Weekend Roundup: Thoughts on Prometheus, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, BBC’s ZEN

Yo, Happy Tuesday all!

It’s been one hectic weekend for me. Saturday morning my hubby and I participated in the annual Kids Against Hunger’s Fill Their Plate 5/10k walk/run sponsored by my friend’s church. It’s raining but still a whole lot of fun to do and we were caught up in the energy of all the people at the beautiful Calhoun Lake.

That night we finally saw Prometheus. Well, I wasn’t exactly disappointed but I can’t exactly say it’s a stellar film either. I agree with my colleague Phil’s review that it’s indeed a gorgeous film, but I have sooo many issues about the plot that I’d probably give this movie a 3 out of 5 instead of 4.

Below is just my quick thoughts about the movie:

Now, Phil mentioned in his review that ‘the movie brings up an awful lot of questions that will leave you shaking your head days later and some of those questions can only be answered by a sequel.’ Now it’s to be expected that Ridley Scott would want to create another lucrative franchise out of Prometheus but I’m afraid that the fundamental questions about the story would likely still be left unanswered.

As I mentioned in Castor’s review, I mentioned that the questions begin early with the uber-ripped ‘engineer’ in the opening sequence [obviously there’s a bunch of GOLD GYM in the alien planet]. It’s never explained what the heck happened by the waterfall there that caused him to fall into a decaying creature. That’s just the beginning, but my biggest beef is with the protagonist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw’s ‘belief system.’ She wears a cross necklace and the movie alludes to the fact that she is a believer in a Higher Being in what I presume is the Judeo Christian God [her father seems to have been a missionary?]. When her boyfriend Charlie asks her at one point why she keeps wearing the cross when it’s been suggested that aliens rather than God made humans, she shoots back saying, “Yes, but who made them?” But then later on she ends up convinced the engineers are indeed her ‘maker,’ despite non-conclusive evidence a scientist like her would require before jumping into such theory. That supposed DNA match argument doesn’t really hold up either as the engineers don’t really share our likeness so to think that they created us is just laughable. I guess you can chug it to ‘that’s what I choose to believe’ [shrug]

Scott directing Rapace in Prometheus

Prometheus does work as a sci-fi thriller though, and there are a lot to be enjoyed in the movie. The suspense and eerie feeling is definitely there throughout, peppered with jump-out-your-seat moments but not too scary that would repulse someone like me. I’ve mentioned how gorgeous this movie is, the opening sequence look like something from an IMAX National Geographic film. I also enjoyed the performances of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba, in that order. Rapace’s Shaw definitely echoes the badassery of Alien’s Sigourney Weaver. Her survival instinct is just incredible, yay for woman power! Fassbender’s robotic David is wonderful to watch as well, ironically, his character is the most well-developed of all the others. Clearly Scott is far more interested in the ‘replicant’ character than the human ones. Elba is his usual charming self and you could say he’s the comic relief in the movie.

So overall I see it as a fun sci-fi but not exactly a profound one. Sure Ridley Scott did a decent effort exploring the basic questions all of us grapple with: why are we here, where are we from, etc., he just can’t follow ‘em up with meaningful answers, let alone a rational one.

Another movie I saw over the weekend is The Imaginarium of  Dr Parnassus, Heath Ledger’s last film I’ve been wanting to see since 2009. Ivan and I started watching it really late so we actually have only seen the first 90 minutes. So far I really enjoyed it though, it’s a fun fantasy flick, definitely bizarre but that’s what one would expect from Terry Gilliam. Christopher Plummer is wonderful as always, but the scene stealer is Heath Ledger. He was so charismatic, a pity that he died during production of this film. I am curious to see the three actors who replaced him in the latter half: Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. Heath actually reminded me of Depp in some scenes so it’s definitely inspired casting. Bonus that Andrew Garfield is in this as well, I adore him and he’s the reason I’m looking forward to The Amazing Spiderman.

Oh and last but not least, my pal Becky made me promise that I watch BBC’s ZEN on Masterpiece Mystery on Sunday, and really she didn’t need to ask me twice. I mean, it’s Rufus Sewell + Rome = a delectable combination! Rufus is at his most gorgeous  [those Armani suits fit him sooo well], and so is his love interest, Caterina Murino [the other Bond girl besides Eva Green in Casino Royale]. It’s a great detective drama peppered with action and wit, it’s a pity BBC didn’t make more of it. Check out this in-depth review of the series when it first premiered on PBS last year.


Well, that’s my weekend viewing roundup. What did you watch this weekend? I welcome your reaction to my Prometheus mini review.

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40 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Thoughts on Prometheus, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, BBC’s ZEN

  1. Can’t comment on the movies since I haven’t seen either, but, of course, can echo your sentiments about Zen. It’s a refreshing change from the usual, run-of-the-mill detective series, and yes, if only there was more. You can go to my YouTube channel [http://www.youtube.com/user/PrairieGirl1000?feature=mhee] to see clips of deletions when it first aired the summer of 2011 and some of my favorite scenes from all three episodes in the series are also there too.

    • Thanks for the reminder to watch ZEN, that was awesome. Rufus is so Bond-like w/ his Armani suit, though Bond would’ve been a lot more, um forward w/ the ladies, ahah.

      • Hey Flixy, glad you liked Zen, but I had no doubt. I’ll put the next two episodes in my queue so you see the rest (and without any deletions :-D)

  2. Still haven’t seen Prometheus yet, hopefully later this week. I think I was one of the few who wasn’t that excited when the trailer debuted a couple of months back, I wanted to see the movie but knew it may not live up to the hype. I do hope it’s better than Scott’s last film, he’s been on the downward slide the last few years.

    I had a couple of actresses did a live audition for me Saturday and Sunday morning, good thing too because it rained in the afternoon. I then rented two movies, John Carter and Contraband. I turned it off John Carter after about 30 mins in, Taylor Kitsch just have zero screen charisma and I just can’t watch a movie where the lead actor is so bland. To my surprise I actually enjoyed Contraband, it’s a silly caper type of film, a lot of plot holes but I enjoyed the ride.

    • Well if you go in w/ low expectation, you might not be disappointed. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to be that compelling to me. I mean it looks great but without a rational story, it just doesn’t hold up.

      Oh, more auditions! Hey did you get Becky’s email about the farm? Would that work for you? Ahah, you hated John Carter that bad eh? Well as you know I actually enjoyed it more than that I thought I would. Yes Taylor is not the best actor but I thought he was ok, and I had so much doubts about him before I saw it. I did enjoy seeing James Purefoy towards the end, so that was worth the cinema ticket :D No interest in Contraband though, kinda bored w/ Mark Wahlberg in something that looks similar to his other stuff.

      • At least writer Damon Lindelof had some sense of humor about it since he’s mostly being blame for the film not living up to expectations, I saw his tweet the other saying something like how many more franchises he could ruin.

        Yeah I saw the photos from Becky, some of the area might work so I told her to keep me posted.

        I wouldn’t recommend Contraband to anyone, although most people who expected to see an all out action film will truly be disappointed, there’s only one action scene in the entire film. Marketing did a good job of making it look like it’s an action/adventure flick.

  3. SOunds like you indeed had a chocker weekend Ruth.

    I am with you on Prometheus as you know. 3.5/5 from me!!

    I resisted against Parnassus for ages for some reason, but when I did see it I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

    Hope you are well

    • Yeah, it certainly was fun. Yay, we agree again on Prometheus. It’s not a complete bust but not a *great* film by any means. I think I will like Parnassus too, I just LOVE the cast.

  4. Very well said ‘Ridley Scott did a decent effort exploring the basic questions all of us grapple with: why are we here, where are we from, etc., he just can’t follow ‘em up with meaningful answers, let alone a rational one’

    Shame they didn’t go for a more stand alone film. I fear many of the questions may remain unanswered for countless sequels.

    • Hi Pete, yeah Ridley might as well just do a followup to Blade Runner as he’s so keen on the ‘replicant’ character y’know. Glad you agree about the ‘unanswered’ questions that’ll probably remain so no matter how many sequels they make.

  5. We saw Prometheus as well, I enjoyed it somewhat but I thought some of the most interesting ideas/themes weren’t really explored. For instance, there seemed to be a rivalry between Meredith and David, she behaved very coldly, very “robotically”…maybe her father created him because he wanted a son, or a perfect child, or…? I kept thinking of the replicants in Blade Runner “more human than human.” He seemed to be just as advanced. Also David definitely was trying to become more human, watching Lawrence of Arabia, etc. and I found that very sad, because I figure the bad stuff he did was programmed.

    As far as personal behavior and beliefs, the sanest, most consistent, and rational person on the ship was the Captain (Idris Elba). JMO

    @PrairieGirl, thanks for the videos :)

  6. Zen is a good watch. I saw it last year as well. Never miss my Masterpiece!

    I gave Prometheus a 3.5 out of 5 so I am not too far off from you. I think the issues with the film are well documented at this point – but first – Paula you are spot on; Elba’s character while being the most remote from the principle action seemed to know best what was going on (maybe it was the arms-length vantage point).

    Also I mentioned somewhere that while I “got” Meredith’s role in the narrative, one part of me questions if it should have been there at all. With so much stuff going on around the main part of the story, the result was (IMO) so underdeveloped that I could have done without.

    • It’s such a bummer that there are only 3 ZEN episodes though, I wish they hadn’t canceled it.

      The more I think about it, the more I like Elba’s character. I know lots of people are on the Fassbender’s bandwagon and he is indeed great as David but I think Elba is just as memorable. That scene towards the end reminds me of Independence Day a bit though.

      Yep, too much going on is right. It’s interesting to learn where that line about the end of a King’s reign relates to though, but you’re so right it’s not well-developed at all.

  7. Bummer to hear you were disappointed with Prometheus, Ruth. It definitely has some loose ends in the plot but I still thought it was a lot of fun. I saw Dr. Parnassus a couple years back but probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved. I should give it another shot.

    I caught a couple of classics in the theater this weekend — The Lost Weekend and Dr. No. Really enjoyed both, especially the former, which holds up as one of the best I have seen from Billy Wilder.

    • Oh I’m not completely disappointed, it’s still worth a watch on the big screen. I just won’t call it a stellar movie because of the giant plot holes :)

      We actually stopped watching Parnassus because we were already sooo sleepy to begin with, so yeah I’m w/ you, I feel like the film deserves our full attention. I enjoyed what I saw so far though.

      I’m glad you liked Dr. No, so does this mean you’ll watch more Bond movies? :)

      • Yep, I’m up for some more Bond! I’m thinking about just going through all of ‘em in chronological order. That might be a little too ambitious at the moment, but we’ll see… :D

  8. Glad you finally saw Prometheus. We had some similar thoughts. In regards to Dr. Shaw’s beliefs, I had some confusion too while watching as to the thoughts that Scott was trying to elaborate on. Was God an engineer? were the engineers made by God and then they made humanity, etc.

    There was an interesting article that discusses that here: http://geektyrant.com/news/2012/6/11/ridley-scott-reveals-the-engineers-true-intentions-is-it-con.html

    You should give it a quick read as Ridley Scott answers some questions. Pretty interesting!

    Great reviews! Happy Tuesday

    • Well after seeing the film, I really have no idea what Scott’s theology is, and not sure he does either, ahah. I think Dr. Shaw implies that another Higher Being made the Engineers who then made us. I’ll check out the article, but I don’t know if that’ll change my mind about how I think of the film. Thanks T!

  9. I also watched Prometheus and 1 Indonesian movie, Soegija. I was a bit confused what Elizabeth Shaw said about her maker. First I thought it was God in general, then in the middle I thought the matched DNA is the first mankind. But it was still vague to me.
    Yeah, there’s so many ambiguity in the movie and I’m sure they’ll be making the sequel. There’s more sudden suspense in it rather than Alien, and I guess Alien is more solid as 1 movie. Read that Scott made this movie with the basic theory that alien have something to do with the creation of humankind (creepy!)

    • Yeah, vague is right Andina, it’s all one big puzzle as they’re hoping we’d all be in tune to figure out the ‘solutions’ in the sequels. Well I can tell you right now I probably just want for the rental on the sequels, as I think there’ll be even MORE questions they can’t answer.

      Yep I think ALIEN is more solid as a stand alone movie, as it’s perhaps more about the survival of mankind against these aliens so it’s less philosophical? As for his theory that we’re created by aliens, I guess every man is entitled to have their *fantasy* I just choose to think it’s rubbish.

      • I also think the theory is rubbish…but it’s fun to see all kind of fantasy theory…at least for me. I will never change my mind about human creation but it sure is fun to see people’s imagination (make a good inspiration to write a story)…I guess that’s why The Matrix with its theory that human is battery always be my number one sci-fi movie ;)

  10. You know how I feel about Prometheus and I stood my ground despite of everyone’s opinion ;) it is still the best movie in 2012 so far.

    When I saw the trailer of The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, I wanted to watch it but didn’t have time to finally see it. Now you reminded me of that film…I should look for the DVD soon. Fine review by the way.

    Making mental note to find Zen! I have been drawn to British series more and more ;) somewhere next week, I will share my review on one of British most famous series.

  11. Nice weekend, Ruth! I’ve always wanted to participate in a race for a cause! I bet you had fun and felt great afterwards! I liked Parnassus, particularly for the acting, especially because that was the movie that introduced me to Andrew Garfield, who’s fast becoming one of my favorite actors. Agree with your Prometheus mini-review (that Gold’s Gym thing was very funny). My Alien/Prometheus double review is coming tomorrow!

    • Oh you should do it Fernando, this is my 2nd yr walking for Kids Against Hunger, it really is a lot of fun and yes, even better that it’s for a good cause :)

      Oooh you like Garfield too? I like him a lot, I think Social Network was when I first noticed him, but saw 3 other films of his and just loved his performance. I actually got to see him at last year’s Comic-Con, well he was standing mere inches from me but he looks just as good as in the movies. Gorgeous AND talented :D

      Looking forward to your Prometheus review!

      • As I said, I first noticed him in Parnassus but his work in The Social Network blew me away. He was pretty good in Never Let Me Go, as well. And omg Ruth, maybe we bumped into each other last year and didn’t notice! I went to Comic Con too! Although I didnt attend the SpiderMan panel!

  12. Well with the Waterfall – the sequence will most likely be longer in director’s cut – it will feature 9 Engineers and it will be more clear than here that one of them was stranded on the planet with the substance to drink that made him dissolve and eventually start the life on the planet – whether it’s earth or not it was there to show us that Engineers are indeed source for our DNA. As for the on going who made us issue – I think it’s basically that Shaw accepts we were made by them, but also looks for the beginning – are the Engineers the first creatures or – much like we created David -did someone else create them? I for one enjoyed the ambiguity, really makes me think and all the symbols and refrences are the reason I’m still unable to finish myr eview withour properly researching them :)

    • Hi Sati, yeah I think w/ Ridley we can expect multiple cuts to be released on Blu-ray, ahah. See I didn’t even get that about the engineers but I didn’t care as much about it to *research* it as much as you.

      Ambiguity is fine, but this one feels like it’s not well-thought-out. Ah well, I think it’s still an interesting film and I’m glad I saw it :D

  13. I also loved that Noomi Rapace’s character just had MAJOR surgery in the pod and she is running around afterwards like nothing happened. Anyways, it’s an entertaining movie but I feel like all the discussion and fan-speculation is giving the movie too much credit.

    • Ahah , I didn’t want to mention that part but yeah, what a SUPER woman!! Seriously, that was the most express surgery ever performed on film, wow! I think I’m in agreement w/ your view of the movie, Castor, entertaining but not too compelling.

  14. I finally saw the movie and it was damn entertaining, I even liked it better than the original Alien, not as good as Aliens though. I’m with Castor, seems too many people gave the movie way too much credit. It’s a summer film and Damon Lindelof just tried too hard to be deep with his script and of course they couldn’t even solved most of the ideas they introduced us in the film.

    Also, I knew Scott was lying when he said this film will be “original” but everything that happened in the film were so similar to the other Alien films. I did like the way he introduced the Xenomorph alien at the end there, that’s pretty cool.

    • Glad you finally saw this Ted. Yeah it certainly is entertaining, just not exactly a profound movie. I wasn’t disappointed by it certainly, there are lots going for it. I think I enjoyed this more than ALIEN too as it’s not as scary/disgusting.

      Yep, that Xenomorph thing was like wow, very cool indeed. So what do you think about the performances? Which character is your favorite?

      • Funny I thought Alien was pretty tame compare to this one but then again the original film was pretty low budget and they didn’t have the technology like we do today.

        My favorite character is David of course, I think he’s the most polished character in the entire film and he’s a robot! The others I didn’t really care for, seems to me Scott wanted David to be the main character but felt he needs to have Shaw be the hero just like Ripley; he and Lindelof didn’t do a good job of establishing her character.

  15. Pingback: Question of the week: Which seasoned director do you think has lost his mojo? |

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