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The year is 1982 and “Blade Runner” (a science fiction film) arrives in theaters that for the next 35 years will be considered one of the best science fiction films of all time. The year is now 2017 and the follow up film arrives in theaters and some, not all, had the highest of expectations. So, does “Blade Runner 2049” deliver on the quality of its predecessor or is this a replicant that needs to be put down? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
I was not one of the people who had a special place in their hearts reserved for this film. I didn’t see the first film until this year when I purchased “Blade Runner” on BLU-Ray at my local used book store. That story celebrates everything that was the 1980’s and science fiction. Seeing it for the first time in 2017 I couldn’t help but see the movie as a period piece stuck forever in 1982. The story by itself is well written and constructed however the movie as a whole is 1982 at its very most 1982’ish. So walking into the theater to see this sequel I didn’t have the same expectation as many who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this story.
The movie starts by acknowledging the fact that Replicants are a thing that’s not hidden in society which caught me off guard. I was pleased they jumped right into that because it allowed the story to progress forward into new territory not really analyzed in the first movie. I will say the story does feel a bit long in that we get to see a lot of emotion and epiphanies on screen. These moments are not brief and that makes the story drag at points which was unfortunate. However, as long as the movie felt it looked incredible. The colors, the lighting and use of shadows, the make up and the action all were spectacular. I was completely mesmerized by the cinemotography and I wouldn’t not be surprised if this film gets nominated for an Acadamy Award for Cinemotography. Rumors confirmed, folks. This is one of the best looking films I’ve seen all year.
The story deals with a philosophical examination regarding what it means to be alive and to be human. The story resolves itself like a crime noir/detective story. It’s methodical in its delivery however the pacing is slower than I felt necessary. We get multiple view points or arguments that look at what society is, what it could be, power struggles to maintain the status quo and the opposite. In all, this movie explores the question, “What does it mean to be alive?” As I just wrote, this revelation takes time to be revealed. It’s not until we find out that a replicant had a “natural” born child that the overall plot of the film is realized. It’s at this moment the opposing view points are pushed to the fore front and we are seated amidst a debate that also has some great action and science fiction visual flare. This debate, unfortunately, is not very captivating and because of that will be lost, I feel. The film rests mainly on the visual astheatic and actors performances. It falls short on an engaging story that should be both at the same time thought provoking and exciting. The potential for this film is much greater than the final product.
“Blade Runner 2049” is in theaters now. I definitely recommend you see this on the big screen. This movie looks spectacular and I truly believe it will be nominated for best Cinematography. The overall look warrants a big screen viewing but I will caution you against paying more than matinee prices for the time spent in the theater. It’s slower paced and does drag at times but it looks incredible while doing that. Check this film out!
There are certain studios that find their way by making smaller budget, almost indie, films with talented, well known, actors. In this particular case, Fox Searchlight Studios decided to tell the real life story of Tennis greats Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It was a spectacle for everyone who saw it live. So, does “Battle of the Sexes” serve us a champions story or does it double fault its way in and out theaters. Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
First, we can look at the cast for this film as diverse, in that, many of the faces I don’t recall seeing on screen together. Outside of that, I wasn’t overly wowed by any of the performances because I received the caliber of talent that I expected to receive from each actor. In general, I thought the acting in this film was the high point. Plus, it was nice to see Natalie Morales in the film because I enjoyed the performance she gave in the hit TV show “Parks and Rec.” Also, Sarah Silverman plays a great older jewish woman who has a smoking addiction and enjoys managing women’s tennis players.
The overall story I wasn’t familiar with despite its notoriety. All I knew was a dude and a lady were competing in a tennis match and the whole world was tuning in to watch. So, when I walked into the theater I was pretty open minded regarding the story that was about to be told. Curiously, the story wasn’t the story advertised. It was, in fact, only a small portion of the actual movie. The actual story revolves around Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and her determination to be a pioneer for women’s rights, her love affair with her hair dresser, the divorce of her marriage and her eventual victory over the chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell). I felt mislead once the credits started rolling because I was under the impression that I would be getting a sports movie. Instead, I was given a lesbian love affair with a strong feminist message that had sports peppered throughout until the very end of the film in which we see the famed event unfold. It felt like the final tennis match was just a metaphor for the entire pro feminist message in the film which makes the title “battle of the sexes” misleading, in my opinion. More appropriately, the title I feel should have been, “The Billie Jean King Story.” The film as a whole had more to do with her life than tennis (even though her life was tennis).
“Battle of the Sexes” is in theaters now! If you don’t mind two women making out on screen then you won’t be offended by this film. It’s a very well acted piece however you do need to keep in mind that it’s not about tennis. Tennis is the resolving plot point that, again, felt more like a metaphor than a resolution/conclusion. This is the Billie Jean King story and if you’re interested in her life, the struggles she went through and her love of tennis, I think you’ll appreciate that story. It does feel like a Hallmark or Lifetime film at points and it’s based on a true story that you might enjoy it during matinee prices.
Tom Cruise movies will continue to peak my interest until he has a string of bad films in a row. Now, you put Cruise in a movie that is based on a true story about a drug and gun runner who worked for the US Government AND Cartels and you definitely have my attention. So, was “American Made” a captivating look at real life events during the 1970’s and 80’s or did this film fail to deliver? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
I wasn’t familiar with the real life story behind the film. In fact, I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked into the theater except that which I saw in the previews. So I went into the movie with a pretty open mind since I didn’t have any real expectation for this story. Even still, I found the overall movie bland. The moments that could have been stressful weren’t and the humor didn’t land as well as I believe the director wanted. The visual style was also confusing because the entire movie had a vintage filter on it to make it look like aged footage but then they used playback footage as well. So, we get the story, plus a look back at the back story, at the same time and both look aged but differently aged. I didn’t care for the visual style used to tell the story. It was obnoxious in my opinion.
The characters were also bland. I’ll probably use that adjective a few more times in this review because that’s how this entire thing felt. Domhnall Gleeson plays a CIA operative and even his performance was mediocre, and again, bland. I can’t say that any particular performance was memorable. In fact, if this movie didn’t have Tom Cruise I’m not sure it would make the money it’s made so far. This is a very forgettable film and that’s unfortunate because of the talent involved.
Overall, the message of the film felt like it was trying to tell the story of how Big Government is bad and uses the character Cruise plays to drive that point home. I didn’t care enough about his character to concern myself with the fact that the different government agencies involved in all the black ops dealings were still successful even though at the end of the film his character is shot in the head because of how the US Government betrays him. Gleeson’s character is promoted and we see how this whole movie was the beginning of what eventually became the “Iran Contra” scandal. So, we go through the whole film only to realize that the point (or message) of the story could be to not trust your government because you could end up dead? I’m not sure. I thought I was watching a movie based on a true story but then the very end felt like a passive aggressive public service announcement for how terrible and untrustworthy the government is. Plus, the end doesn’t make sense. Part of the film we’re watching playback video recordings of him talking about his dealings with the government agencies (CIA, DEA, FBI), so, why does it stop just because he gets shot in the head? He’s not watching his videos. Someone else is and the videos have already been recorded. The end scene of his made no sense to me. He’s already recorded his message about how America is great before he was shot. So the recording wouldn’t stop because he’s shot in the head, because he recorded it before he died. Odd.
“American Made” is in theaters now. You can skip this movie. It’s boring. It’s bland. It doesn’t really go anywhere that isn’t predictable and the characters are not memorable at all. I’m not even sure this is worth a Redbox viewing. If it pops up on your TV one Sunday afternoon and you’re too lazy to change the channel than ok, go ahead and watch it. Otherwise you can skip it because chances are you won’t remember much of it after it concludes. I will say this about the movie in closing, it’s better than Tom’s last film, “The Mummy.”