Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Prometheus & Piranha 3DD - The Riveting and the Revolting

December 21, 2093 - Close to the end of the 21st century, the Prometheus, a scientific space exploration team was sent by the Wayland Corporation to a distant planet in deep space using a similar pictogram from different unrelated ancient civilizations - the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Sumerians, etc. Somehow, this expedition - costing $1 trillion dollars to finance - believes that extra-terrestrial beings much like the humans are sending these signals so they could be found. What's more interesting is, this discovery could answer centuries-old questions about the existence of man. Would we finally meet our Maker? Would this journey finally end 3 centuries of Darwinism?

Seventeen men and women finally reach the toxic atmosphere of the planet - they've in fact awakened from a space slumber of 2 years and 4 months. During which time, David (Michael Fassbender), the android, has manned the ship. The atmosphere outside is venomous and the weather is characterized by the most violent storms. They find a mysterious cave that somehow supports life, but something else lurks in the dark crevices of this subterranean expanse. In fact, they find a figure of a human head with tomb-like structures and puddles of life-supporting water surrounding it. But where are the planet's inhabitants? Moreover, will they ever find more than this seemingly deserted habitat? Or are there really others? 

Director Ridley Scott revisits the genre that made classics out of "Blade Runner" and "Alien". In "Prometheus", he propitiously creates another world that's so vivid and arcane that you can't help but get swallowed into the individual journeys of Prometheus' 17-man team. This doesn't have anything to do with the Greek mythology character of the same name (Prometheus is a titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans. As punishment, he was bound to a rock and his liver was eaten by an eagle everyday, only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day.) There are distinct character studies laid out within the narrative. But the most fascinating were Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") who heads the scientific team; David (Michael Fassbender), an android who's everything human except not having a soul; Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) whose presence baffles as she continuously lurks in the fringes of the ship.

If you've heard of word that this is a prequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien", you would be both right and wrong - and I refuse to discuss it further. Guy Pearce and Patrick Wilson have cameos that help move in the conception of characters that ruminate this enthralling cinematic macrocosm. The prologue will have you reeling way after the rolling of the credits.

Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender examine the cave.

Charlize Theron and Idriss Alba are caught in a dilemma when a raging storm breaks out .

Noomi Rapace plays the archaeologist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. She won the role from the likes of Anna Hathaway,  Natalie Portman and Carey Mulligan.

Michael Fassbender gives the film its non-human perspective. He plays David, android and ship's "butler and maintenance personnel". Unfortunately, he has also developed an ego and insecurities.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender

Gorgeous Charlize Theron plays Meredith Vickers, an employee with a seemingly contentious agenda. It's hard to discuss her character without giving a major spoiler! As Venus Raj once said, "It is major major!

Charlize Theron got the part from early favorites Michelle Yeoh and Angelina Jolie.

Logan Marshall-Green plays Charlie Holloway, Elizabeth's impulsive  and dashing  partner. He's also an archaeologist.

Patrick Wilson plays a welcome cameo as Elizabeth's father. He appears - ever so briefly - at the first half so do not blink! :)

While Scott's Prometheus absolutely bowled us over, John Gulager's "Piranha 3DD" repelled us! This campy gorefest is set in a water resort called "The Big Wet" so you might as well think "television" instead of cinema. In the film, the voracious cannibals head upstream and navigate towards - hold your logical reasoning! - a giant resort! Meanwhile, Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) - a new marine biologist - is back in a small Arizona town where she gets didactic suspicion that the piranhas are indeed coming their way. Unfortunately, the resort's owner - Maddy's dad - wouldn't postpone the opening of the resort in time for Spring Break! Celebrity David Hasselhoff is in fact gracing the inaugural opening with his life saving gadget and red Baywatch shorts! What's worse, Maddy's ex Kyle (Chris Zylka) who's now a police officer won't help her save the day! Good thing, cute guy Barry (Matt Bush) is attentive to Maddy's theories.

Can they avert disaster?

While I understand the narrative structure of a horror-comedy, this film goes beyond camp! The jokes are as bad as the writing. Sure, they've peppered the film with eye-candies - and while they will divert your attention away from the maudlin script and pedestrian story - the novelty of having beautiful people getting devoured by seemingly mechanized creatures eventually wears off.

Yes, piranhas in this movies don't look like piranhas anymore - but autobot-styled caricatures! When the piranhas start attacking in vicious swarm, all the swimmers needed to do was get out of the pool. But what we see are nincompoops who linger in the shallow waters so they could get conveniently bitten. What's more obvious is the absence of a thinking being anywhere in the production. And quite frankly, I have never seen anything as amateurish from a mainstream Hollywood release... until now!

Daniele Panabaker plays marine biologist Maddy.

Danielle Panabaker

Matt Bush plays Barry. He has been harboring a crush on Maddy since they were in high school.

Chris Zylka plays corrupt young cop Kyle.

Paul James Jordan plays Travis, one of the early victims.

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