Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Eight more days ’til Halloween,
Halloween, Halloween.
Eight more days ’til Halloween,
Silver Shamrock.

As it often does, there are movies released that are never fully appreciated in their time. The list is way too long, but too many are maligned, ignored or critically beaten up for no real reason. Such as the case for Halloween III. A weirdo entry that tried something totally different and was punished for it. Released around Halloween in 1982, it was a box-office bust, it never caught on and gave us instead the zombie return of Myers in the late 80’s.
Director John Carpenter was once again approached and asked to do another sequel, he said yes only if it had nothing to do with Michael Myers. So he and producer Debra Hill, with the intention of creating an anthology of films, in the tradition of Twilight Zone, whose only connection was the holiday of Halloween, came back with an interesting premise.
Tom Atkins stars as Dr. Challis, who receives a weird patient one night who ends up murdered under even weirder circumstances. With the help of the dead man’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge, (Stacey Nelkin) the two are off to Santa Mira, CA., a small Irish village that is built around a toy company, Silver Shamrock, owned and operated by one Mr. Cochrane, (Dan O’Herlihy) a charming Irishman with a Cork accent. Challis soon learns that the Halloween masks are more than just children’s costumes, they are preparing the way for some macabre sacrificial doomsday device… of course, and androids, Stonehenge, insects and other oddities are thrown in for a strange, creepy, sometimes clever convection. Cochrane’s plan is part sacrifice and part practical joke- he mentions both and sets up both to happen; a plan to resurrect macabre aspects of Gaelic festival Samhain, which he connects to witchcraft.
Carp and crew were on to something as their original idea was to have a Halloween themed movie released every few years with a scary angle on the holiday. Dumping the slasher mode, they went for a more pod scare, something like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” or kind of like “Village of the Damned.”
Director Tommy Lee Wallace apes Carpenter’s style to an impressive degree; using his trademark wide shots, characters stepping in and out of the frame and no fast cuts. The milieu created is effective, creepy and surprisingly still relevant. It’s has some nice thematic heft as it takes jabs at corporate imperialism as big companies move into a small town and take over, squeezing out the little mom & pop stores. The kills are decent, especially the one with a kid, who puts on a mask; they could never get away with that today. The music is still Carpenters, eerie and oppressive as the organs really set the stage nicely.
The love jab at corporate goonship as they are all Cochrane’s originals; androids, he speaks about them like any proud psycho father would calling them, “Obedient and loyal. Unlike most human beings” as he smiles and tells Challis. That’s certainly is where I work, no questions, do your job, shut your mouth. Another well-deserved jab is at rabid consumerism; perhaps too an ode to Romero’s zombies that asked the same question. Wallace has a nice sense of humor as Challis fights off a familiar looking android at the end; they play up the unstoppable killer cliché that was ironically created by Myers. Here, it’s played straight, but gets a smirk if you pay attention, he fights off the android, then its arm, then its hand, then its headless torso… bravo!
His actors all do fine work, Tom Atkins as Dr. Challis, who discovers the weirdness is his usual, tough guy high strung self. His romance with Stacey Nelkin as Ellie Grimbridge, nearly derails everything with their unnecessary quick to bed relationship…once out of the way, the plot picks up and it’s mostly fun. Things get murky as though as Stonehenge is mentioned as having the power to do….something kind of creepy… the film is definitely not without its meta-humor and in-jokes. Almost as much as “Scream,” but not so annoying.

  •  Jaime Lee Curtis does a voice cameo as a telephone operator. Just like she did in “Escape from New York/L.A.).
  • The movie the kids are watching right before the ‘big give away at 9pm,’ is the original “Halloween.”
  •  Nancy Keyes, who played Annie Brackett in the original film, plays Challis’s ex shrewish wife.
  •  Another nice touch, Challis throws a mask and it lands on a security camera giving it the P.O.V perspective seen in the first film when little Michael Myers stabs his sister Judith.
  • The elevator doors sound effect to Cochrane’s lab is lifted from the original “Battlestar Galactica” television series.
  • Dick Warlock, the shape in the original two films, plays a Silver Shamrock goon.

It’s not a perfect film as I still don’t get why when someone dies wearing the masks insects and snakes crawl out of their face? It’s a gross effect, sure, but seriously, what the hell?
The only true crime the film committed was to have “Halloween” in the title as audiences hated the film because they wanted more of Myer’s killing-Fu instead of something fresh and different. Shame on them. For what it is, Halloween III is a disturbing, effective and worthy little 80’s horror that needs to be re-discovered.

Watch the trailer!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXWSiVxS4hk

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Dissecting Prometheus, Part 12: Nietzsche

Nietzsche-274x300



I am planning on this being my last Prometheus article in this series, but you never know.  This movie keeps unfolding new things in our laps for us to look at.

During the end credits of Prometheus, it tells us to go to http://weylandindustries.com/timeline.  A video was posted there over the summer  of 2012 that showed Weyland drinking and prepping himself for his TED speech in the year 2023.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDjk68_MLNI  Notice the words he is saying.

“I am a law only for my kind, I am no law for all.” That’s what Weyland is whispering to himself in that clip, and that leads us to the main image from the page: a book cover for Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche, a book that the website claims “deals with ideas such as the “eternal recurrence of the same”, the parable on the “death of God”, and the “prophecy” of the Übermensch

The book by Nietzsche is so filled with heavy themes and riddles, it goes without saying to try to conquer even one of those themes in a few pages would be futile at best.  But there are things to consider, and the Prometheus film and viral marketing campaign, revolving around the crassness and pride of a young Weyland reference this book, telling us to look at it.  It is clear it’s another key.

Remember the Straight VS Curved lines article?  This is an excerpt from that book:

“All that is straight lies,” the dwarf murmured contemptuously. “All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle.”

Interesting, eh?  This philosophy that everything repeats is based on his theory that God is dead, and that life is meaningless.  Note that I did not say that it doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist.  If you’ve seen the viral marketing, think back to the TED talk.  “We are the gods now.”  Weyland sees himself as a kind of Zarathustra:  a superman because of his creations and advances in technology.   He is Illuminati- illuminated.  This mission will be his journey to the dwarf.  He’s going to meet God.   If he’s alive and ask for more life.  He doesn’t accept that his mortality is part of the circle.  After all, Nietzsche’s philosophy is that the meaning of life is to live life to the fullest.  That has become the sum of all what he believes are man’s pursuits.  To live!  Contrast that with the theme of sacrifice on display throughout the film.  It contrasts with the philosophy that God is alive- and that selfish ambition is meaningless – to die is to live.

Another failing by audiences around the world to understand Prometheus is why they are able to just find the temples on the planet within minutes of arrival without scans, as if miraculously for the sake  of moving the plot forward.  The key is that it is miraculous, and that these scientists and ship mates don’t see it as miraculous.  You are meant to question why they just happened to find things.  That’s because there is another character in Prometheus at work.  God.  Why didn’t the engineers carry out their mission?  God.  Why did the engineer not try to kill Elizabeth the first time?  God.  How did Elizabeth survive such physical torture?  God.  Why does she still believe?  To her, she sees Him.  God is with her.  She is intended to go on the next phase of this journey.  She is being carried there.  It doesn’t matter whether you like or agree with it.  Remember, Scott basically said this was a bible story.  It maybe portentous, but it works.

Nietzsche obviously was an inspiration to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that Scott is playing homage to here.  The main orchestral theme is even a classical piece based on this treatise composed in 1896 by Richard Strauss that has become synonymous with the film- a film which questions the recurrence theory and is all about transcendence.

In fact, Weyland seems to speak in epigrams in the viral adds, but then through David, his creation in the movie.  David is constantly quoting films and applying their deeper meanings and wit to his findings throughout the movie.

The Illuminati part of Weyland – this “survival of the fittest” – others don’t matter in the scheme of things – is his view that he is transcending – “evolving” in the way the space baby evolved from Bowman in 2001. He believes his accomplishments have made him a god, and that the rest of the human race is expendable if they cannot keep up… this is what guided his selection of the crew for the Prometheus… they are lab rats… it’s not their intellect or technical achievements that matter to him, it’s how they can be manipulated into achieving his goals, which he views as important to the human race.

This book was given to Nazi soldiers during WWII.  With it’s ideas on heroism and the rise of the supermen, the book was misinterpreted by the Germans as a cook book for how to create a Nazi race of supermen, and how to justify the thought process that creates it.  While I’m not speculating that Weyland was a Nazi, I am trying to say that he misinterprets things to have only relevance to him:  That he is this Übermensch.

Weyland’s philosophy is what will become the blueprint for his company: “crew expendable”.  His company will continue to contest with the engineers for their technology – the fire of Prometheus … the alien itself.   It’s as if he believes, even post-mortem, this Nietzsche ideology must be integrated into his company’s philosophy.   His company will be the illuminated, because to control this “alien” biotech is how to evolve into the next phase of godhood, and they are willing to compete with their creators to become the new Gods; the Übermensch.  If God isn’t dead, they will try to make it happen.  As David said, “ Doesn’t everyone want to see their parents dead?”  Weyland is no different.

It’s with great dismay that when he meets his creators, they react not according to his philosophy, but with what he most likely interprets as a primordial religious one.  He is not worthy to stand before them for the exact reasons he thinks he is worthy to.

In the quote I mentioned above, Zarathustra is arguing about time itself as he stands before a gateway labeled “Moment.”  The notion that everything that has happened before will happen again is not new to science fiction, it was utilized just a few years ago in the “Battlestar Galactica” television series. What is different? Because the circle has spiritual significance in Prometheus, and straight lines are not spiritual, this gives way to the idea that time and everything that is real is spirit; everything that is not spiritual is a lie.

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Dissecting Prometheus, Part 11: Faust

250px-Page_004_(Faust,_1925)

 

The story of Faust:

Despite his scholarly eminence, Faust is bored and disappointed. He decides to call on the Devil for further knowledge and magic powers with which to indulge all the pleasure and knowledge of the world. In response, the Devil’s representative,Mephistopheles, appears. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a term of years, but at the end of the term, the Devil will claim Faust’s soul and Faust will be eternally damned. The term usually stipulated in the early tales is 24 years.

During the term of the bargain, Faust makes use of Mephistopheles in various ways. In many versions of the story, particularly Goethe’s drama, Mephistopheles helps him to seduce a beautiful and innocent girl, usually named Gretchen, whose life is ultimately destroyed. However, Gretchen’s innocence saves her in the end, and she enters Heaven. In Goethe’s rendition, Faust is saved by God’s grace via his constant striving—in combination with Gretchen’s pleadings with God in the form of the Eternal Feminine. However, in the early tales, Faust is irrevocably corrupted and believes his sins cannot be forgiven; when the term ends, the Devil carries him off to Hell.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust

There have been many comparisons made between the story of Faust and the myth of Prometheus, so many that there has even been a book written on the subject . (http://www.questia.com/library/1407263/prometheus-and-faust-the-promethean-revolt-in-drama)

 

Goethe, a 19th century author,  wrote two plays before settling on Faust, based on the actual Johann Georg Faust, a 16th century  doctor who practiced alchemy and died in an experimental explosion.    Thus, the identity of Faust became fused with elements of Prometheus.

I would imagine that Faust is an inspiration for many of the scenes in Prometheus, with David being a type of Faust; Weyland a kind of Mephistopheles; Elizabeth a kind of Gretchen.

You might ask why Weyland, with his pursuit for power and intellect would not be the Faust, and David, a type of technology, would not be the Mephistopheles?  Those are valid comparisons, but for the sake of this study, the answer lies in the Gretchen character.  In Goethe’s version of Faust, her mother is given a narcotic by Faust which Faust did not realize would kill her, at the behest of Mephistopheles.  This is played out as David gives the weaponized fluid to Holloway at the behest of Weyland.  Faust is infatuated with Gretchen in the same way that David is infatuated with Elizabeth.  Elizabeth has a child that is a result of David’s tampering and tries to destroy it, the same way that Gretchen killed Faust’s child and ended up in Jail.

Faust is not interested merely in power, pleasure, and knowledge, but longs to take part in the divine secrets of life. He conjures up an Earth-Spirit, but it refuses to help him slake his insatiable thirst for knowledge. Faust becomes depressed and wants to kill himself. But it is Easter and the church bells tell of the resurrection. He is overcome by childhood memories: “Die Botschaft hör’ ich wohl, / allein mir fehlt der Glaube” (I hear the message clearly, / but I alone lack the faith). He does not commit suicide, but his inner tensions heighten. He is both sick of life and unbearably hungry to know and experience its deepest offerings. He hunts ravenously for knowledge but he also yearns to satisfy his bodily desires for action. In this situation, Mephistopheles makes an appearance and offers to fulfill Faust’s every desire—for the price of his soul.

http://www.bookrags.com/research/faust-este-0001_0002_0/

David wants to find life and is no longer satisfied with technology.  This is what separates him from Weyland.  David wants to be more than he is, while Weyland wants to continue just being.  I suppose that in a way, an argument could be made that Weyland could be a type of Faust, and that David is his technological Mephistopheles, his own daughter being the Gretchen life he destroyed.  In that way, there could be two representations of this tale within the film.  However, Vickers was not a religious person as Elizabeth was – and she did not seem to have the innocence that the Gretchen character has in the play.

Another key component is the end of Goethe’s version, which has Faust being forgiven, Gretchen’s intercession for him, and both of them entering Paradise.  This seems to parallel Elizabeth’s reclaimed faith, going to get David and in a way forgiving him, and both of them leaving to greet their creator.

Our current technological world that is criticized in Scott’s Prometheus adheres to the theory of the limitations of what is also categorized in sociology as Faustian Society, originally conceptualized in the writings of Marshall Berman.  Author Ken Sanes sums up those theories:

…Faustian societies are characterized by the pervasive use of deceptive simulations to manipulate large numbers of people.

Put in terms that were first referred to on an earlier page, Faustian society is using the powers of rationality and the ego – of logic, science and technology — to build a perfect world that answers to our desires. The goal is to create a new kind of person: a sovereign self, in control of its environment, including its own biology and mind…

We can begin this effort at self-knowledge by recognizing that we are ascending a ladder of invention and discovery that has always been there, waiting to be climbed. This ladder of progress is built in to the universe. It is an element of the world, of which we are only a part.

The ladder has two arms. One is made up of our growing power to use science and technology to control the physical world. The other is made up our ability to grow as people. We will need both if we want to make our great ascent.

http://www.transparencynow.com/faustian.htm

Indeed, it seems that both the story of Faust and the themes underneath that story seem to drive some of the story of Prometheus, showing us that science should not replace faith, but instead accompany it.  There is a struggle by both the protagonists and antagonists to be more than they are, with vastly different philosophies on how to get there.


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It’s De ja Vu All Over Again….Dallas & Dallas 2.0

Dallas and Trek together forever…

 

Watching some favorite television reruns recently I discovered a very striking similarity between two unlikely old favorites- Star Trek and Dallas. The hell you say, on the surface, yes, as their television journeys could not be more different; “Star Trek,” was a flop during its 1960’s run. “Dallas” was a huge, worldwide hit.

The styles and premises could not be more different and their television trajectories were miles apart, but once each show became entrenched with its fans, their similarities became very obvious as their television and pop culture legacy is nearly identical. For instance, despite being cancelled, remained popular in reruns having never left the air since its premiere, both had a spin-off (s), each has had several reunion movies, each has fan conventions all over the world at any given time of the year and each continues to be popular. Like “Star Trek,” “Dallas” has been pronounced dead more times than Bobby Ewing only to return bigger than ever.

Original Dallas Intro

 

As a kid watching CBS’s Friday night network schedule was the place to be; “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Dallas,” the latter taking the network to number one by creating a pop-culture thunderclap. How else  could a hunk of redneck piss like “Dukes of Hazzard” get to be #3 in the ratings? I love it anyway.
The epic tale of two feuding families began as a five part mini-series in the spring of 1978; the rich and powerful Ewings  versus the working class Barnes set against the backdrop of the oil industry and family drama full of corporate takeovers, backstabbing, infidelity, sex, lies and more lies was a worldwide hit that agitation created frenzy by the end of season three with the “Who Shot JR?” cliffhanger aired on CBS in 1980.


A frenzy of such, it garnered 360 million viewers, number two still on the list of most watched television episodes- ever.
Geared mostly to the male viewers, “Dallas” defied all expectations and slowly became one of the biggest hits over the next decade by tapping into the simplicity of the art form-the serial narrative, or “Soap Opera” took bits and pieces from other areas; Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” and most obvious the Bible. A shade of “The Magnificent Ambersons”, but mostly taking its cues from the Montague’s and the Capulet’s, the series begins with two feuding families, the super-rich and powerful Ewings versus the working class Barnes.
The pilot episode begins with Bobby James Ewing (Patrick Duffy, The Man From Atlantis) and his new bride Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal) come to live at the family ranch in Texas, outside Dallas, called “Southfork,” problems arise as the Ewings and Barnes patriarchs have a history of feuding over oil claims. Pamela’s wildcatter father, Willard, “Digger” Barnes a raging alcoholic, felt his claims had been stolen from him by John Ross, “Jock” (Jim Davis) Ewing some forty plus years prior. The feud continued on when Jock married Eleanor, “Miss Ellie” Southworth, and (Barbara Bel Geddes) a childhood sweetheart of Diggers’. While Jock and Ellie built a rich oil empire and raised three sons, (John Ross Junior, “JR”, Garrison Southworth, Robert, “Bobby” James), Digger drank his bitterness away, barely eked out a living and raised two children, son Clifford and daughter Pamela. All the while cursing the Ewing name and blaming them for his lost fortune, his first love Ellie and everything else evil in the world. At one point early in the series Jock even scolds Digger for blaming him for everything dating back to ‘original sin.’ Although Digger had long since given up on revenge his resentment of the Ewing’s was perpetuated through his son, with Pam caught in the middle, Cliff (Ken Kercheval), who as Assistant District Attorney and later a Senator, was hell bent on bringing down the family that he blamed for his father’s ruination.
The biblical allusions are more than just some throwaway dialogue from Jock; it’s the heart of the early and best years of the series as it’s embedded with many Old Testament motifs. The most prominent, is the “good son” Bobby fighting with the older brother “bad son” John Ross Jr., known by his nickname “J.R.” for control of the Ewing family business, Ewing Oil. It is your basic Cain and Abel homage. Throw in prodigal middle son Gary, a raging alcoholic, black sheep of the family and father of Lucy, who turns up later in the second season and leaves for his spin-off series, “Knots Landing.” Ranch Foreman, Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanally) would later be revealed as a fourth Ewing son, the result of Jock’s affair with a nurse during his stint in WWII. The dynamics were set up immediately, the rivalry between Bobby and J.R. over not only for their father’s favor, but as the head of Ewing Oil; JR feels it’s his divine right to have it, Jock feels its Bobby’s right to fight for it and thus the competition is born. JR’s unyielding love for his Dad and the constant need to prove himself to Jock, who is thrust in the middle as referee and Mama Ellie, is the moral compass of the series, as she tries to understand JR’s blind ambition and her husbands’ blind eye to all things J.R.

The Ewing’s abode.

 

The best aspect of the series was its moral simplicity that was worn like a badge of honor. The good guys were clearly drawn, Bobby, Pam, Mama Ellie and so are the bad guys; J.R., Sue Ellen and sometimes his Daddy Jock, probably the only character with a good heart and intent, but still clouded with shades of gray. The brother’s wives, Sue Ellen, (Linda Gray) who is clearly unhappy in her marriage and drinks like Ted Kennedy on Saint Patty’s day. Her performance is marginalized in the first season, but by second, she is a full-blown alcoholic while JR cheats on her with her younger sister and tries to commit her to a sanitarium. Pamela, Bobby’s wife, she’s the poor folk, allowed into the rich world by love, but met with a cynical eye from Jock and J.R… Jock learns to accept her, but J.R. never does and becomes a constant interference as does Pam’s brother, Cliff, (Ken Kercheval). The steady rocks, Jock and Miss Ellie offer wisdom and deal with their own problems; (her’s a mastectomy, his a heart attack) while trying to raise their wild granddaughter, Lucy, (Charlene Tilton) absent son, middle son Gary’s long ago abandoned daughter.
It was melodrama in its simplest, purest, shameless form and audiences loved it. Not only the suffering of the rich, but the manipulative, scheming ways of J.R. Ewing, as the show became a hit, he became the breakout character evolving quite nicely into arguably televisions greatest villain.

  Even though Brother Bobby made the perfect obstacle for J.R.’s schemes, Cliff Barnes was his true enemy. Seething with revenge and bitterness thanks to his father Digger Barnes, the torch carrier of the Barnes/Ewing feud, Cliff used every resource possible to avenge his drunkard father by trying to destroy the Ewings in the field of business and politics.
Both men went to great lengths to destroy the other. One J.R.’s first attempts to destroy Cliff began in the series second season when Cliff runs for State Office. J.R. illegally funnels money to his campaign, Daddy Jock was partially aware of this, and pulls all the money out at the last minute causing his opponent to win. Other acts of kindness; J.R. framed Cliff for murder after sleeping with his wife Sue Ellen causing him to question his son’s paternity. He also bugged Cliff’s office to get the upper hand on a hot business deal. One of J.R.’s “best schemes” was to entice Cliff with a phony deal, prompting him to embezzle money from his mother’s company, forcing her to fire him causing Cliff to attempt suicide. Cliff tried to get back at J.R. too; he once blackmailed his secretary for some industrial espionage of his own and by series end wound up with sole ownership of Ewing Oil.
In the early seasons, Cliff is portrayed as the righteous good guy, a symbol for the working class against the evil rich, but when he inherits his mother’s vast fortune he becomes just like JR, but is never comfortable with his status. J.R. lived and breathed rich, and was mostly honest about his dishonest behavior.
Cliff was the opposite, never completely comfortable in scheming and dealing, he often lied to those he cared about to get what he wanted coming off sleazy. JR did too, but at least it was expected of him and he made no pretense about his dishonesty and gave him a scoundrel charm. The series also was a comment on how to be rich and live rich.    Throughout the series Cliff had a reputation for being cheap and naive in contrast to J.R., who always dined in fine restaurants, wore a stylish Stetson, lived on South Fork and lavished his mistresses with generosity; Cliff often preferred take-out Chinese cuisine, wore cheap suits, lived in a condominium and assumed his romantic interests would clean his home. While J.R. was smooth talking and charismatic, Cliff tended to speak before he thought and frequently stuck his foot in his mouth.

Although it was fun to see J.R. occasionally bested by Cliff and whoever else, as a fan you couldn’t help but root for the guy to get back up and fight. When Cliff lied it was uncomfortable, when JR lied, it was illuminating.
J.R. Ewing was a liberating character to watch; shameless in his asshole behavior, he went completely around and came out on the other side. He was paradoxically likeable -yet wholly selfish, uncaring and mercenary in nature. He wasn’t totally evil, he stood by his family from outside attacks and truly believed what he did was for the good of the family, especially to get approval from his father, but he was who he was because of that- he lived and breathed the family business, oil and took anyone down that got in his way- including family members. He had no trouble telling middle brother Gary and half-brother Ray what he thought of them, which was not much.
His true ascension to evil prick began in the series third season when he mortgaged the family ranch, Southfork, to pay for some oil leases in southeast Asia unbeknownst to this parents, (who would never have approved). It was eventually discovered by his brother Bobby. A season earlier, as he was constantly trying to gain the upper hand, he blackmailed the son-in-law of the family lawyer to illegally obtain the document and allow him to read his Daddy’s will long before he was dead.

 

J.R.’s Best Moments…
He constantly tried to break up Bobby and Pam through various methods, once by photographing her with another woman to imply she’s a lesbian.

“Exactly!”

“Gee, I wonder why I liked this show so much” DUH!

“Sue Ellen as she is today! Not bad for an old broad!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first season cliffhanger had him “accidently” cause Pam to fall from a hay loft causing her to miscarry the Ewing’s first grandchild; although portrayed as totally unintentional, the results didn’t bother him one bit. He drills for oil on his family’s land, even though his mama strictly forbade it, he cheats on his wife constantly and has an on-going affair with his younger sister-in-law, Kristen, (Mary Crosby), who later tried to kill him with two gunshots to the gut. When he was not cheating on his wife, he was cheating business partners causing one to commit suicide and selling his banker worthless oil leases.

What a guy!

“The one who shot -J.R. I’d take a bullet for her too if I could take a peak!”

J.R. was the ultimate male fantasy, both in the boardroom and the bedroom. Males lived vicariously through him due to his well-fed libido and his approach to his enemies. Women liked his scoundrel ways and God-like confidence; men dug his no BS approach to life. He played by his own set of rules, which mostly consisted of getting laid and making money.
Larry Hagman’s good ole’ boy charm is what made the character work; he became a household name and the highest paid actor on TV as he played the role to the hilt, smiling and backslapping his way to the bank. It was hard to tell where the twain met with actor and character, but his performance was so convincing to some, he was accosted on the street a few times by angry female viewers for his lecherous ways.
Dubbed “The Human Oil Slick” by TIME Magazine at the height of the “Who Shot JR” pandemonium, JR put a face to the “Greed Decade” of the 1980’s. After the malaise and economic doldrums inflicted upon the country by the idiotic Jimmy Carter, “Dallas” became an escape as audiences witnessed the rich fat cats becoming heroes and the materialistic culture giving birth to the insufferable yuppie. As much as JR was fun to watch, his handlers knew he couldn’t always be on top so good guy Bobby would come in to kick him in the pants and deflate his raging ego. He would bring his scheme to usually a crashing halt and occasionally his Mama and Daddy would subvert his trickery, i.e. the mortgage on the family ranch, Southfork.
The series entered a crossroads at the beginning of the Fourth Season as it experienced its first loss of actor Jim Davis as Patriarch, Jock Ewing. Cancer quickly killed Davis in at the end of the third season, but Jock was slowly written out as the stage was set for a dramatic exit. A mid- 4th season event reveals Jock’s demise from a plane crash. A body is never found, but the sons know he is dead as they deliver the news to their mother. J.R. most of all mourns his passing. Some great character moments emerge as he pays more attention to this young son and realizes business is not all there is to make him happy…this works for a while until he returns better and meaner than before.
A noticeable shift in dynamics occurred as J.R. becomes the head of the family. Miss Ellie is still in charge, but its J.R. would lead the family into the new decade. No longer seeking curry from his father, J.R. becomes a more aggressive striking cobra; with Brother Bobby fighting him for control of Ewing Oil. For the first time their competition is laced with more viciousness.

Dramatically, the series continued on full throttle until the unthinkable happened- The eighth season started off wobbly with Barbara Bell Geddes, in a contract dispute, left the series and was replaced by Donna Reed as Miss Ellie, now married to Clayton Farlow. Reed did her best in the role, but the fans turned against her and demanded Geddes back. Another blow came with Duffy’s announcement he too would leave at the end of the season, his only stipulation was to be killed off…permanently.
The writers obliged and gave Robert James Ewing a dramatic send off with his ex-sister-in-law, Katherine Wentworth, in a fit of jealous rage, (who had shoot Bobby one year earlier) tries to kill her half-sister Pamela by running her down with a car. Instead, Bobby pushes her out of the way and takes the hit, injured; he’s rushed to the hospital and dies with his family at his bedside. A ratings blockbuster as everyone bid Bobby adieu.
The series 9th went through a strange metamorphosis; although starting off strong, we see the return of Babs Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie and with the characters suffering from the death of Bobby- we get some great acting in these early episodes; Miss Ellie and JR trying to console each other. Linda Gray as Sue Ellen playing her boozy- victim shtick to the hilt is quite impressive as she attempts to climb out of her drunken hell.
Ray and Donna have a brilliant storyline when they learn their baby will be born with Down’s syndrome, losing it and then wanting to adopt a deaf kid. Some of the best moments of the series are here; tender, well-acted stuff that was over-powered and largely forgotten thanks to the crappy stuff.
And boy is it crappy, just from a single character missing; the series polemic shift was forever altered. Once they move past the fallout from Bobby’s death and the series had to move on to regular storytelling, it tanked. By mid-season, the series had lost its creative mind- Pamela was off in South America looking for an Emerald mine Bobby bought years ago with a so-called friend of his, only to learn it and the friend, were a fraud…
Aside from a few brilliant moments, it was obvious things weren’t working and the series began to suffer from, “What do we do now?” syndrome.
J.R.’s scenes of mourning Bobby were great, well-acted, written and his final monologue to his brother was perfect. And that’s the problem- he was given too much pain, too much humanity, he became a real person and then over the season withered and died. J.R. was defanged, deballed- no longer the cobra waiting to strike, had he become…sympathetic, not in a good way, and with a heavy emphasis on the pathetic. And the lame attempt to put Jack (Ewing cousin) and Jenna together except no one told Pricilla Presley she couldn’t act. Running on two speeds- doe-eyed flirt or enraged crybaby, she was worse than the previous season by a country mile to be sure, but her pairing with Ray the following season made even less sense and only made her crimes against humanity worse.
The first of many mistakes, season 9 lost its voice. An attempt to broaden the storylines was Angelica Nero. The mysterious European shipping tycoon was obviously inspired by “Dynasty, (the #1 show at the time) and fans quickly picked up on this as she was met with a fan collective, BOO! At this point, it takes no genius to know that without Bobby; creatively the show began sinking becoming a clone of “Dynasty” with its European influx of guest characters and over-the-top costumes. Worst of all, J.R. had become…tamed.
It was in fact Hagman himself who expressed his dislike for the show at that time to the press and ultimately demanded Patrick Duffy back. He got it, with some cajoling and an incredible offer, (one that Duffy later said was something I could not refuse,) was lured back for the 1986- 1987 season.
In the opening episode of Season 10 in September 1986, Pam woke up to find Bobby in bathroom happily soaping himself in a shower. In possibly the most bizarre scenario (some would say cop-out) in TV history, the entire previous 1985-86 season was explained away as being nothing more than a bad dream that Pam had experienced, and the entire storyline picked up where the 83-84 season finished, with Bobby and Pam planning to remarry. Bobby only died in her “nightmare,” and everything else the producers didn’t like’ Merinos, Angelica Nero, Jack as a double nonsense, etc. was rendered null and void. Many fans felt cheated by the stretch in creditability, even for a soap opera, but just as many felt it was a necessary, to expel some boring storylines and fix the missing dynamic of J.R. versus Bobby. In Star Trek, they can go back in time or use any kind of sci-fi Mcguffin, (Spock’s ka’tra in “stasis” inside McCoy’s brain) to restore a dead character; “Dallas” had no such options.
Looking back, it was the best solution to a woefully wrongheaded move of killing Bobby off in the first place. A bold move for a popular show to admit the previous season was a piece of shit. There only true mistake was making his death so permanent, one scene of uncertainty was all that was needed to fix the mess.
Despite reports on the contrary, the series stayed on the air another five seasons with “Dream Season” having done little damage as the series would have at least two more good years.
The true decline, when the series really lost its jazz, began in May 1987 with the first of many cast departures, Victoria Principal left after her character was seriously burned in an auto accident. (Her fate was only half-resolved as Cliff would find her the next season in a hospital being treated for a fatal illness with her telling him to never contact her again.)
At least two actors a year until 1990 would exit the series, leaving Hagman and Ken Kercheval the only two actors to stay the entire run, but by this point, the series was obviously running out of gas.
Even as the show declined in its later years, beginning with the death and resurrection of Bobby, J.R. remained at the heart of the series. Once his Ewing Oil was no longer his prize catch and Sue Ellen left town for good, his character became tame and started to lose. Fans tuned out once their favorite winner began losing.
As the ratings sank and fans no longer interested, Hagman and the rest of his co-stars could take pride in the fact that they rode an extraordinary wave into television history. After the “It’s a Wonderful Life”- esque final episode, the series went off the air in 1991. It was then that “Dallas” became like “Star Trek” and instead of being just cancelled, it entered quiet phases and would never truly go away for good.
Entering rerun syndication, new generations of fans would be picked up in the 90’s pushing for a reunion, which happened in 1996, the first of several reunions aired, “Dallas: JR Returns,” saw the once thought defeated J.R. take back his home town and his beloved Ewing Oil.
1998 saw the less than stellar “Dallas: War of the Ewings,” but a hit still and 2003 had a third reunion comprised of interviews, clips and anecdotes of the glory days in “Dallas: Return to Southfork,” in 2004. Fans still clamored for more as conventions, gatherings fan parties continued. One film that is criminally forgotten and is hands down the best of these movies, “Dallas: The Early Years,” airing in 1986, is an excellent prequel set in the 1930’s detailing Jock and Digger’s friendship during their wildcatting years and the courtship of Jock and Ellie. We see their friendship and how it breaks down and the seeds planted for the Ewing Empire. Not considered an official reunion film since it aired when the series was still on the air and told the story of the Ewing parents and associates.
Like the “Star Trek” cast, Hagman and his crew are icons, celebrated around the world and will forever be associated with their respective characters and the actors have accepted that, attending various conventions around the world since the series left the air in 1991.
Dallas is the perfect definition of phenomenon; it was a celebration of high energy and distilled melodrama that verged on camp. A wallowing in the excess of high class couth, “Dallas” never met a moral value it did not offend, laughing at the old adage “Nice Guys finish last.” There wasn’t a nice guy left once J.R. was done. Making money and acquiring power was the series mantra and embraced it like a horny lover. The first significant soap opera aimed at the male sensibilities, J.R.’s dealings were always couched in the next big business deal or between the sheets of his many conquests. While it did not usher in the shallow culture of the 1980’s, it certainly enjoyed it and wore it like a fur coat. All the while reaping what it sowed and practically divorced from reality of life beyond the cathode ray universe it so effortlessly dominated.
Sitting on top of this Mountain was King Larry, watching over his television minions, he was the genial, manipulator with almost satanic magnetism, which made JR likeable, sometimes even sympathetic no matter how dastardly he was, defined an already cynical generation.
With reboots, remakes and revivals galore, it was a no-brainer that Dallas, the biggest network series of the 1980’s, too would get a second chance in series television in the summer of 2012… Not as a remake, rehash, retooling, but a continuation…taking its cues from “Star Trek” once again, TNT gave birth to, “Dallas: The Next Generation,” (the next generation is not its official title) to huge ratings, 7 million to be exact.
Usually series revivals do not work, anyone remember, ‘The New Avengers,” The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” ”Melrose Place,” and all those damn Brady Bunch series…thankfully, Dallas and its allusions to “Star Trek” continues, as its fans are just as passionate and vociferous when it comes to the Ewing clan and keeps the things that work and ignores the bad. (Take those reunion films, PLEASE!)
I was excited and skeptical about the series return, the last scripted reunion movie did a huge disservice making, “War of the Ewings,” nearly unwatchable.
I feared it would it be a trashy copycat more in like a aping the original with stock characters with pretty faces mouthing terrible, uninteresting dialogue.
My skepticism was inappropriate as it would seem lyin, cheatin and screwin never go out of favor. In an era of “reality” everything, the series is a welcomed fresh of scripted air. The cast is great; no surprise from the original kids as they’ve all stayed in the limelight and have been working fairly steady since the series left the air in 91. The newbies were the ones I was worried about. Jesse Metcalf as Christopher Ewing I have seen around for years, but he did nothing to set the world on fire; guest spots on “Smallville,” Passions” and the awful “Desperate Housewives”, Jordanna Brewster un-crapped the “Fast and the Furious” franchise and the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, both familiar, but not yet sold. The new-newcomers are Julie Gonzlo as Rebecca Sutter and Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III, the standout of all the cast. Henderson has the rakish charm of a scoundrel, he keeps John Ross in the gray area, we expect him to be a prick thanks to his Dad, but it’s not that easy. He has his problems with his father is not a member of Team J.R.
To play catch up for the uninitiated, the reunion movies from the late 90’s are ignored as those films tried to wrap up the series in 4 hours of television narrative; the new series has now rendered them non-canon as it picks up where the old series left off with JR, out of business and depressed and not Dallas’s fattest cat any longer
The three originals are back and doing just fine, Patrick Duffy as the formerly dead, Robert James “Bobby,” Ewing his third wife Ann (Brenda Strong) son Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) The one actor that needs singled out is Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, at 80, he’s as conniving and charming as ever. A cancer scare has the actor missing for several episodes of the first season, (ironically enough the character of Bobby has a cancer scare in first few episodes); Duffy and the newcomers try their best to compensate, but his absence is felt. His presence is felt too when he’s in an episode and the series reaches its glorious heights when J.R. is in full prick mode. What made the original series work was Hagman’s performance, he was so fully invested you couldn’t help but root for the guy even when he was mortgaging the family ranch. He’s back to his old tricks trying to wrestle Southfork, from Bobby, not for sentimental reasons, but because there is a parcel of land loaded with billons worth of crude oil.
As the series begins, Bobby is trying to be the peace maker in the family, put aside his old rivalry with his brother and hopes it doesn’t pass on to their sons, which is does as they not only fight over the family business, but their women as well. He intends to sell Southfork to conservatory, much to the chagrin of John Ross and J.R. Elena Ramos, daughter to the Ewing cook, she’s lived around the Ewing boys most of the last 20 or so years and was originally engaged to Christopher, but two years before the series begins, they split, and are now involved with John Ross. As the series opens, Christopher marries Rebecca Sutter, (Gonzalo) who is shrouded in mystery from the giddy-up.
Without getting into pages long storylines, the series knows its history and for this fan, it’s great to see nods to the originals kids… For instance, Miss Ellie, mother to the Ewing brothers, is almost constantly referenced, in episode 6 Bobby makes a graveside visit; her headstone says she died in 2001. He gives a nice speech, but it’s too short to make an impact. In the same episode, Bobby was willing to pump oil on Southfork to save John Ross and the ranch as the kid gets involved heavily with South American cartel gangsters. A nod to the season 3 episode when Miss Ellie was prepared to do the same thing after she and Jock found out JR had mortgage the ranch behind their backs and was days away from defaulting on the loan. Ellie would later pursue the idea of selling Ewing Oil in season 6 as she felt it was the source of all the fighting and all the bad things that befell the family. Much like now with Bobby pursuing the idea of selling Southfork, the last vestige of the former Ewing Empire. It’s the little things that give the show a history and to see them sprinkled throughout, give it life and truth. Other tidbits pop up throughout the season; in the first episode, and exchange between John Ross and Christopher takes us fans in the way-back machine and gets right to the heart of the original series back story: oil versus land, Ewing versus Southworth, what Daddy Jock told JR when they drove out to Section 40 in Season 2, (the rig J.R. would later try and steal from…)
“That’s where I first discovered oil, right after I married your mama. Old Man Southworth damn near skinned me alive after he found out what I’d done. Barely tolerated me the way it was. Hated all oil men; He said they ruined the ranges and stank up the air, and he figured the only way to live off the land decently was to raise cattle. So to keep the peace, I capped this thing off…”
How rousing that the first time Jock and Miss Ellie are spoken of in this new series it’s by the next generation, who refer to them not as Grandpa and Grandma as they would have back in the day, but using their first names – “Jock” and “Miss Ellie” – those iconic names tossed so casually out of the mouths of babes. “Eighty years ago, Christopher!” (Those events they speak of are depicted in the previously mentioned “Dallas: The Early Years.”) It’s a wonderful sense of the past that reminds you how time has flown by.
Cliff Barnes shows up a few times to rub it in that’s he’s richer than God himself and wants Bobby to sell Southfork to him. Kercheval slides back into his easy-going style, originally the blue-collar answer to J.R.’s super rich deity; they’ve now switched roles and plotting something. The season finale shows a different Cliff, more focused, angrier, but why?
It’s not a perfect show; it still needs to add some things to make it feel like a true continuation. The Ewings need to have dinner together more often, have pre-dinner drinks and exchange more snarky comments. The originals best moments were in the den with drinks in hand as the accusations flew and emotions ran high. We still need to see more characters from the original series; third brother Gary and wife Valene would be a good start, let them bring their California drama back to Texas. Rumors are flying however that they are indeed prepped for a return along with Gary’s nasty ex, Abby who J.R. had an affair with back in the day and was just a female version of him.
Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers), Cliff Barnes’s ex, Jeremy Wendell, former enemy of J.R., Punk Anderson, friend of Jock and the Ewing brothers need to show up. Give Ray Krebbs, fourth Ewing son, and niece Lucy, daughter of Gary and Valene much more to do. Fleeting one or two lines of nothing dialogue doesn’t cut it. Let’s see the current Ewing clan mix it up with the old timers and new comers to give the show more scope. I’m digging it, but it seems like the action takes place at two locations, Southfork or John Ross’s apartment in the city.
Nitpicks at worst, where the show shines is in its performances, which all are fantastic. Patrick Duffy as Bobby is the leader of the clan is as noble as ever. He and Hagman’s many years together spark when needed. Linda Gray returns as J.R.’s ex Sue Ellen Ewing, no longer the boozy doormat, but a strong, resourceful woman who is running for the Governor of Texas. She’s the woman J.R. created and he’s amazed at her current powerful image. He of course wants her back.
And of course Larry Hagman, the iconic role he shaped and twisted all through the 1980’s that made greed look good long before Gordon Gecko ever did. Although his appearances were limited in this first season due to a cancer scare-the few times he does show he makes an impact and leaves a twisted trail behind him as if he’s a tornado in human form. In this lame era of reality television, Hagman’s performance is an amusing new variation on Machiavellian mischievousness; he enjoys being bad and we enjoy watching him do bad things.
From this last season’s performance alone, it’s hard to believe he didn’t score at least an Emmy nomination, for nothing else just for hanging in all these years as he’s had personal problems with a liver transplant and just recently a successful cancer fight. A few years ago, Ellen Burnstyn won for a mere 38 seconds on screen, who does Hagman have to screw to get that damn Emmy!
The new show is no slouch with the newbies, especially Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III, angry at both his parents for various deeds and at his Uncle Bobby for not allowing him to drill for the oil on Southfork pasture, worth billions of course, but Ewings aren’t exactly in the poor house so Bobby could give a damn, plus it violates the wishes of his mama Ellie’s will. Henderson has been strong from the very start, cocky and focused. What gives me a geek thrill watching the show is that he has an Anakin Skywalker vibe- a good kid, turned bad by too many differing voices- over powered by his emotions and is unable to decipher where he stands exactly until it’s too late. Never a dull a moment with this kid around as he acts with his eyes better than anyone of recent memory; from that very first scene with he and J.R. in the home and the look of fear in his eyes when he awoke from his coma to his final scenes in the season finale where he cried genuine tears over the loss of his love Elena. He always looked engaged with his dialogue and engaged with his acting partner, that’s good acting no matter how you slice it. Should fate take over and prevent Hagman from continuing on as J.R., the kid is talented enough to carry the show himself, but he’s still in need of good dose of J.R.’s humor and hubris when completing a dirty scheme.
It is Larry Hagman’s J.R. who obviously steals the show. He’s the reason we tune in; somehow managing to be utterly preposterous and vividly watchable at the same time, he perfectly exemplifies the spirit of the show and every line he utters takes hold and brings back fond memories. From the first episode, he rises from his silent, depression-induced grave and spits out to John Ross, “Bobby was always a fool…”

The New Series Cast!

He’s looking tanned, rested, and ready for spiteful action. He refers to his adopted nephew as a “foundling,” as if this were a penny dreadful, which it kind of is. He has the boy call down for red Jell-O, and there is a satisfying rattle in his voice when he tells his son how they shall defeat their wayward kin: “Courts are for amateurs. No, this is personal.” The actor knows that the audience wants to see him chew the scenery and savor the chewing, and he indulges—and emotes as if the scenery is juicy with barbecue sauce. His relationship with John Ross takes an interesting turn in episode 3, he enters a barber shop, pays off the attendant to leave and holds a razor to his son’s throat telling him a story of when his Daddy Jock sold him a blind horse; the moral being he was taking offense to his son trying to cut him out of $2 billion barrels of oil found on Southfork- in typical Dallas fashion it turns into a bonding moment between father and son, they strike a truce and hatch their next scheme. For all the great moments in the original series with Jock and his sons, none we are compelling as this moment when J.R. fights for his fortune, his life, his name and his legacy by threatening his own son…
Damn right!
Hagman as J.R. has many more great moments throughout the ten episode first season, from scoundrel to hero, he plays it steady and cool showing us JR’s true motivations, but also reminding us he does indeed have a heart, especially when he tells Bobby sick in the hospital, “I’ve always loved you. I was never better than when I was fighting with you…” even though it pumps oil.
The season finale’s final moments reminded me of any beloved franchise I heap with attention. As J.R. and son are standing over the sky view of Dallas, they have a plan and devout their time together to conquer their town…

Hmmm.. who do they remind you of????

I pointed out the similarities to “Star Trek,” but another favorite institution is also nearby…someone had to have been a “Star Wars,” fan on the Dallas crew because the final scenes in episode 9 of the first season are much too eerie to be mere coincidence.

From “Revenge of the Sith,” Vader and Palpatine look over the Empire they begun to create…

 

 

 

 

John Ross and Papa J.R. look over their Empire they are about to resurrect…

 

 

 

Only two. A Master and an Apprentice.

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

 

 

“It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the Dallas as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way.”””

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second season starts up in January and per Dallas tradition we are given a cliff-hanger to resolve. Will Elena and Christopher last, John Ross it seems has made the ascension, with daddy J.R. at his side, and he’s ready to be the series next best villain.
Not as dramatic or over-the-top as in previous years, but a damn good to start for things rolling; just what exactly has pissed Cliff Barnes off so bad that would motivate him to sanction what went down- have no clue and that’s a good start, a nice fresh twist that is starting off with a good solid mystery.
“Dallas” (The Next Generation) is vastly agreeable, a snarky cauldron bubbling over with oil and sex, power and betrayal; just as it was all those years ago. And there is a sense that, in spite of the new faces and the injection of some 21st-century pace, sensibilities underneath everything, it’s still the same old same old and that’s exactly how it should be.

The Man!

Bobby Ewing- alive and well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas 2.0 Intro

 

 

 

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Death Wish 3

I’M GOING OUT FOR SOME ICE CREAM… THIS IS AMERICA, ISN’T IT?

-PAUL KERSEY

If it weren’t for bad luck Paul Kersey would have no luck at all. Every where the guy went he dragged his kiss-of-death Midas touch. Bad luck for Kersey, but good for Charles Bronson as he returned for a third entry into his very popular series that created the vigilante film.

At this point, coincidences become contrivances and contrivances become the narrative; now Kersey just kills people for giving him a dirty look. That said, Part 3 is slightly better than part 2, at least the sleaze factor has been purged, but the inept factor is all over…and what a glorious display of ineptitude it is…
That wacky Paul Kersey, is at it again, this time back in New York, having killed of scum in Kansas City and Chicago, (after part 2 but before part 3), avenging his friend’s murder; they share one line of dialogue apiece, the friend dies. Kersey is arrested under suspicion of murder, interrogated by the police captain, Shriker, who remembers him from his first tour in New York and agrees to let Kersey run wild on the same neighborhood he was arrested in. He’s given carte blanche to blow away as many punks as he can and still give the cops a few arrests here and there. So now, living in his dead friend’s apartment, receiving weapons in the mail from an unnamed friend on the west coast, he takes up his war on the local gang much to the happiness of the good, law abiding citizens in the neighborhood. Naturally, the movie builds to a violent crescendo when the local gang calls in reinforcements and the neighborhood is reduced to a war zone as the reinvigorated neighborhood joins the fight.
With the sleaze factor purged, (graphic rape and such) the film no longer feels like a cheap exploitation, but cheap comic book buffoonery. It replaces the cheap thrills with humor, nearly all of it unintentional along with the standard cliches that began with this series and many others of the era; for instance any time the hero befriends an old couple, they will end up dead. Usually one of a specific race, here it’s Jewish. Young couples together, usually just one mate dies (or is raped) but the older they are, the quicker they end up dead.
No longer under the pretense of making a political statement as in the original film, part 3 accepts its fate and has some very strange fun with it. I use the word fun because I don’t know what else to say about the oddities paraded throughout… for instance, the violence is crazy and fast as over 70 people are beaten, stabbed, shot, burned and thrown to their grisly ends, normally that would be considered a terrible thing, not here. It’s something to celebrate…and there is hardly any gore to the carnage.
All in good fun though as a gang of biker’s roar into the streets only to be clotheslined by a chain held by the neighborhood good guys. After the bikers wipe out, several men flood the street and shoot them where they lay while a crowd of children of leap out into the road and begin jumping for joy.

 

Damn right!

 

Usually Bronson is the sole star, but peppered throughout we see some soon-to-be known faces; Alex P. Winter (from “Bill & Ted” fame) plays a thug who says to a terrified Marina Sirtis, (Deanna Troi of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame), “Bitch, I want to eat you. Let me lick you!” Kersey smacks him in the face with a crowbar, we never see him again.


Providing pointless back-story to Kersey about why he continues to live in the miserable dump is Martin Balsam, OSCAR-WINNING actor Martin Balsam (Psycho, 12 Angry Men) slumming it long time to make up for the mostly wordless performance by Bronson who plays Kersey with tight-lipped efficiency, you wonder if he was just given the option to ad-lib as he barely utters 100 words total throughout. He is most animated when he’s describing the tech readouts of his gun and keeps mentioning his friend “Wildey’s” imminent arrival; it of course is a .475 hand gun, a huge bastard, described by Kersey as “making a real mess.”

A real mess, LIKE THE SCREENPLAY! *rim shot!

The first question comes to mind is why would anyone want to live in these neighborhoods as portrayed with trash, landfill, piles and piles of it everywhere, strewn on the sidewalks and empty lots- it looks like Hiroshima after the bomb. The apartments are roach infested and look like something left over from the 19th century tenements. As the movie progresses you forget to feel sympathy for a pack of morons who refuse to arm themselves and find a more respectable place to live.
Of course, killing works Paul into a frenzy as a quick romance pops up that must be shoe-horned in, which is doomed of course as he beds his ditzy public defender (played badly by Deborah Raffin, who was 32 years younger than Bronson.) A big time waster although her demise is hilarious as she’s killed right before Paul’s eyes and it barely registers an acknowledgement of any kind, just an excuse to get back to all that killing…

Future reference, Paul, stay away from the ladies…

The hooligans are laughably over-the-top looking and evil like an open casting call for “The Road Warrior.” They paint their faces, shave their heads in weird patterns, wear big thick chains, carry lead pipes, and torn clothing who apparently love to break dance.
Gavin O’Herlihy, (the first Chuck Cunningham on “Happy Days”), is the main baddie Fraker, with a reverse Mohawk and some weird paint on his face he snarls and beats his chest taunting Kersey throughout prepping the way for their final showdown. For a gang-banger, he does spend a lot of time on the phone.

Bronson is his usually blanked out self, a man of few words, barely 100 words total for him, as he uses a few clever tricks to satisfy his blood lust.
It’s foolish to expect anything deep to emerge from these cheapies, but at the time many took offense to the way race relations was handled and the conflicting, negative message it sent- after all, the main villain is white and his henchmen were black and Latino, all of the gangs are fully integrated and the victims were mostly white, but there is a Puerto Rican couple that are terrorized that befriend Kersey, the wife of course is raped. It goes out of its way to purge the sleaze created by the previous sequel but the dim-bulb screenplay plays up the absurdity of it all with an ironic glee and seems to take pride in that the races are fully integrated while pillaging, raping and terrorizing old people.

The movie is summed up best in one scene as Shriker and Kersey are side by side, shooting and killing their way out of the ghetto like a pair of old west gunslingers as we witness a case of ‘magic ammo’ syndrome, as Shriker apparently gets off about twenty or thirty shots from his six-shooter without ever reloading.. by then the film is practically winking at you. It’s all good, this flick finds its tone early and rides it like a redneck going for the 8 second record! It’s not even close to a good movie, but damn if it’s not hilarious. It has its own sort of morbid fun, Kersey has to work to actually kill off the main baddie who is a real character, not some drugged out hippie easy target. The way Fraker is killed just adds to the absurdity of this already absurd film which will leave any Bronson fan smiling from ear to ear. For as dumb and terrible as this film is, it does not disappoint in its comic book violence and moral short-shortsightedness; it transcends from cheap B movie to shitty-masterpiece, one of the best bad movies of the 1980’s- perhaps, ever.

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Death Wish II 1982

Paul Kersey: Do you believe in Jesus?

Stomper: Yes I do.

Paul Kersey: Well, you’re gonna meet him…

  Charles Bronson was a huge worldwide star at this point in his career and signed a multi-picture deal worth untold millions with king of the cheapies, Cannon Pictures. Ran by cousins, Menahem Golin and Yuram Globus, they tried to do ambitious films on the cheap. Only part of that worked, the cheap. They took pride in hiring many of the world’s biggest stars, Chuck Norris, Stallone, Van Damme Michael Dudikoff, Dolph Lungred and Jeff Speakman were the big draws, but it was Bronson who was already a legend and had some true classics under his belt, would make a fortune for and with them as all of his were hits.  It kept Bronson working all through the 1980’s and early 90’s, to the death of his wife Jill Ireland in 1991, took the wind out of him. So what is it with my current fascination with ole’ Chuck?  A fascinating career as he didn’t gain worldwide fame until he was almost 50 after having been around for nearly 20 years. I guess, once he got it, he never stopped working (and didn’t read his scripts apparently) until about two years before his death in 2003…
  You don’t have to be John McClain to ask, what are the odds of the same guy in the same situation twice?!  Pretty darn high in Hollywood as they love a sure-thing. A sequel to one of the 70’s biggest hits was a no-brainer and with crime in the big cities still on everyone’s mind, “Death Wish II” was easy pickings.
    Bronson and Director Michael Winner returned to urban to clean-up, this time in Los Angeles.  Resuming his job as Architect, Paul Kersey starts his life anew and slowly gets back to normal with his daughter healing and a new girlfriend, (played by real-life wife Jill Ireland). Accosted by some thugs who steal his wallet, they find his address and pay the Kersey home a visit. They kidnap, rape and cause the death of his daughter and perpetrate the gang rape/murder of his housekeeper. Kersey walks in at the tail end of the action and his knocked out cold. When the Police leads run dry, Kersey starts up his old hobby again with his girlfriend left wondering why Paul won’t answer his phone at night. Police Detective Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) from the first film gets wind and pays Kersey a visit. He watches him and encourages his “hobby.”
 I love revenge thrillers, I can even tolerate the bad ones and II makes several fatal mistakes that left me scratching my head; the most glaring is that the thugs go to his house explicitly stating that they intend to kill him, yet when he shows up all they do is knock him out and run.  Huh? No time for a quick knife to the back? And then there’s Winners Direction. The elephant in the room, much to the chagrin of many film critics of the day, who hated every frame of this. I don’t hate it, I know what it was shooting for and it mostly achieves it, it’s just mainly “creative” choices that keep things bogged down and rubbed the critics wrong. Sex and violence is a needed component for the movies, not all, but movies still will never let this ingredient go, and the film knows this, but abuses it. I wasn’t offended, but I can see why it caused such an uproar.  The film could have gotten away with a lot, had they not shown the graphic rape of the housekeeper, but it goes too far, too fast. Rape is such a detestable act that it doesn’t need shown, we get it, it’s awful, the aftermath is where the drama is, how it affects the victim. The act is the act, nothing more, using wild characters, foul language to underscore their maniacal behavior and sympathize more with Kersey is overkill to say the least. WE GET IT- THEY SUCK!  It didn’t stop the film from becoming a huge hit so per usual the critics were screaming for the sake of their own “integrity” and nothing more.
  Performance wise, Jill Ireland was a magnificent beauty in her day, but an awful actress here; she’s stiff, dull, clueless and completely devoid of personality. What could have been a clever way to show Kersey’s “double-life,” instead, plays more like a Three’s Company episode with excessive violence as they “just miss” each other… Gardenia as Oucha is fun as usual, he always seemed to be the Italian answer to George C. Scott. He outshines Bronson by a country mile.
 Bronson was always an odd duck; he got very far by doing so little, but his looks and charisma kept him working up to his death; he barely registers anything other than a mean grimace when he learns his daughter is dead, he doesn’t even acknowledge his housekeeper’s demise. Some missed opportunities indeed.  Where is the inner turmoil, the conflict felt from the first film. One would think he would be even more of a basket case instead of a middle-age psycho ready to settle the score. To be fair, you don’t watch these movies for their “riveting performances,” you watch because Bronson, and maybe Eastwood, can literally get away with murder are good at it.
    That aside, I enjoy this flick for what it is; the negative reaction was such that I may not have watch it had it not been so vitriolic. A  serviceable Bronson vehicle, a B movie exploitation flick that socks’ it to the robbers, rapists and thieves. It’s not high art on any level, but it serves as window into a time that is infinitely fascinating. For Bronson fans, this will do…

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Death Wish 1974

 

” Nothing to do but cut and run, huh? What else? What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don’t defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves.” 

– Paul Kersey

 As a kid growing up in the Midwest I came to fear New York through the movies; some of my earliest movie memories were of the Big Apple depicted as a cesspool of hooligans, muggers, rapists and murderers.
 One of the best American films of the 70s, Death Wish belongs with and (possbly begat) Taxi Driver, Sudden Death, The Exterminator, and  as mad, sad, urban fever dreams, sharing a same sensibility, one both distinctly New York (paranoia, sense of irony, knowledge of neighborhoods, subway lines, history and general way of city life) and male. Anti-hero myths, “Movie” movies masquerading as social commentary (unlike, say Norma Rae or Serpico). Creating quite a stir upon its release in 1974; crime in the big cities was at an all-time high and the public was all but fed up. Liberal policies of the 1960’s were failing soon crime became the politicians bullet points.
  A terror realized so fully on screen that “Death Wish” became a huge hit as it struck a chord with those in fear and those fearful of what could happen, wondering if public would do the same as the film’s protagonist, Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson).
   The single unluckiest guy in the world until John McClain comes along, Kersey started off his middle age with happy marriage and beautiful married daughter. One day, a group of drug-crazed hoods (Jeff Goldblum) break into his apartment while he’s gone beating and killing his wife Joanna (Hope Lange) and brutally raping his married daughter, leaving her comatose. When the police are unable to find the culprits, Kersey arms himself and begins patrolling the streets, killing muggers and thieves as he encounters them. While his obsessive search for street justice sickens him at first, in time Kersey begins to enjoy it and becomes a hunted man himself, as Police Detective Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) tries to find the man who is doing the police’s job for them, and a bit too well.
  This definitely is a movie that will force the viewer to pick sides as it relishes in its violence and as an exploitation story, it does it very well. The liberal outrage is nothing new and just shows how tired and clichéd it was in those days as it is now.
 Director Michael Winner, a friend and longtime collaborator with Bronson, plays up the seediness, the abject filth of New York; he shows the garbage, the abandoned buildings, and the general uneasiness to be the innocent mouse being stalked by the urban cats. He also gets an excellent performance out of Bronson as he makes the city the main bad guy against Kersey who is at first disgusted and overwhelmed at his vigilante actions, but slowly embraces his fate as the publicity catches fire and forces the police to leave him alone.  Despite its liberal trappings, sympathy lies with Bronson’s performance, tough, conflicted; it’s easy to see why he became a superstar stateside, his simple strength shines through. He doesn’t quip like Dirty Harry or mow them down like Rambo, he’s mild-mannered and at constant odds with himself and his liberal leanings.  Bronson is in top form as he copes with his fated existence; a man of few emotions, but emotions still as the violence is never excessive and stays within logical boundaries, unlike the sequels, that just remade the formula.
A 70’s class act that dares to ask the viewers, what would you do in the same situation. Bronson’s image became even more popular as one of the most recognized stars of the last half of the 20th century.

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70 Prometheus Questions Answered

typical

Dan: Once again we have morons going to the movies and obviously NOT paying attention. Since the film’s June 8 release, one stupid question after another has been surfacing and they are some real whoopers. All resulting from the curious ones, CLEARLY not paying attention or are just real cement heads… In no order of importance, here are the ones that appear with too much regularity. Geez, some of these freaks are voting too!
-Dan Turpin

These questions were compiled by Dan Turpin from various sources on the web and responded to by me, Tony.  My responses are in yellow below.

1. Why did the android eat and learn impossible languages?

David is curious, and is not unable to sample foods.  Ash in Alien also ate.  These androids are programmed to mimic, and possibly learn human emotion and traits.  He used words like “enjoy” and “want.”  This question is pretty stupid.  What makes a language impossible?  David was learning a language from a computer in the future with his advanced brain so that he could be prepared to help translate what they would find, based on the Sumerian and other ancient world languages that existed at the time the maps in the caves were created.

2. Why was there fire where there wasn’t oxygen?

The planet had oxygen.  It was not a vacuum.  However, it had higher concentrations of CO2 which caused it to be dangerous to breath for too long of a duration of time.

3. Why after the hibernation they don’t have beard?

For cryogenics to work you have to be able to slow the metabolism of the body to a point that the subject does not age, defecate, urinate, starve, or dehydrate.  This would slow the growth of hair to almost nothing as well.  This question comes from someone who has never seen a science fiction movie before.

4. What big ideas was the film exploring?

Religion, God, Who created us, Ancient Astronauts, Faith VS Science, Faustian Technology, Sacrifice VS Selfishness

5. Why did they try to pet a clearly hostile alien lifeform? (referring to the Geologists)

One was a Geologist; the other was a Biologist.  It wasn’t clearly hostile at first – the biologist approached the hammerpede knowing it wasn’t a snake, but also knowing that most life forms don’t wander up to larger creatures out of curiosity with intent for violence.  Snakes do not do this, even poisonous ones.  They are apt to hide from predators.   Clearly believing in evolution, the scientist felt he understood and was more capable of comprehending animal life forms and their motivations than the rest of the crew.  There is a significant subtext here, but I am opting to give you less symbolic answer for your tiny brain.

6. What was with the black goo? It acted differently on each person it touched…

It actually did not react differently, but instead there was more than one type of goo.   The engineer at the beginning used the goo as a means to a ritual, sacrificing himself.  This goo is genetically programmed to create life.  The goo you see the dark engineers use has been programmed to weaponize existing life.  It weaponizes the worms, Fifield and Holloway.  David is not affected because he is not organic.

7. Why was the first thing they did when they landed on the alien planet is take their helmets off?

The literal reason is that they find the air is breathable and David confirms it.  Holloway is something of an “X Games” scientist, interested in the exploration and adventure side of archaeology more than playing it safe, so it stands to reason he would be the one to be gung ho about trying out the new air within the temple.  There is symbolism here, because of the shape of the helmets being like a halo, that this is a picture of man leaving God and faith because of science.  Of course, the early engineer was a balance of both faith (the ritual) and science (the goo).  Man removes his spiritual covering and is cursed…. The opening of the temple with the giant head, exposing the atmosphere within was another picture of this, the temple itself becoming cursed. 

8. When a giant, thin, long object is about to fall on top of you, run straight instead of off to one side?

I will ignore the subtext about having a hard heart and not yielding to your creator, but instead there actually was a very good reason why they did not go to the left or right of the falling juggernaut.  Flaming chunks of the Prometheus were raining down on either side of the path like flaming bombs, making the shadow of the juggernaut the only path shielded from the debris.  They were looking at the giant rocks ahead; trying to get to shelter from what they reasoned would the explosive crash of the juggernaut.  What they didn’t expect was how strong it was, simply rolling instead of exploding, obviously another defense mechanism of the Space Jockey’s ship.

9. How anyone could point to the many plot-holes, inconsistencies, poor character development (or none i should say), amateur hour science v. theology debate, illogical actions (from fucking scientists in the field!!!), ill-defined rules (black goo), etc. So many questions and too many dummies these days watching movies…

This was not a question but a pointless rant.

10. Why did the geologists “act” so odd? Why did the younger one pet the alien “snake? Shouldn’t he know better, an alien life form and he pokes at it like a curious child, doesn’t look smart…

Biologists in fact do go out and make contact with life forms all the time, especially putting themselves in danger – whether it be marine biologists who pet sharks, or the jungle variety going after arachnids, herps, and gorillas…  The biologist was a little more creeped out by all the runes, atmosphere of the temple, and the alien technology than the “critters” in the temple.  Also, he had time to calm down from earlier – the two of them had been their hours with nothing really happening…  How do people miss this?

11.  The plot is full of holes. Sorry to keep mentioning this, but it is. Why were the engineers running *into* the dangerous room?

The danger was chasing them.  The room was a ceremonially sacred and very secure looking room.  There was no perceived danger in the room at that time. 

12. Why did they leave invitations on Earth to a planet that is just a weapons store?

We don’t know that it was actually an invitation. (“We were wrong!  We were so wrong!”) Because of the temple, ceremonial nature of the chambers, it most likely was not “just” a weapons store.  In fact, there very likely could have been an uprising or fight of some kind between two factions. 

13. It doesn’t matter if there are other films following this one up – every film should make sense within itself.  The Lord of the Rings films are all complete units, and the follow-up films were definitely in production when the first one was released.

To say that the plot should work without symbolism or not be vague  is to throw away all the movies Kubrik, Truffaut, or Gilliam ever made.  Many of their works make no sense on a literal level, and many of them are science fiction films.  Examples?  2001, A Clockwork Orange, Farenheit 451, 12 Monkeys, etc.     The LOTR films were not all complete units.  Part I had no third act.  Part II was only a second act, and Part III had far too many endings.   These problems are acknowledged by the director himself.  They are good movies, but not without their flaws.  Many “fans” of LOTR simply like it because they think it makes them seem more intelligent for saying they like it.  It’s “the cool thing”.  It does have amazing art direction, however.  You can have your hobbits, I’ll take my engineers. 

14. It’s not reasonable to excuse plot holes because the director “hopes” to make a follow-up film.

I agree with this statement.  However, you have not presented any plot holes.  Purposeful omissions to leave the audience wondering and wanting more is not a plot hole.    

15.  I doubt he will, by the way.

This is just trolling.  He’s Ridley Scott.  Ever heard of him?  He will do what he wants.  He gave the Alien universe away before, he’s not going to do that again.  He’ll produce whatever comes next.

16.  The screenplay generally is full of ideas that don’t really go anywhere (eg: the apparent plan to keep Elizabeth for further testing)

If you are talking about them preparing to freeze her for the trip home, it makes perfect sense.  Were they supposed to just let it kill her?  They didn’t say anything about “keeping” her for experimentation.

17. Contrivances (eg: their spaceship enters the atmosphere just conveniently next to exactly where they want to be,

You are missing the point of the divine in the film, intervening.  That’s okay, the characters in the film missed all the God stuff too, that was the point.  You were supposed to be thinking “hey, how did they just happen to find that?”  Then a key to the fact that the characters keep missing God “God does not build in straight lines”

18. or we suddenly find out that Elizabeth is barren and a load of back story is quickly lumped into the scene before they have sex on the Prometheus). It is the director’s job to make sure these things don’t make it to the shooting stage, or are sorted out in the edit.

It appeared in the film in the correct order at the correct time, and it was appropriately and ingeniously inserted via the “Anyone can create life” scene.  It’s a painful point to her, should they have been talking about it on the bridge?  Have her looking at pictures of children over breakfast saying “I wish I could have kids.  Maybe God will give me an alien baby!”   This last comment is from someone who has no clear concept of what a “reveal” is and what a device is in relation to story.  Where’s the airlock?

19. Characters actions are often unmotivated or unclear (eg: David infecting Charlie,

It was clear, Weyland asked him to

20. the biologist being unafraid of the cock monster even though he was unwilling to go near the dead engineer).

I explained this above, so I won’t repeat myself

21. And don’t say that these things become clear upon further analysis – it’s the director’s job to make sure the characters and their delivery have motivations and actions that can be clearly understood by the audience WHILE THEY’RE WATCHING IT.

It was painfully obvious to me upon the first watch.  In fact, the first point was pounded home by David visiting Weyland in his sleep, Vickers asking David “What did he say”, etc.  It was almost placating.  Now I know why he had to hammer it.  People like you can’t pay attention and are obviously have never watched a scientist on the Discovery channel do something a bit daring and unwise.  Steve Irwin was a real herpetologist, but did crazy stuff that got him killed.  It happens.  Contrary to popular belief, scientists are people with real feelings who make mistakes and have egos.

22.  To paraphrase Mark Kermode, there’s too much of people going on about the “big picture” (who are we and where do we come from) in contrast to Alien which was more about the “small picture”.

Apples and oranges.  This is not Alien.  Mark didn’t know that this movie is trying to be big picture?  I loved this about the film.  We’ve had enough small picture films.  Also, Alien had lots of symbolism as well.

23. Therefore the characters were unbelievable and the film felt tell-not-show.

These were different characters purposefully “looking” for danger and big questions.  Why wouldn’t they discuss it?

24. If you want a non-Alien example, look at a film like Cube, where big ideas are dealt with, but not by characters giving big clunky speeches. Actions are motivated by clearly defined characters and the world and the ideas are revealed through those actions and their consequences. Not by people standing up and giving speeches about what they believe and getting all teary-eyed and Roland Emmerich-y about it.

*Snicker* Cube?  Really?  You mean actions like self sacrifice?  Check.  David non-verbal on the ship at the beginning. Check.  Having characters emote and express themselves without using language, being able to tell what they’re feeling and their motivations by their reactions to what’s going around (awoken engineer)? Check.  Do you even know what you’re talking about?

25.  There is too much that needs to be extrapolated or interpreted. All of the salient information should be on-screen. This is related to point 1.

The film is a puzzle box.  Have you never seen a David Lynch film?  A Kubrik film?  A Hitchcock film?  This is absolutely false.  All of the salient information absolutely SHOULD NOT be onscreen, or else you can’t call it a mystery.  This is like saying they should have told us what Yoda meant by “there is another” in ESB because you can’t count on another film to tell us.  In 2001, we did not get to understand what the monolith was in literal terms.  Please know what you are talking about.  That they should have said why the birds were attacking Tipi Hedren.  It’s obvious you have not studied film whatsoever, so please don’t try to educate us on how the iPhone generation wants their cinema.

26. So many of the characters and their actions are cliche and clunky. The geologist and the biologist are good examples (uneasy relationship develops into friendship).

That’s the point.

27. Charlize Theron’s character too (total bitch representing corporate greed – compare her to, just for example, the Michael Bishop character (played by Lance Henriksen) at the end of Alien3 who, even in a tiny “cameo” part, is infinitely more complex and interesting but equally represents Wayland-Yutani and corporate “facelessness”.

She is supposed to be a bitch, but we do feel for her.  She’s never known the love of a father, she obviously still wants it, and she would rather get the crew home safe than have the mission succeed.  She is jealous of an Android whom she is forced to treat as a sibling.  She may or may not be an android.  She strives to prove she isn’t cold by sleeping with Janek.  Don’t forget, she’s won best actress for Monster.  She’s a master at playing damaged, complex bitches we can sympathize with.  

28. The references to the other Alien films really got in the way. For example, the flamethrower,

This make sense on a space faring vessel that this would be the weapon of choice as fire can be depleted from a chamber by choking oxygen, most the surfaces are non-oxidizing, and projectiles would puncture the hull.

29. the “hiding in a cupboard and crawling into a spacesuit” thing,

???

30. the basketball,

If you are comparing David multitasking to show his efficiency and skill, so what? It’s a 5 second scene.   I go into detail on this one again below.

31. the android getting its head knocked off,

Yes, because he’s an android.

32. the “we’ve got the destroy the ship” thing…

This was about sacrifice this time… not self preservation.  Also, they used the ship as a torpedo here.  I don’t think it was an homage, and it was one of the best sequences of the movie.   This is about as lame as complaining about the enterprise constantly getting destroyed.  

33. I don’t mind a few carefully chosen references, but this was chock full of them and it felt like they were being used to give the film some kind of validity.    By the end of it, I was actually expecting something to be sucked out of an airlock. Or for there to be a cat somewhere. I wish that Ridley Scott had actually done what people keep *saying* he has done, and made a film that was entirely separate from the Alien films except for the space jockey.

Lindelof threw a few bones to the Alien fans, but the film is a much more rich and intelligent science fiction film than any of the Alien sequels.  But I agree with you on this one.  He shouldn’t have given you people anything Alien related to chew on and instead should have explained less so that you would go away and watch a movie where they take 3 hours to walk to a volcano.

34. Then he could’ve chucked out all the stuff he mishandled (like the next three points). Instead, he has made an Aliens Origin Movie, like all those endless comic book origins films that are around at the moment. Snore.

Yes, go to sleep already.  Many of us have been waiting patiently forever for this.  This is a matter of likes and dislikes – it’s personal preference.  I hate rap music, but that doesn’t mean it really sucks, that’s just my opinion.  Art is subjective.   I loved that it was an origin movie, and that it opens up the Alien universe to bigger things than a WWE wrestling match between Aliens and Predators.

35. While I accept that all Alien films are kind of survival-horror-scifi films, the way that people got picked off was dull and predictable.

The only true creature kills were Fifield, Milburn, the engineer at the end.  Fifield beat to death most the crew in the airlock in a matter of moments, and one crew member was crushed, the engineer killed 4 of them instantly, and 4 crew members sacrificed himself via fire (promethean style).   

36. Again, compare Alien, where, OK, everyone gets picked off eventually except for Ripley (and Jones) and even if we knew who was going to buy it next we still cared about them and it felt genuinely shocking when it happened.

Why compare?  When Alien came out, everyone complained about the pacing at the beginning, but it was that pacing and the fact that we had never seen that kind of creature before that caused the shock.  This time, it’s different.  It’s not so much as shocking as it is interesting and intense.  Totally different kind of Alien film.  Do you compare “The Voyage Home” with  “The Wrath of Khan?”  Totally different themed episodes.

37.  I felt the tone was very uneven. At times it wanted to be an intelligent sci-fi and at others it resorted to really basic horror tropes. (JUST LIKE THE ORIGINAL-WOW!)

The film is both.  You are no longer asking questions but complaining about what you like and don’t like.   The scene where the geologist turns into an impossible-to-kill zombie was really a low point in the film.  Again, subjectivity.

38. That’s when I felt I was watching a Paul WS Anderson film. And even though it was an appallingly stupid scene, it was over so quickly you felt they could have just done without it

The scene was necessary to show what the goo would do when it got to earth, weaponizing everyone against each other.  Imagine that scene on a planetary scale.  Oh wait, you can’t imagine, it has to be told to you.  But then they talk too much and don’t show enough… wait, which is it?

39. – another example of point   2. I also feel that this scene really broke the suspension of belief that the audience may (should) have had. In Alien, everything felt possible and real, even though it was fantastical. Then, in Prometheus, we’re suddenly (but only for about 2 minutes) expected to believe that a person infected by a parasite can suddenly leap enormous heights and survive repeated gunshot blasts. It is the cumulative effects of scenes like this that distance me from the film and make me feel it was poorly directed.

This was expensive technology that used nanotech to heal rapidly created 90 years from now.  Elizabeth was on pain killers and steroid injections produced in that time period, and showed immense pain.  Survival instinct as well as faith took over.  

40. Another example is where the geologist is smoking a bong that has been wired into his spacesuit. It reminded me of one of the Scary Movie sequels, where Ghostface smokes a joint and his scary mask starts to look happy. I felt this was the same kind of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, hey any frat-boys watching this, isn’t cannabis fun?! Tee hee!

No, he wanted to relax.  Pot is prevalent in Alien too.  Brett was always rolling.  Right?  You think it’s unrealistic that a geologist with a red Mohawk, tattoos, and a clear disdain for everyone around him would be rebellious and get high with a minor drug?

41. The self-surgery scene is overrated. Yeah, it was disgusting, but I just didn’t believe in it. I didn’t care about the character, I felt the lead-up to the scene was contrived, I couldn’t understand why she could operate the machine

The machine did all the work, but Elizabeth showed she had a mastery of medical science when operating on the alien head.

42. why it couldn’t administer anaesthetic

I think she wanted to be awake to face whatever the hell was coming out.  I don’t think she expected to cuddle and nurse.  Being asleep with that thing in the pod with her is not probably a great idea.

43. or why it could operate on a woman when it categorically said it wasn’t calibrated to do so (bearing in mind that the alien was in her uterus, as stated by David’s character).

Not calibrated to do so according to someone she doesn’t trust.  She went with the generic foreign object removal and the pod most likely just dealt with her sexuality on a tissue basis.

44. And I couldn’t understand why she was running away, but no one followed her into the operating room and no one was bothered when she reappeared and she was allowed to wander around the ship again.

A lot was going on, it’s a big ship, and there was a scene cut from the film where Vickers acknowledges they did know about Shaw’s guest.   But yes, I will have to give you this one, there were editing errors here that should be addressed.  However, it’s not hard to speculate that they knew but thought it was contained or just didn’t care.  Their master was waking up, and he’s not here to study critters.

45. You would think that David would have a passing interest in what happened to the alien in her womb, but no! It’s time to wash Mr Wayland’s feet. (And why were we introduced to it in Charlize Theron’s room? If it was hers, why wasn’t it calibrated for women? If it was Mr Wayland’s, why wasn’t it in his room? Why is all the simple stuff so difficult to understand?!)

Her chamber was his chamber, as she was just along for the ride.  The life boat was there to protect him, not his daughter.  As for David’s interest, he was very interested.  These are scientists.  They aren’t all freaked out by the goo or what they perceive as a frozen baby squid.

46.  The character of David is overrated. (Huh?) As is Michael Fassbender’s performance. True, it steals the show, but not in a good way. I think android characters are interesting, especially in the Alien movies, but I think everything that can be said has been said and there wasn’t enough room in this already-bloated film for all the ideas that were thrown into David’s character. Compare Alien 4s ‘Call’ android – OK, they do the “Oh my goodness, it’s an android!” thing *yet* again, but she does have an interesting character and a limited and well-explored android dilemma. David’s character/android dilemma re-hashes everything from all the former Alien films and the only new thing he brings is the fascination with Lawrence of Arabia, which to be honest I found rather irritating.

On this opinion, you are alone on the planet.  Everyone who even hates the movie loves his performance.  It’s oscar caliber.

47.  I think Noomi Rapace was poorly cast. I think she was cast very much on the basis of audience knowledge of her in the Dragon Tattoo films. People have knowledge of her as a powerful woman, and they bring that expectation to Prometheus (and, as we all know, the Alien films are all about powerful women). That is the fault of the person watching the film.    In fact, a combination of the material (screenplay) and her performance lead to a forgettable character in a film of forgettable characters, where people continually cite a marginally interesting supporting role as being the best thing in the film (ie: David). I’m sorry, but a film is poorly directed if I don’t care about the main character, full stop.

What, are you a camera now?  The film is poorly directed if no one cares about the main character but it is implied that we are supposed to.  You are not alone in your hatred for her.  Some  can’t deal with her faith or pursuit of purity.   I thought she was excellent, and 400 million dollars says I’m not alone.  Also, you say it’s forgettable.  Why can’t I get it out of my head?  Another point I am not alone on.   I like characters of high moral fiber.  I even know a few.

48. Why don’t they have probes for surveying?

They do, for mapping.  Holloway wants to open his presents.  He wants to be there.  If you meant before the mission began, I think it has to do with time running out for Mr. Weyland.  He believes enough that he’s ready to just go, and probably doesn’t have the time left to wait several years for a probe to get there and send message back of its findings.  We don’t know that messages from probes could permeate back through space at that distance quickly like on Star Trek (subspace).

49. Why do characters stop in mid thought and ask stupid pretentious questions to try to make the movie not seem dumb?
You will have to give an example of this.  You are making a false generalization.  Why do you stop in mid thought ans ask stupid pretentious questions to try to make the movie seem dumb?

50. Someone just attacked two crew members, but no-one is alerted? They, instead, go to revive the young guy in the old man make-up?

You must have fallen asleep when Vickers and Janek were sleeping together.  Then they go to the temple.  Then they come back.  Then… oh forget it.  You didn’t watch the movie.

51. Why does the “Black Sperm of My Vengeance” make people into Mad Hulk? (Look it up).

It was a reprogrammed genetic material that instead of creating life, weaponizes it.  To me this was obvious and the point of the mutated Holloway attack scene and the scene with the worms.  There also could be some spiritual significance – it could be their remains or life force.  These could be the fallen angels of Lucifer.  This is going far above the person who asked the question’s  head, so I’ll stop.

52. Why would a super duper surgery chamber be for “dudes only”? Did they only have one floppy drive?

It wasn’t strictly “for dudes” it was just calibrated for male anatomy.  It could perform routine operations, such as foreign tissue removal, on both sexes.  Elizabeth had to make an adjustment to her request before it could perform the operation.

53. It’s the future and no one has a freakin’ PDA or a portable computer?

Elizabeth did have a portable hand computer.  However, most of the computers used were holographic,  making images that can be manipulated via hand gestures, taking up a small physical footprint, but allowing the user to maximize visual space.  So yes, it’s saying in the future that our technology will advance.  This is like complaining that we didn’t see a typewriter in the film.

54. Is the plot of the movie really “let’s go to thing, let’s run away from the thing, let’s go to the thing and then run away from the thing again”?

Is the plot of Return of the King “let’s walk slowly to a volcano and drop this ring in.”? 

55. Why does the robot smile at seeing the map that charts the destruction of the “home” he wants to go back to?

He is overwhelmed by their technology, and believes he has found a race that would have more in common with him than his creators he feels alone amongst.  This was a religious scene for David.  He “wants to become a real boy.”  David seems to be lying when he states that he can’t feel emotion.  He wants a god who can give him life as well.  He never states that he wants to go home, but he does state that he wants his parents dead.

56. Why does the robot take the cross out of the jar and bring it with him? Was it because the script forgot that it was still in the surgery room? Is that the script laying there on the floor?

He is infatuated with it because of what it represents to Elizabeth.  He is also infatuated with Elizabeth.  When he realized Elizabeth was coming with them, he most likely knew that the meeting could end badly and wanted to make it available to her if she didn’t make it out alive.  Yes, the script was on the floor simple because everyone has already read it but you.

57. Why did Roger Ebert give this turd 4 stars?

Because he’s an intelligent film critic, the most renown alive, and he understood how to interpret the film.

58. Are his meds really that good and can I have some?

You can contact him on his journal page and ask him, but he most likely won’t share because it is illegal to do so.

59. Why didn’t the ship detect a freakin alien lifeform? They can detect them in the pyramid, but I guess they turned off the Norton Alien Lifeform Security program to play a pirated video game?

The worms were buried in the soil of an undisturbed chamber of terraformed earth inside a massive stone structure.  The worms are tiny and probably were filtered out because microbes and organisms that small would be insignificant and would clutter their search when looking for larger alien life.  When the chamber was opened and the worms had become large “snakes” they would occasionally pop up on the ships scanners.  The preserved engineer was most likely shielded from detection on purpose.  The juggernaut is very strong and impenetrable, and most likely shields itself from our technology, which compared to theirs must surely be antiquated at best.

60. Why was the head from Dark City in the movie?

Inspired from the same source – Easter Island and Ancient Astronaut theory.

61. What’s with all the decapitations and the mouth rape?

Symbolism.

62. Is it a “head” theme?

Partially.

63. Is that “the force”?

No.  Wrong franchise.

64. Why do they play scenes from much better movies inside worse movies?

This is a generalization.  Are you saying that Prometheus is worse than Lawrence of Arabia?  Maybe so, but that’s like saying Star Wars is not Citizen Kane.  How can you really compare?

65. Why do they have exposition over communicators? Is it because Obi-Wan had nothing else to do? Oh Shit! This movie did that too?

Because it’s a science fiction movie.  I won’t argue that Prometheus has more in common with Star Trek than Alien.  That is its strength.  It wants to reach higher, much higher than you. You are an idiot.

66. “Lizbeth” only had 30 seconds of oxygen for the last 20 minutes of the movie and for the long buggy ride to another ship?

Actually,  she made it to the Life Pod, where there would be more oxygen supplies and helmets.  After this, she was fully repaired.  Please watch the movie instead of twittering next time.

67. After needing to decontaminate the splodin’ alien head, why do they go back into the ship without helmets on?

There is a difference between an exploding head, and a non-exploding head, just as there is a difference with regards to threat level between two people with the same virus – one sneezing and the other not sneezing.  They knew they caused the problem with the medical device they used and most likely were not planning on doing that again.  After Holloway becomes ill, before David reveals he had something to do with it, Elizabeth did not trust the air in the temple either.

68. How did they find the dumbest group of scientist and put them all on the same ship? Didn’t they watch Sunshine first?

They did in fact watch Sunshine; one of the crew members from Sunshine was cast in the film.  Weyland was not going for the smartest scientists, he was going for personality profiles that would not get in the way of his agenda – people who are in it for the money (Fifield) or who he thinks believe as he does (Elizabeth).  He wants expendable people and people he can manipulate or dominate.  Just like a real employer or US President.

69. Why wasn’t the geologist at list a little curious about the amazing metallic structures all around him? Did they not teach metal in his “school of rock”?

He was scared.  He really was just here for the money and wasn’t here to make friends.  I don’t think he even thought of himself as a daring, scientific type like Holloway.  He’s the kind of scientist that likes to look at rocks when he wants and get high on the weekends.  This type of person exists.  With regards to cinema, you are this person.

70. Why do they need treadmills and basketball courts for this mission? The obviously had no time at all to use them or did they just copy-and-paste that room from another Alien movie and include the same “impossible” hoop shot?

They were probably planning on surviving for more than the duration of the movie and had hopes that it would be a longer expedition, possibly with some downtime for some of the crew who would need recreation and exercise since going outside to play would not be an option.  Why do they need these things on cruise ships or military vessels?  Is this a real question?  The hoop shot might have been a reference to Alien 4, but it was perfectly used here in a different way.  David is showing signs of routine and being bored.  Alien Ripley was using it to blow off her alien rage and strength.  Both good scenes with a different purpose, and yes there was a nod here.  This is more of a rant than a question.

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JAWS 1975

“We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark.”
—actor Richard Dreyfuss on the film’s troubled production

In the last 60 years, the movies have experienced many different forms of renaissance, some slight, some profound, but the two most important began in the late 60’s, 1967 to be exact with the release of “Bonnie & Clyde” and later “Midnight Cowboy, The Last Picture Show,” “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” “The French Connection, & American Graffiti, “Chinatown, all helped put a stamp on the death of the studio system and showed the rise of the ambitious Directors with what was titled, New Hollywood, who would take the 1970’s to uncharted and often times brilliant territory.

 Egos would see some of their demises early, but their talents soared far and away to magnificent peaks and valleys all the way to “The Godfather Part 2” in 1974; continuing sporadically in fits and starts with Star Wars, but officially ending in 1979 with “Apocalypse Now.”
This Golden age, defined by the baby boomers and the post-war generation, is signaled by cynical deconstructions of long held beliefs, instructions and social mores all governed by the minds and passions of young, untested Directorial talents with names like Scorsese, Bogdonovich, Coopola, Lucas, Depalma, Spielberg, and Friedkin. Of course these eras overlap and become entangled by the latter part of the 70’s with the likes of “Taxi Driver”, ”Network,” “The Deer Hunter,” and “Apocalypse Now.”
The second era, began with Spielberg‘s “fish movie” that put the stamp on the summer blockbuster. Before JAWS, studios used the summer for a dumping ground, to release less than stellar material and save their biggies for fall through the spring, an odd thought to consider since now the summer can either make a break a studios profits for the year. JAWS released June 25, 1975, forever changed all that, creating the first official summer blockbuster that grossed over $100 million and enjoyed the top spot for biggest money-maker of all time until it was dethroned by “Star Wars,” in 1977. By hook or by crook, it established the modern business model that is still adhered to today, which revolves around blockbuster action and adventure pictures with simple “high-concept” premises that are released in the summer at thousands of theaters and supported by heavy advertising. Besides three sequels, (one good, JAWS 2, the others garbage) it spawned a sub-genre; nature on the loose with such as, “Piranha, “Day of the Animals,” “Great White,” “Food of the Gods,” and “Tentacles!”

It’s rather pointless to sing the praises of such a venerated classic, but it must done. Even in its day, JAWS was an exception, a rarity that remains the template that many still aspire to but often fail.  The point of JAWs and my pompous preamble is that it was anything but cynical. It embraced its major studio cred and wore its mass appeal as a badge of honor. It laid to rest the Auteur wave and made way for the summer blockbuster. Spielberg did not set out to change minds or ask important questions, he just happened to make, by fate and by folly, one of the single best and most entertaining movies ever made although it was never an easy gig as the production was plagued with problems.

The astonishing tale is not the obvious, but the overlooked in that the filmmakers took a schlocky, B-movie premise, that really had no right to be any good and turned into a solid gold classic with creative, stylish direction, fantastic performances from three leads giving iconic performances and of course John Williams, his first of many flawless, invigorating scores.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, Spielberg admitted he didn’t like the characters in the book and hoped the shark would win. Once the movie went into production, Carl Gotlieb, who adapted the screenplay, dumped many of the subplots found in the book, like the love affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody, allowed Hooper to live and changed Quint’s and the shark’s subdued deaths. After several fatal attacks from the shark, the men decide to hunt the beast down. They gather on Quint’s leaky tub, ORCA and head out to sea to do battle. Not an entirely original story, but done with originality. There are no long, portentous speeches explaining everything and spoon-feeding us like baby birds, Spielberg gives us significant broad strokes; effective, simple and to the point…
One of the best casts Spielberg has ever assembled, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuess, and Robert Shaw as the standout Quint, (Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden were both considered) an irascible, obsessed old sea bugger who is as cold and calculating as his prey. You never quite know what he’s honestly thinking, but when he gives his famous Indianapolis speech, we realize why he does what he does and feel for the guy, despite his tendencies; he seems to enjoy taunting his fellow humans as the shark does its prey. He sparks mostly with Hooper as they are too much alike; ego-centric and know-it-alls, but just enough to be different as Quint shoots him a skeptical eye calling his hands, “city hands.”
Richard Dreyfuess as Oceanographer, Matt Hooper,(Jon Voight, Jeff Bridges were considered) got the part at the suggestion of George Lucas after having worked with him on “American Graffiti,” is funny and quick-tempered, a bit naïve, but eager in trying to establish an identity of his own and break free of his family’s old money. He brings an engaging, jovial personality to the fortunate scientist; a conventional role of support standard in the B movie genre, that is made indelible by the actors quirkiness and unforgettable laugh that’s sparking with Quint make up the film’s best scenes.
Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody, police chief, who came to the island from New York looking, so he thought, for a change from the fears of the city. He is the steady link that keeps Quint and Hooper from attacking each other, which should get along, but their egos and intellect get in the way as they have different ideas on the best way to catch the beast. Brody’s got some baggage too, has an intense fear of the water, we don’t know why; he says it’s a fear of drowning.
All three let their guards down in a great drunken chat as they compare scars and give us some insight, especially Quint. Whose initial obsession losses its shades of Captain Ahab and almost becomes logical. An excellent performance, funny, scary, unhinged and wounded, wrapped inside a bigger-than-life caricature who is still surprisingly scared.
The trio represents the trifecta of heart, brain and the muscles. Brody being the least experienced, but the muscles to get the money for the expedition in the first place, Dreyfuess is the brains; the scientific explanation why the shark does what it does and Quint is the heart; that dark place where all of his fears, biases and ego pour fourth into the moments on the sea as he exacts his revenge, not for himself but for his WWII Naval buddies. Spielberg does an excellent job of making them individuals, relatable and very human. The entire cast is excellent, besides professional actors as in great supporting work from Loraine Gary as Brody’s wife, Ellen and Murray Hamilton as the clueless and sleazy Mayor of Amity, the film is peppered with colorful work from real locals who lived on Martha’s Vineyard at the time of filming; Alex Kitner’s mother who slaps Brody, Quint’s assistant and the fishermen hunting for the shark and trade barbs with Hooper.
Great writing and performances like this that elevates it above its B movie confines. It’s more than just an excuse for special effects to eat people and moves beyond the schlock. The man vs. nature has always been a popular trope in modern storytelling, and here it reaches great significance, warning us of the dangers of what lurks beneath the majestic beauty of the sea and nature in general.
With the glory at first came the pain. As anyone who knows anything about the film’s history knows what a major pain in the ass to everyone it became, mostly due to the special effects failing; the shark not working. Spielberg and crew were forced to shoot around it, find other ways to imply danger. Thanks to his editor Verna Fields, the implied danger worked in the films best interest. Using many different techniques that otherwise may not have used; Spielberg didn’t make JAWS, JAWS made him.
One of the best sequences in the film is the barrel chase, a simple effect- barrels being dragged by a boat, show off the movie’s brilliance and give the shark a personality, a cunning streak, matched only be Quint himself. Two other sequences are like this; no sign of any physical beast, just the reactions of its victims and John Williams phenomenal theme. In this sequence the beast gets a personality, an intelligence, even a sick sense of humor, all from remaining hidden and would remain so until act three.
Very much in the tradition of Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” the shower kill, approximately 77 quick cuts make up the scene, put in a lesser movie would have been done with a single stab to the gut, but instead Hitch ratchets up the tension, scares the pants off of you by showing the carnage, but not really… we do see the knife, but not once does the blade ever make a puncture. It just SOUNDS like it! Spielberg and crew do the same- use every trick in the book to make us think a big bad shark is lurking down below…
The opening sequence with the early morning swimmer (Christy Backalini) originally had the shark chomping and swallowing the young girl. No working shark, so they improvised. The fishermen on the dock sequence; we never see the beastie, just a fin and the fishermen getting dragged out to sea; simple and oh so effective. One of the best scares in the movie wasn’t even shot in the ocean, but in the backyard pool of editor, Verna Fields, as Hooper finds the floating disembodied head of fisherman Ben Gardner. All of this before we ever see the shark. When we finally do see the shark, it’s out of nowhere, at first, set up by a great one-liner from Roy Scheider’s Brody, chumming the water with shark bait. He is annoyed; he says to Shaw and Dreyfuess, “Why don’t you guys come down here and shovel some of this shit?” A quick laugh- then BOOM! The shark makes his big reveal! (No music, no foreshadowing) every scene thereafter keeps you on your seat. So many more cleverly constructed moments like that; the early morning swimmer, the boy on the raft, the man in the boat…

All of the movie’s boo’s and scares are like that- cleverly orchestrated and full of power. Subtle, they show enough, but never overdo it. There are never any equivalents to the cat jumping through a window, to give you a fake scare and then hammer you with the real thing-these are but real, solid moments that never feel mechanical or contrived. Sure the shark is mechanical and fake, but it feels real because the performances say so, when Quint speaks about its eyes, “black, like a doll’s eyes,” we see in his face the fear, disgust, obsession and admiration he has for the beast. The fake shark is mixed in with footage of real sharks, the illusion is convincing as we do see their “black eyes” and what appears to be an emotionless being. It’s hard to accept that if this were made today, the shark would be flipping out of the water and chopping people constantly with the oft derided, (but sometimes deservedly so) CGI. The less is more is definitely the correct way to experience it, even if it happened by accident.
Sadly, Shaw (who would die from a heart attack in 1978) was not even nominated for best supporting actor which would have been a shoo-in today, yet a year later, Beatrice Straight won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in NETWORK which, lasted a mere five minutes and forty seconds. Spielberg as Director was ignored as well. The film did win for Best Sound editing, Best editing and best musical score for John Williams, his first of many awards to come.
Like Spielberg, this was composer John Williams’s big break as he would follow this with many more iconic themes; Star Wars, Superman, 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and the list goes on. His score is instantly identifiable with fear as it became the shark and the shark became it, the pulsating bass tells us it is on the hunt.
JAWS is a masterpiece of the action-adventure kind that is not made very effectively these days. With the passage of time the film has only gotten better- a solid story- brilliantly told!

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Dissecting Prometheus, Part 10: Adam & Eve

vickers


There are many archetypes in Prometheus, but one I’ve only kind of skimmed is the story of Adam and Eve.  I will skip the biblical account, because I think it’s one that everyone knows.  In the film, there seem to be two competing “sets” of Adam & Eves.  Sometimes in the film, there is reverse symbolism, which is symbolism where the concepts are the opposite and have the opposite meaning. (Life instead of Death, hate instead of love…  In the case of the Adam & Eve, it can be role reversal, destruction instead of creation, the unnatural instead of the natural and so on.)  It’s sometimes harder to pick up on reverse symbolism, and in fact there have to be some keys that point out what you are seeing is that.  There are several such keys in Prometheus with regards to the Adam & Eve typology.  The main indicator of reversal is the feministic nature of the movie:  The Adams & the Eves have switched sexes.

The Prometheus itself is a kind of Garden of Eden, but because it’s a garden of false creation, of technology instead of the natural, it’s not necessarily a “good” garden.  You have a false God who instead of taking joy in his creation, only wants to use his creation to further his own agenda.  Of course, this is Weyland, who hides himself from his creations, David and Vickers.  A key here is that they both were created by Weyland, but he favors the unnatural creation of David over his original creation (who may or may not be natural) Vickers.  David seems to be a “son” that is very similar to Vickers in appearance, as if he drafted the design from her, in the reverse way that God created Eve from Adam.  Interesting as well is that Eve was crafted from the rib, which is close proximity to the “heart.”  It’s really only the outside, the vanity in its essence that was used to model David from Vickers.  The mind versus the soul again.

This Adam & Eve fight over their creator… Adam is jealous of Eve: Vickers throws David against the wall… Eve knows the devil, and Eve won’t share it with Adam…

The foot washing is another key that we are looking at a type of “god”, and within Vickers quarters we see several “false” projections of Nature.   While from within the narrative, these are the images being sent to the planetoid before the crew arrive, a kind of “welcome” message, they also appear to serve this symbol as well, as they are playing out hugely in Vickers quarters.  This Adam & Eve are the servants of Weyland, who is more of a devil than a god, and that’s another key to the reverse symbolism.  Music in the film, specifically “instruments” seem to signify that someone is about to be about communication.  Every time there is an instrument shown, the director wants you to see something else in the scene.  It’s a huge key.

In Vickers quarters there is a Grand Piano.  A Grand Piano is a symbol of a life that is harmonious.  But it’s the reverse.  There is nothing harmonious with Vickers or her ship.  The Piano is never played.  While her quarters seem to be the nicest room on the ship, it’s a false heaven.

Also note, in the projection there is a little girl playing a violin.  A violin symbolizes harmony of the family unit.  But again this is reverse symbolism.  There is no sound.  This represents Vickers wanting her father, her creator to love her.

Off topic, there are other musical instrument symbols:

The accordion represents winning someone’s love by a sad occurrence.  Janek is singing about “If you can’t be with the one you love – Love the one you’re with.”  Then he and Vickers make love off screen.  The sad occurrence represents Janek’s sacrifice for the ship and for Vickers later in the film.  There is another connotation of Eve tempting Adam in this scene, and remember that this act of Eve wanting to become more “human” begins the terrors that beset the crew, and it starts with Janek missing the distress in the temple.  If he had heard that, might have things occurred differently?  The garden is getting infected with forbidden knowledge.  The green light from the hologram in the scene is shown saturating her… The color of envy, the pride of Satan.  She will be expelled later from the garden via a lifeboat that looks like a sarcophagus, foreshadowing her fate.  To leave the garden for this Eve is death.

David, the Eve in the relationship with Vickers, goes off to the forbidden tree of knowledge and in an act of reverse symbolism, does not share it with Vickers, but instead cuts her off from being able to witness it.

The flute of the engineers has multiple meanings, but in this context, it’s a pleasant meeting with friends from a distance.  This is very interesting and worth noting because, the Engineers in the recording were preparing for a meeting alright, and the music is joyous in the film, with the Android dancing around in the lights.  But they are coming to destroy us, you might be inferring.  To the engineers, that is joyous to them.  They are going to do what they were meant to do.  This music is the creation music that plays at the beginning of the film.  David, this false Eve, who has no real emotional connection to humanity, delights in the information itself.  “Sometimes in order to create, one must first destroy.”

Holloway and Elizabeth are also Adam & Eve.  Their Garden of Eden is the temple, the archaeology they are at home within.  Again, there is a kind of reverse symbolism with the sexes here as well, as Elizabeth is more the Adam, with Holloway representing the Eve.  It’s a more intellectual conception in this case, as Holloway’s spirituality is the Eve drawn from the spiritual heart of Elizabeth, the Adam.  Her pursuit of knowledge is driven by God, represented in the film via typology by her father in the dream when she was a child.  Holloway is the weak Even in this version because his faith is false; he has more faith in the scientific explanation than the religious one.   Before their Adam & Eve story plays out, there is another obviously symbolic scene from the garden, as well as another key scene I want to draw your attention to.  They are both very important scenes in this theory, because they pave the way to the end of the film where there will be only one Adam and one Eve that will be exiled from this garden that is the planet itself.

Remember two lines from the film, uttered on board the ship, each by the Adam and Eve that will not survive the mission, leaving the other two to survive.  The lines represent the course of action, the spiritual position that each set represent, and it goes back to the straight lines talk.  Holloway states that “God does not build in straight lines.”  This represents the yielding flexibility of a soft heart and more spiritual state of being.  Vickers asks David to pour her vodka “up” (straight).   This party represents the inflexible, hard hearted, technology and scientific nature of their beings.  This will be played out when the two competing feminists at the end will be tested by the falling sickle: One will not run straight, the other will.  One will be flexible, the other will not.  For some reason I am reminded of Dune “And he will bend like a reed in the wind.” This had the same symbolism in the fates of its two heirs.

The scene that is key with regards to the line is the scene where both sets of Adams and Eves are in Vickers quarters arguing about knowledge and how to proceed.  David is more silent here, playing the subservient robot Eve, but he’s all about patience and survival.   He is more cunning, Holloway is more off the cuff and rash.  Vickers Adam is the bully to Elizabeth’s.  She is determined to survive through selfishness – she will not leave her comfort zone; Elizabeth is determined to survive through selflessness – she will put herself in harm’s way.

Weyland while sleeping, this false god or Satan, will ask his creation David to give the apple to Holloway, to try harder to get knowledge.  This serpent tricks Eve – “How far are you willing to go to get your answers” before the forbidden fruit is given.  Also, in David’s mind, there can only be one Eve.

We see Holloway (Eve) enter the bed of Adam & Eve.  He emerges from the hologram she is watching as if in a sarcophagus – foreshadowing his death, he himself holding a rose.  The Adam and Eve that don’t survive both are pictured in a coffin shape before their deaths.

The infected Holloway (Eve) tempts Elizabeth who is wearing white, calling into question their creator’s intent.  “There’s nothing special about creating life.”  Elizabeth takes the fruit and is also cursed, pregnant with an alien life form.

Holloway awakens to see himself in the mirror.  He sees the serpent in his eye, the window to his soul.   It’s as if he sees himself for what he really is.  We also see a crucifix tattoo on his right shoulder.  This signifies that even though his physical body is dying, his spiritual side is awakening.  This represents Eve realizing her sin.  David will have a similar Eve moment when the engineer rips off his head.

Soon after, they return to the temple to get the missing crewmen.  Remember that the temple is their garden.  Holloway and Elizabeth are cast out of their garden, the quest for knowledge; the temple.  Holloway realizes he must be destroyed and holds his hands out in a crucifix.  Who kills him?  Vickers, from the other team.    She doesn’t want her Garden of Eden infected.  She’s an unsuitable Eve because she is not willing to leave her paradise, instead wanting to cheat God.

Of course there is the quest for knowledge, indeed the knowledge of good and evil as they return for answers, but the angels who guard the garden have expelled humanity.  We are not welcome there.  Weyland has now come to his God, the Devil, to ask for more life, only to be laughed at and killed.  He has sold his soul for his technology, but his technology cannot save him.

Why two sets of Adam & Eves?  This is all about the war between religions.  This is Kingdom of Heaven all over again.  Also, religion VS Science.  Two sets of faiths, fighting to the death, pointlessly.  The true God in the movie, not what either side expects, unhappy over their fighting and quarreling.  This is a huge point of the film.  Religion without heart has no point.  Whether it’s Christianity, science, or enter another here, God is a god of love, not fighting and quarreling.  He is in the movie, in the actions of the enlightened ones: Elizabeth, the original engineer, Janek and his “thieves on the cross.”  God sacrifices himself to save all humanity, but no one acknowledges it.

Shaw (the Adam of faith) is left with the Eve of science to start over again, to “get answers.”  Adam wants to walk again with God.  Who is she about to meet to get that knowledge, though?  Will Eve get in the way?

To tie up the musical symbolism, in the crashed craft in which everything is destroyed, the film plays of the girl with the violin, but its pace is more frantic.  The technology Eden is destroyed.  The family is broken.  The screen goes dark, and then what do we hear?  We know the grand piano is nearby, though it is most likely broken, but now we hear Chopin playing, the Raindrop Prelude, and the music is only on a piano.  The piano is finally played.  There is harmony here now, but it’s an elegy in D minor – and the elegy, as I’ve said before, is for humanity.  Humanity has transcended, but it’s towards it’s demise.

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