AEOS Double Review: Prometheus and Rock of Ages

I suppose I couldn’t pick two more different movies to be reviewing together, but having seen both this past weekend and having each fresh in my mind, I decided to double up on this review.

Prometheus

Well, I think I’ll always be catching up on movies. I have never seen any of the Alien films until last Friday, when my best friend sat me down and said, “You have to at least see the first Alien before seeing Prometheus.” So we did just that — and I was amazed at how cool a sci-fi film could be made, even in the late 1970s. Sigourney Weaver was the sole survivor and hero of the film. I was a big fan.

So going into Prometheus, I felt slightly more prepared and that much more excited to be able to make comparisons or relate similar ideas and characters if need be. For one, let me just say that I was a big fan of the cast of Prometheus. Both Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace have been making names for themselves in the U.S., especially within the past couple years. Charlize Theron is still a pro at playing a cold character, and the others worked out their roles as any other nonessential supporting characters would.

Ridley Scott also brought us stunning visuals, which comes as no surprise to anyone who even caught a preview of the film. It really was a dazzling film to view on the big screen, especially the scenes within the caves.

There’s been a lot of hubbub and analyzing over all the open-endedness of the film. My personal take is that the questions were intentionally left open in order for audiences to discuss, arrive at their own conclusions, or just appreciate the complex beauty of the film and take it for what it is–pure science fiction at its core. Many have made comparisons to that of Tree of Life, or people give their own take from an atheistic or Christian perspective.

Yes, I’m a Christian, but I view the film from a fictional perspective. Perhaps if I had seen the other Alien films and revisit Prometheus a time or two, and read various articles on the film, I would give my own deeper explanation for my own lack of explanation and analyzation of the film. Sorry for anyone I might disappoint. The biggest movie comparison for me was Inception. Do I have your attention now? 🙂

The only comparison I make of the two films is that Inception also closes with an ending that is a question: did the top fall over, did it not? Was Cobb still dreaming?

In Prometheus, I’m thinking, did Shaw find her answers? I suppose she still chooses to believe in God when she puts the cross necklace back on, but she’s still searching. Will she find the answers she’s looking for? Will she survive long enough to find the answers? Are there even answers for her to find, given her limits as a human being?

The answer to all those questions is I don’t know. A gloriously blissful ignorant I DON’T KNOW. And I enjoy not knowing, because I think that’s the point of the open-ended questions that close the films. It’s an intentional choice on the end of the writers/directors to let the audience decide and arrive at their own conclusions.

Rock of Ages

On the complete other end of the movie genre spectrum is a little musical called the Rock of Ages. From many of the reviews I’ve read (and agree with), Rock of Ages can be summed up as a string of awesome ’80s music videos featuring some crazy big stars, from Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand and newcomer Diego Boneta.

It was an average film at best. My biggest complaint is that I think Julianne Hough, who nailed her role, should stick to dancing instead of singing. This will sound petty to people who are less OCD than I am, but when you make a musical and the main role is sung by someone who’s voice is not only recognizable as highly edited throughout the film, but who clearly doesn’t possess the vocal range necessary to sing, and oftentimes, lead many of the huge vocal numbers, it’s frustrating as a viewer.

That being said, newbie Diego Boneta rocked the music and the role, and Tom Cruise was easily the most entertaining and best part of Rock of Ages. Some scenes with him are beyond funny, and make the film worth rental price just to watch him act like a rock star. I almost wish Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand would have had larger roles, because they were hilarious and enjoyable to watch interacting as well.

The problem with Adam Shankman’s latest musical wasn’t the casting or the acting, and certainly not the music selection, but the terrible screenplay. No doubt the story works better on stage than onscreen. I recently saw Jersey Boys at Broadway in Chicago, and I loved it. But I couldn’t imagine seeing a screen version of it turn out well. I assume it’s the same concept for stories like Rock of Ages.

What did you think of Prometheus? I’m open for discussion, so throw yourself out there if you have an opinion. Did you see Rock of Ages? Did you did the film, or were underwhelmed like me? Share your thoughts below!

AEOS Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

And . . . I’m back! It’s felt like forever since I blogged on AEOS, and I’m happy to be back after a very rough month. How’s everyone been? I’ve been able to check out posts by several of you when I’ve found the time. Bear with me as I get my footing again these next couple weeks. Originally when I set out to blog regularly, I didn’t take into account how difficult it would be to post that regularly with my current schedule. This time around, I plan to post 2-3 posts/week. If I ever reel more than that out, then I will just count myself lucky 🙂 OK, let’s get on with it already . . .

The most recent film I have watched has been rookie director Rupert Sanders’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Expectations were flying high with all the marketing and comparisons to that of the inferior Mirror, Mirror, the other of two takes on the fairytale classic. What can I say? I felt let down. A below average rating on Rotten Tomatoes (46%)  confirmed that this Snow White fell short of the mark, despite having some positive aspects to it.

Chemical Imbalance

There probably isn’t a better way to describe the film than that is was all over the place. The tone, the score, the characters . . . everything was constantly shifting, lacking an overall center to bring the film together as a whole. There was an imbalance that made the film fall flat. The actors did the best they could to show heart and express emotion, but I didn’t really care because they were under-developed. The script really dragged the story down, not giving the actors much to work with in the beginning, using recycled plot devices to carry the story through.

What came as a big disappointment to me was the score. I normally dig the work of James Newton Howard, even when I don’t care for the movie he scored for. But in this case, the score was all over the place, reflecting the movie’s primary issue.

Character Actors

Charlize Theron is one impressive character actor. She seems to know exactly how to play your average, everyday gal, as well as an evil queen desperate to retain her beauty. The make-up transformations were stellar, showing the effects of her aging. Theron embodied the necessary evil to play this creepy character.

Then you have an actor like Chris Hemsworth, who is still establishing himself, having only been in a few films and being known primarily for another character, Thor. I thought Hemsworth did a pretty good job. Although he was never known as anything more than “Huntman” and rocked an accent that made it difficult to detect what he was saying in parts, he did what he could with what he had to work with. Hemsworth lacks no heart or emotion in expressing himself, and that came through in his Huntsman performance.

As for Kristen Stewart . . . given my high dislike for the Twilight series and her association with it, it makes it difficult to judge her without making some kind of comparison. Unfortunately, she probably won’t be able to ever separate herself fully from the films. But putting that aside (as much as is possible!), I found myself impressed with the physicality of her role. Although a stunt person probably filled in for a lot of the hard parts, I can imagine the role was physically difficult for her, whether she was riding a horse, fighting, swimming, jumping off a cliff, or sliding into a sewer. As for the acting? There was a deafness to her performance. I really felt like she tried, but ultimately failed in giving a great performance. Perhaps with more opportunities she will be able to slowly slip away from her Twilight association and move into roles with more depth. That being said, I think Stewart wasn’t terrible. And that’s an improvement.

Channeling Aragorn

I couldn’t help but feel like Stewart was channeling Aragorn from Lord of the Rings during the second half of the film. Rallying the troops, leading the Duke and people into battle (without proper head gear, no less), and being crowned queen in the end. I was ready for her to look at the hobbits dwarves and say “You bow to no one.”

There were other moments when I felt like I was watching a rip-off version of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but perhaps so many films borrow and share themes, that it was difficult to not have those thoughts while watching. When Snow White and crew came riding in on the beach, I felt like the they were attempting to breech Helm’s Deep. The relationship between Snow White and the Queen made me think of Harry Potter and Voldemort. My sister did not appreciate my continuous commentary on such comparison during the film. I digress.

Saviors and Sinking Ship

The visuals were the savior of the film. Both the visual and special effects were stunning. The queen’s aging, the mirror, the scene in the fairy world–all were captivating to watch. One scene in particular that I appreciated was when the Queen tricked Snow White by channeling the Duke’s son. It was the first and only time I found myself surprised the entire film. I already knew Snow White would somehow kill the Queen by blocking with one arm and stabbing her with the other until her soul left. Too bad. I wasn’t even trying to call plot points.

Aside from the visual prowess, the film was average at best. I credit screenwriters Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock for dragging down the already sinking ship.

What did you think of the film? What parts did you like, and which ones could have been better? 

Yes, I’m Going to Talk about the Golden Globes

And the nominees are . . .

Not going to be listed here. But if you’d like to see a list, they’re just about anywhere else. Like Fandango, or Rotten Tomatoes, where it lists the movies with their RT rating. Kinda nifty.

Unfortunately, I haven’t see all of the films/performances that are up for awards yet. It’s difficult to make it to the theater for all of them, but I can comment on what I know and hope to happen. Here are my personal thoughts on each category, and who I guess will win each.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

I’ve seen 4 out of the 6 nominations. I’m actually stunned Ides of March made this list. Really? But then again, the Golden Globes occasionally pulls an odd nom or two out of a hat, so I’m crediting Ides with being the weird pick. My greatest disappointment is that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is entirely void from not only this list, but from the Golden Globes as well. Come on! I’m happy, however, to see Tree of Life not present, because people were making far too big a deal out of that film (if you ask me). I would be happy, however, to see The Help or The Descendants win this category. I enjoyed Moneyball a lot, but don’t think it deserves to win over either of those. I also think Hugo is entirely overrated because it’s a Scorsese film. I can’t comment on War Horse because I haven’t seen it, but it’s difficult to put into the mix when I don’t even have a desire to see it. Perhaps when it is in full release, I will reconsider.

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical

In this section, I’ve seen half the films. My Week with Marilyn was always on my list to see, but it hasn’t worked out yet. I will personally be pulling for 50/50 to win, because it was my favorite film of the year thus far, but with The Artist having the most nominations of the season, I see it easily stealing this win. Midnight in Paris is a close personal second pick for me. It’s a Woody Allen treat and a great film, but I find it unlikely to beat out The Artist. Unlike the rest of the world (and critics alike), I was not a giant fan of Bridesmaids, although I was impressed with Wiig’s writing more than her performance with it. Surprisingly, Carnage is really pulling out a nice string of nominations, but I doubt it will fare against The Artist, much less Midnight in Paris.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

This is perhaps one of the easiest categories for me to comment on, because I have seen all the performances except for Michael Fassbender in Shame. However, after reading reviews, if I were to bet on who would surprisingly come up and win this category, I would bet on him. Plus, I think those awards voters smile upon nudity, but that’s those awards voters for you. Judging on all other performances, it appears to be a pretty tight race. Unfortunately for Brad Pitt, I don’t see Moneyball nominations faring well at all against it’s competition. Despite my dislike of J. Edgar, I think DiCaprio gave a fantastic performance. And despite my thoughts, I think voters will overlook him again and go with Fassbender. My personal pick would be between George Clooney in The Descendants and Brad Pitt in Moneyball. I won’t even give Gosling a fair chance in this match because I’m still one of the many stunned that his performance in Drive wasn’t considered for this category.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I find myself with little to say, seeing that the majority of these performances are difficult to judge since half the films haven’t been widely distributed yet. The competition appears to be even more fierce in this category when big names like Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton are included. Although I will be biased and think that Viola Davis is more than deserving of this win, I see either of the former winning this category. I’m also left disappointed with Emma Stone not getting any credit for her work in The Help, but it doesn’t surprise me, unfortunately. I’ve heard great things about Rooney Mara’s performance in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I don’t think she has a fighting chance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical

I feel like I’ve really missed out on all the nominated performances this year–I’ve seen only one in this category as well! And that, being Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, which I don’t think will do anything. I see Michelle Williams easily taking this win with her performance in My Week with Marilyn. I’ve heard great things about Charlize Theron‘s polarizing performance in Young Adult, but I don’t know if that will come to anything or not. Two nominations are phoned in for Carnage, but again, it’s difficult to comment having not seen it. Although Kate Winslet seems to be an awards darling more than many.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical

Clear and simple, I would easily place my vote for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to win this category. I was blown away by his performance in 50/50. This is only the second time he has ever been nominated for a Golden Globe. But I think the obvious winner of this category will be Jean Dujardin in The Artist. Again, I’m stunned to see Gosling nominated for Crazy, Stupid, Love, of all the movies to be nominated for. And although I very much enjoyed Midnight in Paris, I doubt Owen Wilson will do anything. Either way, I’m happy to see him nominated.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

For this category, the stand-out performance for me was Shailene Woodley in The Descendants. The Help scored two nominations in this narrow category for Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, two actresses that I would also be happy to see win–I think Jessica Chastain has a little more edge then Spencer in this category. But then again, The Artist may take this category, too, with Berenice Bejo‘s performance. More than ever, I’m wishing I had seen that movie so I wouldn’t feel so begrudged in talking about it’s likely and hypothetical victories.

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

It’s a strange thing to see Drive finally get a nomination with Albert Brooks in this category. My pick would go to Jonah Hill in Moneyball, although I see Christopher Plummer (Beginners) or Viggo Mortenson (A Dangerous Method) walking away with the trophy before Hill does.

Best Director – Motion Picture

I will admit I’m very biased in this category. First things first: No, George Clooney, I don’t think you should win, much less be nominated in this category. Yes Ides was good, but it wasn’t Best Director nomination-worthy. Second: Despite the hype over Hugo, no, Scorsese, I don’t think just because you decided to make a family film that was largely successful, that you should win this category either. What kid wants to sit in a theater for over two hours when the film is more fitting for adults? That’s what The Muppets is for–to make children laugh and smile and sing and enjoy going to the theater. And get ready for it: No, Mr. Allen, I don’t think you should win either. Yes, you are an incredible writer, director, and storyteller, but you’re also the biggest Academy Darling of those listed, and just because those voters love you doesn’t mean you should win every year you’re nominated. Off your high horse. Which leaves Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). My gut tells me Hazanavicius is going to walk away with it, and I would be all the happier if he did.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

My first choice? Midnight in Paris. The writing is the strength of the film, and I think it’s spectacular. I think Ides should be thrown out the window on this one too. It is likely that The Artist could take this one, too, but then again, so could The Descendants. Moneyball was a nice adaptation, but for those who have read the book (*raises hand*), they know it wasn’t a great representation of the book. It was, however, an excellent way to translate the story for today’s viewers and make something that might not entertain most to something that could now entertain many.

Best Animated Feature Film

The question we should all be asking is, where the heck is Kung Fu Panda 2 on this list? Seriously, Cars 2  was the least successful Pixar film to date, yet it still makes it on the list of nominees. If I were to pick a favorite, it would be Puss in Boots. Then again, I remained unimpressed with this list, considering the great past couple years of animated filmmaking.

Best Foreign Language Film

I have little to nothing to say about this category as well, since I haven’t seen a single film on the list. My only thought is that it’s interesting to see Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut make the list, In the Land of Blood and Honey. But that’s all I have to say about that.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

There’s a great many popular and suspected composers’ scores on this list, from Howard Shore to John Williams to last year’s Oscar winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this time around. I put this category entirely up for grabs.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

I’m definitely a fan of Mary J. Blige’s The Living Proof from The Help, but I can’t help but get angry at not seeing even a showing for The Muppets on this one. Really? I’m actually stunned. This is a huge disappointment for a film with such great original songs.

And those are my thoughts! What are your biggest disappointments and surprises for this year’s Golden Globes?

Snow White vs . . . Snow White?

For those who keep up with upcoming films, it’s been long time knowledge that two Snow White films will be released next year. Last week, the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman debuted online. This more action version of the story has Kristen Stewart playing Snow White, making her first appearance since the Twilight movies, as well as Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Charlize Theron playing the evil queen. Yesterday, the trailer for Mirror, Mirror, which appears far more whimsical in nature, casts Julia Roberts as the evil queen and Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar) as the prince.

Which looks better? Which one would you be more likely to see?

Snow White and the Huntsman

I don’t think that Kristen Stewart looks the part of Snow White at all. As a friend put it, she doesn’t look innocent or “genuinely beautiful” to fit the part. I am surprised, however, at how creepy and evil Charlize Theron came across as the evil queen. The trailer did focus more on her than any of the other characters, which I think may be an advantage for them. The mirror appears to take on an actual form, and the story really comes to life in the trailer. If you watch this trailer in HD, it’s very visually appealing. I think this film has more potential to gather a wider audience than the other.

Mirror, Mirror

In this trailer, Julia Roberts is really pulling for laughs. The writing for the queen makes her appear very cynical with a dry sense of humor. Tarsem Singh, director for the recent film Immortals, seems to be taking the more classic route by including the dwarves. I was able to catch just a small glimpse of the queen in disguise offering an apple to Snow White. I was hoping to see more of that in the other trailer. I was almost reminded of last year’s Alice in Wonderland with the costumes (Julia Robert’s giant red dress?). This one looks like it may bring in more of a family-friendly audience. It will be interesting to see which does better. My money is on Snow White and the Huntsman.