July 23, 2012

WTF Movie of the Week: Prometheus

To continue my journey into sci-fi/horror I decided to go and watch Prometheus with my darling wife and some friends. It was directed by Ridley Scott and supposed to be the 'spiritual prequel to Alien'. What could go wrong, one wonders. Well, Charlize Theron should've alerted me sooner, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The movie opens mysteriously enough with some strange humanoid standing on the edge of a lake ingesting a pill. This was a bad idea, since the man promptly disintegrates. What is this pill, one wonders. Well, rest assured, you'll not find out in the coming toe-curling, teeth-grinding, hair-pulling hour-and-a-half.

The movie revolves around this group of astronauts going over to a planet where theoretically, supposedly, possibly, maybe there could be sentient life and the explanation of where humans came from. This is indicated by some prehistoric scribbles on the walls of caves found all over the world. Reason enough for an excentric businessman to spend $ (and change) on a space mission. So we open on a scene where an android is preparing the crew for their awakening from hyperspace sleep. All goes well and the crew quickly gets the low-down on why they're there. Scepticism and macho behaviour abound, of course, but the crew goes on their merry way. But instead of finding the origins of human life, they find odd orbs which quickly turn out to harbor all kinds of very distasteful looking creatures. Suffice it to say, these creatures are not very welcoming of their new guests. For the team, all goes awry from that point on. Unfortunately, this is also where the story goes down the proverbial drain.

I cannot express enough the irritation this movie brought to me. A long time fan of Alien and Aliens (not the rest), this was as bad as a root canal by a myoptic dentist. The characters are totally taken from any horror-movie textbook (pregnant with a monster baby?), the plots twists itself in so many strange ways that the writers probably confused the hell out of themselves (Alien came from human DNA?) and the overall message the film seems to want to convey is: "Give it up! All is bad and horrible in the universe and we should all just curl up and die!"

Charlize Theron's character wakes first from the hyperspace sleep and is shaping up to be the next Ripley. Okay, fair enough. But then she has about three lines in the whole movie, has sex, freaks out when things go wrong and dies stupidly by being squashed under a spaceship. The real heroin (Noomi Rapace) of the movie is such a whiny, unstabile and miserable whench that I really could not believe that she was going to take on Alien. Speaking of which, he only shows up in the last 30 seconds when he's born in the typical stomach-churning style (pardon the pun). Guess they had to squeeze that one in...

Is there nothing right about the movie? Well, I got to say something for the effort made by Michael Fassbender who does a good job of delivering a believeable eerie android with a double agenda. He's a good actor in my book, but with what he has to work with in this mastodontic dud of a movie is beyond the powers of any actor.

The only thing that could possibly redeem this movie is a 3-hour director's cut that shows what Mr. Scott really wanted to achieve.

For now I'll dust off my old Aliens-collection and wash the bad taste from my mouth.
Go Ripley!


July 16, 2012

WTF Movie of the Week: Pandorum

At the Elysium, shower privileges were hard to come by...
Okay, okay, so lately I've been emerging myself more into science fiction (I realized I hardly know anything about the genre) than horror, but don't hold that against me. It's how I came around to this wonderful pic by German director Christian Alvart. Never heard of him? Neither had I, but man...!

Starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster, this sci-fi is actually more of a horror in the spirit of Alien or Event Horizon and certainly no Star Trek. Two crew members wake up from their hyperspace sleep which has gone on way too long, leaving them with no recollection of their mission or who they are. Matters soon become worse when they can't access any of the other rooms on the ship except through a hatch in the wall. Ben Foster's character Bower decides to crawl down the narrow space to find out what's wrong with the ship. Pretty soon they find out they're not alone, and even worse, the others are not human. But they love the taste of humans.

The suspense of this, especially in the beginning is on a par with Alien. Tight, claustrofobic spaces, dark close-ups, panting and far-off screams are plentiful and even a body or two springing out of nowhere sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

This is not to say, though, that this leans on cheap scares alone. Not by a long shot. Right after the first act is over and the director is content that people are now on the edge of their seats, he makes sure that there is an actual plot we can sink our teeth in. Without giving away too much, suffice it to say that during their hyperspace sleep, the personnel on the bridge (the ones supposed to stay awake), underwent a horrible psychological disease called Pandorum which endangered the whole mission and put the crew in the mess they are in now. The whole storyline reminded me very much of old pirate movies dealing with cabin fever and exploring new and strange territory. Except this is space and not the Caribbean.

The acting is wonderful for a film like this. It could easily have slipped off into a shoot-when-it-moves action flick with Ben Foster's character emerging heroically with a smoking gun, a smoking cigar and cracking a few funny lines. But instead it focuses on team work and psychological drama to deal that final punch. Dennis Quaid delivers, of course. It's hard for him to really mess up a role. I don't think he ever did a bad role, although he starred in some pretty poor productions (Day after Tomorrow, anyone?). This one is no exception. His Lt. Payton is wonderful as he slides slowly down into insanity. There are plenty of 'better' actors who cannot pull off a deeply dark role like this one.

If you get a chance to see this hidden gem, please do so, especially if you like dark sci-fi without the shiny perfection of Star Trek. It's nitty, it's gritty, it's bloody and insane. I'm starting to develop a taste for movies like these...

I'll keep you posted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...