Thursday, October 25, 2012

Half of PROMETHEUS

After we wrapped our TV pilot shoot one weekend this month in New York City, I geared up for my return stand-by trip back here to Northern California.  I had to fly out of Newark, NJ to O'Hare in Chicago.  In Chicago, I'd catch a flight to San Francisco.  The United plane for the Newark to Chicago flight was beautiful and roomy.  The deluxe entertainment system looked new.  One of the movies available was Ridley Scott's Prometheus.  I didn't get to see it on the big screen this year.  My brother did.  He dug it.  He's a sci-fi and fantasy geek.  My sister-in-law's review was "Meh."  As the excellent and groundbreaking Alien is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi horror films, I had to seize the in-flight opportunity to see if the 2012 release was a prequel to the Alien story.  The opening of the movie was proof that, as I've blogged before, young actors need to study classic films if they are serious about their craft.  Watching those films made before the 1980s is part of their homework.  Prometheus starts with Michael Fassbender as the android David intently focused on a classic film.  Old movies made it into the future and into deep space.  The one being watched is director David Lean's 1962 gem, Lawrence of Arabia.
The android will replicate the vocal cadence, the physical mannerisms and the look of Peter O'Toole as Lawrence.  (O'Toole on the left in the pic below.  Android on the right.)
When I took acting classes at TVI Studios in New York City for a couple of years, I was stunned at how many of the young students didn't care about classic films even though the teachers -- many of whom were local casting directors -- stressed the importance of watching them.  The actors paid more attention to current movies and American Idol.  That's not enough. If you're a young male actor and you got an audition for the role of the android, think about this:  How do you successfully, skillfully play a character imitating Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia if you haven't seen the film?  You can't just YouTube interviews and clips of O'Toole.  The Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia is different from the O'Toole as The Lion in Winter and the O'Toole in The Ruling Class, the musical remake of Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Stuntman, Becket and My Favorite Year.  Michael Fassbender obviously did his actor homework.  For sci-fi fans, we know that if an android copies the behavior of a fictional character in some form of entertainment instead of imitating behavior of a real person, there's bound to be trouble and tragedy.
If you've spent time in a big city or trendy neighborhood Starbucks, you know how irritating hipsters can be.  In several locations I've been to, if the hipsters weren't busy giving you service with a sneer behind the counter, they considered Starbucks to be their personal office space as they held tables hostage with all their laptops and other paraphernalia.  The only thing more annoying than hipsters in Starbucks is hipsters in outer space -- which is exactly the element I couldn't stand about Prometheus.  If that young space team is our future, we need to stop procreating immediately.  Tie your tubes.  Wear a body condom.  What ever happened to intelligent earthlings who followed orders in movies like MGM's Forbidden Planet?  This team lands on a strange, mysterious planet and the men act like they're  middle school brats at lunchtime.
When a ship commander, concerned about the air quality, orders them not to remove their helmets, one alpha male hip-stronaut disobeys orders and removes his helmet.  Thus, bringing a touch of Williamsburg Brooklyn into a galaxy far, far away.  Seriously?
So, let me get this right:  They land on a strange, dark, creepy planet.  There's no live being on it.  They find skeletons on the ground.  A commander radios the order for crew to keep their protective headgear on...but Johnny Rockets says "Screw that.  I'm young, butch and have a bad-ass haircut!"  To me, that is the male equivalent to a woman asking a total stranger to watch her purse while she uses the restroom in a bus terminal.  It's just not going to end well.  And shouldn't because of that absolutely clueless behavior.  Later, the group's motto seems to be "Scream, freak out, endanger your fellow workers by bringing contaminated objects into the mother ship.  Oh...and try to get laid while your millions of miles away from Earth on a risky and complicated scientific expedition."
The Skipper, Gilligan and all the sailors in McHale's Navy would have been a better, smarter, more disciplined male crew than this one.  A female member gets impregnated with an alien creature.  After she performs surgery on herself to get rid of the octopus-like fetus and save the lives of others onboard the spacecraft, the United pilot had begun our descent into Chicago.  I didn't see the rest of Prometheus.  I had to change planes.
What I did see of Prometheus was visually rich and highly stylized.  Ridley Scott has a great eye for the design of a film with sets, costumes, lighting and special effects.
But, script-wise, I sorely missed the professionalism and maturity of Ripley's crew in Alien.  The Prometheus dudes shouldn't have been on a futuristic scientific exploration in space.  They should've been hunting for dinner items and cooking utensils on Survivor.
Those hipsters were all wrong for that kind of project.  Like having Chris Brown as the opening act for a Melissa Etheridge concert.  They should not have been booked for it.
I'll catch up with the end of Prometheus eventually.  But I did like Michael Fassbender's Peter O'Toole-ing as the android David.  Fine work.  Very well-played.
I wonder how he'd do in the elegant crime caper comedy role O'Toole had opposite Audrey Hepburn in William Wyler's How To Steal A Million.  Just a thought.











2 comments:

  1. I was really, REALLY looking forward to this movie when it came out. Pretty disappointed with it when I saw it opening weekend.

    I was offended by the unscientific behavior of the team. Astronauts are trained scientists, not space cowboys. And that feeling is best illustrated by this animated gif:

    http://pluginhayley.tumblr.com/post/25383318395

    ReplyDelete
  2. A terrible movie and an insult to moviegoers. I know "Alien" was a horror movie in space, but they at least behaved intelligently. This was a slasher film disguised around a lofty premise.

    ReplyDelete

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