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 Nice Guys – Shane Black

The Nice Guys starring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice.

The Nice Guys starring Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The humour is clever – but not too clever – the violence is plentiful, and both are hilariously random. The Nice Guys centers around an unlikely pairing, a sleazy private investigator Holland March  (Ryan Gosling) and an independent enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), who work together to find a young woman at the centre of some convoluted plot. It’s a buddy film where the buddies don’t really get along, which makes sense when you consider the other films written by the writer-director Shane Black: the Lethal Weapon movies and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. You may also remember the sharp dialogue between Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the young boy (Ty Simpkins, who happens to be in the opening scene) in Iron Man 3 – which was arguably the best part of the film – well, that was also Shane Black.

Ryan Gosling can do tragic romance (The Notebook), he can do romantic comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love), he can do artsy, indie quirkiness (Lars and the Real Girl), he can do serious drama (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine) and now it’s clear that he can do slapstick comedy. He falls, he squeals, he gets drunk, he makes mistake after mistake, and it’s absolutely delightful. His actions most of the time leave his unlikely partner Healy in awe of his stupidity (much like Val Kilmer and Robert Downey, Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Their chemistry, however, is undeniable. To make up for March’s terrible investigative skills and his affinity for booze, his daughter Holly (newcomer, Angourie Rice) is also a prominent feature, working her way into most scenes with the two men. She is a great addition and certainly holds her own on the screen; she’s someone to watch for. Kim Basinger also makes a brief appearance in a supporting role.

The storyline, set in 1977 Los Angeles, is rife with craziness and absurdity; it’s all so ridiculous that it makes you giddy. Not everyone will enjoy this type of loose humour, but those who do will be laughing out loud. It is a completely different breed to action comedies like Deadpool, where the laughs are all gained from quick one-liners and fast talking comedians thinking of new ways to swear (also, grossing close to $800M worldwide…). In The Nice Guys, the jokes are more quirky and less in-your-face; you laugh because you aren’t sure what else to do.

The Nice Guys is rated R in the U.S. and 14:A in Canada for nudity, coarse language, violence, and sexual content. There’s enough of it to make some parents uncomfortable, so (young) family viewing isn’t recommended. The film is just shy of 2 hours, which is a nice change from the summer blockbusters currently in theatres.

The Nice Guys was released in North America on May 20, 2016 and can still be found in theatres.

Watch the official trailer here: