Director: Ridley Scott
Prequelising has seriously entered into the annals of cinema, certainly in the realm of blockbusters and movie franchises. The Star Wars series, the X-Men franchise, Batman and Spiderman have all been reimagined in earlier forms, and now Ridley Scott has made a prequel to Alien, his iconic 1979 sci-fi space/slasher classic.
The hype and expectation around Prometheus has been considerable, and purely on the technical level the film is quite stunning. The design, the settings and the incredible effects of this $130m movie all make for an amazing spectacle. But, in many ways, the grand or grandiose intentions tend to undermine the overall success of the movie. The original film had a captivating simplicity, a grunge and a suspense that Prometheus totally lacks.
Ridley Scott has made some great movies, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Legend and of course Alien, one of his first films; but he has also made some poor over-the-top flicks such as Robin Hood, Gladiator and 1492, and, as with Prometheus, they all suffered from a poor screenplay and a silly story. In fact the spacemen of Prometheus all seem to do rather silly and reckless things, with very little concern about OH & S issues, which leads to the usual by-the-numbers roadkill of most of the cast. Moreover the dialogue for a supposedly top crew of scientific types is mostly dumbed-down, and in the end there seems to be a confusion of different plots and creatures as things get climactic and messy.
A good cast is largely underdone by the poor script. Michael Fassbender is good as the android, but Noomi Rapace doesn't convincingly get the opportunity to outdo the original film's heroine. Prometheus looks fantastic, but....
Title: Anton Chekhov's The Duel
Director: Dover Kosashvili
What a fascinating get-together for this artistic piece: a Georgian/Israeli director working with American production (money) and a mostly British cast on the adaptation of a classic 1891 novella by the Russian Chekhov.
Unlike the previous entry Prometheus, this movie is finely scripted by Mary Bing, and it readily shows that the moral and ethical issues of the classic Chekhov tale are as relevant and elusive as ever. There are no real heroes or villains here. Even though there are a number of dissolute, selfish, proud and petty characters, the only really upright and chivalrous player is something of an honourable fool.
The director Dover Kosashvili, best known for his popular film Late Marriage (2001), builds the narrative from a slow start to a captivating conclusion, with the satire and drama carefully woven together. The film is beautifully set in a seaside resort in the Caucasus where Laevsky (Andrew Scott), an aristocratic civil servant, mostly intent on drinking and gambling, lives with his lovely and coquettish mistress Nadya (Fiona Glascott) whom he has seduced away from her husband. In debt and increasingly irritable, the unchivalrous Laevsky has determined not to marry the neglected Nadya who is being set upon by other men. But chivalry somehow appears in the earnest presence of a visiting scientist Von Koren (Tobias Menzies) who is disgusted at the degraded values of the society around him.
The ensemble cast and the cinematography by Paul Sarossy are outstanding, and this well-crafted reworking of Chekhov resonates as true as ever.
Anton Chekhov's The Duel will be screened at Star Court Theatre in Lismore this Sunday, June 17, at 5.30pm; and on Friday, June 22, at 7.30pm.