Saturday, June 23, 2012


Okay, so ... I've done my reading and studied for the test, and while many seem to share my opinions ... I am really divided on this movie. So, spoilers beware, cause I'm going in depth on this review. Like really. And you thought I wrote a lot about the Avengers.

Okay, so the film has Ridley Scott returning to the franchise that he started with the film Alien back in 1979 starring Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Ripley and introducing us to the spine chilling titular aliens, the Xenomorph. Prometheus is a prequel.

But before I drive anyone away, lemme go so far as to say (and I'll go pretty far), that almost every aspect of the film I found amazing. Where the film falls apart is on its delivery. Explanations seem shelved for the potential sequel that might not even come. But up and to that point, it's a pretty cool time.

We have an absolutely fantastic cast, helmed by Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David the android, who lead the ship Prometheus (named after the Greek Titan who stole fire and gave it to mankind and god knows if I honestly have to explain the symbolism to you people I'm gonna crack skulls) in search of mankind's makers (called Engineers), a race of aliens who, up and to 2000 years prior, were regular visitors to the planet Earth. 

Something obviously went wrong 2000 years ago. I blame the Christians. 

Anyone else thinking of Firefly?
Conceptually I love this movie. I have a possibly unhealthy adoration that has anything to do with where we came from, where we are going, where we have been, and what makes us who we are. I am paraphrasing my favorite author, Stephen R. Donaldson when I say, "Good science fiction and fantasy strike closer to the bone and blood of life than any other narrative medium for science fiction gives us hope for the future and fantasy gives us hope for who we are." 

So, Dr. Shaw and her lover, Charlie Holloway, played by Logan Marshall-Green, are driven to find our makers, one as a person of faith, and the other as an atheist. Also including Peter Weyland's (played by the ever talented Guy Pearce) drive not just to find the 'gods' but to ascend to their level. Every story needs a Lovecraftian mad scientist, I suppose.

This falls apart though, upon the discovery, upon moon LV-223 (which, mind you, is not the planet that the Nostromo, from the original film, Alien, landed upon, a fact which I didn't know until further reading), ... well, I don't really know. Let's delve into it, shall we?

On the scale from 1 to cuddly ....
They get there, and without any regard to the potential dangers of being on an alien planet, rush out, into the pyramid they find, skip on the weapons, even though there is a chance for animal life (I think), take their helmets off once inside without any foreknowledge of alien pathogens, and the biologist sticks his hand out toward an alien snake five minutes after panicking about a possible life form reading.

Anyone else getting the feeling that this multi-trillion dollar venture managed to wrangle together the scientific equivalent of the Scooby-Gang?

Okay, so I can buy that the characters are all lacking in higher brain function, including the Android who talks to himself.

Yeah, that pissed me off. 

"Big things have small beginnings ...."
Said the machine to itself like a weirdo.
We have a pretty cool line in the trailer, delivered superbly by Fassbender, "Big things have small beginnings," and we find out later that he was superbly delivering this pretty cool line to an empty room, with no real explanation as to why a robot talking to itself.

Moving on to my biggest grip with the plot. The black goo.

This shit ain't science fiction, brothers and sisters, it's frakking magic. Where everything else is just silly, this is downright insulting.

He's having a rough day.
This black goo, to start with disintegrates an Engineer in the opening scene, presumably to jump start life on Earth by injecting Engineer DNA into the environment, which, according to renowned Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, didn't make sense.
"The unrealistic part of it is that it’s a humanoid alien planting DNA seeds to seed all of life on Earth. And most life on Earth is not humanoid. In fact, most life on earth is plant and bacterial. So if they were to represent that accurately, it would be some kind of bacterium dropping its DNA into the oceans of Earth."
Now granted, the scene was frikkin awesome, but it's science-fiction, not fantasy, remember? If we were engineered by alien life, I would expect the actual engineering to happen in the Jurassic Park laboratory as designed by H.R. Gieger. And thematically, this is as if the Greek Titan gave fire to humanity by lighting himself on fire and running at them. It does not seem to be the most expedient method possible.

Now back to the black goo. 

    From a kickstarter of an opening, the black goo mutates two itty-bitty worms into something called a Hammerpede, a giant snake-like eel that seems to operate like a pre-stage Facehugger complete with throat fetish an acidic blood.   
    The black goo mutates Holloway after his drink is spiked with a mere droplet of the stuff ... somehow with a little tentacle thing coming out of his bloodshot eyes and then him kinda ... dying, I guess, although he makes like he's alright up to to the point he lets Vickers charbroil him.

    This poor thing is so inbred it's family tree looks like the Olympic Rings.
    The black goo turned a dead Fifield into a homicidal zombie with a taste for his former crewmates and a lack of need for oxygen to his huge melon.
    Oh, right, I almost forgot, before the whole Charlie-as-a-candle bit the black goo made him super-fertile which impregnated the barren Dr. Shaw, who, within 10 hours was 3 months pregnant with a squid called a Trilobite that grows up to facehug an Engineer whose chest bursts releasing a proto-xeno called the Deacon.
This is the literary equivalent of a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds. I mean, I'm sorry to offend any Ridley Scott fans out there that I haven't, but that ... is bad writing. It's lazy, and what's worse, is it doesn't even try to explain itself. The closest we're given to an explanation is that the captain, Janek, (played by Idris Elba) makes the assumption that the pyramid is a military base and that the black goo is some form of biological weaponry.

Yes, of course, the only conclusion is that they hate us.
For all we're told it might have been a pharmaceutical meant to promote hair growth that went horribly wrong. From there, because David activated the Engineer's holodeck and found that Earth was highlighted, Shaw comes to the conclusion that the Engineers want to destroy us. Okay ... as far as jumping to conclusions I feel she just made a long-jumping record, but I can roll with it.

And speaking of David. After a very interesting conversation about the nature of creators in relation to the created with Charlie Holloway, he spikes the man's drink with the black goo for the purpose of 'trying harder'. Why is this robot conniving? Robots don't connive! Still doesn't explain why he brought the goo on board in the first place. As far as finding a ticket for Weyland to immortality, it makes no rational sense. It could have done anything. There's no indication that anyone even did what could be considered a scientific analysis of the damn stuff. And Weyland may only have a few days remaining to live, but he's in cryo anyways, so you know what that means? NO RUSH!

Although Guy Pearce is awesome and the Viral
advertising had me super psyched.
And that twist was bullshit from the start. Oh, and the mad scientist is revealed to be on the ship because ... he's on the ship. Sweet. It couldn't have been established early on? No? Had to be a twist? Thanks Shyamalan. Vickers (Charlize Theron) is his daughter? Wow, now I feel a real emotional connection to the ice queen from the north now that you have revealed that inhumanity runs in her bloody family.

She did however look mighty fine in a skintight uniform ... crap, where was I going with this?

Oh right. Shaw's pregnancy. That scene was badass. I would consider it one of the best in the film, if only for the gore-factor. However, they must have some damn good drugs in the future, cause she spends the better portion of the remaining film running her ass off, getting knocked about, and falling off stuff. Every single time too I was thinking, 'Staples in the gut, staples in the gut'. Talk about brutal. Go to a Metal concert and do that in the mosh pit.

But the whole pregnancy cesarean, GIANT SQUID event goes unnoticed and for the most part un-commented upon save by the once-again conniving robot. Shaw never brings it up with anyone so far as I recall, and it is left on board (for later, but still). It is meant to be overshadowed by learning that there is still a living Engineer frozen in cryostasis, and Weyland's brilliant plan is to wake it up and ask for immortality.

So, they find an Engineer, wake him up, ask for immortality ... and he roars like a movie monster and rips David's head off before going on a murderous rampage.

It was at this point that any pretense of philosophical underpinnings are dropped entirely and the film slips almost too comfortably into the action/adventure genre. Shaw manages to escape to the surface and radios the Prometheus, telling them that they have to sacrifice themselves to stop the Engineer from flying to Earth and using the black goo to destroy the human race for reasons known only to those privy to movie-monster logic. 

We went from black goo to this in the course of a day.
Vickers flees to the escape pod moments before Janek crashes the Prometheus into the alien ship, sending them both plummeting to the ground. Vickers is crushed, and Shaw makes it to the escape pod, where she learns that the Trilobite has grown to ginormous size. David's decapitated-yet-still-functioning head radios her to warn her of the Engineer's survival and rampaging approach. She unleashes the Trilobite upon her maker and in a strange form of ancestral incest, the Trilobite facehugs the Engineer, which ultimately chestbursts something called a Deacon that kinda looks like a Xenomorph.

Just like riding a bike ... with a flute, through space. 
So Shaw and David take another ship (which David can fly) and head for the Engineer's homeworld (which David can find). When David asks why, Shaw's reply is that she wants to know why. 

And honestly, I can share her sentiment. As the credits rolled, that word echoed noisily in my mind, and much to my frustration, as I read more into it, the fewer satisfying answers I found. For me the three most glaring issues with this film revolve around the effects of the black goo, the motivation for David's behavior, and the validity of Shaw's assumptions that the Engineers want to destroy us, and despite the quality of the rest of the film, explanations for these three things could have elevated it far above what it is: a shiny sci-fi film, with great effects, a great cast, big questions, and a screenwriting mistep that ultimately crippled it.

Now, I've never actually said this before, but I implore anyone who has actually made it this far through this tome of a post to leave a comment below sharing your feelings on the matter. If you disagree with me, let me have it. If you have answers, hit me with them. If you agree, tell me how awesome and smart and handsome I am.

Cause here's the thing, and this'll really cook your noodle later, I really enjoyed this movie.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Been a while, gang ... Okay, so I'm lazy. Sue me.

I ended up seeing MIB3 ... twice, count 'em, and believe you me, not my first choice. Movies are pricey, and I sure as hell don't make that much. That said, I had a lot of fun both times. Primarily, it was a leg up over Men In Black II. It had heart and wit, and Josh Brolin blew me the frak away. 

But ... and this is a pretty damn big 'but', the opening scenes of the film, the prison break, the funeral of Zed, and pretty much everything leading up to Tommy Lee Jones' line, "I hate to drag you away from your video-games," I was hella leery about what I was watching. Actually, for the first 20 or so minutes, I looked exactly like this.

Heinlein had obviously never watched the opening to MIB3 when he  wrote,
"They laugh because it hurts so much."
Suffice it to say, I wasn't impressed by the opening.

His stare just burns with fatherly approval.

But then, around the time Agent K vanishes due to the escape and time jump of Boris the Animal to the past (July 16, 1969), to kill the legendary Man In Black before he can shoot of young Boris' arm and imprison him for forty years, the film kicks off. The jokes are funnier, mostly because Will Smith's comedy is at its best when things are working against him, from drinking the little girl's chocolate milk to the brain parasite that might kill him at any second being the lesser of two evils, and we have an emotional investment. What can be said? Tommy Lee Jones is endearing with all his cuddly warmth.

So, with the help of a (alien/human?) burnout who owns a small electronics store, Agent J time jumps into the past, where I geeked out instantly at the plethora of classic cars (I'm a Supernatural fan, don't judge me). There is a fair bit of amusement about how out of place Will Smith is in the 60s, and seeing Josh Brolin in action was fantastic.

I'm gonna blame the recession of his hairline ....
Josh Brolin plays K to a T (what does that even mean, anyways?) and is so convincing as Tommy Lee Jones it's almost frightening. The dynamic is damn near identical between the two characters, (Right down to the line, 'I'm beginning to see why we don't talk in the future.') However, we are still shown a happier, almost ... dare I say, carefree Agent K, and it is one of several recurring themes between young Agent K and J is figuring out what happens July 16, 1969 that changes Agent K into such an stone-cold sourpuss.

The obligatory finale takes place at the Apollo 11 lunar launch, (obligatory in that, the moment they established the date, where else would the showdown take place) which really mucked with my head considering all I could think about for the final half of the film was that roughly around that same time, the Doctor was saving the planet from the Silence. And then my brain drifted off into thinking about Torchwood/MIB crossover and my brain melted. I may not swing that way, but if Will Smith makes that suit look good, I bet Barrowman would make it look even better .... okay I'm back. And straight.

The film also has several fun characters replacing the old, no more Frank the talking pug (although he is referenced) and the worms are reduced back to a small role near the start. I like this. The second film seemed inundated with taking jokes from the first film and redressing them. I appreciate the inclusion of Grif and ... well, mainly Grif. He be cool. His opening monologue about possible futures and J's reaction were, in my mind, priceless.

Also, Boris the animal, while not an overly engaging character, I found amusing, if only because of the nagging feeling that I recognized that voice. After looking it up, I slapped myself for nerd-fail, indeed having recognized none other than what's-his-nuts from Flight of the Concords (his name is Jemaine Clement).

And as Agent K once said, "You have to trust the pie."

Now I want pie.

So overall, I really did enjoy the film. It was what it was, and when all is said an done, it even did jerk the heartstrings a bit. Not overly, and luckily it was done with enough sincerity not to come across as contrived. As Grif said, "Where there is death, there will always be death."

~ Godzello

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Okay, folks, I wish I could say I had a damned good excuse for having dropped off the face of the earth for the better portion of a month, but I don't. Indeed it was finals time, and I am in the process of transferring out of state, and there have been many a party to attend ... actually, those are fairly convincing arguments.

Holy crapzilla that is a screen-full of awesome!
But that said, seeing as I saw it an astounding 5 times since the midnight premier (I only paid my own way for the midnight premier, so no regrets), I gotta throw down my 2 cents on The Avengers, the damned biggest most blockbusterish superhero mashup summer slam this side of ... something. Cut me some slack, I haven't written one of these in a while. I hardly remember how to include pictures anymore.

It's like ... popular, or something.

Hehe, like riding a bike, like the one I had to ride to get to a Starbucks to utilize their wi-fi. Did I mention I've been without interwebs for a really long time now? Do you have any idea what kind of withdrawals that induces?

Anywho, back to the best comic book film ever. I say that based on multiple criteria. I'm a Whedonite. I worship at the shrine of Whedon. I even loved Dollhouse. 

Okay, are the naysayers gone? Good. Now ... I do consider Avengers to be the best comic-book superhero film adaptation to date, and a large portion of that does come from my enjoyment of Joss Whedon's body of work. However, I would stand by an argument from evidence. This film has torn through box-office record after record like a fifty millimeter bullet fired through tissue paper. Never before has a film of this kind received this kind of reception. It is literally unprecedented.

If Wikipedia is to be trusted that is ....
As a kid who has been called a geek and a nerd and a dork since the dawn of public education (luckily being of Irish descent I've enjoyed scrapping and rough housing enough to avoid the worst effects of the cumbersome monosyllabic double-digit IQ gibbons who rail against creative outlets such as comics, or even worse, classic literature), this is something of a radical time for me and those like me. It is a new millennium (older news now, but pay attention) and nerds are steadily on the rise of popularity. 

Any chance I can get to plug LICD, hehe.
Among most social circles of the college age, Pokemon is still a widely discussed topic; Power Rangers is remembered fondly; Doctor Who is referenced without shame or awkwardness. Long passed is the time of nerds gathering in basements to play Dungeons & Dragons. Today's nerds openly advertise their interests. 

And why shouldn't we? The sign of a true nerd is that honestly, at the end of the day, we love sharing the things we love. That's half the reason for this blog in the first place. There is no end to how much nerds want other people to get as excited about these subjects as we are. 

Avengers is like the ultimate representation of that. It is the final indication that the majority of the nerd stigma has been erased. For the most part, at the very least.

Now back to the film. It is the culmination of a film franchise consisting of the original Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. I have enjoyed each (maybe not Iron Man 2 ... for reasons why, see 'IRON MAN 2 movie review by Ryan Wieber'). But in almost every regard Avengers topped them all.

The film's scope is astounding, and I cannot imagine another writer being capable of balancing the cast and characters as well as Joss did. No single Avenger 'stole the show' although I will say that Mark Ruffalo did a damned fine job knocking my socks off as Bruce Banner/The Hulk. The characters each had, in their way, a hero moment, without feeling forced or constructed, and the dialogue (for those of Whedon fandom) was highly quirky and enjoyable (shining best in Robert Downey's portrayal of Mr. Stark), but not to the detriment of the characters. None of the characters were written or portrayed in a way that I felt betrayed themselves, even when the earth's mightiest heroes came into conflict with one another, whether it be Cap'n and Iron Man or Hulk and Thor.

 Also, Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki remains one of my favorites in any of the films. As a lover of stage theatre (whether I'm on the stage or in the audience), Hiddleston's skill as an actor resonates with me. He does it with a raw emotion, like a starving man, with such gleeful intensity that I can't imagine not being enraptured in his performance. Much like Ruffalo's time-bomb of a Bruce Banner, who, at any moment, felt as though he might just snap and go green all of the sudden.

Also, just to throw it out there, Chris Evans' performance remains, unsurprisingly, very open and sincere as the 'old fashioned' Steve Rogers. And lastly Phil Coulson, after appearing in nearly each of the previous Avenger films (I believe he was absent from the Incredible Hulk). 

Lastly, one must make reference to Cobie Smulders, (of How I Met Your Mother fame) and her stellar performance. I can only hope that in future films we will see more of her character.

Also, I can just hear Ted Mosby saying, "Kids ... this is the story of how your Aunt Robin saved the world."

Although, plot wise, I was saddened (probably as the minority) that the philosophical implications of Loki's assertion that freedom is not something to be fought for, was not elaborated on after its initial references at the beginning of the film.

The plot, while in no real way revolutionary, serves the purpose of establishing the characters, the world, and an enemy. It is an origin film that proceeds five other origin films. Talk about trippy.

It does a splendid job of picking up open ends from said previous films and weaving them into a cohesive tapestry. Admittedly I myself have no conception of it, nor do I know of anyone on whom to test this, but I would be highly curious to find myself someone who has not seen any of the other films, force them to watch Avengers, and have them report on how much sense the film makes out of context. Who knows. 

Alright, so having expounded upon the writing and the acting, I am obligated to reference the stellar graphics, but in this day and age, that is a given, or at least should be. For a film of this magnitude it would be a crime not to. But I will say I found thorough enjoyment in the soundtrack, having listened to it repeatedly before my internet died. 

Alright, one of my associates is currently insisting upon embarking upon a quest for sustenance, as our mortal forms require it. That said, I will bid thee adieu until next time, which will be shortly. I just saw Men and Black III the other day after all.

Viva la vida!