June 20, 2012

Gods, humans, flies etc: notes on Prometheus and The Avengers

PROMETHEUS (Ridley Scott): As though the father of the modern blockbuster was Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie (pretentious, expensive, symbolic) not, as usually assumed, Star Wars (cheaper, retro). When did I last really enjoy a Ridley Scott film? Too far back to remember. Best actor by miles: a man playing a robot playing a man, a la Blade Runner (Michael Fassbender). Worst idea: too many to list. The Alien universe is a haunted house and this is deader than the rest: we're on a death-haunted graveyard planet, largely minus the defining body horror -- as this says, the movie has a location not a plot. Also, this reading is more fun than the movie (essentially, Prometheus as intergalactic Fisher King myth) and it's free and won't take you two hours. Perhaps Prometheus is what you should expect from a Lost writer (or simply, a lost writer). Also: if you want to cultivate an air of mystery, best to keep your mouth shut. Prometheus may have generated acres of internet coverage and speculative criticism, but that doesn't mean that in 50 years it will be considered 2001 or Last Year at Marienbad.

THE AVENGERS (Joss Whedon): It wasn't until I read this that I figured out why I felt like I had walked in halfway through -- it's because I actually had. Think of it as Watchmen "for real", or Watchmen minus end-of-genre heaviness (thus, meaning). Your expectations are that it's like a 70s supergroup with solos pressure: give everyone a go and before you know it, you've got a triple live Yes album, but Whedon keeps it under control -- maybe too much control. Best actors by miles: the actual actors (Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo). Rare human moment: Ruffalo and Harry Dean Stanton in the ruined building. I haven't followed the Whedon cult -- is this largely impersonal thing what it comes to? Or is Cabin in the Woods the personal film? As in Prometheus, the gods (still) want to kill us. Also, why always New York? The 9/11-al Qaeda parallel is too obvious to bring to the surface, but the fascism one struck the writers as a brainwave (for no other reason, Stuttgart!). Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury as Obama -- drone wars? Maybe not that. Liked the Hulk, though. Didn't everyone?