Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villeneuve

Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Harrison Ford, and Robin Wright.
Photo Credit: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros Pictures

When the executive producer of a movie openly admits the movie is too long, and that executive producer is also a director notorious for making movies with 150 min runtimes, you have to believe him when he says it. Blade Runner 2049 is many things: visually stunning, intriguing, artistic, and, as Ridley Scott so delicately put it, “f***ing way too long“. Even if it takes more than one sitting, even if you need a couple bathroom breaks in the 2hrs and 44mins; if you’re a fan of quality sci-fi drama (think Arrival), Blade Runner 2049 is a must-see.

Just like the original Blade Runner (directed by Ridley Scott 35 years ago), it’s not for everyone. If you have no patience for slow films and for scenes that are easily 2 minutes longer than they have to be, avoid this sequel like the plague. If you are the DC/Marvel type who needs humour and constant action, avoid this movie like the plague. If you are the other type of movie watcher, sit back and get completely sucked into a new (or not so new) world.

Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners, Sicario) took a 35-year-old movie and made it fresh and relevant. A very serious Ryan Gosling plays “K”, a young “blade runner” for the L.A. Police Department. Blade runners are tasked with hunting down and retiring old Replicant models, a type of bioengineered android that looks identical to a human. Apparently older Replicants rose up against humans at some point, but that’s not really important. The important thing to know is that Replicants look and act like humans; older models are not wanted and are hunted and killed; and there is a giant, powerful corporation that is experimenting with new models and new features that make it even more difficult to tell the difference. During a routine stop, K stumbles on something strange that requires further investigation. His boss (Robin Wright) tasks him with getting to the bottom of the strange events surrounding the death of an old model, all while trying to stay ahead of the CEO of the corporation (Jared Leto), who wants answers for a very different reason. The story is fairly complex, and although it doesn’t require one to see the original, it probably helps one understand the world a little better.

Lucky for fans of the original film, K’s investigation leads him to former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). It’s been 30 years and he’s a little older, but there’s still a lot of fight (and heartache) left in his character, not to mention Mr. Ford himself (see video ‘Ryan Gosling Nearly Knocked Out by Harrison Ford‘).

The main features of the movie are the cinematography, production design, and the music/sound – all things that Blade Runner 2049 has been nominated for. The dusty, dirty, futuristic dystopia is breathtaking in almost every scene. If camera work and set design are not things you typically notice in a film, you will surely notice them in this one. They make the ugly future strangely beautiful. The score is eerily similar to Arrival, so much so that it is hard to believe that Jóhann Jóhannsson had no part in it; in fact, he was replaced by Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk, Interstellar, Inception) and Benjamin Wallfisch (IT) shortly into filming. For a film with fairly limited dialogue, the music is quite noticeable and gives the sweeping landscapes more “oomph”.

To sum up, although Blade Runner 2049 is an acquired taste just like the original, it will surely satisfy those who enjoy a science fiction drama with spectacular visuals. Denis Villeneuve brings his typical darker style to the film as well as his talent for perfect endings.

Blade Runner 2049 brought in just under $260M worldwide and has been nominated for five Oscars at the upcoming 90th Academy Awards, including:
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Best Achievement in Production Design

Watch the official Warner Bros. trailer here:

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The Martian – Ridley Scott

The Martian starring Matt Damon.

The Martian starring Matt Damon.
Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox

The words “Ridley Scott” and “comedy” are not often seen together in the same sentence, but in the case of The Martian, many reviews have made the exception. Director and Producer Ridley Scott is best known for films such as Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, and Prometheus – all great movies, but all with little-to-no humour. The Martian is something different altogether and definitely appeals to a much larger audience than the other films.

The Martian was adapted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, World War Z) from Andy Weir’s book of the same name. With a lot of heavy involvement from NASA as well as other space experts, the science behind The Martian strikes a balance between fiction and fact. Unlike the other movies it has been compared to, namely Interstellar and Gravity, almost everything in the book and the movie is said to be accurate or at least “possible”. The humour from the book was kept alive by Matt Damon, who plays the lead character Mark Watney who is left behind on Mars for a long, long time. With limited food and supplies, he is forced to use his NASA training and botany background to “science the shit” out of everything in order to survive.

The majority of the movie is a one-man show, and Matt Damon is absolutely hilarious. His character uses a video diary to capture his thoughts and document his time on Mars and despite his dire situation, he keeps his spirits up by staying active and seeing the humour in everything that happens. Jeff Daniels, who plays the Director of NASA, is also seen channelling his Newsroom character and is fun to watch. Other actors in supporting roles include: Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña.

The movie has everything – laughs, tears, action, and edge-of-your-seat sequences that will have you holding your breath. It is a story about science, exploration, adventure, and problem solving and how it can bring people together. The Martian was conveniently released around the same time as the discovery of water on Mars and hopefully it will bring some interest back to NASA and help it become what it used to be in the 60’s – exciting!

The Martian was released on October 2, 2015 and is now playing in theatres everywhere.

Watch the official trailer here: