Friday, June 8, 2012

Worth Mentioning - The Future is Wide Open

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody witnesses questions about creation and life after graduation lead to horrific events.


This project was originally announced as "a prequel to Alien", but as time went on the accuracy of that description was brought into question. Director Ridley Scott said that "the DNA of Alien" would be evident, but it didn't sound like the film as a whole would be what fans might be expecting from a prequel.

Most figured a prequel would build up to the moment when a chestburster tears out of the Space Jockey that the crew of the Nostromo finds in the 1979 original, leading directly into the events of that film. That's not what this is, this is not just another movie about people being terrorized by xenomorphs. If you go into it expecting that, you will be sorely disappointed.

What Scott and writers Damon Lindelof (LOST) and Jon Spaihts have crafted is largely only a prequel in that it's another sci-fi story set in the same universe as the Alien series, and it does delve further into just what that Space Jockey character was. Not the exact one seen in the '79 film, but his species. And the answer is something that no viewers probably ever imagined.

The IMDb synopsis reads: "A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race." That's clear from the trailers and people are very sensitive about spoilers for this film, so I'm not going to say too much about what goes on in it.

What I will say about Prometheus is that I enjoyed it. It has an interesting story with some intriguing twists and turns and some effectively creepy, intense moments. The cast is great, including the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace as the beleaguered heroine and Michael Fassbender as the ship Prometheus's resident android, who has a fascination with Peter O'Toole. Fassbender is drooled over and fan cast so much on the internet that a person can really get tired of hearing about him, but I can't deny that the guy is very talented.

The film did ride a thin line toward the ending, teetering on the edge of falling apart for me, and it leaves questions dangling, but I felt that it worked overall. I wouldn't call it the great masterpiece that some are hoping for, but it's good.

Though I did have a major problem while I was watching the movie. Early on, Guy Pearce shows up in a hologram message from the man who's funding the Prometheus mission, Peter Weyland, an early head of the shadowy company from the Alien franchise. But Pearce is not playing a character close in age to his own 44 years, rather someone who appears to be around double that, and the old age makeup that he's wearing is not entirely convincing. And so I was taken out of the movie for several minutes, as all I could think of was Kevin Smith comparing the old age makeup in last year's J. Edgar to that of the Grandpa in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. TCM2 lines filled my head, drowning out the dialogue being spoken on the screen in front of me. "Grandpa's strict liquid diet keeps him as fresh as a rose!" "137 years old, still as fast as Jesse James!" "Don't rattle him like that! You're balling up his shit!"

There is really no reason for Guy Pearce to be playing this old fellow. Please, if you need an old man, just cast an old man.

And I won't even mention the Re-Animator shenanigans that were brought to mind right before the end credits started to roll.


Bo and Roy aren't the best or the brighest, they're not cool or geeks, they're somewhere in between. They may be seen as trouble, but they dont seem to do anything worse than pull pranks. They're regular kids, typical teenagers. Their time in high school hasn't been all that great, the hot girls aren't interested enough in them to remember their names, they're not invited to the big parties, but that won't matter for much longer.

They're graduating, it's the time in their lives of receiving cards with money inside and talking to military recruiters, the time when the fear and worry over what life is going to be like now that they've been released into the real world begins to set in. While teachers tell their peers that they're going to change the world, it's pretty clear that Bo and Roy aren't going to do much out of the ordinary, nothing world-altering. They're working class boys, and they've already got their factory jobs lined up.

In fact, Bo and Roy only have two days of freedom between school and work. They graduate Friday, their jobs start Monday. Roy isn't happy at all with the idea of working at a factory and fears that they'll get stuck there for the rest of their lives, but Bo is more accepting of it. Working there for thirty years is better than not having a job at all, and if that's all he can have, that's all he wants. They decide to make the most of their free time - after crashing a graduation party, they impulsively hit the road, taking Roy's Plymouth on the six hour trip to Los Angeles, where they intend to spend the weekend seeing the sights: beaches, girls, Hollywood.

On the way to L.A., it becomes clear that Roy is more troubled than anyone has ever realized. There's "stuff inside of him", he confesses to Bo. He's repressing intense anger and probably more than that, his mother's been absent and he's been raised by a father he can't communicate with, there's violence just under the surface and he wants to get it out of his system. And when they reach L.A., he begins to let it out.

Bo and Roy's vacation becomes not just about sightseeing, but about indulging in dark instincts, random acts of escalating violence and reckless behavior. Theft. Brutality. Murder. Roy spirals completely out of control and Bo is along for the ride as things get more and more disturbing.

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, who would go on to work on The X-Files and the Final Destination franchise, and directed by Penelope Spheeris, this is a really good, intense drama. The worries the boys discuss about where their lives might be heading after graduation feel true to life for me, which gets me more interested in the characters and makes their actions that follow all the more cringeworthy and appalling.

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