First, PROMETHEUS, the “ALIEN prequel” from original director Ridley Scott. Overall:
–Yes, it’s a prequel. Definitely. No spoilers, but remember the big alien “pilot” the crew found in the original ALIEN? We get to see the origin behind it. (That alone would make it an ALIEN prequel to me, but there’s more; make sure you stay after the first few credits).
–Charlize Theron plays a different type of “ice queen” from that in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN–this one is much more subtle and far in the future, but almost as icy.
–Speaking of ice, the locations chosen in Iceland for this film were brilliant; with the filters and treatment, it passes for an alien landscape well. Although the opening looks more like earth. Intentional? There’s debate about what the opening sequence really means and where it takes place. But there’s no debate about how gorgeously it was shot! Incredible cinematography.
–This one’s not as claustrophobic as ALIEN, most of which took place onboard the ship. But still isolated, which adds to the suspense and drama.
–Michael Fassbender gets the “creepy friendly” award for his role as “David,” which in turn gets an award for one of the most innocuous names for a screen villain.
–Noomi Rapace (the original GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) offered a great performance, as did most of the cast.
–Ridley Scott still has “abdomen” issues. Rather than a bursting from within, this time we get to see a self-conducted Cesearian birth. Cringe-worthy. Hide your eyes if you’re eating.
–Production design was spot-on, as usual. Technology, ships, vehicles and such all worked well and looked cool. And the H.R. Giger influence was eerily, beautifully present.
–Good to see on the big screen (2D), especially for the vistas and sets.
Next, Pixar’s BRAVE.
–Co-writing and co-directing debut of none other than Steve Purcell of the great SAM AND MAX comics fame! He’s been at Pixar for years; I never knew exactly what he did (other than being one of the story artists) but it’s rewarding to see both a fellow comic-guy and “quadragenarian” move up and accomplish so much after middle-age. He’s done a great job and I hope it leads to more.
The guy behind this brilliant comic (SAM & MAX, FREELANCE POLICE) is now one of those behind a brilliant movie.
–Another comic-fan bonus, I saw the multi-talented Scott Morse (SOULWIND, MAGIC PICKLE, et al.) listed as a story artist.
–Nobody, but nobody, does nature as good or better than Pixar. This outing, the only stylizations were the human characters (and one of the bears, but for oobvious reasons). The landscapes, grass, fur, trees, mountains, snow and water were SO natural, you could splice certain scenes into a montage of “real-world” films and not tell the difference. Not even a pro could on some. (Study the waterfalls, especially!)
–Archery! I’ll let someone more acquainted with the sport comment on its accuracy but I bet it was well-researched and authentic; same with the Scottish accents and cultural elements.
–Add to the above cloth and hair. Especially Merida’s (the main character). Dry or wet, it’s real hair! No idea how much (if any) of the film was rotoscoped, but scary real. Frankly, I don’t know if I should praise the software or the artists, but guessing it’s a mixture of both. I bet it looked great in 3D, but even in 2D (which I saw), the film was visually breath-stealing.
–Characters, characters, characters: Pixar knows how to create them, make them familiar, funny, memorable, fleshed out and as human inside as they are exaggerated outside. You’ll swear you’ve seen some of these types of people!
–Great humor, excellent vocal acting, especially by Kelly MacDonald and Billy Connelly. (And yes, John Ratzenberger continues his required Pixar appearance.) Look for talk-show host Craig Ferguson as one of the clan leaders; and Steve Purcell himself does the crow voice!
Cons: Seriously? I could nitpick, sure, but it would be like harping on the radio knobs in a Bugatti.
Pixar magic continues.
On the other hand, the short film before the movie, “La Luna”, was charming, but that’s all. It will bring a couple smiles or chuckles and an “awwww”, but no laughs. I much prefer the outright comedy and schtick of “One Man Band”, “Mike’s New Car”, “Knick Knack”, “For the Birds” and “Jack-Jack Attack.” But that’s personal taste. Visually, of course, it was wonderful and imaginative. I hope you enjoy it.
In sum, you can’t go wrong with either film; depends on what mood you’re in and who you’re with. Don’t take the six-year-old or the first date to PROMETHEUS and don’t take the college frat jocks to BRAVE. But you should enjoy both!
P.S.: This is your LAST chance before Comic-Con to get a commission of your favorite character (or you or someone you want as a favorite character)! If you’re going to the convention, order TODAY and I’ll personally hand the finished art to you at the show–AND a free bonus. Deal? Just ask Craig here!