Daily archives "June 1, 2012"

The Dictator ***

Running time: 83 mins Certificate: 15

 

Synopsis: General Aladeen (Cohen), a pampered ruler of Wadiya, travels to New York to deliver a speech on his country’s nuclear weapons programme. But after an assassination attempt goes wrong he finds himself alone, with only a health food-shop manager (Faris) for support.

 

Like Baron Cohen’s previous personas, The Dictator is very comic. However while the others were harmless, General Aladeen is modelled on real life dictators such as Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein so is a lot more controversial. There are countries in which the actor has been banned from appearing as this character and a high percentage of the film’s jokes may be offensive to some people.

 

The acting in the film is mediocre. There are times when Sacha Baron Cohen appears ridiculous and Anna Faris is rather annoying in her role as Zoey. In addition to this none of the supporting cast members really stand out in terms of performance. Ben Kingsley is underused and completely miscast as the Uncle.

 

The film is clearly a comedy and not meant to be taken seriously, however some of the jokes work and others do not. There are some comical moments and others that are just cringe worthy. The story feels like a bad version of Coming To America. It feels like Cohen should have gone back to the drawing board and followed the same framework that made his spoof documentary’s funny and enjoyable. This attempt seems like a case of shock and awe. Some people maybe shocked, but many will not be awed.

 

The film has a genuine moments where it works, but on the whole it just tries to hard to be shockingly funny. Without giving the character more purpose and more depth the story runs out of steam pretty quickly.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Watt

Prometheus ****

Running time: 124 mins Certificate: 15

 

Synopsis: Scientists discover a star-chart on ancient tablets. The crew of the ship Prometheus land upon LV-223, with hopes that they will meet their makers. Unfortunately they what seemed like an interesting scientific find turns into disaster.

 

First things first, this is not an Alien movie, although it does some aspects of that particular franchise it is a completely different beast as auteur Ridley Scott has maintained for a long time. It does go back to look at the Space Jockey  which appeared in Alien, but this character has now been changed to the Engineers.it still has H.R. Giger influenced designs. There are even chases down corridors in a spaceship, but this is where the familiarity ends. Even the planet is different, it is based on the planet LV223 and not the original alien planet of LV426.

 

In fact, this is the major flaw with the film as it would have worked better, as a completely original entity rather than trying to bring ties from the much loved franchise. While many fans will have a big kick out of spotting the occasional reference, it feels slightly forced and does not flow with the rest of the material.

 

It should also be noted that this is not a sic-si horror like the rest of the franchise. The film is more a sci-fi action film with some  horror elements. There are only a handful of gorey scenes, but nothing that will scare an audience familiar with the psychological 1979 original. But saying that these scenes are silly, but also extremely impressive at the same time.

 

This is Ridley Scott’s big return to the science fiction genre after an absence of twenty years, when he made the classic Blade Runner. As can be expected from the director the film is beautifully shot and passionately designed.The film is full of stunning  3D cinematography, which contrasts  white futuristic interiors with the black dull colours of the Engineer’s catacombs.

Everything is on a wide epic scale compared to the claustrophobic original. The other great thing is that Scott has made the decision to stick with physical set pieces and not overusing CGI effects. Not to mention casting the film with some impressive names.

 

Saying that some of the characters suffer from being underused and the minor ones are confusing and unmemorable. Although Noomi Rapace is no Weaver, she is completely believable as the scientist who becomes feminine action-heroine. If there was a comparison to the Ripley it would be Charlize Theron’s Vickers, who struts her stuff in a tightly in a witty silver-grey suit, while having a completely different agenda to the scientists. Idris Elba seems to be having fun with his cigar chomping ship’s captain, even although he is mostly confined to the one set. While the rest of the crew are sadly forgettable, which is a shame considering the talents of Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall and Sean Harris.

 

But it is essentially Michael Fastbender’s David the android who is the scene stealer of the whole movie. A complex character who is even more mysterious than the Engineers themselves. A gripping performance that brings so much to the story, even although his performance is rather reserved  using a variety of creepy and half baked smile expressions but it is all in the eyes that there is so much to this character’s train of thought.

 

The script is really the major problem with the film, with so many setups that several payoffs are not answered. Characters are underdeveloped and too similar to distinguish between. Where it does shine is with the dialogue, which is intelligent and funny. The theme of believing is also throughly explored, but there is too much of the characters telling the audience things rather than it being played out through action.

 

Ridley has yet again come up with a visually stunning sci-fi feature. The film is never boring and the action  along with the horror scenes are tense and exciting. The 3-D is subtly done as with Scorsese’s Hugo. Some fans will be left disappointed with the whole concept and the idea that it is a direct prequel to Alien. But to compare this to that classic film would be a mistake. Overall a good thrill ride that is slightly flawed due to an underdeveloped script.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan