2:52pm Wednesday 30th May 2012
By Damon Smith
More than 30 years after Ridley Scott proved that in space, everyone can hear you scream — loudly — the Oscar-nominated director returns to the science-fiction genre and the ultimate deep space killing machine: Alien.
Unfortunately, a decision has been made not to let critics see Prometheus — one of the most eagerly awaited films for years — until two days before its release, with the screenings coinciding with the printing of The Oxford Times. What follows, therefore, is based on publicity material put out in advance of the film.
Prometheus is a prequel of sorts, offering tantalising clues to the origins of the acid-blooded predator and the human race. In the late 21st century, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation finances an archaeological dig led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) to uncover the secrets of an alien race known as the Engineers.
Vickers recruits astrophysicist Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), xenoarchaeologist Dr Theo Zedmore (Guy Pearce) and fellow astrophysicist (Ben Foster) to lead the mission and they discover vital information plotting the location of the Engineers’ home planet.
Determined to learn more about these omnipotent creatures, Vickers spearheads a mission to the far-off solar system. A spaceship called Prometheus captained by Jeremiah Janek (Idris Elba) provides the transport and Vickers bolsters the crew with top men and women in their fields including medical officer Fifield (Sean Harris) and engineer Yuri (Rafe Spall).
Operations android David 4.0 (Michael Fassbender) keeps a dispassionate eye on proceedings, but as the party touches down on the Engineers’ home world, they are woefully unprepared for the horrors that await them.
Prometheus also screens in 3D and IMAX 3D, providing a truly immersive experience.
Originality is a scant resource in Hollywood, which probably accounts for two re-workings of Snow White in almost as many months. While Mirror, Mirror put a broad comedic spin on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Rupert Sanders’s sweeping fantasy Snow White & The Huntsman is a much darker affair.
The script initially focuses on the slinky villainess played with an icy glare by Charlize Theron (again!), whose quest to be the fairest of them all wrenches apart a previously peaceful kingdom and stains the land with innocent blood.
Production design and costumes are ravishing, augmented by slick digital effects that transform the evil queen into a flock of ravens or visualise the voice of the mirror as a shape-shifting mass of molten metal.
Humour is fleeting so it’s left to the gung-ho dwarves to inject welcome comic relief at the film’s midway point, using their diminutive stature to their advantage in the well-orchestrated battle sequences.
Theron slinks with intent as scheming sorceress Ravenna, who seizes the throne by killing her husband King Magnus (Noah Huntley). She allows her private army to storm the castle and enslave the people. The queen incarcerates Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in the north tower and plans to attain eternal youth by ripping out her stepdaughter’s beating heart.
Thankfully, the plucky heroine escapes the dungeon and the clutches of Ravenna’s slimy brother Finn (Sam Spruell), and heads into the aptly named Dark Forest.
Ravenna’s magic holds no sway in this enclave, so she hires a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track down Snow White and deliver the girl to her doom.
However, he too falls under the escapee’s spell and agrees to help Snow White overthrow Ravenna with the assistance of childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) and eight pint-sized former miners — Beith (Ian McShane), Muir (Bob Hoskins), Gort (Ray Winstone), Nion (Nick Frost), Duir (Eddie Marsan), Coll (Toby Jones), Quert (Johnny Harris) and Gus (Brian Gleeson).
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group