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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Review: Prometheus (Spoiler-Free)

It’s almost impossible to write about Prometheus without spoilers, as the very first scene of the film is, in fact, a visual you have not seen in any of the materials and a story spoiler that establishes the foundations for what the movie will be.

That said, the film is a prequel to the Alien movies, though not a direct prequel. It feels like there is room for a few more movies (2?) before there is a direct connection to Alien. Set in the late 2000s, the mission is on a trillion dollar ship going as far out as any human ship had gone. The women at the center of this story are Noomi Rapace, as scientist Elizabeth Shaw, and Charlize Theron, as Meredith Vickers, the apparent boss of the ship, though she struggles, coldly, for control throughout the movie. Shaw desperately wants to be on this journey and seeks higher insight and Vickers is there out of obligation and is deeply frustrated by what she clearly sees as a waste of time.

Shaw and her boyfriend, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover the symbolic maps placed through human history on earth that lead to the journey. Shaw & Holloway offer a conflicting dyad, she seeking a higher/spiritual answer to the origins of human life and he seeking a scientific explanation only.

The movie is loaded with these dyads. The other major character in the story is David (played by Michael Fassbender), who is the most advanced robot created by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) at the time of the story. He is, in may ways, the HAL 9000 of the story. He doesn’t have a HALian meltdown, but he does have a lot of control and is quite close to being omnipotent on the ship. He quirkily sees himself in a mirror of Peter O’Toole’s TS Lawrence, as he leads a group of humans into a conflict, the futility of which he cannot understand until he has experienced it. He is in a dyad with Theron’s Vickers, two controlling figures with short blonde hair, crystal-blue eyes, and seemingly perfect physiques. And by the end of the film, his relationship with Shaw will form another dyad.

Also pairing up are Fifield and Millburn (Sean Harris & Rafe Spall) and Chance & Revel (Emun Elliot & Benedict Wong). And there is “Ford” (played by Kate Dickie), who seems to be a medic of some kind. Another 8 humans on the journey, so inconsequential that they are credited as “Mercenary 1 – 4″ and “Mechanic 1 – 4.”

Last but not least, there is Idris Elba as “Janek,” as the old school ship’s captain, gets a surprising amount of screen time, given that he is really an outside perspective on the whole thing. His dyad is himself and his ship, which along with his crew, is his only real priority. He is the film’s true pragmatism with no off-setting motives.

The “big theme” in the film is our origins as a species. How did human life come to be on earth? Why? As Navin R. Johnson might put it, what is our special purpose?

I’ve already read one review that thinks the answer is not in the film. I think that the answer is not only there, but that it is so simple that it became invisible to that critic and to others… including, during the film, Noomi Rapace’s character, who is desperate to know why the other species they discover “hate” humans so much, which is the wrong question, offered in an emotional fit, lacking perspective.

The images in the film are, simply, exquisite. This is not your 1979 Nostromo, in which Scott made beautiful things out of a broken down, dank, wet ship. On the inside of this ship and even more so, in the world outside this ship, Prometheus offers a visual universe of a level never before put on digital film. (I thought a few times during the film how much I’d like to see a Fincher movie shot with these tools.)

There is one super-cool new technological gimmick in the film, which leads to the film’s best single sequence. And the visual mapping elements look in the film feel familiar and fresh all at once… perhaps they are just the best ever done.

There wasn’t a bad performance in the film. Fassbender has the showstopper… and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it as well.

Noomi Rapace is the real deal, it turns out. Ridley Scott and DP Dariusz Wolski shoot her like a period portrait, her face stretched on its frame, every odd angle emphasized and romanced, her eyes the most animated part of the close-up frames in which she appears. And she delivers. There is the real possibility that the screenplay could have aspired to more based on her abilities here. She is capable of being the Virgin Mary in this tale, but when her character wanders into the relationship of religion and semiotics, the script is at its weakest.

Theron & Elba are not on unfamiliar turf here. Both deliver, but both are in service of the film, not asked to create more complex characters than that. That said, wearing a skintight space suit most of the time, it struck me for the first time in a while that as unique Ms. Theron’s physique is, the sexy thing about her is all in that face and the brain behind it. Like Rapace, who is not afraid to be nude (in other films) or swathed in gauze here, the “hot bod” thing rarely fails to distract from the actresses whose curves fill the screen. Crass as we choose to be, it is still the spirit of great actresses that move an audience, not their asses or boobs, great or otherwise.

But I digress…

The mystery casting of the film is Patrick Wilson as Shaw’s father. He’s sporting a UK accent and isn’t in the film for a full minute, so what is he doing there? Lost scenes or sequels? You tell me. (I also have a vague feeling he was dubbed… but maybe not.)`

The thing about Prometheus is that it is the first true Science Fiction movie from a major studio in years. i know that a lot of movies are positioned as sci-fi. But watching Prometheus, I felt like science and fiction were pushing me, as an audience member, to think about the ideas being presented in a fairly complex way. This was not, as Alien itself was, a genre film of a different sort with sci-fi elements superimposed on top of it (brilliantly, in that case). This film is about ideas. This film is about whether there is a greater meaning in the tradition of the first Planet of the Apes, early Trek, Soylent Green, Serling, Matheson, Bradbury, and others.

Is this the best film of that tradition that I’ve ever seen? No. Scott & Co. were doing other things as well and, no doubt, the epic scale and visual intensity got in the way of some of that exploration. As Serling and the rest showed us, you don’t need a big budget or great special effects to discuss ideas. On the other hand, I think – and I’ve only seen the film once – there is a lot in the unvoiced parts of this film that can be and will be mined for depth… not spoon-fed so that you walk out of the theater with The Answer.

I felt Prometheus. It’s not another version of Alien or Aliens or Alien 3. I guess this is why Scott was so serious about this not being positioned as a prequel. In many ways, this is closer spiritually, in Scott’s filmmography, to 1492 or Gladiator or the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven than to Alien. Seemingly earned arrogance is broken down, the hero gains insight into how their world was prioritized, they struggle on. Many different perspectives are represented on that ship without the crew sitting around a table arguing their views. And personally, I prefer that.

Are there the scares of Alien? Not too many. It’s an action movie this time, not a slasher movie. No cats making the audience scream.

Is there a new creature as exciting as The Alien in this film? No, not really. It’s not about that. (Though there are new, cool alien forms.)

And by the way… any talk of this being PG-13 was just publicity working overtime. There is no f-ing way this movie was ever going out as anything less than an R.

I found Prometheus to be a fresh, new, and visceral movie experience. Every bit of goo was fun. Every stupid move made by characters – which we know is stupid from knowing the previous films – was fun. I enjoyed seeing what every character with a name was going through and how the sequences manifested themselves. And there is still that bit of Hitchcockian anticipation in the film, as small seeds are inevitably going to lead somewhere familiar. But as my dad used to say, it’s not the situation, but how you react to it. And here, we have a group of new characters whose choices are not predictable.

I expect some critics to be very hard on the film. They seem to expect the Second Coming. But while they may have found The Avengers or whatever easier to swallow, there are things in Prometheus that will sustain audiences, not just offer that sugar high. (Hulk SMASH!) And when the questions about what isn’t in Prometheus are given voice, I will ask the question without irony, “Are you sure that what you think you want would satisfy you or make for a better movie?” I can’t say that I know the true answer to that question. But I am pretty sure that no one else will really know that answer about this film in the first hours after walking out of the theater.

Not only is Prometheus the best film of the summer so far, but I don’t anticipate anything but The Dark Knight Rises being able to challenge it for quality before the end of this summer. I’m really looking forward to the sheer joys of Brave and The Amazing Spider-Man and Ted, and others. But amongst movies that work for thrill-seekers and people who want to think and audiences that just want to be entertained, Prometheus hits to all fields. If you love movies, Prometheus has to be a part of your vocabulary this summer and for years to come.

(NOTE: I will do a spoiler review of the film AFTER it opens.)

76 Responses to “Review: Prometheus (Spoiler-Free)”

  1. Paul D/Stella says:

    They aren’t screening it locally until the night before it opens. Initially I was worried about that but this review has eased my concerns. I wish I was seeing it tonight.

  2. LYT says:

    “The thing about Prometheus is that it is the first true Science Fiction movie from a major studio in years.”

    Just curious: did you not find RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES to be so?

  3. Krillian says:

    Cool. Coolcoolcool.

  4. sanj says:

    DP – anybody from this movie showing up for a dp/30 ..

    they’ve all done dp/30′s before – seems easier to get .

  5. chris says:

    PaulD/Stella — You know it opens June 8, not June 1, right? (I ask because the screenings I know of are May 31, eight days ahead rather than “night before.”)

  6. MJW says:

    Wow. This is a very generous review. Frankly though, I thought Melancholia, albeit not from a major studio, does a much better job of what you describe in terms of complex ideas and sci-fi. But why limit yourself to recent years? This is NOT 2001, this is NOT Solaris, this is NOT Blade Runner or even Alien. It’s a mediocre occasionally daft effort from a once great director and a so-so TV writer/producer. Fun at best, but unable to deliver on it’s promise of ‘the return of intelligent sci-fi’. Yes it asks big questions but honestly, that’s all it does. As much as I will it to be better, it was, for me at least, a real disappointment…

  7. Paul D/Stella says:

    Yes of course I know that. The screening here is June 7.

  8. t. bunny says:

    How can a review be spoiler free? Seems sort of like a meaningless qualification for a review. It would make more sense at least to call it a preview.

  9. robbie says:

    Wow! Great review! So looking forward to this movie coming out next week!! PROMETHEUS will be a game changer!! #scifiorgasm!!

  10. Brad says:

    Awesome! Great review David!

  11. movieman says:

    It’s an action movie this time, not a slasher movie.

    Isn’t that what Cameron did with “Aliens”?

    Seeing it tomorrow, but the ehhh T. McCarthy/Variety reviews have tempered my (possibly unrealistic) expectations.

  12. haydude says:

    How was the 3d?

  13. DAN says:

    Great review, but with the shit storm that is fan reaction, I would caution everyone to chill out and watch it and form their own opinions.

  14. David Poland says:

    As good as I’ve seen. Not overly showy… but I felt it and liked it. No urge to pull off my glasses, which I often have in these films.

  15. David Poland says:

    NJW… if your standard for every genre is the best 3 or 4 films in the history of the genre, you’re not going to be very happy at the movies.

    Yeah… I prefer Melancholia also… though I don’t think it is reflective of more than the human mind. But certainly not a studio movie or an action movie or even a sci-fi movie.

  16. David Poland says:

    Luke – I think Apes – which I quite liked – is like all the Apes films after the first, like Star Trek, reflective more of its own series than really exploring further. It was a smart reboot and yes, is worthy of consideration in the genre. But there is – for me – a singularity of focus, caused by being so separate from the other films in the series, that makes this one different.

    But I did think about Rise a few times before typing that line.

  17. bulldog68 says:

    “It was a smart reboot and yes, is worthy of consideration in the genre. But there is – for me – a singularity of focus, caused by being so separate from the other films in the series, that makes this one different.”

    And thats how I felt about Star Trek. Acknowledging that the old exist while clealy defining that this is a new trajectory we are on. If it’s a spoiler then you don’t have to answer, but did you get the sense that they were plotting a course that they we=ould eventually end up at our known beginning? Or is this a whole new world type of thing?

    Also, I think Aliens was one the best blends of action and horror. The moments of suspense were definitely elevated by the action beats.

  18. Devin Faraci says:

    Embargoes are for regular mortals, I guess.

  19. martin s says:

    This film is about ideas. This film is about whether there is a greater meaning in the tradition of the first Planet of the Apes, early Trek, Soylent Green, Serling, Matheson, Bradbury, and others.

    Makes sense considering that, whether acknowledged or not, a lot of Prometheus still derives from O’Bannon’s original ’70′s ideas which sprang from the 50′s/60′s. It was a different approach that arguably died after Terminator.

    I don’t know about two sequels. The original word is the third film chronologically would be Alien, so maybe that’s why Ridley became adamant about no classifying this as prequel or reboot; he’s either designed two more and separated Alien unto itself, or he plans on utilizing the first one for the third. I just hope he has the capital to make the sequels in some capacity.

  20. joshua says:

    “The thing about Prometheus is that it is the first true Science Fiction movie from a major studio in years. i know that a lot of movies are positioned as sci-fi.”

    I guess MOON wasn’t exactly from a major studio.

    I’m excited to hear this, though, we need more intelligent science fiction, since everything has been dumbed down to appease audiences.

    The only thing that worries me is going to be the comparisons with ALIEN. In the end, how will the people who went to the theaters in the 70′s and hid their eyes, and ducked behind the theater seats react to a movie that they loved since it came out, having never seen anything like it.
    I hope that people will see it as it’s own film, and not just an ALIEN franchise.

  21. anghus says:

    You know what more boring than reading posts from critics arguing about embargoes?

    Nothing.

    Though it is amusing how beholden critics are to the imaginary lines their studio masters establish and how miffed everyine gets when theyre crossed.

  22. Fitzgerald says:

    To be fair, anghus, the embargoes are meant to maintain a mutually beneficial arrangement between press and studio. Promotion for access. It’s fair for both sides to negotiate these agreements.

  23. anghus says:

    Never said it wasnt fair. Just that its boring.

  24. JS Partisan says:

    Poland is either ahead of the curve with this review of Prometheus, or he got more out of the film than most of the other critics have. Whateverthecase, I hope the film delivers because really, even though he really didn’t like Avengers, it’s hard to give a shit about another Summer movie, if it does not touch that films level of quality and all-around good times. Hopefully Snow White and even Prometheus are work people’s time.

    ETA: It’s not my cup of tea, but Avatar is a sci-fi picture, right?

  25. Fitzgerald says:

    To be fair, that’s fair.

  26. film fanatic says:

    My head’s still reeling over the multiple uses of the phrase “dyad.”

  27. David Poland says:

    I can’t speak to your mortal status, Devin. But when the trades went – apparently not breaking embargo – the veil was lifted for me… perhaps because if I review, the trades feel free to go and, generally, vice versa. (There have been many bitter fights over the years about the trades having what is now a completely unfounded advantage)

    I went to the screening not only having agreed to embargo, but to a 100%, no one can even know I saw the movie embargo. I didn’t even hint on Twitter or anywhere else. And I didn’t write a word until I woke this morning to news that the trades had published.

    The film has now premiered in London, so I guess that drove everything. But it’s not my call. And I don’t break embargoes.

  28. David Poland says:

    The lines are not imaginary, Anghus. They are a business decision.

    Perhaps embargoes are in the “stakes so small” category. But they are an advantage. And mishandled by a studio, they can do real damage to a film..

    This morning, about 20 minutes after I published, I talked to a half-dozen industry types who were already writing this movie off based on the Variety review.

    I believe in a wide open door. Reviews are, as much as they can be, empowered by outlet and timing. If the playing field was 100% even, there tends to be balance and no one review or 8 reviews or 3 reviews can hurt. And they never/very rarely help enough on studio films to matter anyway.

  29. anghus says:

    Im talking imaginary on a more philosophical level. They are only as real as critics allow them to be by abiding by them.

    I guess my point in all this is always about how little it matters to the overall performance of the picture. I think critics have no real impact on the success of a movie. Your good review or Varietys less impressed take only exists as you mentioned to those “industry types”. All this fuss over embargoes only matters to studio people and a handful of critics. No one else cares and the impact to the movie is usually grossly overstated by those in the industry.

    Its also amusing to see “Mr Badass” whine about an embargo. Passive aggressive jabs are truly bad ass.

  30. David Poland says:

    You seem fairly reasonable on this, Anghus, but to claim it’s imaginary is like saying that it’s imaginary to live up to any business agreement. We are given early access by agreement. And that access is not a given.

    And for Variety and THR, this is business. Being first out with a review probably shoots their numbers up in a big way every time they are first with a popular film. That speaks directly to their bottom line.

    If 3 studios or more decided to increase the earnings for one critic, giving one person earlier access than the trades and the right to publish, it could be worth a lot of money. Nikki Finke got paid millions on the premise that she could generate traffic by forcing studios to tell her things hours before others.

    So it may seem silly… but it is real.

  31. martin s says:

    I guess my point in all this is always about how little it matters to the overall performance of the picture. I think critics have no real impact on the success of a movie.

    I don’t agree with that re: Prometheus. While I’m naturally inclined to like it because it’s Ridley, their are a lot of people on the fence. WOM has to start somewhere, and for a film like this, it’s going to be on the dedicated movie sites.

    I’m glad Dave went early. If Variety is not just going to piss on it, but kill all of the secrecy Ridley and company has worked hard to maintain, then why should they get to set the tone? If Variety wants to behave like a geek site, then fuck their wannabe exclusive bullshit. If I was at Fox, I’d be damn glad Poland jumped the gun or else they could be looking at an entire week of “I herd it sux” from Twatter jerkoffs who think RT blurbs are gospel.

    Other movies – MIB3, Spidey, Madagascar3 – yeah, a review has no bearing. But, it’s been like that since Temple O’ Doom and Jedi. Some are critic-proof.

  32. anghus says:

    id like to think im fairly reasonable on most topics.

    and where i differ is the thresholds. One guy can do his review on this date. And a few more on this date. And so on, and so on. It’s bananas, only because we live in a digital age where having critics hold their reviews to accomodate certain thresholds is just ridiculous. I just went to Google and typed in ‘Prometheus Review’

    Here’s a cross section

    http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/news/a384564/prometheus-review-ridley-scott-returns-to-his-alien-sci-fi-roots.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/may/30/prometheus-review

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/film/4347122/Prometheus-A-first-review.html

    http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=3423301&mpage=1&key=&NID=0#3423301

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/05/30/prometheus-the-bleeding-cool-review/

    http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/prometheus-1

    http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/90469/prometheus.html

    I have two dozen Prometheus reviews at my fingertips.

    All the embargo does is prevent me from reading a writer i might particularly enjoys take on it until right before it comes out.

    I say ‘imaginary’ because their embargo doesnt stop me from reading two dozen reviews from territories where the movie is already out. And i dont even have to speak another language. Hell, google will translate some of the ones from other countries for me (often with hilarious results). The embargo is imaginary because it protects nothing.

    And all the sites that are embargoed do is post stories like EARLY PROMETHEUS REVIEWS ARE IN!!!!!! So what good is the embargo if you can still write a story about the review but not post your own official review. Hysterical.
    And i will contend until my dying day that it does shit to protect and/or help the final box office tally. Do films that arent reviewed perform so much worse than the ones screened early?

    I understand the studio’s desire to control the flow of information, but in this digital age trying to do that is akin to plugging a dam by sticking your finger in a hole.

  33. David Poland says:

    Anghus – Almost all the reviews you note are UK reviews. And yes, the idea of embargoing anything in the US after it breaks anywhere in English is silly.

  34. anghus says:

    yup. here’s a french one.

    If you ever need a chuckle, use google chrome and click the ‘translate’ option. here’s a spoiler free snippet:

    “Prometheus of a chaotic map which opens various approaches (or bullshit) for future consequences. Great visual world.”

  35. anghus says:

    Here’s a global collection of reviews. yours is included

    On this page alone i have 30 – 40 reviews, and i can even read the ones in French through google translate (im through 3 of them already).

  36. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Why do people want to read any reviews about a film they’re very much excited to see? Why can’t they just turn up and watch the film?
    Are people these days incapable of experiencing something without first being informed by someone else’s opinion?

  37. anghus says:

    “Are people these days incapable of experiencing something without first being informed by someone else’s opinion?”

    Sure. I think most people go into movies without anything other than a blurb, poster quote or a twitter post in their head when they go and see something. If you think people were running to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon opening weekend ‘informed by someone else’s opinion’, you’re out of your ever lovin’ mind.

    I think there is a small percentage of armchair filmies (like myself) who read the screenplays, read the news from the set, watch the clips released beforehand, and then see the movie.

    I dont require someone elses opinion before seeing a movie, but if a movie comes out in a foreign country first ill probably end up reading the reviews out of curiosity.

    I saw Men in Black 3 without having read anything about it. I dont think that helped or hurt the experience. I saw Battleship knowing anything other than a few cursory comments made by people on blogs like this that saw it before i did.

    Prometheus is a Ridley Scott film. I guess you could argue that you’d enjoy it more if you put on the blinders and went in not knowing a damn thing. But theyve been pumping out Prometheus stories for months. 15 trailers and viral videos… giving us a look into the creative process. You could argue that the studio is basically helping us form an opinion prior to choosing whether or not to buy a ticket. But i wonder who these materials are for.

    For someone like me it’s a foregone conclusion. Ridley Scott is enough to get somebody like me to a theater. My wife saw the commercial and thought it looked great. When i told her it was directed by Ridley Scott she said “what has he directed before?”. Those videos, trailers, and other promotional material they put out before the movie, i dont know what group that appeals to. I guess it keeps the movie in the press and circulating on the web. But most people in know, and i believe the vast majority of ticket buyers, still make their decisions based on the commercial, the trailer, or the interview the stars do on the talk show of their choice: Ellen, Conan, Letterman, Leno, etc.

    But your statement interest me JBD. You said:

    ‘Why can’t they just turn up and watch the film?’

    And how do you propose they do that. At one point is the opinion of the ticket buyer tainted from too much influence prior to seeing it. Would it just be reading a review? Does watching the dozen trailers, commercials, and featurettes constitute being ‘informed’. Would one have to just walk to the theater, see the poster, and buy the ticket in order to go in ‘clean’?

    Am i influenced by prior opinion if i see a lobby display that says “From the Director of Alien, Blade Runner, & Gladiator”? Would i be equally influenced if it said “From the Director of Robin Hood, A Good Year, and GI Jane”

    Your assertion that you can experience something without first being informed by someone else’s opinion rings false. Just reading an article entitled “I’m excited to see Prometheus” would qualify and being informed by someone else’s opinion. How does someone like you who frequents a blog like this ever get to a movie without being informed?

  38. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I didn’t read one word of what DP said above.
    I just wanted to comment on this ‘first’ nature and speak directly to film enthusiasts. The ones who would read such blogs and twitter feeds from online reviewers.

    I’m going in cold for a film I very much wish to be in the dark about. The idea of reading the script before seeing the film is sacrilegious to me. I read scripts in advance but only because I have to for work. I don’t enjoy ruining films by reading scripts in advance. I’ll attempt to only watch teaser trailers as I abhor the contemporary insistence of giving away.

    You’re being pedantic. How does seeing a poster or 15s TV spot compare to reading an in-depth advance spoiler filled review? I’m talking about being informed to make the call of whether they’ll see it, not whether they know about it. We’re not talking ticket buyers, I’m speaking to you and others like you.

    You and your kin somewhere along the way decided to start to erode the magic of cinema for yourselves by constantly looking behind the curtain.

    I again ask a simple question, why can’t you just turn up?

  39. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I haven’t seen anything about Prometheus except that first teaser. That’s it. So yes I have managed to keep in the dark about it. So could anyone else if they choose to but they won’t because film fans are weak and have no character, nor the ability to know what’s good for them.

    They let a cancer in when they first started reading script leaks on AICN years ago and now that it is in their system, they’re forever crippled and weak.

  40. anghus says:

    “You and your kin somewhere along the way decided to start to erode the magic of cinema for yourselves by constantly looking behind the curtain.”

    uh huh. i see what you did there. and your natural mistake youve made is assuming one can only enjoy a movie one way: in this case, your way.

    here’s the thing. ive made a few features in various capacities. i can very much enjoy reading a screenplay and then seeing the movie and enjoy it as the natural progression of what i read, admiring the acting, the direction, the production design, seeing how the pieces come together based on the source material. it doesn’t take away any enjoyment for me.

    But you have to take the elitist dick position on this one and assume that anyone who is able to enjoy a movie in any other way but walking in completely oblivious and let it wash all over you like you’re taking a load to the face from ridley scott’s glistening ball sack that you are somehow the superior film fan.

    ‘film fans are weak and have no character, nor the ability to know what’s good for them.’

    Sad. Laughable even.

    Im glad you enjoy the movie going in cold. Here’s the thing: everyone is not you.

    the good news is, ive found my new taunt online.

    “How dare you sir! You are eroding the magic of cinema…. I SAY GOOD DAY.”

    I go into a lot of movies cold. In my previous post i mentioned going into Men in Black 3 and Battleship relatively unaware of anything other than the general setup.

  41. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Anghus they would enjoy it more.

    The same way a child enjoys a surprise birthday present than knowing what they’re getting weeks ahead of time. They of course want to know, they just don’t know what is truly best for them.

    It is the same for these weak willed children and arrested developed adults whom act in the same manner.

    Tell yourself you can appreciate seeing how a movie can come to life after reading the scipt, knowing the end, seeing the illusions broken down in article after article and keep telling yourself it’s better than not knowing.

    You act like a child but you don’t remember what it is to imagine as a child. Your imagination is a series of dots with the lines filled in by others.

  42. Joe Leydon says:

    I think it all depends on the movie. For example, I am very glad that I saw The Usual Suspects way back in the pre-blogosphere era, before I had any clue about the final twist. In fact, I saw it before I knew there would be a final twist. On the other hand, I am glad I walked into Valkyrie already knowing a lot about the historical events that inspired the film, because that helped me enjoy the movie even more. And back in the day, I am sure reading Pauline Kael’s detailed reviews of Nashville and Last Tango in Paris ahead of time better prepared me to appreciate those films.

  43. anghus says:

    “You act like a child but you don’t remember what it is to imagine as a child. Your imagination is a series of dots with the lines filled in by others.”

    you could not have sounded more like a douche if you tried.

    No, i dont remember what it is to imagine as a child. I’m 39. I’ve made a some movies. I dont need to peak behind the curtain. I was behind the curtain and appreciate the value of the work done by hundreds of people. I appreciate film as an art. I can also appreciate the craftsmanship.

    I’ll give you a douchey analogy to counter your douche postings.

    Some people like to drink wine. They can pour it in a glass and drink it and appreciate it. Some people sniff the cork. Some swirl the wine and let it breathe. Some want to know the year because certain years yield better crops. Do they enjoy the wine any less?

    And it would be dickish of me to say that a wine afficianado enjoys the wine more than the casual drinker. They just enjoy it at different levels. Neither way is right or wrong.

    Im not saying my way is better or worse. But you’re an idiot for saying that somehow my enjoyment of cinema is less than yours because i enjoy different aspects of it.

    You’ve got a very narrow view my friend.

  44. Foamy Squirrel says:

    The same way a child enjoys a surprise birthday present than knowing what they’re getting weeks ahead of time. They of course want to know, they just don’t know what is truly best for them.

    I think there’s a fundamental difference here – the child isn’t paying to get their birthday present, and there’s a much higher probability that the present is a pair of socks from Granny.

  45. JS Partisan says:

    Some folks, can know the spoilers from a movie or TV show before they watch it, and not have it ruined for them. Why anyone would want to go in cold, is sort of bizarre in this day and age, but to each their own.

  46. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I’d be surprised if you didn’t just chug the cask of wine down let alone read the label beforehand. Your wine analogy is frankly idiotic. Of course the wine aficionado would enjoy it more than the moron who has no understanding between the enormous difference of fine wine and gasoline. That’s not elitist its common sense.

    This all has nothing to do with reading the Prometheus script before seeing the film.

  47. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    JSP really? You cannot fathom someone wanting to be enveloped by a film without knowing a thing about it? To me that”s bizarre.

  48. Foamy Squirrel says:

    JSP seems to go back and forth with this – apparently it’s fine to immerse yourself in everything related to the movie, as long as you don’t go in with any expectations.

    This all has nothing to do with reading the Prometheus script before seeing the film.

    When did this become about reading scripts? I thought the original complaint was about reading reviews prior to going in?

    Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor says:
    May 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    Why do people want to read any reviews about a film they’re very much excited to see?

  49. anghus says:

    Im still laughing over “eroding the magic of cinema”. Thats one for the ages.

    Youre a walking contradiction my friend. So you say a wine afficianado would appreciate the wine more, yet somehow who educates himself on a film prior to seeing it is ruining the experience.

    Youre unmaking your point.

  50. scooterzz says:

    couldn’t help but notice when i went to my local barrio superstore this evening that the friendly neighborhood sidewalk bootlegger already has ‘prometheus’ for sale…i’m thinkin’ he might have set a land speed record with this one…..

  51. LYT says:

    I find that early reviews can help me set my expectations accordingly. Numerous people I know say this is a bit of a let-down, so I can go in realistically not expecting BEST MOVIE EVER. Maybe I’ll like it more.

  52. If the domestic trades break review embargoes, and there are no consequences to this, then why would other publications harm themselves by not also publishing early?
    The studios are the ones with the teeth to enforce embargoes, and they haven’t done it yet for Big Green or Big Red.

    In a bigger context, the net has changed the game forever for us. If someone wants to know whether PROMETHEUS is good, bad or ehh, and it opens a week earlier on the home continent, then we’ll know about it a week earlier. And whaddya know, that’s exactly the way it’s playing out right now, just as it did back in ’97 with PHANTOM MENACE and every other movie with a sizeable pre-release buzz associated with it.

  53. JS Partisan says:

    Being enveloped is fine, but how I view things is through the world of spoilers and early reviews, that establish story points. There are occasions, where if the story points do not click for me, I avoid the movie. Sometimes, things go in an opposite direction, and I go with my gut to see the movie anyway. I personally love knowing what’s going to happen, and it does not change a thing for me in terms of seeing a movie or TV show finale play out. Until you sit through a story and follow it all the way through to it’s conclusion, anything you read or hear about it, is background noise. It’s not the movie, it’s not the TV show, it’s only a description, and a description does not change the experience of watching a story unfold for me.

    FS, expectations are always a let down. I try to be as pragmatic as possible about things. You folks try to give me a lot of guff about going into a theatre liking a movie before I see it, but that’s completely foreign to my thinking. Even with something like the Avengers, those reviews did not do it justice. I had to experience it to know how awesome it is, and that goes with any movie. Until you experience something, everything else surrounding it (Spoilers, cast/crew interviews, trailers, clips, and so on) is just very entertaining background noise.

  54. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Anghus I can see why it would sound like that if your analogy was indeed accurate but it isn’t and therefore there is no contradiction.

    Afficianado is one for the ages.

    Enough of this. Now go find a review and find out the ending of Prometheus. You’ll enjoy the movie more when you see it.

  55. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Wait… so your complaint is about spoilers in reviews? And you’re complaining about it in a spoiler-free review?

  56. lazarus says:

    When the Star Wars prequels came out, Lucas was lambasted for (among other things) making things look too new and shiny. DP says that there’s a similar effect here, where we’re not going to be in the same dirty, ramshackle, lower-tech environment as we were in Alien.

    Won’t be surprised when Ridley gets a pass from everyone (especially fanboys) for the same “crime”. And the rationale probably won’t hold as much water as the one Lucas put forth.

  57. hcat says:

    I think the rationale is that this mission is a better funded research vessel than either the Space Truckers, Military ships, or forgotten penal colony of the previous films.

    The distraction with Lucas’s prequels were not only that everything was new and shiny, which could be easily rationaled by saying under the harsh rule of the Empire the galaxy basically became Cuba, needing to recycle and stretch every last bit of use out of everything, but that they were too animated. Given how much of the background was CGI or whatever effects, the look and feel of the movies were very different from the more practical settings of the first trilogy.

    Its like if Nolan took Batman from the location shooting he has done back to the Burton soundstages. It would feel disconnected from the previous films.

    Hopefully Scott has managed to keep the same ambieance (too lazy to look for correct spelling)of the previous film while using updated effects.

  58. David Poland says:

    Patrick – I have known few cases – they have happened – where the trades actually broke embargo. In this case, I believe the London premiere was an agreed tipping point and that the screening at Fox on Tuesday was set primarily for the trades, as they would rather have the familiar LA writers review than having London stringers define their movie.

    It is a mess and it is not well handled by most studios, especially in the summer. They create problems for themselves… and this comes from someone who has often been given the benefit of their largess in this regard. There should be one review date and if they want to create groups of writers, by status or genre or some combination, so be it… at least be clear. But we live in a squeaky wheel world. I don’t squeak a whole lot these days… at least, not about reviews. The only thing I really, really care about is seeing a film before other reviews are published so I am not pushing against those ideas. It’s very hard not to be reactive when there is already stuff out there (if you read it). As Luke said, lowered expectations may help him like the film more… but while understandably true, kinda horrifying. I want Luke’s perspective without Variety giving him shock therapy.

  59. anghus says:

    When is the official embargo lifted?

    And for those of you who run or write for websites think the international release and subsequent early overseas review effects the impact of your review once it finally does hit?

    And Dave, if i watch your DP/30 with Wes Anderson prior to seeing Moonrise Kingdom will i be contributing to the erosion of the magic of cinema?

  60. Chris says:

    In this day and age it doesn´t make any sense whatsoever for movies to open at different dates around the world.

  61. hcat says:

    Since we all have identical holiday weekends?

  62. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Foamy. Read it slowly. I said now go and find one. Inferring leave this thread to find a spoiler. Please stop reaching for the sarcasm button so quickly.

  63. JS Partisan says:

    Even if I know the ending, it changes absolutely nothing for me. Until you watch the entire movie/show all the way through, the ending is just dangling there without any connective tissue.

  64. Joe Leydon says:

    After 40 years of getting paid to write about movies, I have to say that, nine times out of 10, the less I know about a movie before going in to watch it, the better. And I can’t help thinking a lot of filmmakers wish people knew less while walking in. This is a piece I wrote a while back for MovieMaker Magazine. Note the director’s answer to my specific question: How much do you want the audience to know ahead of time?

    http://www.moviemaker.com/directing/article/black_swan_mila_kunis_darren_aronofsky_20101201/

  65. Joe Leydon says:

    After 40 years of getting paid to write about movies, I find that, 9 times out of 10, the less I know about a film walking in, the more I enjoy it. And I can’t help thinking most filmmakers wish their audiences knew less ahead of time. Note Darren Aronofsky’s response here:

    http://www.moviemaker.com/directing/article/black_swan_mila_kunis_darren_aronofsky_20101201/

  66. LYT says:

    “I want Luke’s perspective without Variety giving him shock therapy.”

    Oh, no worries about that specifically, I’m not reading the Variety review.

    I understand the point, but opinions can’t exist in a total vacuum, much as we wish they might. That said, I’m happy by how spoiler-free I managed to remain prior to seeing it tonight. Funny thing is the trailers are actually very spoilerish in a way…but in a way that’s meaningless without the full context that is being kept from you.

  67. Foamy Squirrel says:

    JBD – I’m honestly slightly confused. First you ask why people read reviews of movies they want to see, and state that you didn’t read the above review and you’re going in cold. Then you start making weird analogies about how reading things spoils the experience. Then you start referring to reading the script, not reviews. Then you tell us to go find out the ending as we will enjoy it more.

    From the previous comments, your instruction can only be read as being sarcastic. But finding out the ending (my reference to “spoilers”) doesn’t happen in many reviews (your original comment, and certainly doesn’t happen in DP’s review) and reviews are entirely different to reading the script (your further comment).

    So… ultimately, I’m finding your train of thought rather bewildering. I can understand the point (“JBD prefers to watch it cold”), but the argument itself is all over the place.

  68. Geoff says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to this and have already been managing my expectations – good review Dave and you have me looking forward to it somewhat. However…..

    It wasn’t scary?? Isn’t that kind of the point of the movie?

  69. Al says:

    Sorry, seen it and it is incoherent with some truly bad acting from principals (Pierce, Rapace) and supporting players. It’s slow, dull, full of plot holes and lacking some basic storytelling mojo

  70. Geoff says:

    So it’s not scary at all? I don’t get how some horror movies (Cabin in the Woods included) can receive lavish praise from geek circles WITHOUT actually being scary. Sorry I’m not a Fangoria subscriber that is just titilated by loads of gore….

  71. Paul D/Stella says:

    As a seasoned horror geek (and non-Fangoria subscriber or seeker of loads of gore for titillation purposes) a horror movie can be good without being genuinely scary. It’s pretty difficult to truly scare most people, especially jaded horror fans. I liked (didn’t love) Cabin in the Woods and think it’s a good movie though I was never actually scared while watching it.

  72. chuck says:

    rise of the planet of the apes SUCKED, mostly due to CHEAP looking CGI. Hollywood needs to stop with the budget animation and stick to live action and/or animatronics/digital hybrids.

  73. chris says:

    I don’t if I’d use the word “scary” but it is certainly suspenseful/tense in quite a few scenes. I was riveted and I think the acting — particularly by Fassbender, who’s really the lead and who is spellbinding — is terrific.
    (Also, I’d argue the big themes are the “everyone wants to kill their parent” notion and the “what would you give up in order to find out the truth” notion.)

  74. Krillian says:

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes was AWESOME and you will RESPECT it. Random CAPS-LOCK is fun too.

    I’m encouraged by Dave’s review. I’d been more excited for SWATH & Prometheus this summer but when the negative reviews swept in I was worried.

  75. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Foamy you are honestly confused by three points that all fall under the same umbrella? I didn’t realize when we discuss a topic on here that you’re only allowed to express a single point. My whole position was about the spoilerfication of film today and why people need more information than necessary. Everything I said tied back into that. What you call all over the place, I call hammering the point home, homie. Everything i referred to, ie reading scripts, came from something Anghus said. If you can’t follow this then maybe don’t join in the fray.

  76. Foamy Squirrel says:

    My point was that your argument wasn’t under the same umbrella, it was Gene Kelly happily splashing through every puddle it could find. My feeling was that your comments weren’t hammering the point home, they were muddying the waters by skipping between tenuously related examples.

    That’s just me though, it was probably perfectly clear for other people.

    In any case, this seems to be appropriately timed.

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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Ouija 8.2 2858 NEW 8.2
John Wick 5.4 2589 NEW 5.4
Fury 4.1 3173 -54% 37.1
Gone Girl 3.5 3106 -37% 116.5
St. Vincent 2.5 2282 1247% 3.6
The Book of Life 2.4 3113 -51% 22.5
Alexander and the Terrible … Day 2 3117 -38% 40.5
The Best of Me 1.6 2936 -62% 14.5
The Judge 1.3 2610 -47% 31.3
Dracula Untold 1.2 2364 -59% 45.3
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Happy New Year 0.58 255
Kaththi 0.11 92
23 Blast 0.1 617
The Trial 52,780 50
Karthikeya 37,250 38
Laggies 31,800 6
Citizenfour 31,400 5
1,000 Times Good Night 6,560 23
Force Majeure 6,150 2
Pelican Dreams 3,850 2
Exists 3,650 12
Revenge of the Green Dragon 2,500 2
White Bird in a Blizzard 2,400 4
Pooja 2,400 17
Low Down 1,800 1
Love Project 1,050 5
The Heart Machine 1,050 1
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4