Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cinematic Anticipation Part 2: Prometheus

In my younger and more vulnerable years, the shit scariest movies around were Alien and Aliens. My parents never allowed me to watch them though. I just remember both those films scaring the bejesus out of my two older sisters. All they ever spoke of was Alien. Eventually, when I managed to escape to a friend's house whose parents didn't care as much (no names mentioned), I finally saw Alien and Aliens in all their glory. To this day I remember my first impressions (they do last, it's true) - yes it was scary, yes it was gory (chestburster), but damn was it good. So gritty and realistic, it possessed quality I hadn't seen before in a film like that. The next 2 in the quadrilogy, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, followed much later and don't form part of that initial impact.

Now, a little film called Prometheus is a mere 8 months away (in the blockbuster world, it ain't much), and still this so-called Alien quasi-prequel directed by Ridley Scott is shrouded in secrecy. The web has, however, released one or 2 morsels of information about the film that have had me, and most others that have been reading about it (including the hardcore fans of the originals), extremely excited about this one. Hit the jump to see what is known about this movie at the moment, and why I am so damn excited to see it.

1. An Alien Prequel?

If you've seen Alien (1977), you know that it involves people coming across aliens (inter alia). So then what happens before that? Well, the plan initially was for Prometheus to be a prequel to Alien, however they were going about it. But then, like many a great project, it evolved, found its own voice and is now a stand-alone film set in the Alien universe and with some ties to the sci-fi classic. So, it's sort-of like a quasi prequel I suppose.  In a recent interview, Damon Lindelof (who is the writer of Prometheus and creator of Lost) had the following to say (via Slashfilm):

"I've always felt really good prequels should be original movies, and the sequels to those prequels should not be the movie which already exists. Because, with all due respect to anybody who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, "Luke, I am your father", by showing me three movies that basically spoil that surprise. You can do movies which take place before Star Wars, but I don't need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else that I can't guess the possible outcome of. There is no suspense in inevitability. So a true prequel should essentially precede the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be."

I love it when movies, or characters / themes within a movie, are linked, but not in a overtly strong or obvious way. For example, the way many of the Marvel films have made an effort "speak" to each other in anticipation of The Avengers next year, or the way the characters' paths in PTA's Magnolia intersect. It expands the universe in which these movies exist and makes everything so much more realistic in a world where everything is fundamentally unrealistic. Blah blah blah, anyway, on with it...

2. Mythology (bigger than Story)

The official synopsis for Prometheus was released a couple of months ago, just after a fake one hit (via the Playlist):

Visionary filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to the genre he helped define, creating an original science fiction epic set in the most dangerous corners of the universe. The film takes a team of scientists and explorers on a thrilling journey that will test their physical and mental limits and strand them on a distant world, where they will discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life’s ultimate mystery.

I'm not going to post the fake synopsis here because it's a little spoilerish. But, click the link above to see it. I have read it and not only does it seem legit (based on the official synopsis, and considering it predated it), but it sounds awesome! So read at your peril. Another quote from Ridley Scott himself (in an interview with Empire) also seems to back it up and gives a little clue without spoiling:

"It's fundamentally about going out to find out 'Who the hell was that Space Jockey?'"

For the uninformed or where memory has failed, the Space Jockey is this thing (from the first Alien):

To tell you the truth, I can't remember much about it, and writing this post has me determined to re-watch all the films in the Alien franchise as soon as humanly possible. Like as in this weekend.

Of course, there are some committed fanboys out there who have done some proper research as to what the hell this movie is going to be about. Alien Prequel News did great work involving the synopsis above, the title, some quotes from the director, Greek Mythology and various other bits and pieces to reveal potential for an absolutely fascinating sci-fi mythology. Personally I don't want to know too much at this stage, but read this article at Ropeofsilicon for a good overview. Essentially, an Alien movie that sets out to discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life’s ultimate mystery? Sign me the hell up.

 3. Who's in it?

The cast is phenomenal. There is not one boring Hollywood muck choice in the list. Okay, I was a little disappointed this morning when Ben Foster was confirmed not to be joining the project. He is one of my favourite young actors (and I had to change the picture, which included him already). As for the rest, check the pic below and some brief information thereafter...

From the top (left to right):

Noomi Rapace (the Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and soon in Sherlock Holmes 2)  is fantastic and its great to see her getting bigger roles. I know said before that I didn't like Lisbeth in the Swedish Dragon Tattoo, but that does not mean I don't think Rapace is a good actress. In Prometheus she assumes the lead role, Dr Elizabeth Shaw, and as stated in the October issue of Total Film, "a female protagonist straight from the Ripley mould."

Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, Hunger, X-Men: First Class, Shame, Fish Tank, 300) is my favourite actor at the moment, and he seems to be getting all the best roles. Even better news? He is probably playing an android, just like Ian Holm / Bilbo in Alien. He has also had some great things to say about the project (which you can read more about below).

Guy Pearce (Memento, The Proposition, Animal Kingdom) is another one of my absolute favourite actors. He has somehow managed to fly under the Hollywood radar though out his career, even though he is responsible for some of  the most remarkable and memorable roles over the past few years. His character? Nobody knows shit.

Charlize Theron (Monster, Young Adult, The Devil's Advocate) is from Benoni and therefore we love her. She also won an Oscar, which makes us love her more. Finally, she is playing a character with "real balls" called Meredith Vickers, the suit that funds the film's space mission (according to Total Film) who is apparently "somewhat of an enigma". I like that. Sounds like a villain, but you aren't quite sure where they fit. Dirty But Clean.

Idris Elba (The Wire, Thor) is hardcore. I haven't seen much of him, but liked him as Heimdall in Thor. Word has it that he is awesome in TV Series The Wire, which I have not watched. He is playing Captain Janek. Anything else to add? Nope.

Patrick Wilson (Little Children, Hard Candy, Watchmen) was added late, but he has said that his role is "important". Whatever that means. Regardless, he is a decent actor.

That's it for the cast. People who know more than me are saying that the other cast members are great as well.

4. What do we know about the production itself?

Ridley Scott is directing. Well, I already mentioned that. If you don't know who he is, shoot yourself please, or go here.

HR Giger himself is involved. He is the phenomenal crazy scary Swiss surrealist artist who designed the aliens in the first place. The actual design was in fact based on one of his previous paintings entitled Necronom IV. Unsurprisingly, his work on Alien won him an Oscar.

It will be in 3D. Well, it is being filmed in 3D which is a good start, and I am excited to see what someone like Ridley Scott can do with it. In space, no one can hear you bitch and moan about 3D.

They are doing it old school. Not too many green screens, not much CGI, lots of sets and beautiful locations. Many great set pics have been released over the last few months, but most have been removed (secrecy es importante). However, see a few set and location pics below which have not been removed. They have been filming in Iceland. That is such good news, because Iceland is far away and expensive, and the crew could easily film in a big studio in Hollywood with a few green screens. At the end of the day though, filming on location with real sets leads to a more realistic finished product and better performances (it can't be easy acting in front of a green screen fighting a tennis ball which will eventually become a dragon or something). After the pic, see what some of those involved had to say about the process (the part I like best)...

I walk on the set and I feel like I’m walking on a spaceship... It’s breathtaking. All the various panels and screens…it’s just dealing with a top-notch art department and carpenters and the riggers and everything that goes into putting that together. It’s just, well, breathtaking, all of it.” - Michael Fassbender (in an interview with the LA Times).

"It's been long, hard days... I Look like shit - I have cuts and scars and bruises everywhere." - Noomi Rapace (Total Film).

"It is possible to get this environment elsewhere, such as the Mojave desert in California, but this place is more primitive and wild I think. Nature here has a certain character and I like the black rocks. It was a better option. Being here is fantastic, really fantastic. What I have found in this country is a gorgeous beauty. This is exactly what I wanted from the beginning." - Ridley Scott (descirbing the filming in Iceland to Morgunbladid).

"Everything was built. I was like, 'Where's the greenscreen man?' It just grounds everything so much for the actors." - Charlize Theron (Total Film).

And that's all I have to say about that. For now. The marketing has barely started: the only official still from the movie is the header of this post, and the little poster link is fan made. So, much is still to come!

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