Posts Tagged ‘Ridley Scott’

Confessions of a lifelong fraidy-cat; or, Why I (mostly) can’t abide horror films

May 15, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 15, 2017

When I was a child, I would sometimes glimpse horror films on television. These brief exposures inevitably made my pulse race and usually left me terrified, regardless of whether the scene showed someone being harmed or even threatened.

Once when I was 10 years old, my family and I attended a family gathering at my Great-Uncle Paul and Great-Aunt Jesse’s apartment in Queens. (Or maybe I was 8 or 13. Who knows?) The apartment’s combined living room and dining room was full of people. But one moment, when I happened to be facing the TV, I saw something that made me feel completely alone and utterly vulnerable.

There was some old 1960s movie on; I remember it being in color, although I couldn’t even tell you if the scene I saw involved a Frankenstein’s monster coming to life or a vampiric woman awakening. In fact, I’m not even sure if the sound was on or off. But just watching a few seconds of this production frightened me to the core. I think one of my parents — my mother? — noticed that I was petrified and steered my attention somewhere else, or perhaps got someone to change the channel.

It’s a weird childhood trauma to remember, if trauma is indeed the right word for such a minor ordeal. And yet thinking back on that moment — muddled though my recall of it might be — I get terrified all over again.

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Contemplating the silver-screen impact of various science fiction masters, part 1

September 16, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwobotites.wordpress.com
Sept. 16, 2016

In 1975, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented its first ever Grand Master Award to the prolific Robert Heinlein, who ultimately authored 32 novels and 16 anthologies. The writer, who died in 1988, is probably best known for his novels Stranger in a Strange LandThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Starship TroopersLocus, a trade magazine for the science fiction, fantasy and horror publishing industry, named Heinlein its all-time best author in 1977, 1987, 1988, 1998 and 1999.

Stranger in a Strange Land, which was published in 1961, was a precursor to the sexual revolution and helped define the free-love hippie aesthetic; it also introduced the word grok (to understand profoundly and intuitively) into the language. Just two years ago, Heinlein was the subject of a 624-page authorized biography.

Heinlein was one of the indisputable legends of 20th-century science fiction, but he’s had surprisingly little influence on the world of movies. In the 35 years preceding his death, only a single Hollywood production was openly based on his work — 1953’s Project Moon Base. (That said, The Brain Eaters, released in 1958, was an uncredited adaptation of Heinlein’s novel The Puppet Masters; the author sued the producers and settled out of court, according to the invaluable Internet Movie Database.)

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‘Prometheus’ reconsidered

June 28, 2012

I got to watch Prometheus in IMAX 3D. I think the ticket cost $14.50, but oh my, was the visual experience gorgeous. (Caution: Spoilers ahead!)

The script, unfortunately, was not improved by the experience, although I did get a smidgen more insight into the character of Charlie Holloway. He is very intelligent, yes, but also impulsive and blinded by his vision of contact with the Engineers.

Holloway mutters a key line to himself in the scene in the storage room, the one with the giant head. Having wandered off alone, after taking in the details, he says something like, “It’s just another tomb.” Well, it’s just the most fantastic tomb ever discovered by humans, but this sentence and Holloway’s pensive delivery establishes that the scientist was — in his way — as determined as Peter Weyland to meet the Engineers.

Thus it makes sense that as soon as the decapitated Engineer head explodes, Holloway — already clutching a bottle of alcohol — proceeds full speed ahead to get his drunk on. You can’t have any enlightening conversations with aliens if they’re all dead.

Sadly, none of the other plots holes in Prometheus could be cleared up by my second viewing. Why did Weyland pretend to be dead? Don’t know. Why does the ship keep on losing track of Fifield and Millburn? Not sure. Why does the Engineer pursue Dr. Elizabeth Shaw after his ship crashes? Unclear.

Another glorious Ridley Scott mess

June 25, 2012

So I’ve seen Prometheus, the new Ridley Scott movie. Summing up: What a glorious mess.

The setup is intriguing. About 80 years from now, archaeologists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discover evidence that an alien race which they call the Engineers created humanity.

More accurately, they have found what appear to be star maps in artifacts from ancient human civilizations scattered across very different places and times, meaning that these cultures never had contact. The leap of faith — one of many — that this professional and personal couple make is that aliens are our makers. Corporate honcho Peter Weylanda (a heavily made up Guy Pearce) buys into this theory and dispatches a scientific expedition led by Shaw and Holloway aboard the eponymous starship to what they believe is the Engineers’ point of origin.

Prometheus is helmed by Captain Janek (Idris Elba) but under the nominal control of icy corporate bureaucrat Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Further muddying the lines of command are the actions of David, an incredibly intelligent and very meticulous android who answers to a mysterious authority. The identity and motives of David’s true master constitute something of a third-act revelation — although anyone who’s paying attention should be able to identify the person lurking behind the curtain well in advance. Read the rest of this entry »

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