within seconds he will be nothing, his cells devastated by a suicide we might later suggest to be noble. Immediately, however, a question is asked that is to determine the future of the Prometheus crew: When God dies, what is left for his creation? After all, when the Nietzschean Superman chooses to take his own life in desperation, only a cataclysmic sense of foreboding remains.
Remember how Alien was a horror film, cast in a mould of HR Giger’s gothic nightmare, building up a tight string of tension until Dallas’ semi-unfortunate demise? Remember how as a child the first appearance of the Xenomorph left you returning to your pre-toilet training days, quivering beneath your duvet confused both by Sigourney Weaver’s pants and Giger’s obvious obsession with both male and female genitalia? ‘Prometheus’ contains, with the exception of the latter, none of the above. And Good! We’ve been living in the franchised Alien Universe for far too long, ever since Cameron’s pitch to Studio Exec’s was ‘ALIEN$’. Ridley Scott reclaims his creation, providing a definitive story to accompany his own original but with a philosophical twist we’d all been warned about. It works, mostly, and unfortunately pining for more answers that we’ll all have to wait for we are in turn provided with some experiments into the ridiculous too. Faceless monsters, reminiscent of early Buffy episodes (which even then were attached to a ridiculous sub-plot) provide a showdown necessary to answer one of the many origin questions but Cousin Disappointment rears his ugly head encroaching all over the less is more territory for a spectacle often with little attachment to the plot.
The visuals, however, are stunning and the violence for the most part is riveting. Yet, amongst his homage to discovery and David Lean there is a 2 minute interlude in which Scott heads down Danny Boyle ‘Sunshine’ territory which let us all be assured is never a good thing (see the overly tanned zombie bore fest for reference). ‘Prometheus’ is rescued through a character tension so strong only a pneumatic drill or a series of sharp, violent deaths could break. Noomi Rapace’s emotional exhibitionism combats the robotic unnerving of Michael Fassbender’s David 8, a curious android with a Pinocchio complex, and Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers, ice queen extroadinaire. The film also has an admirable depth to it and allows new conjectures for the rest of the series but is not without vacuity in some places. Enjoy nonetheless, but leave your expectations at the popcorn stand otherwise you’ll be footing the bill while your trusty Cousin has all the fun.
FAUST (JAN SVANKMAJER, 1994) - 5/5
The Czech surrealist animator, Jan Svankmajer, adapts the familiar story of Dr Faustus, a discontent who sells his soul for 24 years of voluptuous living, power and knowledge. Served by Lucifer’s minion Mephistopheles, Faustus, living through a puppet play enjoys the unholy riches of the dark arts and temptation. The morality play setting cast with wooden puppets emphasises his hollowness as a character and foreshadows his capacity for eternal fires. Leaving repentance too late, the sinner follows what appears to be his set destiny; a trap of damnation from which he could never have escaped. Svankmajer, a craftsman of the creepy, once again inspires a deeply unsettling rendition of a classic story. Masterful and terrifying.
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REASONS TO LOVE SEINFELD #1