Prometheus Blu-Ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

Prometheus Blu-Ray 

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall and Charlize Theron

Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Directed by Ridley Scott

Audiences were not prepared for what Ridley Scott unleashed upon them this summer when Prometheus was projected on screens across the country this summer. Coming nowhere near the tone of his previous Alien film, Prometheus is very heavy on the SCI part of the equation and very light on everything else. Scott goes completely cerebral for a film clearly inspired more by 2001: A Space Odyssey. The question remains, doe s the film play better the second time around?

Prometheus begins with a sprawling montage of beautiful vistas and landscapes of a planet that may be Earth, but could also be one of many that the humanoid looking ‘Engineers’ have visited. The extremely pale white alien appears near a waterfall and we watch as he ingests a liquid that causes his demise. On the Isle of Sky in the Northern Highlands of Scotland, sometime in the future, we are introduced to doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) who have made a discovery dating back generations in the caves of the isle. We board the vessel “Prometheus” where we are introduced to the only being awake (the rest of the crew is in cryostasis), the android David (Fassbender). David has spent his time alone awaiting the end of the journey and developing what may be an unnatural fascination with Shaw. Upon their arrival we meet the crew of the Prometheus: Vickers (Theron), the corporate representative, Janek (Elba), the ship’s Captain, Fifield (Harris), a geologist, and Millburn (Spall), another scientist, along with others.  The crew are then told by Shaw and Holloway that their benefactor Peter Weyland (Pearce, nearly unrecognizable) has sent them to this remote planet to meet the being they feel all humans were spawned from. Upon investigating a strange ruin on the planet’s surface the crew discovers the remains of some of these beings, while David discovers something else entirely.

Prometheus still looks beautiful on Blu-Ray. Rapace shines as the film’s central character, the sequence with an unexpected ‘visitor’ is particularly riveting and brilliant. Fassbender’s David is the perfect mix of naivety with a sinister core that makes his character the most dangerous aboard the ship. The second time around we really can see his machinations more clearly.  Theron’s performance works even less the second time around, she’s the least effective of the main characters. Elba’s basically the cigar chomping police chief from every late 80′s early 90′s cop film you can think off, but it works. And you clearly tell he’s having a blast doing it. Pearce is barley in the film and under so much makeup as to make him unrecognizable, yet he still does a good job. The rest of the supporting cast is strong in their roles, leading to one of the strongest cast performances of the year. The intricacies of the script start to shine with a second viewing, and the story plays out more satisfyingly. Having dumped the baggage of the previous Alien films due to more informed expectations we are allowed to enjoy this story in this world more. The visual effects work is unsurprisingly stunning, Ridley has been in this work before and knows exactly what he wants. The brilliant look of the ‘Engineers’ and the ever evolving Alien xenomorph are stunning.

Prometheus’ Blu-Ray comes with a truckload of special features. We get two feature length commentaries, one by Ridley Scott and another with writers Lindelof and Spaihts. A series of character developing mini movie/webisodes under the ‘Peter Weyland Files’ and a half hour worth of deleted and extended scenes including alternate opening and closing sequences. The deleted scenes are excellent and help flesh out the story even more. There is also an entire IPad/IPhone app with second screen to scour even many more hours’ worth of special features like original design art and much more.

Ultimately Prometheus works even better with multiple viewings. The sheer volume of special features combined with the gorgeous looking film itself with great performances should make the purchase decision easy for you. Prometheus on Blu-Ray is a must buy.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Prometheus Review (Kirk Haviland)

Prometheus (2012)

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Loan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall and Charlize Theron

Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Directed by Ridley Scott

Much has been made over Ridley Scott’s return to Science Fiction, and more specifically to the universe he launched with 1979’s seminal sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Alien. Just as much hype has been made by Scott himself, downplaying the whole connection to the Alien franchise, and as it turns out, rightfully so. Prometheus is very heavy on the SCI part of the equation and very light on everything else as Scott goes completely cerebral for a film clearly inspired more by 2001: A Space Odyssey than his own Alien.

Prometheus begins with a sprawling montage of beautiful vistas and landscapes that we soon discover are not earth, but a foreign planet similar to our own. A very humanoid looking, extremely pale white alien appears near a waterfall and we watch as he ingests a liquid that causes his demise. We then flash back to Earth. On the Isle of Sky in the Northern Highlands of Scotland we are introduced to doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) who have made a discovery dating back generations in the caves of the isle. The film then jumps forward many years to the space vessel “Prometheus” and we are introduced to the only being awake (the rest of the crew is in cryostasis), the android David (Fassbender). David has spent his time alone awaiting the end of the journey, over two years, killing time with many pursuits and developing what may be an unnatural fascination with Shaw. Upon their arrival we meet the crew of the Prometheus: Vickers (Theron), the corporate representative, Janek (Elba), the ship’s Captain, Fifield (Harris), a geologist, and Millburn (Spall), another scientist, along with others.  The crew are then told by Shaw and Holloway that their benefactor Peter Weyland (Pearce, nearly unrecognizable) has sent them to this remote planet to meet the being they feel all humans were spawned from. Upon investigating a strange ruin on the planet’s surface the crew discovers the remains of some of these beings, and David discovers something else. As the group is forced back to the ship under unforeseen complications, they manage to leave Fifield and Millburn behind and they must stay the night, exploring the ruins in what may not be the best of ideas. And what exactly is David’s agenda aboard the ship?

Prometheus looks beautiful. It ranks with Hugo and Avatar as the prime examples of what a talented filmmaker can do to master a medium that other directors are merely toying around with. Rapace shines as the film’s central character, the sequence with an unexpected visitor is particularly riveting and brilliant. Fassbender’s David is the perfect mix of naivety with a sinister core that makes his character the most dangerous aboard the ship. Theron’s performance is adequate, though she’s given little to do here. That said, the scenes she does have don’t always work the best. Elba’s basically the cigar chomping police chief from every late 80’s early 90’s cop film you can think off, but it works. And you clearly tell he’s having a blast doing it. Pearce is barley in the film and under so much makeup as to make him unrecognizable, yet he still does a good job. The rest of the supporting cast is strong in their roles, leading to one of the strongest cast performances of the year.

The real question to be answered here is ‘will this fulfill the expectations of the many Alien franchise fans that will cram the multiplexes this weekend?’ And that’s a tough question. I believe Prometheus is the type of film that will play better with a second viewing. With all the baggage that everyone will inevitably bring into the film, the more cerebral approach will undoubtedly be disappointing for most. But those that can see beyond that and delve into the characters and the story that is presented will most certainly get much more out of the film. It’s the lack of previous baggage going into a second screening that I feel will make it a more successful and enveloping experience.

Ultimately, Prometheus is a stunning looking film with many ideas about the evolution of both species and the Alien species. Its visuals and performances alone alone make this a recommend, and I certainly hope I’m right about my hunch when I see it for the second time.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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ChickFlicking – Snow White and the Huntsman a ChickFlick? (Nadia Sandhu)

True Drunk’s First Kiss (Snow White and the Huntsman? Total Chick Flick)

Yes, the title of this article kind of has a spoiler in it. But only kind of, so please let us move on.

What stands out to me about this retelling of the classic fairytale is just how little of it is re-imagined from the original Grimm source material.  The biggest deviation is probably whose first kiss wakes Snow from her apple induced coma (hint- he’s a drunk).  Basically what I am saying to all you boys out there is this: you been had broSnow White and the Huntsman is a straight up chick flick – and not the most satisfying one at that.

A queen pricks her finger, spilling three drops of blood, prompting her to wish she had a daughter with skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony… check, check, check, check.  The Hunstman falls for Snow?  Yep.  Handsome Prince?  Well he’s a future Duke, but he’s still there.  Mirror on the Wall?  Present and accounted for.  Dwarves?  Oh boy are there dwarves.

Charlize Theron is our Evil Queen and she is still gloriously vain, if a little hysterical.  That pesky meddling mirror still causes all this trouble with his “fairest of them all” nonsense.  Our mirror seems to think that Kirsten Stewart somehow fits the bill, and I understand that legions of teen girls agree. #KanyeShrug.

If anything, the film just fleshes out the broad strokes of the modern Disney version – what happens when Snow awakes and her kingdom needs reclaiming?

Birds love Snow White.  Animals love Snow White.  Everyone loves Snow White.  So when the little sprites led her to the magical white elk, I thought we were in for some “when plants attack” kind of military assault on the Evil Queen.  But alas, looks like the CGI budget did not allow for a Lord of the Rings style epic storming of the castle and that is the real shame here.

Our vain Queen will go to any length to preserve her youthful beauty, the source of her magical powers in a male dominated world, and she is resentful of the new young thing.  This is classic bitchy stuff.  And it is also an ill concealed metaphor for sex appeal as a woman’s weapon – something I had somehow not realized was a major theme of this fairytale, alongside the more obvious fear of the new, the next, and your own obsolescence.

Having finally made this connection, I found myself reflecting on how much things haven’t really changed since medieval times.  Sex still sells and all too many ladies in our social media driven, narcissistic world define their self-worth by youth and beauty.

So yes, file this one under “Chick Flick”. And take a moment to admire Chris Hemsworth, who continues to impress. I’ll give this one a mercy pass. Catch it on DVD/VOD, if only for the obvious Star Wars homage at the end (that was intentional, right?)

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Snow White and the Huntsman Review (Kirk Haviland)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Bob Hoskins

Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossien Amini

Directed by Rupert Sanders

2012’s second reinvention of the classic Snow White tale, Snow White and the Huntsman, arrives in theaters this week hoping it can knock Will Smith out of the top slot. The movie unabashedly borrows from a multitude of sources, a more apt title may be Snow White and the Neverending Story of the Fellowship of the Chronicles of Narnia, but this is not necessarily something to be reviled as it produces a movie much better than my expectations.

We start with a Hemsworth narrated prologue in which we hear the origins of this version’s Snow White character. Snow White is a princess whose mother has passed away while she was still a child. Her father, the King, is then tricked into marrying the villainous Ravenna (Theron) who immediately betrays the King and assumes the throne with the help of her brother. The young Snow attempts to flee with the help of her childhood friend Matthew and his father, only to be thwarted. After years of imprisonment, the older Snow White (Stewart) is recognized by the legendary mirror on the wall as being the fairest of them all and the cause of Ravenna’s downfall. It’s when she is to be delivered to the Queen for execution that Snow manages an escape. Ravenna forces the Huntsman (Hemsworth) to go after her and he reluctantly agrees though he has no love for the queen.  The Huntsman quickly discovers where Snow White is but becomes her protector, not her executioner. En route to one of her Father’s supporters, Matthew’s father, Snow encounters many including the Dwarves (Hoskins and a litany of English actors I will not ruin the surprise of here), Fairies, a mystical Elk and many more. The group, as she is now joined by the Elves in her journey, are pursued relentlessly by a group led by Ravenna’s brother Finn (Sam Spruell) and a group of followers including the also now grown Matthew (Claflin). The film continues through the Apple betrayal, a much different source this time around, all the way to final battle sequence for the kingdom at the end.

Snow White and the Huntsman succeeds in delivering the fun, popcorn munching experience that last month’s Battleship so clearly failed in doing. Charlize Theron is completely over the top here and enjoying every minute of it. She manages to bring gravitas to the role and her ultimate conclusion is very satisfying. Kristen Stewart manages to do nothing different than any of the Twilight pics, but even though she is playing the titular role in the film, her dialogue is kept to a minimum. She does deliver one the most underwhelming and lacklustre ‘rousing battle speech’ sequences in film history, but ultimately her performance is not poor enough to ruin the experience. Hemsworth does some fine work here and is on quite a roll right now with Cabin in the Woods and Avengers already out this year (and both of those are clearly superior to this, see the links for reviews). His Huntsman actually carries some emotional impact that a lesser actor cast for mere looks would have completely lost in translation. The dwarves are a fun reveal and almost all are recognizable faces.

I mentioned before that the film borrows freely from other films, like having identical shots to The Fellowship’s trek through identical locations from the first Lord of the Rings film and a “dark woods” sequence that plays out very similar to the Swamp of Sorrows from Neverending Story. In fact the environmental impact from Ravenna’s rule is reminiscent of both films, with Ravenna pacing in here castle reminiscent of Saruman in his tower. That said the effects in this are solid, one sequence involving a Troll I thought was especially effective, and the fact that the film avoids one of those uber sappy sequences with Snow and one of her protectors that films like these almost always includes works for me a great deal.

Ultimately you could do a lot worse in your Cineplex this weekend, Snow White and the Huntsman is a recommend, not a strong recommend, but a recommend none the less.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto.

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