To say I’ve been a little bit excited about this film coming out would be perhaps somewhat of an understatement. I am a huge Ridley Scott fan and of the efforts he has made in the genre of science fiction, bothfilms are in my all time top fifty*.
I think I can quite safely say, for me at least: Yes. It did.
However, Prometheus is not perfect. Not by any stretch. In fact, at one point in the film (after probably the most intense scene of 2012 to date) I let out an audible ‘WTF?’ when something pretty major just gets brushed to the side without question… Just, mental. But, as an immersive return trip to the shadowy world of the Weyland Corporation and everything around and therein, Prometheus wins.
We’ve been too long without a decent return trip to this universe of morally ambiguous androids and engineers. Admittedly, seeing the film in 3D at Britain’s biggest cinema (London’s BFI IMAX) definitely helped, but Scott’s hand and vision is clear throughout and we, the audience, benefit for it. Much has been lauded in the past about Ridley’s attention to detail, his penchant for creating actual things that exist in real time and space (as opposed to leaning too much on the sometimes clunky and too easy to spot CGI), and rightly so. Fans will be pleased to hear that, in Prometheus, that reputation continues unabashed.
Everything from the space suits (SUIT UP!) through to the choice of spatulas in the mess kitchen (no joke) has been thought through and it shows. That’s not to say that the film is CGI free, of course it can’t be, however, when employed, it too excels.
That’s the visuals taken care of, what of the cast?
Michael Fassbender is perfect casting as the ship’s resident android, David. Cold, quiet and utterly believable – it’s actually really hard to put a definition on what it is exactly that he does that nails the dead-behind-the-eyes, only-human-in-appearance robot. He’s part H.A.L., part Pinocchio and very, very well done. Good job.
Noomi Rapace, as the conflicted scientist and Ripley heir apparent, Dr Elizabeth Shaw, is also brilliant and shines here in her first (proper) English-speaking role. Shaw’s story-arc is probably the best and most interesting of all and, after one particularly harrowing scene, the entire theatre was on the edge of their collective seats – myself included – just waiting to see what she would do next. Arresting stuff.
Charlize Theron does well also, as does Idris Elba, but special mention must go to Brit-actor-playing-an-American number two, Rafe Spall. I had no idea he was in Prometheus so it was a pleasant surprise to see his face pop up out of cryo-sleep 15mins in. I’ve seen him in stuff before and I am a fan; his comedy grin helping him steal the short scenes that he appears in, wonderfully.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STORY, JAMES?
Well, yes. Quite.
The tagline ‘The search for our beginning could lead to our end’ is pretty spot on. There are obviously Alien elements throughout and, when the film closes, there is no doubt left as to where we came from and, maybe more importantly, where the eggs are laid for the Nostromo and her crew over the years ahead. Yes, there are a couple of gaping plot holes (and some really dumb ass character decisions), yes some of the scripting is on the clunky side but, oh my, there are some fantastic elements to Prometheus and I am bloody glad I saw it in the way I did.
In fact, I’m actually quite tempted to see it again.
And, while it doesn’t have the depth of suspense or the over-arching wrapper of horror/fear as its predecessor (as it will of course be forever continually compared against), Prometheus is a rather good sci-fi film and – faults aside – is one I would definitely recommend you go see.
*I’m a filmy. I don’t do top tens or top fives. It’s top fifties all the way.
To find the solution, we first need to fully understand the problem.
2screen / dual-screen / second-screen — all are different names for the kind of integration that I’m referring to and it’s something I’ve been kicking around in my head ever since I went to my first 2screen event back in October 2010.
It was a big deal then and it’s a bigger deal now.
In the app-world, services such as ZeeBox and Sky Sports for iPad are doing very good things indeed. Both integrating news, stats and social media streams into your second screen; providing a suitable data-based accompaniment to your visual consumption.
However, I want to talk about television-based social media integration (not app-based).
This kind of stuff -
That’s how Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance‘ handles it and many other broadcasters follow suit. BBC One is getting in on the act too, here using a Twitter wall backstage for the UK edition of ‘The Voice‘.
What do these examples all have in common?
Fundamentally, they are all bringing (or at least attempting to bring) the conversation from the second screen, to the first. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, kind of defeats the object of the second screen.
Whether it’s reading out tweets during the credits of Celebrity Juice on ITV2 or talking about Facebook wall posts inbetween programmes on BBC3, broadcasters seem to be obsessed with sharing (read ‘owning’) viewer social media.
Recognising that conversation takes place away from their platform(s), TV + social media work best together when television directs its audience to the conversation medium, as opposed to smashing them in the face with it via another.
Sorority Girls, an E4 TV show, flashes up their hashtag both at the start and at the end of their show as well as when going into ad breaks.
This is good! This is television saying -
‘Hey, perhaps some people are actually watching our shows when they’re on and, instead of going to the kettle during an ad break, they’re turning to Twitter!’
- and giving the audience a your hashtag at this point is a very good idea. You own it, you guide it, you track it.
Little pointers like this give you, the viewer, the option of tracking (and joining) the back-channel. If you understand what it means, you join the conversation. Perfect.
I guess this is one big plea to broadcasters to just stop reading out tweets and Facebook updates on the telly. Seriously, it just doesn’t work.
Finally, and returning to the opening image of this post, the new trailer for Prometheus aired recently during the first break of Homeland. Channel 4′s own announcer was employed also, asking viewers to tweet their reactions using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis.
So far, so good. Right? Right.
Except that, 20mins later (during the next ad break), those very tweets were displayed onscreen for all to see.
Yes that’s actually a TV ad you’re seeing there, with (clearly moderated) tweets displaying instead of your usual commercial break. Mental.
Reports state that this activity reached a potential audience of 15m users. (Note: POTENTIAL audience. That’s the number of every tweet with the hashtag, multiplied by their sum of their followers – ie: not a real number). And while this kind of exercise is a great advert for Twitter, it leaves existing fans and users feeling a bit… empty.
In closing, encouraging viewers to join an online conversation is one thing, replaying that conversation to them 20mins later is just a pain in the oculars.
2. Being ill sucks
I was diagnosed with acute sinusitis on Tuesday (having been out of action since last Friday) and the only thing I know about it is that a mate of mine at college used to suffer with it a lot. ‘Sicknote’ we called him, bless. But, if you’re reading this now – Bodger – I apologise. I take it back. This thing is agonisingly painful and OH MY GOD I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
I love this stuff; Artists Chris McMahon and Thryza Segal like to buy second hand paintings and then just add monsters. Apparently the trick is to match the paint originally used (e.g., acrylic or oil) and try to blend the monsters into the original scene as if they were always there. I’m actually tempted to give it a go myself. via Siany
Here are five things (that are on time for once) from this past week that are all totally worth sharing with you, dear reader. Oh, and to top it off, I’m trying something different this week. Instead of just linking to stuff, I’m going to embed things wherever possible.
It’s pretty definitive, you can read your feeds offline and well, I’ve been using it daily ever since I bought it. If you use Google Reader and own an iPad, get Reeder. Now.
2. Amazing Cake
My girlfriend likes to bake. This is great news for my lips, but bad news for my hips. But who cares, you only live once and well, when it’s the GF’s best mate’s birthday and you’re asked to lend a hand in making THE BEST CAKE YOU’VE EVER MADE, you can’t really say no.
3. Little Bay
Keeping with said birthday celebrations for a further moment, we went in search of a restaurant last weekend that would cater our large group’s numbers as well as its eating habits. Through a spot of googling, tweeting and general recommending we ended up at Little Bay. It was GORGEOUS. And, if you ever find yourself looking for somewhere to eat ’round Kilburn way, I’d recommend it, 100%.
Good food, DAMN good prices and just a lovely atmosphere to boot. Go.
5. TED 2023
A little while ago I blogged about how frickin’ awesome PROMETHEUS looked and how much it was definitely tied to the ALIEN universe. Well this week, the first piece of online marketing dropped, in the shape of a TED talk from 2023. If you’re unfamiliar with TED please go, right now, and educate yourself immediately. Guy Pearce features as one Peter Weyland whom, if you know your ALIEN mythology, is related to the Weyland corporation that is depicted in said world.
And, even though Mr Ridley Scott would have you believe otherwise, the connections to the Alien franchise are strong with this one.
This ship, the ship the crew of the Nostromo board at the beginning of Alien in response to the distress / warning call.
Which, surprisingly enough, looks remarkably like this one, exploding and falling out of the sky in the trailer for Prometheus.
Similar right? Shape, structure etc… it’s all there.
OK, so some spaceships look like other spaceships. True. However, any fan of the original Alien film will recognise the following image, aka – Exhibit B:
This chap is actually nameless in the film, however he has somehow earned the name of ‘The Space Jockey‘. Look what he’s sitting on and just look what this is, coming out of the ground in the Prometheus trailer.
This film is set on the ship that the crew of the Nostromo discover. That much is plain to see. Ridley Scott has said that there will be no Aliens, however there will be space jockeys. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gifted it to man. The film’s official synopsis talks about man’s search for its very beginnings.
One wonders if these ‘space jockeys’ are pitched as our creators [as well as those of the Xenopmorph] and this is what happens when we meet ‘God’ face to face.
Who knows, we only have to wait until summer 2012 to find out and it’s about time Ridley Scott came back to the sci-fi genre.