Sunday, June 17, 2012

Prometheus ***½


Just for the record, Prometheus was a mythical Greek Titan who gave man fire.  He often represents the quest for scientific knowledge, although if there is a point to the movie Prometheus, it is that it is dangerous to stick your nose where it doesn't belong.

The movie is a prequel the movie Alien, which is often described as the most scary movie ever made.  Actually, the sequel, Aliens, scared me even more.  Although Prometheus is not a particularly scary movie, it does present us with a grand vision of the events preceding the first movie along with an interesting mythology to back it up.

The story is that archaeologists discover evidence that ancient humans were visited by an alien race, and they think that they have a good idea where those aliens are from.  They convince a corporate trillionaire to finance a huge space ship in an effort to go find the aliens.  This is the point where a person might wonder if this is a good business venture?  What they find on this trip very neatly leads up to the first Alien movie, which means that if you haven't seen that film, the ending of Prometheus won't have as much significance.

Of particular significance on this trip is an android named David, played creepily by Michael Fassbender.  He seems to have his own agenda, and protecting the humans on the ship isn't part of it.   Another person who has an agenda, is the corporate trillionaire, played by Guy Pearce.  Seems that he is a stowaway on this trip.  Charlize Theron plays his daughter, who runs the ship, and she is about as unemotional as the android.

The R rating puzzles me.  There is some violence and sexuality in this movie, but neither is very graphic.  Compared to other R rated films, this movie seems tame.  There is a little bit of alien monster violence that might seem intense.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fright Night (***)


Fright Night (2011) is a slightly teen friendly vampire horror movie remake of the 1985 film by the same name (**½).  The first film was more of a comedy and the second film places more emphasis on horror with just a touch of comedy thrown in.  That is part of my problem with this movie.  This is a genre where you either play it funny or you make it completely serious and genuinely frightening.  Anything between loses some its scariness and makes it feel lightweight.

The movie does feel lightweight.  My other problem with the film is that I don't think that it breaks any new ground.  Everything that is done in this movie has been done before.  It might as well be an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is actually a far better show than most people realize.  Only a few Buffy fans like me understand its greatness.

There are many elements in the first film that are repeated in the remake but done better.

Despite my complaints, there is enough action in the film to get me caught up in the story.  At one point there is a battle between the vampire and people in a car.  The car loses.  Later, there is a subterranean battle between humans and vampires that is pretty well done.

I like seeing David Tennant playing an actor and reluctant vampire expert.  Too bad he left Doctor Who for this.


Kung Fu Panda 2 (***½)


Kung Fu Panda 2 lost out to Rango (***) for the 84th Academy Awards Award for Best Animated Feature.  Really?  Rango was mostly an exercise in weirdness, but never did I identify with the main character like I do Po.  Po is an underdog who doubts himself, but once again makes good as a Kung Fu master.

I could tell you the plot, but what is the point?  An evil lord rises up to conquer all of China and has to be defeated.  What makes the all too familiar story interesting is how well it is executed, the humor, and the quality of the characters.  Here Po struggles to understand where he came from and who he is.  It is revealed that Mr. Ping is not Po's real father, but that is not even a little bit of a surprise given that he is a Chinese Goose.

The computer animation is so beautiful and so detailed, it had me wondering how they do it and how much it cost to produce a movie like this? ($150 million.)  Kung Fu Panda 2 looks better than the first film and the first film looked pretty good.  The beauty of the animated scenery becomes like another character because we are entertained just by looking at it.

The first film had me wondering why the movie needed to be animated and why did all the characters have to be animals?  It seemed a little odd to see all these different animals interacting like human characters.  The original story could have used live human actors with Jack Black playing the lead, but in this animated universe the characters do extreme martial arts that would seem impossible and silly if humans did them.  The two movies have a certain amount of charm showing that many different types of animals can interact and be friends.  It also made me wonder what all these animals eat?   They all seem to be vegetarians, which is convenient given that the animals aren't eating each other.

Check out the trailer here.