DID YOU READ

Five most provocative things from the “Prometheus” trailer

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Between “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” it’s been a pretty great week for trailers. With a countdown that started on Monday at Apple.com with 30-second teasers hosted by director Ridley Scott, the bar was set pretty high for the premiere of the trailer for “Prometheus” today. After watching it several times over, we think it’s safe to say it completely delivered.

With speculation raging about how much of an “Alien” prequel the film would be over the last several months, aside from being edge-of-your-set menacing and stunning to look at, the trailer is packed with Easter eggs that die-hard fans of the mythology surrounding the acid-bleeding xenomorphs should find extremely exciting. Here are the top five things we noticed.


1. The Mystery of the Space Jockey

The first alien that the crew encounters in the 1979 film isn’t the one that hugs your face or the one with a second set of jaws in its tongue, it’s the creature dubbed the “Space Jockey” by the fan base, and he’s been dead for a while when they find him. By something that burst out through his chest. Some folks might have turned around at that point and gone home, but then it would have been a really short movie.

Who the Jockey was, what he was doing with a ship full of of monsters, and how he became impregnated are all story threads that have not been addressed in the films, but it looks like the mystery will be cleared up in this film, because we’re pretty sure that’s his helmet sitting on the examination table.


2. The Derelict

The horse-shoe shaped vessel sending out the “unknown signal” (which Ripley later figures out was a warning, and could possibly be the transmission we hear at the start of the “Prometheus” trailer) that the Nostromo investigates is completely out of commission at the beginning of “Alien.” The derelict briefly appears in the director’s cut of the James Cameron sequel, after that it disappears from the film continuity.

In the “Prometheus” trailer, we finally get a chance to see the ship fully functioning. At least until it gets blown out of the sky and almost crushes Charlize Theron. The mystery of whether or not the eggs were originally cargo or something laid by whatever burst out of the Space Jockey might finally be solved.


3. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation

While the protagonists of the “Alien” films are consistently menaced by drones, warriors, queens, face-huggers, chest-bursters and hybrids, the most insidious monster has always been the corporation that will do anything and sacrifice anyone to achieve their goal of weaponizing the intergalactic biological threat.

With their logo branded all over the vehicles, equipment and Idris Elba’s t-shirt in trailer, it suggests that Ridley Scott plans on keeping the theme that humanity’s worst enemy is often itself.


4. Humans Used As Hosts

One of the more horrifying aspects of the “Alien” franchise monsters is that they don’t just kill anything they can find, they completely violate the human body whenever they have the chance. In the original film, John Hurt’s character Kane is not simply murdered, but is first used as a host to incubate the creature that would decimate his fellow crew members and ultimately lead to the destruction of his ship. In a deleted scene from “Alien,” the horror was even further explored when Ripley stumbles across her fallen comrades in the bowels of the ship, where they are slowly being transformed in to egg sacs to produce more drones.

Judging by the appearance of the crew-member springing on to the flame-throwing troops at the 43-second mark (most likely Logan-Marshall Green’s character, who is being sprayed with something volatile earlier in the trailer), the element of physical corruption will remain in the DNA of the franchise for “Prometheus.”


5. A Full Shot of An Alien

Horror and science-fiction films are notorious for not giving you a clear look at the monster or the alien in trailers. The trailer for the original “Alien” (embedded at the bottom of this post) barely revealed the creatures at all. That’s why we were surprised that in the trailer for Prometheus, the alien shows up at the 44-second mark. In comparison to how tiny the crew of Nostromo appeared when they explored the pilot’s cabin in “Alien,” it stands at least twice as tall as a human. As the being isn’t in its space suit, you can see just how much it resembles the giant, hair-less head featured in the film’s poster. While it isn’t a shot of the titular alien from the other films in the franchise, it’s a bold reveal for a first look at the film and it makes you wonder what kind of surprises (and horrors) they’re holding back for later.


“Prometheus” is due out in theaters on June 8th, 2012. You can watch the original 1979 trailer for “Alien” below and see how they line up.

What did you think of the trailer for “Prometheus”? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

The outstanding independent films of 2011

The outstanding independent films of 2011 (photo)

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It is impossible to argue against the fact that 2011, though not terribly good for Hollywood, was a particularly smashing year for smaller, specialty films. “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Midnight in Paris” – Woody’s biggest hit to date — “Tree of Life,” “Shame,” “Melancholia,” “The Artist” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin” are just some of the standout films that were released this year.

“This is going to be one of those movie years like 1939 and 1968. It’ll take about 20 years, and people will look back and realize all of the little quiet revolutions that changed everything,” Patton Oswalt, a cineaste and the star of Young Adult, told the Village Voice. “If you look at movies like ‘Bellflower,’ ‘Septien,’ and ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene,’ this was the first year that people really started going: ‘Fuck it, I’m going to shoot a film. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it; I just want to make a movie.'”

“Bellflower” really is one of the most fascinating movies of the year, if not the top grossing specialty film.

Time ultimately will tell if Oswalt is correct. Indie actresses, however, like Elizabeth Olsen – hereafter, everyone’s favorite Olsen sister – as well as Tilda Swinton and Melissa Leo clearly put in what can only be properly construed as breathtaking performances. Olsen, generating a lot of Oscar buzz at the moment, is probably the biggest breakout star of the year. Michael Fassbender, who was named Best Actor by the LA Critics, was another winner (particularly for his intense portrayal of Jung in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method”).

Though the year is not quite over, some clear winners and losers in specialty cinema have emerged. “Shame,” also starring the ubiquitous Fassbender, is already the 14th highest grossing NC-17 movie ever – and a something of late night cult favorite. “Jane Eyre,” released early in the year, was a winner, grossing over $11 million. Emilio Estevez’s “The Way,” starring his dad Martin Sheen, has been a modest success, already grossing nearly $4 million. Finally, the tiny indie Bill Cunningham’s New York garnered a lot of buzz among the chattering classes, and healthily grossed $1.5 million.

There were, of course, losers in 2011. “American: The Bill Hicks Story,” grossed under $100,000 domestically, proving JFK’s quote “life’s not fair.” Max Winkler’s “Ceremony” – ever heard of it? me neither – starring Uma Thurman had a total domestic gross of just over $22,000. Yikes!

The most recently released and most memorable specialty cinema film is, IMHO, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” which had the third largest opening average of 2011 on the weekend of December 10. That same weekend, we cannot fail to note, was Hollywood’s worst opening for grosses since 2008, with the god-awful Gary Marshall storyline mishmash “New Year’s Eve” as the “winner.” Not the best year for big Hollywood, but 2011 – especially for Elizabeth Olsen, future Oscar winner – was a pretty good year.

Did we miss any of your favorite films? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

National Board of Review names “Hugo” best film of 2011

National Board of Review names “Hugo” best film of 2011 (photo)

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Basically when it comes to this year’s awards season, if you ain’t about old movies, you ain’t nothing. Earlier in the week, The New York Film Critics Circle named the silent film homage “The Artist” their Best Film of 2011. Today, the National Board of Review chose the silent film homage “Hugo” as their Best Film of 2011. And they say film is dead! Pshaw! Poppycock! And other equally outdated exclamations!

But enough about thinkpiece fodder. Let’s get to the important stuff: the winners. The NBR went for “Hugo” and named Martin Scorsese Best Director. They gave three prizes to Alexander Payne‘s “The Descendants:” Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash). Christopher Plummer won Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners,” in a category that is looking more and more like a two man race between him and “Drive”‘s Albert Brooks (I say let ‘em arm wrestle for the prize). Tilda Swinton won Best Actress for “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and Best Foreign Film went to NYFCC winner “A Separation.” The NBR also gave the very busy Michael Fassbender a Spotlight Award, honoring his work in four of the twenty-eight movies (approximate) he appeared in this year. The full list of winners is below.

Part of the National Board of Review’s annual awards are their lists of top movies, which are always handy reference guides to the “important” films of the year (note I did not say the best movies of the year). This year the NBR listed ten top films, five documentaries, five foreign films, and ten indies. I still need to see fourteen of their thirty picks. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some work to go do.

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