The Signal

signal poster Focus Features/Automatik Ent./Low Spark Films (2014) 97 min. PG-13

Director: William Eubank

Screenplay: Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank & David Frigerio

Cinematography: David Lanzenberg; Editing: Brian Berdan

Production Design: Meghan C. Rogers; Set Decoration: Michael Flowers

Costumes: Dorotka SapinskaScore: Nima Fakhrara

Stars: Brenton Thwaites (Nic), Olivia Cooke (Haley), Beau Knapp (Jonah), Laurence Fishburne (Damon), Lin Shaye (Mirabelle), Jeffrey Grover (Gas Station Clerk), Robert Longstreet (James), Patrick Davidson (Boy Playing Claw Game)  

Nearly kicked out of college when falsely accused of hacking MIT servers, three friends head toward the West Coast. Angry over the degenerative muscular disorder that has reduced him to relying on forearm crutches, whiz kid Nic (Brenton Thwaites) has been drawing further and further away from girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke) since he began losing control of his legs. He fears her cross country transfer signals the end of their relationship. Nic’s old track partner Jonah (Beau Knapp), a computer geek accompanying the couple on this road trip, traces an intermittent homing signal through the Southwest desert to its source of origin, where the indignant trio intends to confront the perpetrator really responsible for sabotaging their academic careers, a malicious internet lurker who goes by the handle NOMAD.

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Prometheus

20th Century Fox (2012) 124 min. R

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenplay: Jon Spaihts & Damon Lindelof

Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski; Editing: Pietro Scalia

Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Sonja Klaus

Costumes: Janty Yates

Score: Marc Streitenfeld

Stars: Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland), Idris Elba (Janek), Patrick Wilson (Shaw’s father), Sean Harris (Fifield), Ian Whyte (Last Engineer)

Director Ridley Scott has given sci-fi cinema some of the classics of the genre, and while his latest, Prometheus, is impressively expansive and uncharacteristically philosophic, thanks to some slipshod editing, meandering continuity and inexplicable character motivation it just misses the mark of greatness. Still, there’s much in the movie to commend. The premise of Prometheus, in which a manned space mission sets out in search of the alien species who engineered the human race millennia ago, was inspired by theories advanced in Erich von Däniken’s 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?, which hypothesized that human progress could be traced to ancient aliens who interceded at some early point in our evolution. Continue reading