That may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind after you've seen Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's 2012 prequel to his first hit, 1979’s Alien. But these are the kind of insane, inspired, somehow totally plausible extrapolations viewers draw from Scott's movies. Scott doesn't exactly lie as a filmmaker. As a fine-arts student who got his start in the vulgar world of commercial directing and slick TV shows, he has always subverted expectations. You think you're getting a slam-bang war movie? Here's the ultimate story of bureaucratic failure (with explosions). Looking for the quintessential interstellar extraterrestrial adventure? Instead, take the most grotesque body-horror movie ever made. Scott's movies are delivery systems for ideas, but they're also Trojan horses — hulking, beautiful objects, meant to distract audiences while those ideas creep in, one soldier at a time, to take over your mind. It's been an effective, unlikely strategy for the British-born filmmaker. He's a three-time Academy Award nominee for Best Director — zero wins — and his 21 feature films have a lifetime box office gross of $1.25 billion. His name implies prestige, big-time moviemaking on a grand scale: Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner. But he's often at his best when he zooms in on the internal horrors of people's lives — a beleaguered king contemplating war, a scientist tortured by her pregnancy, a cop trying to protect a widow witness.
Finally, it's your chance to watch the year's most divisive sci-fi thriller in the comfort of your home, and weigh in on the debate! Though director Ridley Scott tried to convince us all that Prometheus isn't a prequel to the Alien franchise, when you see it, it's pretty clear that it is. So how you respond to the new additions to the Alien mythology probably depends on how much you love the original movies.
Is that a xenomorph in your pocket or are you just happy to see us? On this week's episode of the Hollywood Prospectus podcast, Andy and I talked about seeing Ridley Scott's sorta-not-sorta Alien prequel, Prometheus (:55). In a spoiler-ific discussion, we addressed major themes including Michael Fassbender's post-up game, Idris Elba's many accents, whether it matters that the movie asks way more questions than it answers, and whether Logan Marshall-Green has any business playing a scientist.
Then we moved on to the business of Sunday-night TV, where we waved goodbye, while naked and tripping, to another season of Mad Men (18:10). Meet the new Don? Same as the old Don? Was this a meditation in an emergency or a misstep for this mighty show?
We also talked about the penultimate episode of the first season of Girls (31:48), the trailers for Django Unchained (37:25) and Flight (41:40), and Frank Ocean (44:28) and Superchunk's (46:25) entries into the summer jam sweepstakes. So join us, why don't you. With this podcast, you're never alone.
The Hollywood Prospectus Podcast returns a day late, but never a dollar short, ready to tackle all the pressing questions from this past weekend’s explosive night of television. Such as: Could dudes really chop other dudes entirely in half like on Game of Thrones (1:45)? And does the fact that the show is an adaptation make critical interpretations more challenging? Regardless, I think Chris Ryan and I both agreed that one should never accompany a scarred, drunk killing machine on a long horse ride to the North, no matter if you’re both scared of fire. Then we debated the cost of Joan’s big night out on Mad Men (20:20). Will we ever look at Pete “Pimp C” Campbell the same way again? From there, we digressed into a variety of topics, from the challenges of keeping up with shows good (Awake) and bad (The Killing) (36:30) to the latest video from Kanye and Jay-Z (41:45) and the return of the mighty Afghan Whigs (45:30). We finished with a look at the summer movie season thus far (50:25), how G.I. Joe 2 blinked, and Prometheus is going to bank. The Summer Book Club returns next week. Until then, remember to tell your girlfriend “happy birthday” before going into a separate room to listen to music with a bunch of bros. Chris will tell you from experience: It never works out the way you’d hoped.
We know, we know. We've been tracking promotional Prometheus material — the viral videos, the various trailers, the top-secret Happy Meal toys* — like the artificial life of Michael Fassbender's enormous robo-penis depended on it. (There, we got that out of the way early. We can all relax knowing the obligatory dick joke has been dispensed with.) But indulge us once again as we proceed once more unto the space breach with the premiere of the Most Important Movie of the Summer (Non-Superhero Division) less than two weeks away. A little while ago, we looked at the clip that introduced us to Fassbender's David, an android that can approximate, if not actually feel, human emotions. Now they've deployed a "Making Of" featurette on the ship Prometheus itself, ostensibly important enough a part of this not-quite-Aliens-prequel universe that the whole movie is named for it, and it's worth the two minutes if you are as unapologetically in the tank for this movie as we seem to be. Think of it as an advance DVD extra. (Wait, did they just invent the "advance DVD extra"? They are really going next-level on this campaign.)
Fox has confirmed that Prometheus will carry an R rating from the MPAA, a huge relief to anyone afraid that the studio might compromise the film's artistic integrity in pursuit of the box office-friendlier PG-13. Anticipating the news, last night Prometheus co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof took to Twitter to immediately address the throbbingly insistent question hanging over the production like a fleshy, engorged Sword of Dongocles: How will this impact Michael Fassbender's enormous penis? But Lindelof's tweet is nothing more than a cagey dodge, shaming the curious for their innocent interest while prompting more questions: Freed from the limitations of the PG-13, will they in fact increase the presence of Fassbender's space-suit-straining robo-junk? And what does "deliver on more Fassbender dong" actually mean?
Dan Silver: As a kid I bought more Spider-Man comics than those of any other superhero. I attended the midnight screenings for both Spider-Man 1 and 2, and yet, outside of some lingering loyalty to the character and minor curiosity as to why this series needed another reboot, I have minimal interest in seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. The slew of previously released teasers and trailers have been inconsistent in their agenda — here’s a dark and brooding one, here’s a teen angsty one, here’s a playful one — and this latest installment does little to excite, clarify, justify, or dissuade any doubt about the film. For me, this 2:35 played like an old toy ad from the '80s. But instead of toys and kids, this trailer serves us video game-looking CGI action and glimpses of Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Sally Field, and Denis Leary. If the goal was to reinvigorate the Spider-Man franchise, why couldn’t/didn’t Marvel opt to place him in The Avengers? Tease audiences with some kick-ass web-slinger action, and leave them wanting more, then hit them with the stand-alone film (or unnecessary reboot)? This strategy seems to be working for the Hulk. (Note: I know Marvel wasn’t the only one at fault here. Sony has as much to do with this film as any party involved.)
Chris Ryan and I tried assembling the Avengers this week, but only Tigra and Dr. Druid showed up. So we left them cooling in the Quinjet and had a (spoiler-free!) conversation about The Avengers movie instead (1:20). From there, we segued into a discussion about this summer’s other upcoming blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus (12:15) before circling back to our own personal tesseract, Sunday-night TV. We unpacked heavy hitters Game of Thrones (20:50) and Mad Men (29:35), as well as the newest candidate for space on your DVR, PBS’s Sherlock (40:10). To finish, we branched out into other, older media by talking up the new Japandroids album (42:00) and launching our new Double Down Summer Book Club (46:38) with a look at the work of George Pelecanos. It’s a guaranteed better time than reading back-issues of Hawkeye & Mockingbird in a Vermont cabin. We promise.
Before we get to the inevitable joke about Michael Fassbender's penis (and yes, that's going to happen; we really have no choice in the matter), let's all marvel at how well-executed and effective Fox's campaign for Prometheus has been so far after we take in this latest viral offering about "David," a robot virtually indistinguishable from a human, right down to the tears rolling down his artificial cheekbones. It's been flawless.
Hollywood just can't stop talking about Michael Fassbender's enormous penis! One might have imagined that the dong-sizzle might have cooled on the industry's most raved-about trouser-steak once Li'l Mike (you know, it's one of those ironic nicknames, like when your new, 300-pound cellmate tells you everyone calls him "Tiny," haha) was memorably snubbed for an Oscar nomination, even after George Clooney went out of his way to praise the short game of Fassbender's Titleist-quality manhood at the Golden Globes. But this weekend Prometheus costar Charlize Theron jump-started the junk-buzz at a Human Rights Campaign gala by praising the actor's artfully restrained work in Shame, according to E!'s Marc Malkin:
My weekend was peppered with some NCAA hoops (Go 'Cuse!), some Knicks (three in a row, baby), some 21 Jump Street (a hilarious, meta action-comedy), and of course some green beer and bagels. But my mind, my thoughts, my focus was elsewhere. For the last 72 hours, I’ve been unhealthily fixated on the slew of new Prometheus content slung onto the web.
There’s been such an overabundance of visuals, dialogue, and talking points to sift through. So in an effort to piece them all together in some king of satisfyingly comprehensive way, I figured it’d be best to break them all down into three categories.
What We Saw
Much of the hype around this film is centered on the question of “is Prometheus a prequel to Alien”? As I previously stated, I believe the answer is unequivocally yes, and much of the confusion is due to cleverly crafted talking points delivered from Ridley Scott (the film's director), Damon Lindelof (the writer), and 20th Century Fox (the studio). And why not? It’s hard to make a summer film stand out, much less one possibly (definitely) linked to a once-praised but now irrelevant and mocked movie series. So I have no problem with these folks stoking the fanboy fire with vague and sometimes conflicting messages.
For those who don't know, Prometheus is a new sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Since it first went into development, the film has been touted as Scott's return to "the genre he redefined" with films like Blade Runner and Alien. (That would be, well, Sci-Fi). The film has also been rumored to be a prequel to Scott's own Alien film. Up to this point, fans have been given very little a few leaked photos, some official photos, a poster, and lots and lots of speaking through the media (by Scott, the writer Damon Lindelof, and Fox studios).
And now, with the release of the teaser trailer, we finally get a glimpse of the actual film.
One of the biggest and most-anticipated projects at Comic-Con this year is Prometheus, a secrecy-shrouded possible-prequel to Alien directed by the man responsible for creating the franchise back in 1979, Ridley Scott. Wisely, the 73-year-old Scott declined to make the trek himself, instead sending screenwriter Damon Lindelof to face the seething, geeky masses. (Scott made a cameo appearance via Skype, no doubt interrupting a cracking polo match or some well-deserved Scrooge McDucking.) Lindelof was a perfect choice: Not only did he spend much of the last decade perfecting the art of getting people excited (and, inevitably, furious) by saying very little of substance he also speaks fluent Klingon, er, Nerd. (Actually, he very well might also speak Klingon.)