Prometheus: a team of crack scientists travel to a distant planet to discover humanity’s beginnings, however, what they find could finish us all off! The opening aerial shots of breathetaking, sweeping landscapes are geography porn, it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the entrance fee alone. The rest of the film looks just as great, with sumptuous visuals, well-designed costumes & sets, and totally seamless impressive CGI. To match this, the acting roster’s impressive, although it’s absolutely owned by Fassbender‘s portrayal of David the android; he’s efficient, calculating, and believably robotic – surprisingly, he’s also by far the most interesting character, and the film’s biggest driving force. Charlize Theron’s role disappointingly amounts to nothing more than “hottie in a cat suit”. Frustraitingly, the film spends most of the runtime raising, contemplating and flirting with massive questions & themes – religion, evolution, why are we here, meeting our makers… – It’s just a shame that it spends next to no time resolving or answering any. As for being an Alien prequel, it feels intentionally distanced, with not much more than a fleeting post-script that is clunkily added-on. All in, I think Ridley’s hoping that the big loud grand spectacle will serve as a distraction from the fact that the story is neither strong, nor particularly original – which is epitomised best in Fassbender’s time in the fancy, flashy galaxy simulator thingmy-bob.
Luther (Series 2): Detective CI John Luther Thud! Is back on the streets of London Thud! Stopping more bad guys Thud! and saving the day Thud… Hear that? That’s the sound of the BBC dropping the balls of everything that made series one great. 1) Format changed from 1 hour 1 case to 2 hours 1 case – also instead of 6 there are only 4 episodes (and only 2 cases) 2) Bad guys are ridiculous, one is straight out of a Saw film, and the other was just a normal nerd – neither particularly scary, or believable 3) Good, established characters are neglected – most noticeably crazy Alice, who is majorly poo poo’d – and the show suffers big time – and Schenk, who was hot on Luther’s heels in S1 and now his immediate boss. 4) Worst side story ever (Geezers, porn, drugs…) although I strongly suspect it was written as a 2-episode case, but was so bad they cut it in to the others as a backstory. 5) Super-Luther… he was suspiciously good in Series 1, but it’s all a bit too “just one more thig…” this time round. On the up side, there’s some really tense scenes, we get more of Ripley, the acting and production are to a high standard, and it’s still watchable. Don’t get me wrong, Series 2 is still good TV by UK standards, but it’s a mere shadow of the brilliant series 1.
Thor: after putting the galaxy’s’ peace at risk Thor is cast out to Earth until he learns to tone down the arrogance, and ramp up the leadership. This is one of the most eclectic mixes of a film I can remember seeing; there’s oodles of tongue-in-cheek camp, so much so that everybody seems to think they’re in an amateur stage play; there’s about 30 characters all turning it up to eleven and vying for attention – not to mention robots, goblins, gods, scientists and feds. Most annoyingly, the SFX are insanely overused – reminiscent of the first wave of GCI laden 90s films. The action scenes are also poorly done – resulting in a series of blurry smashes and explosions until there’s a body is lying on the ground / frozen in ice. The bottom line is that the tone, style and elements of Thor are so erratic, that it ends up feeling like a film that exists just to be the next comic book film. Big, bright, loud and stupid, Michael Bay would be so proud
Rock ‘n’ Rolla [Blu Ray]: Guy Ritchie introduces another bunch of dodgy geezers that you would find in ‘everyday Britain’… honestly! There’s a huge section of Basil exposition at the start; although goes with the territory of having 20 storylines and around 400 characters. There’s more narration by a LANDAN GEEZA – and the script’s full of more cockney slang / gangster limericks; I wouldn’t blame non-Brits for requiring subtitles. (Ewe go’ mo’ feet on thu street van coppas on thu beat – etc). There’s more Tarantino-esqué styling with wipes, swipes, fast cut editing, dialogue in boxes. There’s more people acting trivially when surrounded by or cut between senseless violence – which is becoming old hat. There’s also more dark comedy elements, which are quite good: a homosexual sub-plot, S&M, botched robbery, comparing scars, indestructible Russians… Where this succeeds is the stunning Brit cast; Hardy, Strong, Elba, ‘Superhands’, Butler, Kebbell, and Newton. The Blu Ray’s worth the extra pennies, with a slick picture and some tasty HD-audio. If you can’t tell from the above, Rock ‘n’ Rolla is more of the same ol’ Guy Ritchie tricks, although it’s all totally passable, and in the end, quite entertaining & watchable. It was planned to be the first of three films and – surprisingly – I’d like to see the other two.
Obsessed: a married guy gets harassed by an increasingly obsessive woman until it gets out of hand… I’ve genuinely seen porno films with better acting, music, direction and even story. And no – I haven’t mixed this up with Fatal Attraction. Idris Elba lapsed in and out of good acting without warning. The crazy secretary (Ali Larter) was awful, but couldn’t really do much with her paper-thin character. Beyonce, meh, just there for the end really… and stick to singing love. Whether it was the budget of a massive case of ‘can’t be assed’ this looks & feels like a directorial debut – not someone that’s been behind the camera since 1995 (!) on projects such as Deadwood (!!), The Good Wife (!!!), The Sopranos (!!!!) and The Wire (!WTF!). Inexcusable acting, story and a spectacular f-up on the part of everyone’s agent. Tour De Fail.
Luther: Every few years the BBC green lights a show which reaffirms my believe that at least a tiny fraction of my extortive TV licence is being spent wisely. This 6-episode series follows re-instated maverick cop John Luther as he works through several high-profile cases. The show doesn’t bring anything new to the ‘cop/crime drama’ genre, but raises the bar tremendously with its fantastic – and unusually professional – style & feel. The score’s also very complementary, and does a great job of heightening drama and suspense. Every main turns in a decent performance, particularly Idris Elba, who has no easy task playing the on-edge Holmesian officer; if The Wire hadn’t put him on the map, this will. Rising star Ruth Wilson gives a great portrayal of a quirky sociopathic genius. The other villains are just as chilling, and generally realistic: from the gunman and taxi driver to the more outlandish Satanist. The best aspect of Luther is that its genuinely gripping, especially the finale, which is tension on a scale that you rarely see; heart pounding and seat grabbing. My only real complaint was that it was far too short although the cliffhanger ending leaves a second series wide open. Luther is a great fusion of police action and personal drama. Thoroughly compelling and enjoyable TV, a must see.