Opening June 8th: Am I Too Excited For Prometheus?

Update 6/9/12: Prometheus opens to a much better than expected $21+ million on friday, stronger than other recent notable sci-fi successes District 9, Inception and Super 8. So at least the excitement and anticipation weren’t just me.

Is It Unfair To Expect It To Be As Good As Blade Runner and Alien?

Let me say in advance, please exec use a one paragraph sports analogy.
Can Any Movie
Live Up To This?
I am worried that Prometheus is heading into Lebron James territory. It doesn’t matter how good Lebron is he can never live up to what people thought he would be, some mystical combination of Jordan and Bill Russell that would no doubt be able to single handedly win 10 or 15 championships. It is too bad because it prevents us from enjoying what he is, maybe the most physically gifted basketball player of the last 30 years.
There, I am done with the sports part.
Prometheus, to a select group of fans (of which I am proudly one), is expected to be a mystical combination of Blade Runner and Alien, two of the top four greatest sic-fi movies of all-time. Is it fair? No. Is it possible? Definitely not. So the question becomes this, can we be happy with what it is, whatever it is, and not be disappointed by what it is not?
Of course the weekend is about more than just Prometheus. In a brilliant stroke of almost synergistic counter programming Madagascar 3 is also landing on theaters and will almost certainly take the #1 spot at the box office. Other stuff comes out that you may never hear about (except here) or see, but this is a two movie weekend really.

Prometheus
Interest Level: 9 or 10 or 11
Should You See Alien First: YES! and probably Alien 2 also and it is never a bad thing to watch Blade Runner
When they first announced this movie I really wasn’t that excited. Directors going back to what they did when they were young usually doesn’t go well. I assume it is like if U2 went back and tried to make an album like WAR – they are just in a different place, they are a different band now, and while they have gained polish and confidence they have lost something too. Directors are the same. Scorsese can’t go back and make sequels to Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, right? So why am I now excited about Ridley Scott going back to Alien and Blade Runner territory? Because the clips and trailers have been great. Because the buzz in certain circles has been a tidal wave propelling us all into a frenzied excitement. I know, as do others, that there is no way it will be as good as we want it to be, but I don’t care. This movie is going to be really good and visually stunning and at times contemplative but mostly filled with action. It may not be a classic, but it will definitely be worth the time.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Interest Level: 7
Will It Be Painful For Parents: No, It Will Be Fine
No one is going to argue that Dreamworks Animation has caught up to Pixar. Having said that their track record has been pretty solid. Since the original Madagascar was released in 2005 Dreamworks has put out Over the Hedge, Flushed Away, Shrek the Third, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2, Monsters vs. Aliens, Hot to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever, Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. If you have kids under the age of 10 it is a pretty safe bet that you have seen all of those movies and most likely own no fewer than four of them (we own eight of them and my son is eight which is nice random symmetry). When I look at that list I am struck that while Pixar makes movies that attempt to (and often succeed) transcend their genre Dremworks Animation is attempting to make fun, family movies. If the list tells us anything it is that, while their sequels are rarely as good as their originals, they succeed in making movies the whole family can enjoy, and I’m sure this will be no different.
Lola Versus
Interest Level: 4
Does Greta Gerwig As The Lead Making Any Difference: Nope
Lola gets dumped just weeks before her wedding day and does what every late 20 something female in the movies would do, she enlists her friends to go on a series of adventures to help her come to grips with approaching 30 and still being single. OK, so the description wouldn’t sell anyone so what the studio is selling is the lead actress, Greta Gerwig. Don’t know who Greta Gerwig is? She is one of those young actresses who has been circling fame and proclaimed an “it” girl for a couple of years after pseudo memorable performances in No Strings Attached and Arthur. Earlier this year she gained strong reviews for her lead role in the indie film Damsels in Distress and later this year she can be seen in the new Woody Allen movie To Rome With Love, none of which matters really. It doesn’t matter because the description that made you yawn is still the movie.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Interest Level: 5 or 6
Will This Be As Good As Jeff Who Lives At Home: Doubt It
Three magazine employees head out to interview a guy who placed a classified ad looking for a companion for time travel. Yup, one of those weird indie comedies that has had some nice play bouncing around festivals and apparently has a spectacular ending. The description kind of says it all, if that hook gets you this may be worth a shot. If the hook didn’t work there is 0% chance the movie will.
P.S. The reason I referenced Jeff Who Lives At Home above is because Mark Duplass (who you would recognize only if you watched The League on FX) stars in Safety Not Guaranteed and he, along with his brother Jay, are the creative minds (writers, directors) of the very well received (if not commercially successful) Jeff Who Lives At Home.
Bel Ami
Interest Level: 0
How Much Is Because You Hate Twilight: More Than A Little
Another attempt to show that Robert Pattinson can act (why all of these attempts must be in period pieces is beyond me) as he plays a young man who rises to some power in Paris by seducing a whole bunch of women played by a surprisingly impressive cast of talented actresses (Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci). This has actually been available of VOD for sometime and that is probably the only way you will ever see it (limited release in NY and LA, its not going to make it anywhere else). The reviews have been predictably bad and I no I’ll never sit through it.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
Interest Level: 4
Don’t You Still Love Catherine Keener: Don’t Worry, I Still Love Her
An uptight NYC lawyer takes her two teenage daughters upstate to visit her hippie, pot selling mother. The movie stars Jane Fonda, as the pot selling mom, and Catherine Keener as her daughter and it is directed by the guy who did Driving Miss Daisy. Why aren’t I more excited? Because I thought Driving Miss Daisy was overrated and that the “crowd pleasing” parts were overt and telegraphed miles in advance. How is this, which sets up as a “crowd pleaser” if ever there was one, will be any different? And I apologize to Catherine Keener and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, I am still a big fan.
Dark Horse
Interest Level: 6
Do You Wish It Were Higher: Yes I Do
Why do I wish my interest was higher? Because I thought Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness were two of the most disturbingly brilliant movies of the 1990’s, and I stress the disturbing part. Truthfully disturbing doesn’t do them justice, they were almost loathing of life. Still, Todd Solondz made them funny and thought provoking and interesting in ways that felt challenging. Now Todd is apparently turning 50, and while this tale of two thirty-somethings who are in arrested development (he, an avid toy collector, she, the dark horse of her family) is certainly not hopeful the way a standard Rom-Com would be, it does appear to be at some peace with the world. Sadly, for me anyway, that peace comes at a cost to the viewer.
Paul Williams Is Still Alive
Interest Level: 3
How Much Do You Wish It Was About Someone Else: A Lot
Paul Williams was a famous songwriter in the 1970’s, notably writing “Rainbow Connection” and “We’ve Only Just Begun”. He lived hard and fast and disappeared from public view, but, as the title suggests, he is still alive. Here is my problem, what a great idea for a documentary, find one of those people that everyone says “is that guy still alive” and find out what happened, the problem is no one was saying that about Paul Williams. HE WAS A SONGWRITER! Other than Cole Porter what songwriter has been remembered past the Warhol-ian 15 minutes? None. Do the premise with Ike Turner and you’ve got yourself a documentary (wait, is Ike Turner still alive?).
Epilogue
If you have been visiting this site much over the last few months you know how excited I am for Prometheus renders any kind of reasonable or impartial advice concerning the film nothing but fantasy. As for Madagascar, well, you know if you are seeing that one already, nothing I say would ever change that.
But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.