Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spin-off Blogathon

Thanks to Sati, blogger extraordinaire, for hosting her first ever Blogathon. You can see more info about the blogathon here. Sati is hosting it until March 30th, so there's still time to join in if you'd like. The purpose of this blogathon is to choose a character you love and who you think deserves their own spin-off. What a great idea! My choice for a spin-off is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) from 'Prometheus.' 

Meredith Vickers, 'Prometheus'
CHARLIZE THERON

Meredith Vickers is coldly beautiful, calculating, occasionally ruthless, but not opposed to having a little bit of fun with Janek the pilot (played by Idris Elba). Most importantly, Vickers is under utilized. I really liked Theron's performance in 'Prometheus,' but her role (as well as the overall film) could have been so much better had there been more character development and fewer plot holes. But Theron being Theron still managed to pull it off. Theron brought gravitas to a less than meaty role. Meredith Vickers is a perfect example of how the actor makes the part, not vice versa.
We first meet Meredith Vickers when she wakes up from hyper sleep. She must do this a lot because all of the other characters are puking their guts out and barely able to stand, while Vickers is doing pushups and demands a robe from David (Michael Fassbender) the naughty android. This scene sets the tone that Vickers is tough and not to be taken lightly. Theron has been quoted as saying that she spent hours with screenwriter Damon Lindelof and Ridley Scott trying to develop her character's backstory. Is Meredith Vickers herself a robot similar to David? Has David been created from Vickers' own DNA?
Vickers' next scene is at a good ole' fashioned staff briefing. She curtly briefs the staff and introduces "the real show" and the reason everyone is there, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charlize Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green).
The next scene subtlely points to Vickers becoming one of the film's antagonists. Vickers basically tells the scientists to report directly to her. Dr. Holloway challenges Vickers and her "secret" agenda. Vickers reminds Dr. Holloway that it was her company that paid over a trillion dollars for this project. So "put up or shut up." It's not until the end of the film that we find out that Vickers neither expected nor wanted them to find anything. It's a brief scene that could have been made more interesting with a little more dialogue.

In this scene we find out that there is more than meets the eye between David and Vickers. Vickers seems to despise David. The scene adds to the mystery of who David is speaking to and why Vickers wants David to deliver a message from him. Scenes like this made me want to know more about Meredith Vickers. Yes, I get it. She's tough and cold, but this is another example of how her character was underdeveloped. I know that filmmakers only have two hours or so to tell a story, but there are ways to develop characters even within a few scenes. This is a scene in which Theron's acting ability is really highlighted. Theron shows Vickers' disdain for David with no lines, just by pushing his face against the wall in disgust. Who knows if this was scripted or if it was something Theron came up with. From what I've read, Theron had to spin straw into gold with this role so it wouldn't surprise me if she added that little bit of "ummph" herself. 

This was perhaps the only scene in which Vickers showed an sense of humor or levity. Vickers was in the cockpit overseeing things as she was known to do. The only thing that made the scene interesting was when Vickers was propositioned by Janek (Elba). Janek challenged Vickers and said that he thought she was a robot. Cheekily or perhaps to prove him wrong, she invites him to her room.

If you can imagine it, Vickers originally had even fewer scenes scripted. Theron herself went straight to the top and voiced her concerns to Ridley Scott directly. Theron thought that Vickers was just a "one-dimensional suit." Thankfully, Theron is an A-lister and an award winning actress, so when she asked for three more scenes, she got them. I remember reading somewhere that she wanted "something to sink her teeth into" or she wouldn't take the part. 


In this scene Vickers kills Dr. Holloway to protect the rest of the ship from infection (or perhaps mainly to protect herself?) We never quite know her motivations. I personally think of this scene as an homage to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the original 'Alien.' In 'Alien,' Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) are attempting to save Kane (John Hurt) by bringing him back to the ship. Kane of course has a biohazard attached to his face, so Ripley refuses them access, rightfully so. She reminds them that Kane has to undergo quarantine. Unfortunately for the crew of the towing ship the Nostromo, neither Dallas nor Lambert listen to her. Then Ash, the soon to be crazy android (Ian Holm), overrides Ripley's commands and lets in the contaminated Kane, to everyone's doom. I wonder if Ripley had been at the airlock with a flamethrower if she would have done what Vickers did? If it meant saving the ship and its crew, I think she would have. Again, Theron brings depth during this scene. One could tell just from Theron's acting, that Vickers wasn't anticipating actually having to make good on her threat. She seemed more surprised that Holloway forced her hand.

In one of Vickers' final scenes, she confronts Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), who we learn is really her father. Despite the lack of character development, Theron proves herself to be a better actress than Lindelof ('Lost' and 'Star Trek Into the Darkness) is a writer. This shouldn't surprise anyone. In my humble opinion, Lindelof is a creative, but messy writer, known for leaving loose ends. 'Prometheus' is no exception. Yes I understand that Vicker's motivations were purposely kept secret until the end, but a few more Vickers scenes (or perhaps better written scenes) would have only improved this film and the character.  Some of the mystery surrounding her character was necessary, but some of it wasn't. To boot, Vickers has perhaps the best lines in the film: "A king has his reign and then he dies." Why on earth would you not utilize this character more?
To add insult to injury, Vickers dies at the end in the most meaningless way. I mean come on people. RUN SIDEWAYS, do not run directly in front of the object that is falling. Film School Rejects gets into the weeds on that goof. Simply put, I would have liked to have seen more of Meredith Vickers in this film. If Vickers hadn't been killed off at the end of the film, there would have been even more drama to explore, especially between Vickers and Shaw. Vickers had killed Holloway, who was also Shaw's boyfriend. Perhaps their interests would have aligned long enough to fight off the Engineer and the alien squid monster together. Yes, the same squid monster who paid no mind to basic biology. I've never heard of a creature increasing in size without some form of sustenance (water and food), but I digress...

Or perhaps they would have ended up fighting or even killing each other? Either way, it would have been an interesting storyline. Shaw and Vickers were two different sides of the same coin of Ellen Ripley. Would Vickers be as eager to visit the Engineer's home world? The same home world of the aliens who had just tried to kill the entire human race? Not likely. If there is to be a sequel to 'Prometheus,' which I have heard there is, I would have liked to have seen Vickers in it. The dynamic between Vickers, Shaw, and David would have been epic.
If there were ever a prequel, I would like to see more of the dynamics between Vickers and her father and the greedy Weyland Corporation. The corporation's motto is ever so intriguing: "Building Better Worlds." Unfortunately, Ridley Scott is not known for his character development and Vickers was one of those painfully underdeveloped characters. We never truly know what her motivations were beyond basic greed. As she says, she doesn't want to "sit around in a board room for years arguing over who was in charge." She hopes that this little trip of hers makes her the clear heir apparent.  

When I first saw 'Prometheus' I had a million questions, so I wrote a long write-up of all of my questions (which is currently under my Spoilers tab--scroll all the way down). If you leave a film with some questions, I consider that a good thing. But if you leave a film with more questions than answers, then I consider that to be a FAIL. That said, the film has so many other good qualities, that I still give it a PASS. But in my humble opinion, the Vickers character (as well as the ENTIRE MOVIE) could have used a little more meat on that bone.

8 comments:

  1. Oh this is an awesome entry for blogathon!

    I actually really love Prometheus but director's cut would improve so much. The deleted scenes alone were impressive - there is one with Vickers and Janek where he talks to her after she killed the sick dude.

    In early draft of the script in the end there was only her and Shaw and her alien baby. Shaw killed Vickers to protect her baby and the movie ended with her with her alien child - she was holding it all alone on the planet.

    A lot of people gave Charlize shit for her performance but I think she did a very good job with what she was given to do.

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  2. Wow, that would have been a great storyline with Vickers and Shaw. It would have made more sense than the alien baby growing into a giant. I've seen a few of the deleted scenes, but I didn't see the one with Vickers and Janek. That would have been a good scene to keep in the movie. The latter part of the movie was the weakest, particularly after the best scene in the movie (Shaw's c-section). The movie went downhill from there b/c it felt like there were some key scenes missing. I knew this movie had quite a bit on the cutting room floor.

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  3. Loved her character even though like you pointed out she didn't have much development.

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    1. I loved her character too. Theron did a great job with what she had!

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  4. Great pick! It definitely would've been interesting to see more of her.

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    1. Absolutely. I would to have loved to have seen more Vickers. I need to see the deleted scene in the Director's Cut that Sati mentioned.

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  5. Great entry idea! I was so excited to see Prometheus, but was so disappointed. There was just so many questions and plotholes. (Maybe I need to see the deleted scenes) Theron's performance definitely enhances the movie; without her, I'm not sure I would've watch the whole thing. I'm happy to read that she fought for more scenes, but she could've done with her whole movie because I felt a lot of her motivations sparked by her father was a cop-out...but her characterization was bad-ass.

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    1. Hi Katy, yes I completely agree. I think Theron really brought that character to life, despite not having much to work with. I could really see her in her own spinoff. I wish they hadn't killed off her character.

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