Posts Tagged ‘film’

Michael Fassbender as David.  David’s not a real boy.

Thoughts on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (5 Days Later)

While I avoided reading any actual reviews of the film prior to seeing it, the general tenor of fan response seemed nearly unavoidable online.  People Science fiction fans seemed disappointed to one degree or another, and some were even calling the film terrible.  I tried not to let this affect me.  After all, the bulk of Scott’s work is solid; I trust him more than overzealous, nitpicky fanboys.  Alien and Blade Runner  both remain in my top 20 films (not genre films, films).   The trailer was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and the film’s general concept is awesome (more ancient alien astronaut progenitor movies, please!).  Yet, when I saw it Saturday, as the film closed, I felt a bit underwhelmed.  The ideas, acting, and visuals (3D was actually good?) were all great, but something was off about how I responded to it.  I ventured online to read what people wrote about it and found less indecisiveness there–Prometheus seems to be divisive for viewers, especially genre fans willing to post opinions, and people with strong opinions were sounding off in typical hyperbolic and embarrassing fashion (do note that the film is garnering largely positive, if not overly enthusiastic, reviews from  mainstream media/critics).  The tendency seems to be that one must take a pro or con side in a discussion of a film if the original poster has a strong opinion one way or the other; this usually leads to crappy, uninformative dialogue.

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Because what the internet needs is another commentary on the film adaptation of The Hunger Games . . .

Going into the release, I quickly reread the first book (for the fourth time) so that I could more easily be pedantic and nitpicky about how they adapted the film, what they chose to play up or omit, and how well it worked as a representation of the overall feel and main themes of the book. Most of the time this kind of thing leads to fannish and annoying pointing out of differences as if trying to show off what a smart, super-fan one is, but I’m going to try to stick to things that actually make a difference in overall tone.

As a whole, my take was that the films was “good but not great” for reasons I’ll explain in a second, and I’m sticking to that even if it makes me a killjoy for those who have wholly embraced it as everything awesome is supposed to be (Scott Tobias’ review at The AV Club is a pretty close mirror to my own thoughts . . . if I weren’t going to itemize and explain every detail I though worth considering).  As for the latter folks swept up in the hype, which seems to be far too much of the internet, witness, for example, the simplistic, uncritical accolades from “film critic” Margot McGowan at SF Gate. McGowan’s absurd “review” is narrow in scope and merely lauds the film for not breaking the from those elements that allow for a feminist reading of the book (which is a dubious position for many reasons that other, more capable folks have pointed out).  Not that it isn’t a reasonable point to care that Katniss isn’t sexed-up in the film, but in the book that concern is primarily and textually Katniss’ . . . transferred over to the reader via her inner monologue. And the ultimate choice on whether or not to go this route in presenting her is Cinna’s, which he decidedly goes against.  Further, concerns McGowan raises about gender equality (in numbers of tributes? seriously?) are patently absurd, as is the ladies working together to save each other angle she generates.  The film is loyal to the book on these counts, which isn’t the same as it being “awesome,” which implies levels of both loyalty and creative changes to the source material that still capture the spirit of the novel and enthrall the audience.

[major spoilers follow]

Let me start with the things the film did pretty good or exceptionally well:

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Some old friends are probably laughing at me for this because I once (many times) swore I would never succumb to blogging again because I feel it is too often a solipsistic mode of expression based in notions of self-importance. However, I honestly need a jump-start for writing and an archive for things not fit for the big project I am trying to complete (like a goddamn idiot).

Before moving forward, I feel the need to explain the silly title and something about intent.  For the clever and worldy, or pathetic and mired in the 80s, the title of this is a quite obvious reference to Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  This probably makes the typical idiot online assume the writer subscribes to the logic of such deathmatches and simplistic, brutal conflict resolution.  But recall the actual context, scene, and text if you will:

 

This is the truth of it . . . Fighting leads to killing,
and killing gets to warring.
And that was damn near
the death of us all.
Look at us now, busted up
and everyone talking about hard rain.
But we've learned by the dust
of them all. Bartertown's learned.
Now when men get to fighting,
it happens here.
And it finishes here.
Two men enter, one man leaves."

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