Tag Archives: Damon Lindelof

Tomorrowland (2015)

tomorrowland-2015

Tomorrowland, for me, came across as one of the more “meh” blockbusters of the year, and I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing it when I first watched the trailers. I mean, come on, what kind of movie is based on a Disneyland theme zone? Not a ride like Pirates of the Caribbean, but a zone!

That said, the film sure looked good on paper. It’s directed by Brad Bird, who was at the helm of heartfelt and exciting animated films such as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. He also made one of the best action films in recent years with Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Tomorrowland‘s script was co-written by Bird and Damon Lindelof, co-creator and showrunner of Lost and the writer for Prometheus and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Throw in George Clooney’s saggy face, rising star Britt Robertson and House himself, Hugh Laurie, and Tomorrowland started looking quite promising.

I admit it started off well, setting up the fun and wondrous tone early on with some cute banter between Clooney’s and Robertson’s characters. The visuals are absolutely spectacular, reminding me of the images of futuristic worlds that captivated me as a child, and I also liked the Disneyland ride tie-in (though strangely, it was with Fantasyland as opposed to Tomorrowland).

After the nice intro however, the film never quite settles in as comfortably as it should have; the pace sags and the concepts start getting less interesting. Things do pick up towards the end, but as a “big ideas” film, Tomorrowland doesn’t go as deep or have as many layers as I hoped it would.

George Clooney gets top billing, though this was really one of those films where the big star just lends his name to the project. I guess it’s still a substantial role, but he’s not in it as much as you would expect, as a part of his character’s story is told in flashbacks and is played by child actor Thomas Robinson (who bears a striking resemblance to him).

The real protagonist of the film is Britt Robertson, who is 25 in real life but looks very much like a young teenager in this. Kudos to the hair, make-up and costume teams for making her look so convincing, especially as I had just seen her in The Last Ride, where she easily looked old enough to be a graduating college student.

Another great casting choice was British child actress Raffey Cassidy, whom they intentionally tried to make look older for good reason. I thought she was very convincing and has a great future ahead of her.

On the whole, Tomorrowland is a solid piece of family entertainment that fails in its ambitions to deliver something truly special. Despite the amazing visuals, it lacked that sense of wonder and magic; it just didn’t have that “it” factor you find in the best children and family films.

3.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Prometheus (2D) (2012)

I just watched one of my most anticipated films of the year, Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s is-it-or-isn’t-it prequel to Alien, his 1979 classic. There is an answer to that question but it’s not a particularly important one, because Prometheus stands on it’s own extremely well. It’s not the classic Alien or Aliens is, but hey, few films are. If you measure the film by the impossible standards of those films, of course it is going to fall short. But by ordinary standards this film is freaking awesome. Visually stunning, with excellent performances and plenty of suspense. It’s not groundbreaking by any means but takes the successful Alien/s formula and places it on a much larger and different angled palette.

Set late in this century, it tells the story of a group of private sector space travellers who head to the moon of a distant planet to seek the origins of mankind. What they find, of course, is not quite what they expected.

This is a very different film to those in the Alien franchise (I am going to pretend, by the way, that the Alien vs Predator pieces of crap never existed). This is a ‘big ideas’ movie, or at least it tries to be one, and the scale and grandeur dwarfs anything that has been attempted in those earlier films. The special effects and the sets and make up are simply mind-blowing. The introductory scene sets the tone perfectly and is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.

At it’s heart though, Prometheus is still a sci-fi mystery horror, and in that regard it delivers. Even when you have a fair idea of what is likely to happen it’s still suspenseful — and often, extremely gross. It has scare tactics that will remind viewers of the Alien franchise though I wouldn’t call it ‘recycled.’ There are also one or two memorable scenes that will probably linger in the back of my mind forever.

The screenplay is written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Spaihts previously wrote the script for The Darkest Hour, which was a horrible movie but not because of the writing (I thought the idea was decent). Lindelof, on the other hand, is the co-creator of and writer for one of the most fascinating and frustrating TV shows of all time, Lost, and his fingerprints are all over this one.

On the bright side, the plot unravels like a brilliant mystery, akin to slowly peeling off the layers a giant onion. When you’re not terrified you’re fully engaged trying to figure out what the heck is going on. On the other hand, Prometheus is full of plot holes, loose ends and unexplained stuff that will frustrate a lot of viewers to no end. It’s almost as though it was written with a sequel in mind, or perhaps, like Lost, the writers just did what they thought was cool at the time without giving much thought to whether they could make sense of it later, if at all.

Being a film about finding the origins of man, there are of course some philosophical considerations. On this point I felt Prometheus was also very Lost-like; that is, a lot of interesting questions but not a lot of answers, a lot of style but not a whole lot of substance. That said, I didn’t really care. Intellectual stimulation was not high on the list of reasons why I wanted to watch this film.

The cast is super. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. No weak link in that line up. The Assbender, though, is the clear standout as David, a mesmerising guy you quickly find out is not quite the same as the others. It’s not a stretch to say the Assbender carries the bulk of this film. 300, Centurion, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, Shame and now Prometheus. The dude has become one of my favourite actors.

Rapace gives a sound effort as scientist Elizabeth Shaw, though it’s rather unfair to compare her to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) because they are such different personalities. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even channel her inner Lisbeth Salander, which might leave some of her Dragon Tattoo fans disappointed. Despite her name being the first in the credits, Rapace doesn’t stand out throughout the first half of the film, which I’m not sure is by design. However, she does have one ripper of a scene later on, possibly the best sequence in the entire film (and an instant classic), and more or less redeems herself by the end.

So yeah, Prometheus is pretty cool. Flawed but very enjoyable if you can look past its most egregious problems. At the end of the day, I didn’t watch Prometheus expecting it to be as good as Alien/s. I didn’t watch it expecting to gain more insights about where we came from. I watched it expecting to be entertained, awed and terrified for a couple of hours. And I was.

4.25 stars out of 5!