Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has an early shot which undeniably quotes 2001: A Space Odyssey, a beautiful image of a planet ringed with light. There’s some more striking imagery, of an unidentified landscape. A humanoid being removes his cloak and ingests some form of liquid which quickly begins killing him. He sacrificially gives himself to the river, where he falls apart piece by piece, his body possibly giving birth to life as we know it. That’s a provocative beginning for a big-budget science fiction film, one that clearly announces its intentions to be a thoughtful exploration of the creation and destruction of life. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
After the cryptic prologue, things get off to a very good start. The crew of the good ship Prometheus–which looks like a jumbo Serenity, but maybe that’s just me–is awakened from cryogenic sleep after two years by the android David (Michael Fassbender). Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered cave paintings from around the world, all of which depict images of a figure gesturing toward the same star pattern. They’ve followed that pattern all the way out to the middle of space, hoping to find the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. There are some big ideas at play here, and in the early going, there are conversations about whether the existence of supposed humanity-creating beings (Engineers, they’re called) negates or supports the existence of God. Holloway posits that because they now know the Engineers exist, the cross Shaw wears around her neck is meaningless. Shaw, with a wink in her eye, then asks where the Engineers came from.
I am not the half of Gobbledygeek who loathes the Oscars; in fact, they’re an annual tradition in my house. This year, we even ponied up for chocolate Oscar statuettes powdered with gold. We don’t mess around. Amazingly, I even liked seven of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees (the odd ones out being War Horse and, ugh, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). At the same time, I realize that the Academy often fails to recognize some truly brilliant films, and in the interest of counter-programming, I thought I’d point out some of the ones it missed this year.
These films didn’t garner a single Oscar nod this year (if it wasn’t for Sound Editing, Drive would be all up in here), and were actually eligible by Academy rules (otherwise, I would have spotlighted The Sunset Limited yet again, alongside the hilarious concert film Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater).
We’ve got 11 great movies here, divided up into three categories. To get us started…
Gobbledygeek episode 80, “The Young Adult with the Dragon Tattoo,” is available for listening or download right here.
Your worst nightmares have been realized: Paul and AJ are back with another season of Gobbledygeek! To kick things off, the boys discuss two films released late last year. Though they are both very different, they’re both about damaged women: Young Adult, the very un-Juno-like reteaming of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, starring Charlize Theron as a self-obsessed YA author; and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher’s adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster Millennium series, starring Rooney Mara as fierce hacker/investigator Lisbeth Salander. They clash over Young Adult‘s polarizing conclusion, and come together in defense of Mara’s Salander, who has not been softened or overly sexualized, thank you very much.
Next: the future, according to pop culture.
(Show notes for “The Young Adult with the Dragon Tattoo.”)