The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (NZ/USA, 2012)

Seen on Peter Jackson’s pet Embassy screen, with all mod cons: high frame rate, 3D, super surround sound speakers, etc.

It was groovy. Slower than it needed to be, but not so much as I’d feared. After the first half hour, it felt to me *very* similar in pacing to the LotR films. I’d give it 3.5 or 4 stars, against the 4.5 or 5 I’d throw down for the Lord of the Rings flicks.

It felt less like a coherent whole than any of the Rings films – the digressions (basically anything with no dwarves or hobbitses) really felt like digressions. This didn’t bother me in the least, though.

The big setpiece action sequence, dwarves vs goblins through mad tunnels and across wooden bridges, was too cartoony to feel of a piece with the more grittily choreographed LotR films – as if Legolas riding the shield was the default tone and not an unusual moment – but it was a fun romp and fully enjoyable to watch. (It also directly echoed, and far exceeded, the similar chase sequence in Tintin which was that film’s only memorable sequence.)

I liked it. What ya gonna do.

The HFR was *cool*. I really, really liked it. I can see why people don’t, of course, it’s definitely a different way of reading the screen, but it totally worked for me (and the 3D didn’t make my eyes tired, too, so I think it helped with that). I certainly don’t think it’s right for every film, there’s an effect of the “distance” of the traditional lower frame rate, but I can see myself looking forward to more films using HFR. I reckon Prometheus would’ve been more fun for me in HFR, for example.

Roll on part two.

Hobbit Premiere Day

My city is going bananas today. There’s a frenzy of excitement around the premiere of the first Hobbit movie, with the red carpet TV coverage due to begin in an hour or so. There’s also a frenzy of grump as long-simmering negativity finally boils up around such issues as the cultural worth of the movie, the government’s priorities, our tourism branding and sense of identity, and Peter Jackson’s reputation as a nice guy.

There’s also a lot of people who aren’t fussed either way, but you don’t hear much from them.

Me, I’m happy to sit with the positives. I have time for many of the grumpy-type issues (apparently there’s gonna be a book on the Hobbit labour dispute? would be good to read that and try and figure out if I had it right or if I was a victim of an effective spin machine) – but when I think about the Hobbit, mostly I think about the people I know who worked on it. There’s a lot of them. It’s a rare Wellingtonian who doesn’t know any, in fact, and that’s exactly the point. This is a creative cultural product that’s come out of our local film setup, drawing on the expertise of many friends and countless friends-of-friends. I like it when my friends and my community do cool stuff.

So bring it on. I’ll have the telly on for the coverage. I’ll be particularly looking forward to Sylvester McCoy’s jaunt down the red carpet, and Barry Humphries. And I’ll raise a glass in respect to my friends who’ve put love and labour into this project. Nice work, folks. I look forward to seeing the result.

NZFF: Cabin in the Woods (USA, 2011)

Awesome fun, but.

A Goddard/Whedon clever-clever horror movie that takes the stereotypical slasher film structure and dismantles it. I fought hard to avoid being spoiled for this film but it turns out I needn’t have bothered, because it pretty much unfolds completely predictably from the juxtaposition set up in the first two scenes. The joy of it isn’t surprise though, it’s in execution, particularly in the gags. This is funny stuff. I did guffaws.

What it doesn’t do, is say anything clever about the horror genre, and I think it was trying to. There’s a subtextual thing in there that, I think, really doesn’t get what horror films are for, or conversely, what audiences want from horror films. So while I really enjoyed the film, I also want to argue with it. I suspect that the bits that threw me out of the experience – without exception, these were times it pulled a turn from grim nastiness to funny, which is trademark Whedonesque – failed for me because they were founded on this misapprehension.

Conversely, what it *does* do is celebrate scary movies. And it celebrates beautifully. It gets how scares work and how gags work and how tension unites the two. It plays out, on a scene level, beautiful beautiful moments that I will always remember. They didn’t all add up for me, but I definitely got my money’s worth. Would very happily watch again.

(Also a Go Girl takes her top off.)

NZFF: The Imposter (UK, 2012)

Documentary about a family who found their lost son after four years, only it turned out it wasn’t their son at all, it was an imposter. Told from the point of view of the imposter.

This is a heck of a story, and it’s easy to see why people have been eagerly talking about it. The main figures are fascinating (the core family, the increasingly odd imposter), and the supporting characters are memorable (including an FBI agent who is, er, not the best advertisement for that agency, and a Private Investigator who is a born star).

The twists and turns don’t seem quite so gasp-worthy to me though, and probably to anyone else who studied psychology. “How could the family possibly accept this chap was their son?” Well, “very easily”, says psyc. Because if there’s one thing psychologists know that they can’t seem to get into the public domain, it’s that we are way more cognitively fallible than society tells us. You Are Not So Smart.

Like most documentaries I see these days, it is too long – it would probably make for a great BBC 60-minute no-ads TV documentary, but at 90 minutes it really felt like it took ages to get going. Anyone who goes to see documentaries on film (or rents them on DVD) will know this phenomenon though, and it’s pretty forgiveable really.

So, I didn’t gasp and I thought it was long. That sounds pretty negative. Actually I really enjoyed this film, I’m just unwilling to talk about why because it’ll spoil the surprises – and the filmmaker really makes the most of those surprises. Definitely worth your time.

Prometheus (USA, 2012)

Mostly awful.


More? Okay. Here’s what I put on Facebook and Twitter:

Prometheus: I really liked it! Except for whenever any character said or did anything.
Or when the film explained anything at all,
Or when it linked to or referenced any other movie.
Apart from that it was great!

(The visual experience was wonderful, and that is best experienced in the cinema. I sort of do recommend it, in a bizarre way. It’s a deeply incoherent film. And it is trying to do something, which is more than 95% of big films ever do. I dunno man. It’s a weird, weird movie.)


Still here? Ooookay. Let’s go.

BALD RIPLEY
Cinefantastique June 1992
Twenty years ago, round about now, I bought the June 1992 edition of Cinefantastique. It was the first solid information I would get on the sequel to my absolute favourite film, Aliens. I’d seen an early trailer on Entertainment Tonight but apart from that, I knew nothing.

The coverage was a revelation. Cinefantastique was not a puff-piece magazine, and it did not pull its punches.[1] As it recounted the bizarre story of the production of Alien3, I was forced to accept some uncomfortable truths. Principally, this: the loyal soldier and the brave girl saved by Ripley’s heroism? They die in the opening credits of the new film. Get over it.

Cut to: sitting in the movie theatre with my buddies. The lights go down. The film begins. And those opening credits that heartlessly destroy the loved characters from a previous film? I love those credits. I still think it stacks up as one of the best opening sequences I’ve ever seen. All around me, though, the reception is not as positive. Right there and then, everyone else finding out that the guy and the little girl are dead. The movie doesn’t care. It just kept going at them. No wonder they start to hate it.

The hatred didn’t last. About a decade later, it started to pick up some respectability, and while it’s still little-loved, it’s also rarely hated any more. But it took a long time for that first rush of thwarted expectations to even out. I often wonder if that magazine was the only thing that spared me from the same initial response. Expectations matter. More than that: expectations are part of the film experience.

Expectations have been a big part of Prometheus, too. Is it an Alien prequel or is it not? What will Ridley Scott have to say this time? What is that big human-looking face? Does the trailer really give away 98% of the film?

So what were we expecting?

LES COUSINS DANGEREUX

Let’s get this right out of the way, then: Prometheus is not an Alien film. And that’s fine.

“Star Beast” was into development when the word “Alien” was noticed just sitting there in the script, waiting.
It’s a great name, both an adjective and a noun, and it completely captures the theme of the film, that…
waitasecond, I’ve already written about this. Let me quote myself.

[In the 1979 film] there was a whole biologicial technology in evidence that was truly alien, whose provenance and purpose was left unexamined. Thematically, this was the ground on which the B-movie monster stalked. The idea of alien-ness – the beauty and terror of the deeply different – was portrayed in a dense ecology of incomprehensible detail, all clearly part of some unreadable plan. A monster rose up and killed the film’s lonely humans, but the message was not that alien life is inimical to human life; the message was that alien life is not measurable against human life. These are different orders of nature, existing at right angles to each other. And, by extension, the message was that humans are not the masters of all they survey. Even these star-spanning future humans command only a small and humble domain. It’s a message of warning against hubris. We humans are just one limited mode of seeing in a universe which makes no room for us. Or, shorter: we do not matter.

Ridley Scott has done something completely different here. In fact, what he’s done here is the direct opposite of what he did in Alien. In Prometheus, it is announced in the opening scenes that humanity does matter. We are being invited to visit these mysterious aliens, who have shepherded us throughout our history, and who maybe created us.

There are no aliens in Prometheus. There are only cousins.

Ridley here portrays an intergalactic order in which human existence is comprehensible, and part of a grand plan. We have a place in the plan, we just don’t know exactly what it is. This idea is thematically incompatible with Alien.

This makes it somewhat distracting that the film-makers, over and over again, draw links between the two. Places, scenes, moments, from the 1979 film are repeated in the 2012 film. These quotes are all shallow and surface material. The new film is tone-deaf to the content and mission of the old. It reimagines these surface elements to address entirely different, incompatible, concerns.

Prometheus isn’t an Alien movie. It’s an Alien remix.[2]

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

Among the many memorable characters created by Monty Python, my favourites have always been the Gumbys. The Gumbys are shouting, staggering, inept, thuggish, helpless morons. Perpetually bewildered, they break everything around them while bellowing obvious, tragic expressions of their discomfort and failure. On the Monty Python album that a friend dubbed on to tape for me in early high school, the Gumbys appear in an amazing sketch: an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. It’s two minutes, give it a listen if you never have:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a fair representation of the human action in Prometheus. Prometheus would in fact be a more coherent and satisfying experience if every line of dialogue was overdubbed with Gumbys saying “Sorry” “I’ve broken it” and “My brain hurts”.

I really feel like this can’t be emphasised enough. The dialogue and behaviour of every single character defies understanding. It is hard to think of any action by any character that even faintly resembles real human behaviour. This is not an exaggeration. Every line, every action. Every character. Every single scene. All of them. For an entire film. Beginning to end. ALL OF IT.

(Well, I can think of two exceptions, both involving Idris Elba’s space captain: (1) when he puts up a christmas tree, and (2) when he asks another character if they are a robot. That’s it. Maaaaaybe when Noomi Rapace’s space archaeologist puts herself on a medical chair, too. Maaaybe.)

Hey, that Cinefantastique issue was the first I ever heard of James Blish’s idiot plot: “a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot”. I thought it a bit harsh as a description of Alien3, but it is a perfect description of what’s going on in Prometheus. Everyone is an idiot. The things they do aren’t just stupid, they are nonsensical in a way that almost loops around into coherence again, like a Lewis Carroll poem, where all the inexplicable ridiculousness becomes mutually reinforcing and disguises the fact that none of it makes any sense at all.

I can’t think of another film that is so completely front-to-end inane. It’s indefensible. Nothing but wall-to-wall Mr Gumby, start to finish. My brain hurts! I dropped it! Run away Mr Gumby!

What were we expecting? The characters in Alien don’t make great decisions but they sure aren’t idiots. But this isn’t an Alien movie! Okay then. Consider, um, Blade Runner. Or Lawrence of Arabia. Or pretty much any other film ever made.

TOMB OF HORRORS

Prometheus doesn’t have a plot, it has a location.

In the early years of Dungeons & Dragons, you’d buy adventure modules to play with your friends. These were always pretty much the same: a detailed description of a dungeon or other dangerous environment, filled with traps, treasure, and monsters, and usually with some underlying logic that could be uncovered through careful investigation. Every group that sat down to play would have a different story unfold as they entered and explored this dungeon. Character was important, sure, but the organising principle of the experience was the dungeon map, and the key that explained it. Everything in the game arose out of the location.

Prometheus takes this same approach to its story. There is no story except characters exploring, and reacting to, the environment. It may be the closest we’re ever going to get to a filmic representation of the Tomb of Horrors experience.

As a result, the film pays a lot of attention to its sense of place. It carefully and clearly establishes its external geography, showing how everything fits together in the physical space. It then purposely upends this in the twisting interior, echoing the way in which the characters get swiftly disoriented in the labyrinth. And then, perversely, it underlines the lack of clarity about the internal physical space by repeatedly showing a very detailed map of the interior.

Prometheus succeeds magnificently as an exploration of space. The visuals in the film are stunning. The environment is realised in a completely credible, deeply fascinating, fully atmospheric way. It is lit and shot and computer-enhanced with great skill. This is a visual effects triumph, [3] and a sign of Ridley Scott’s mastery of this aspect of filmmaking.

Did we expect anything less?

HORSESHOES OF THE GODS

Reading that magazine helped me set my expectations right for Alien 3. Prometheus presents a similar challenge. If you go in expecting Alien The Prequelling, you will be disappointed. To his credit, Ridley Scott did a good job of trying to shift expectations. What I was expecting – hoping for, really – was a film that would make me think.

And this is what we want film-makers to do, isn’t it? To stretch themselves, to try and make a big statement, to do something that will give us some meat. To his further credit, Ridley Scott has done this here, he’s gone in boots and all and tried to do something huge.

The problem is that the ideas Scott is pursuing are, not to put too fine a point on it, stupid. Go read Cavalorn’s LJ post [4] on the symbolism (major spoilers!) – I believe he’s identified what Ridley Scott was consciously putting into play for this film. And it’s just not pretty reading. Scott has left a lot of ambiguity around the answers to many of his questions, mistaking provocation for depth. The questions are provocative, sure, but there’s nowhere for any of them to go. They don’t mean anything. If the answer was given, you wouldn’t feel any different. It’s dead content, questions designed just to be questions. [5]

So don’t expect the love to grow for Prometheus, like it did for Alien 3. This is a movie that will shrink on reflection, and away from the immersive environment of a darkened movie theatre. Those expectations are going to be corrosive, because it’s a movie that can’t live up to them. The more it is considered, the faster it will disintegrate. (And not in a lifegiving way.)

It’s a failure. A huge, engrossing, foolish, stunning, disastrous waste of talent and skill that pushes you away faster than it can pull you in, that alienates you faster than it can speak to you. It’s a folly and all of its many flaws come down to the writing, on every level: the concept, the structure, the execution, the dialogue. The writing, of course; the simplest thing. A man with a pen and paper. The hardest thing, too.

Watch it, or don’t.


[1] Though I’ve long lost the actual copy, I remember so many of the details from that incredible set of articles. I believe that this was the origin of the phrase “development hell” as a way to refer to moviemaking by the hard road. Also memorable: interview with Lance Henriksen where he said “this David Fincher kid they pulled in to salvage this movie, he’s a talent. This film does not show what he can do. watch for him.” Henriksen called that one right.

[2] Yes, Ridley Scott would disagree, but why should we listen to him?

[3] Bias alert: I’m mates with a few people who worked on these visual effects, including the guy in charge of all the bits Weta worked on. So I am predisposed to kindness. I don’t think this is just bias, though – most reviewers seem to agree on this bit, while disagreeing on almost everything else.

[4] And how nice to see Adrian Bott’s essay being circulated all over the place. I was introduced to him in passing in 2005, but never said a word to him beyond hello. Mutual friends indicate he’s a very nice chap though.

[5] *cough cough* Damon Lindelof *cough* Lost *cough*

Dune & Doctor Who

Two interesting projects have come to light today, both on the Bleeding Cool news website. They are both ideas I have talked about several times in the past: “someone should do this,” I have said. Now someone is.

The first is a documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s aborted 1970s film adaptation of Dune. I learned about this film through my interest in the making of the 1979 film Alien, which was in many ways born out of the ashes of the failed Dune project. The designs I’ve seen for the film are fascinating, and the weird visionary style of Jodorowsky would have been a fascinating match for Frank Herbert’s dense science fiction epic. The sheer talent involved alone makes this one of the great untold stories of filmmaking, and one I’ve long thought demanded a telling; but now that I’ve seen this first clip, I realize Dune could have been even more of a game changer, perhaps the only real followup to Kubrick’s 2001. This one promises to far exceed my hopes. I’m very excited about this.

The second one has not been confirmed, but strongly hinted: Mark Gatiss is apparently working on a TV drama about the creation of Doctor Who in the early 60s. I am a lot more cautious about this project. While Gatiss is a huge fan of the show and a highly successful TV creative (best known at the moment for Sherlock), he is… not at his strongest working with female characters. (At least, so argues Andrew(Bartok), quite convincingly.)

This matters because the version of this story I have always wanted to see (and have wanted to write, had I the time and airfare budget to research it properly) isn’t about the origins of Doctor Who at all, but instead about the early careers of two remarkable women: Verity Lambert and Delia Derbyshire. Both of them were pioneers (in television production and electronic music, respectively, although that undersells their impact) and both of them were young women in overwhelmingly male work environments. DW was where their trajectories crossed, and they both had a huge part to play in making the show an icon of British culture. There is plenty of other fascinating incident in the origin of DW, and of course the men involved were all quite singular, but to me the Lambert/Derbyshire parallel story has a potential that the rest doesn’t match.

So I’ll watch for more news of this one with caution.

(The first scene of my version of the Lambert/Derbyshire story pretty much writes itself.)

The Muppets (2011)

Cal & I were lucky enough to get a few hours to ourselves, and decided to check out a film. Our options gave us a pretty stark choice, and we opted for The Muppets over Lars von Trier’s (supposedly fantastic but probably a wee bit depressing) Melancholia.

This was a good call.

It’s a great film. Sure, not perfect. The pacing felt a little bit *too* rushed at the start, like you were waiting for it to catch up with itself. But all the bits were fantastic. It was classic Muppets action. Lew Zealand got one of the best lines in the film, and you know something’s going right (or terribly terribly wrong) when that happens. Heck, the film trusted its felt talent enough to hand over the screen to its chicken cast, who of course (unlike the other Muppets) cannot speak, only cluck. Everything stopped for a big chicken-only musical number which was performed in its entirety. And it worked.

And I even teared up a bit as the Muppets recreated their classic TV opening.

I only had one complaint about this film, one moment where it kicked me out of the zone. The Muppets are performing probably their most famous song, and it cuts to the audience in the theatre, who are all smiling and swaying along with the music. And I thought, NO! That’s not right. They should be SINGING ALONG!

Anyway. This card-carrying member of the Victoria University Muppet Club loved it.

Bonus: Yesterday I listened to this Q&A podcast with the writers of The Muppets – revelatory and laugh-out-loud funny. Obviously, filled with spoilers, but if you’ve seen the film I highly recommend it.

Also: Chris Cooper’s song in the film is a SHOWSTOPPER.

Alien Prometheus

All right. I am about to indulge in some full-throttle nerdery.

I’ve been watching over the last 3 days the trailer-trailers for Prometheus, the new science fiction film from Ridley Scott. It is set in the same world as his hugely influential film Alien.

The trailer-trailer displays a continuity of physical design, with people in Moebius-like spacesuits trudging through Giger interior spaces; the sound mix throws in the shocking and intense Alien note that anchored the very first trailers for the 1979 film. Heck, even the typeface is the same as that from the first Alien (and the Prometheus title echoes Jim Cameron’s 1986 sequel Aliens).

The early news of an Alien Prequel didn’t seem to fill many people with joy. The alien creatures seem played-out thanks to two lacklustre crossover films, and Ridley Scott himself is famously uneven in his output. But Scott’s approach has generated interest. He is exploring other aspects of the mysteries raised in the first film – namely, the nature of the “space jockey”, the enormous elephantine fossil encountered by the doomed explorers. The famous phallic-headed dual-jawed chest-violating alien, Scott says, will play no part in the new film.

Complaints about his uneven filmic record aside, it must be understood that Ridley Scott is the only person who could make this story happen. No other filmmaker could get blockbuster money behind a science fiction film that is “a prequel to Alien but without the alien”. From the perspective of the Hollywood system, this would be an anti-movie, almost a Zen koan, an idea that utterly negates itself. Only for Ridley does it make sense. He can muster the finances with his reputation, and assert a new direction for Prometheus because he is the creator.

(At least, he is seen as the creator. Alien was of course a group project. O’Bannon, Giler & Hill all have a very strong claim to creation of the ideas explored herein. Giler and Hill are on board as producers, and O’Bannon – who always lamented the lack of recognition he received for his part in the film – passed away two years ago.)

I find the concept of Prometheus, as so described, incredibly enticing. The first Alien film was a monster-in-a-dark-house flick, but undertaken so grandly and in such a violatory manner that the alien creature seized a place as a cultural nightmare. But the film raised many other questions; there was a whole biologicial technology in evidence that was truly alien, whose provenance and purpose was left unexamined. Thematically, this was the ground on which the B-movie monster stalked. The idea of alien-ness – the beauty and terror of the deeply different – was portrayed in a dense ecology of incomprehensible detail, all clearly part of some unreadable plan. A monster rose up and killed the film’s lonely humans, but the message was not that alien life is inimical to human life; the message was that alien life is not measurable against human life. These are different orders of nature, existing at right angles to each other. And, by extension, the message was that humans are not the masters of all they survey. Even these star-spanning future humans command only a small and humble domain. It’s a message of warning against hubris. We humans are just one limited mode of seeing in a universe which makes no room for us. Or, shorter: we do not matter.

(There are clear parallels to the (heavily picked over) Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos, where the fundamental secret about the dark alien gods is that they do not care about humanity; our inability to comprehend our cosmic insignificance tends to deliver us into madness.)

All of these elements were left unexplored in the other films in the series, which instead took the route of using the implacable alien creatures as symbolic engines, on which to layer this or that human-vs-? metaphor. In the second movie, they became the fourth-generation soldiers who eschewed a traditional battlefield and thereby negated military power and all the structures of hierarchy and control so embedded (referencing Vietnam & Afghanistan in the 70s). In the third movie, they became the idea of contamination, both in the sense of infectious disease, and of dangerous and wrong thoughts. In the fourth movie, they became (curiously enough) nature, or more precisely biological systems that through sheer complexity do not submit themselves to human control; and reproductive systems, the propagation of the human race, most of all.

There’s much to value in this approach, but the power of the first film was very much located in the directness of its meaning: the alien elements represented themselves.

Scott has noted in his discussion of Prometheus that the space jockey was untouched by the other films. Truth. But the mystery of the space jockey has been addressed in a number of ancillary stories. Of course none of these “matter”, but they can serve as examples against which we can measure Prometheus and speculate about what ground it might cover.

Thanks to licensing requirements, in all of these stories, the “Aliens” title is dominant, and as a result, the Giger creatures are inevitably prominent. In the extremely good 1980s comics written by Mark Verheiden, the space jockey is a conquerer, using the aliens to subjugate worlds (and this fate ultimately befalls our earth). In the less-well-known novel Aliens: Original Sin, the space jockey is one of a species of negotiators, entering a mutually beneficial trade deal with a human network. And in the even less well-known (and abandoned unfinished) comic series Aliens: Apocalypse – The Destroying Angels, human explorers discover that the space jockeys once dominated the galaxy using aliens as tools, with pre-human earth as part of their domain.

It will be curious to see how Scott charts his own course outward from the space jockey data given in the film; and
more pointedly, the way he uses these elements in a thematic and symbolic way. It’s also worth noting that the designers of the first Alien film deliberately loaded the space jockey with a specific symbolic weight. They tried to evoke positive feelings, sympathy and respect. It wasn’t meant as a threatening image, and had a kind of nobility to it. These were deliberate design choices, to contrast with the cold, unyielding threat of the other, nastier kind of alien.

(In the original schema for Alien, the space jockey was to be clearly portrayed as an innocent victim of the aliens; but script simplifications transformed this poor victim into the pilot of a craft carrying a cargo of deadly aliens, the very creatures that destroyed it. The ambiguity around the space jockey’s relationship to the cargo adds greatly to the sense of mystery, and immediately complicates any moral message. The original story would have been a lesser film on this count at least.)

So. As noted above, I find the concept enticing, and recognise that there is much to explore with the elements Scott has chosen as his focus. However, I am feeling great trepidation.

Because of the face.

It’s the central image in the poster, and was the first image released as a publicity still: a giant human face in an alien environment. This sets off enormous, raucous alarm bells for me.

See also the tagline from the poster: “The search for our beginning could lead to our end.” Our beginning? In another interview Scott namechecked Eric Von Daniken, whose Chariots of the Gods supposed that alien beings came to earth and taught us new technology. Is that what he’s doing here?

The face is not alien. The face denotes a different order of mystery, one that loops tightly back to earth and history of the human race – a tiny segment of time on one tiny planet in one corner of a vast universe. The face is hubris. The face asserts that in the vast deeps of space, among species whose nature we can only guess at, we still matter. We are not nothing – we are everything.

This, to me, is the biggest danger posed by Prometheus. Put another way: the message of Alien is, not everything is about us. I fear that Prometheus will show that Alien was about us, after all.

That would be a tragic reconfiguration of the 1979 film. And while the Alien films will always sit there pristine (if they can survive a Predator giving a helicopter ride to an Giger Alien, they can survive this), whenever I engage with them from now on I will hear Prometheus talking at me.

I hope it says the right things.

Wampa!

Did Lucas ever invent a word with a more pleasing sound than “Wampa”?

For a competition now in progress, my buddies Jon and Jarratt chose to recreate the Wampa cave sequence from Empire Strikes Back. It is grooovy! Check it:

Give them some likes and stuff over at the YouTube page.

EDIT EDIT: here’s the right way to vote for them:
“I posted on Facebook, I got the process for voting for the people’s choice award wrong. You need to:
1) Go to the Facebook V Energy NZ site,
2) Click on the 48 Second link/application from the menu on the left hand side
3) Find our video
4) Click on the “thumbs up” icon. “

White Man’s Akira

Don’t worry folks, even though lots of really big things in the world are going wrong, there’s still room for some very small things to go completely wrong too.

The script for the Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures live action adaptation of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6-volume graphic novel Akira has been sent to a short list of actors… I’m told that for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been given the new script. For the role of Kaneda, the script has been given to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. The two leads are expected to come from that group of actors.

[They’re not actually going to have Robert Pattinson playing a character called Tetsuo. The Deadline link says the action has been moved from Neo-Tokyo to New Manhattan. He’ll be Theodore. Justin Timberlake will be Kevin. I guess they won’t be teenagers any more either.]