When news hit that acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) was revisiting the franchise that made his name, Alien, with a movie set before that legendary sci-fi horror – understandably the movie-viewing public sat up and took notice. I had been awaiting it from the early word a year or more back, and with some interesting casting choices, anticipation built gradually, until when finally sitting down to watch it, I had to stop myself from cheering at the screen – especially when the title appeared in full Alien-franchise style, letter by letter. Nice.
Two archeologists discover evidence of a race of beings from another world having made contact with ancient civilizations on earth, and so become involved in an expedition aboard the space ship Prometheus to land on an unexplored planet that may hold the secret to the birth of mankind. Noomi Rapace (The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes 2) heads up a recognisable cast featuring Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba. The first thing I have to say about this, is it took a long time to kick into gear, and the first half of the movie was very talky, cave wondering and to be honest, a little boring … thankfully by the second half the proverbial shit hits the fan and it became more of a thrill ride. Rapace holds her own next to bigger name stars, and proves a leading lady to watch. Theron on the other hand seemed wasted as a stiff collared commanding officer considering her physical beauty (showcased in a gratuitous exercising moment), whilst Fassbender came off perfectly creepy as Android ‘David’.
When the movie focused on Rapace however, it found its voice and any scene with her livened up proceedings no end. If it wasn’t for the trudging first half this would have been better, and the story certainly offers a new perspective on the Alien mythology, even if it left me with more questions than answers. The movie also had a tendency to overlook some glaring scientific implausibilities (scientists landing on a planet without sending probes first? Then taking their helmets off?). So to conclude … an entertaining but flawed return to a franchise that for a long time has struggled to get back on track. Perhaps Ridley left it too late?
Now what I don’t get is why this film came in for so much stick when it came out in the summer blockbuster season. Ok, it may not be as knowingly stylish as Wanted or as in-yer-face as Batman & Hellboy (ooh, there’s a movie waiting to happen), but this charming and well made superhero flick has it where it counts – originality. Oh and Will Smith is brilliant in it.
Will plays a superhero powered guy shunned by the people he tried to help because of his uncaring, self-destructive attitude and careless approach to every situation. Its funny as hell, and also very different than what we are usually erm, treated to. Step in Jason Bateman’s advertising exec who sees in Will (or should I say Hancock?) a chance to prove himself and help someone who obviously needs a new image and way of thinking.
If it wasn’t for Will Smiths obvious charisma this bold idea would fall flat on its face, and with the help of a likable Bateman and a purr, hubba hubba Charlize Theron, as well as some truly exciting set-pieces and quality effects, this is just really good entertainment. So what if things get a bit serious in the final act – in my opinion, it still works and adds plenty of emotion too. What more could you want?
Director Paul Haggis follows up the acclaimed Crash (one of my top films of 2006) with this equally powerful drama following the story of a retired army officer who comes up against the closed ranks of the U.S. Army after his son disappears returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones is on great form as the determined father searching for the truth, who befriends a female detective (Charlize Theron) and together they attempt to uncover what happened.
Like the aforementioned Crash, this is a deeply moving and gripping story with believable performances and some top acting, especially from Jones who is easily one of the best of his generation…and delivers here where he seemed wasted in No Country For Old Men. I was also impressed by Charlize Theron who brings a tough but likable demenor to her role. Also, anyone who has had even a passing interest in the war in Iraq and the politics surrounding it, will be swept up in this very human story of what war can do to good honest people. My only gripe remains with the closing scenes and the big reveal – I felt it lacked believability, not in what happened, but in Tommy Lee Jones’ reaction to it.
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