If you liked the original Blade Runner you will love this sequel. Set decades after the first film you will find the dystopic future has not improved much. This time however our hero is Canadian actor Ryan Gosling and his director is also Canadian which in itself makes this a must see for all us north of Trumpland. Villeneuve clearly was a fan of the first film and his recreation of the world first dreamed of by Philip Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, is perfect in every way. What is really special is that that the story extends the themes and takes us in some new directions. To tell more would be to spoil what is a great story. This movie I think should have had a Best Picture nomination but instead we get 5 nominations for technical awards such as cinematography and editing. While this film definitely deserves these nods I think the nominators missed out on what is a very special film with a great story to tell. Nonetheless for quality production values and a really fun ride (and as a huge fan of the original) I cannot recommend this movie more highly. May it be blessed with some well deserved wins unlike its predecessor.
A comment – while some movies win awards and are celebrated over others, it is often the case that those winning films are long forgotten while movies that won nothing at the time are the enduring ones. Blade Runner is such a movie. Nominate for only two technical awards in 1983 and losing both to E.T. and Gandhi, I suspect Blade Runner will endure as a classic. While E.T. might also endure I would ask those reading this blog to put up their hands if they have even seen Gandhi or will ever see it again. See? No one. LOL.
This movie has been very well received and is nominated for eight Oscars, five of which are technical for design, sound, editing etc. The three big ones are Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Okay… all that said I am very nervous to write this review. I did not like this movie. It I like Close Encounters of the Third Kind in terms of the message but is not nearly close to being as good. I think some critics like it because it is not Alien or other thriller type Sci-Fi. It has pretensions of being cerebral but it was boring, contrived, and the ending was just stupid and really disappointing. Amy Adams is the lead and her performance has been praised but thank God the Academy had enough sense not to nominate her for Best Actress because while good, she is not amazing and the role is dumb like the movie. Villeneuve is Canadian and I have liked and disliked his films. Sicario is very good but Prisoners was really disappointing. Incendies which made his career was okay. He is working on a sequel of Blade Runner, not a remake but a story set 30 or 40 years in the future from the original. It will star Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. I am worried because Blade Runner was awesome but this?… I am not sure this is wise.
I had to watch this movie even though it is total attempt to make some money on the original. Still its really well done and the dinosaurs are really great. I especially like the battle at the end with the T-Rex. I really liked the original Jurassic Park which was something special. I remember going with my kids and their friends when they were quite young. The movie was so engaging that one of the kids remarked at the end wondering how they managed to control the velociraptors during the filming of the movie. Then realized what he had said. It just showed how completing engaging the film was. This time around it was sort of like the Star Wars reboot. Once you saw the original the sequel is always a bit disappointing but this should not put you off renting this one and enjoying a couple of hours of roaring and chomping. Very entertaining so it ranks as really good trash. Go for it if you like dinos.
While I could see the merits in all the nominated animated shorts this year only two really caught my eye, World of Tomorrow and We Can’t Live without Cosmos. Both are science fiction and use very different animation techniques. World of Tomorrow is a US film that follows a young girl on a somewhat mind bending look at her far distant future. The script and acting is excellent and to some extent is dependent on that more than the animation itself – a problem I will address shortly. Still I really enjoyed the film and hope it is the winner this year. The second film is We Can’t Live without Cosmos and is from Russia. It follows the story of two friends who train to be cosmonauts. The story is humourous until the end which takes a dramatic turn. Again the animation is maybe a bit dated but the story is great and told entirely with images and no dialogue. Very entertaining and surprising. Certainly deserves the nod if World of Tomorrow doesn’t get it. The other nominated films are in my opinion mediocre or in the case of Prologue completely unnecessary.
Animated films are a real challenge for me. I like them but having to arbitrarily pick one for best picture either feature length or short is next to impossible. Unlike live action films which use… live action…, animated films are very individual works of art that use very different styles of images and reflect the vision of an artist much more so than do live action films. I suppose many will jump all over this as nonsense but I find I can’t get away from it. Also live action films have many more categories in which to be judged and maybe that is my struggle. Animated films don’t get to be nominated much for their artistic qualities (cinematography, effects etc) or for the story or acting (best actor, screenplay) or music (soundtrack or song) They could be so nominated but almost never are. As a result, one is forced to pick one movie and that seems so unfair.
I was inspired to watch this movie because of Jesse Eisenberg and the premise plus a few online suggestions that it was one of the more underrated films of 2015. It had pretty terrible reviews on Rotten Tomaotes but nonetheless I was impressed despite the low rating. The movie is very strange and one is never sure whether to laugh or cry but mostly I laughed. It is incredibly violent but more in the style of Tarantino (though I would not put it in that category of quality) and tongue in cheek. So I would put this in the same category as Cop Car. It is interesting that the comments, unlike the reviews, on Rotten Tomatoes were almost universally positive and did not support the large number of negative critical reviews. There is no question that the critics misread their fans here. It’s no Oscar nominee but it is fun and deserving of more favourable opinion.
Eisenberg plays a young stoner who is living a pretty boring and uneventful life in small rural town. His girlfriend is clearly in love with him and he desperately wants to marry her and make her happy but his attempts to propose and take her away on a celebratory holiday are stymied by the fact that for some reason he just can’t leave town. Any time he tries he falls violently ill. Unbeknownst to him however he is the result of a secret CIA experiment to turn out the perfect secret agent and a highly trained killer. He has been brainwashed or at least brain wiped and has no memory of his role or his skills. Internal squabbles at CIA headquarters results in a decision to have him terminated as a failed experiment but the agent who trained him decides to save him and travels to the town to “wake him up”. The resulting chaos, confusion and copious bloodshed is the rest of the film. Again, like Cop Car, not the stuff of Tarantino or Coen Bros. but worth the 90 minutes of B movie thrills and fun.
Okay this movie is likely to make more money than any movie in history and has had great reviews ranking in the 90’s on Rotten Tomatoes and generally could not miss as a hit. It is not 1977 however, and this is not Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope which set the stage for all the special effects blockbusters to follow. Those of us who were stunned and thrilled by the first movie will be a tad disappointed in this one but that is not to say it is not great fun. There is much to like and lots of nostalgia to enjoy. There is a real challenge with rebooting a franchise like this. Abrams did an awesome job with Star Trek but this was by far a bigger challenge. He has to deal with the old characters and old story, introduce the new cast and set the stage for the next 2 movies in the trilogy. That is a lot to do in one movie but I believe they were successful. I enjoyed every moment of it.
There a few plot issues like how the new lead star managed to learn how to do Jedi mind tricks all on her own and it worked and that is not the only one. Time to suspend disbelief dear readers and just relax. After the movie when my guests were discussing this scene in particular our youngest guest (9 y.o.) noted that “The Force is strong in this one”. Nuff said. Enjoy.
This is officially the worst movie I have seen so far at TIFF. I was intrigued by the theme about two sisters in an isolated house in the US northwest when all the electrical power goes out for good all over the world. How will they survive? Some will remember back in 2003 when the entire northeast of the continent lost power for three days. It was survivable but a wee bit scary when you realize how dependent we are on electricity and how fragile it really is. This movie promised to help us understand that but it fails on many levels. I was not overly impressed with the script which was written by the director. The story fails to make any sense on so many levels as to be unbelievable and basically it was really boring. To go back to the Hitchcock film – there was really no suspense. The events were so predictable there was literally no tension in what should have been a very scary or at least anxiety provoking movie.
I think the director was trying to explore how a crisis like this might affect the relationship between two people particularly family members who are caught in a trap from which they really have no way out. The problem is that this scenario was not believable. The film is not science fiction or apocalyptic particularly so it was just too artificial and in the end overly melodramatic. It was also way way too long. We got the point about 30 or 45 minutes in and the rest was denouement. Oh yeah a story generally has a climax and then a denouement but this film has no climax because it really never goes anywhere.
I was also irritated by the fact that no explanation of the power outage was ever given or any sense that the country was at least adapting in some way to the crisis. The result was really a plot and story that was totally unengaging. I should tell you that this movie is well liked by many and has a high rating on IMDb for some reason yet to be made clear to me. So if you like the actors and like the director by all means go but don’t say you weren’t warned.