*NEW* BLADE RUNNER 2049 REVIEW *NEW*

Blade Runner 2049 minutezzz long

If we are lucky enough to get a director’s cut; I’d like to see the running length CUT.

A young blade runner’s (Ryan Gosling) discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been missing for thirty years.

Now I wasn’t the biggest BR fan. I remember watching it for the first time, and thinking, “Is that it?!”. It was only through numerous re-watches (Thank you BA Film Studies) that I grew to love the 1982 cult classic. Not the first to say that, I’m sure.

Essentially, BR was a generic cyber noir about a disillusioned cop tracking down some killer robots. BUT what stood out and made BR so much more was the question of self and identity. Who were the real monsters? The replicants or their creators?

Hampton Fincher’s brooding social commentary on corporate capitalism (Again thank you BA Film Studies) spoke volumes BUT it also asked the biggest (and most important) question of all: was Deckard a replicant?!

Now 35 years on (What?!) . . . And Ridley Scott decides to make another sequel to another one of his movies.

To be honest, the opening had me from the get go. The Nexus 6 prologue, that opening shot of the burning flames in the iris of an eye, and that iconic Vangelis theme (teased meticulously by Wallfisch and Zimmer) blaring through those 17 Dolby Super Screen speakers. Goosebumps.

Roger Deakin’s breath-taking cinematography (You could do an essay on that alone and I’m sure people have).

Needless to say, the BR nerd in me was hook, line and sinker!

I remember watching Only God Forgives and denouncing Gosling. Screaming to the movie gods, demanding why this guy kept getting big Hollywood movies. BUT after stellar turns in La La Land and The Nice Guys, I was intrigued to see what he would do.

And he did not disappoint. A charismatic performance. He carried the film for me. Sorry Deckard. I was transfixed and happy to soak up the slow burning tension.

I will dispense a warning. There may be spoilers. So read ahead at your peril.

The character ‘K’ (Gosling) was a welcome addition to the BR universe. The fact he was openly a replicant changed the whole dynamic of the piece. He almost made the story his own.

The romantic subplot with Joi (The beautiful Ana de Armas) was a nice touch and I actually felt for them. A forbidden romance restricted in the cyber and the real world. Do androids dream of electric sheep? Can a robot fall in love with an erotic hologram?

All the little nods were there. Those origami unicorns, Edward James Olmos! The old faces working well with the new.

For the first hour or so, I was content. But then I realised there was another 100 minutes left.

This was where things went wrong for me. And as much as it pains me to say after praising Deakins’ amazing cinematography and set design. A feast for the eyes. Nice shots does not a good movie make.

If you’re looking for answers, you won’t find any. Now the question mark around Deckard was always the fun debate. The ambiguous ending a talking point for years to come. I didn’t care about getting an answer on that old chestnut (Do you? I’m not saying)

Some questions are better left unanswered. One of the appealing and infuriating messages of this film. A double edged sword.

BUT what disappointed me the most was what our hero Deckard was doing for 35 years. All that build up and promise. A welcome return for Harrison Ford. All the theories and questions about what the cyber-sleuth had been doing and the answer . . . Sweet nothing apparently.

Ford’s reactions reflected much of mine during the film. He really didn’t know what was going on or why people were seeking him?

The pace dragged and I found myself struggling to stay interested.

Robin Wright had potential as K’s superior officer Lieutenant Joshi BUT never really got the chance or the screen time. The same can be said for Dave Bautista. That guy continues to impress. Even in such a minute role.

Sylvia Hoeks was impressive as the resilient adversary Luv. A mercenary replicant on the heels of K’s quest for answers.

Despite the best efforts of the supporting characters, it lacked something.

Rutger Hauer was outstanding as Roy Batty. A charismatic and engaging turn that made this seemingly cyber punk android so much more. His “Time to die” speech left goosebumps. I felt more for the replicant than the protagonist.

Jared Leto? What the hell was he on? His performance as blind tycoon Niander Wallace was dreadful. His mind numbing monologues nearly put me into a mini-coma.

He fell short of Joe Turkel’s Tyrell (Bishop to King 7!) by a country mile. I mean, those glasses were iconic enough. Instead we get ol’ White eyes whispering and dithering away. If it wasn’t for one unexpected twist in the final act, I would have deemed him unnecessary.

It seemed like 2049 set things up for another and tried to tease that ambiguity that made the original so appealing but it didn’t work for me.

I just wasn’t as engrossed. It delivered all the nods and tried to make it on its own but it felt like a pale (albeit beautifully and bolder) imitation of the original.

Despite my nitpicking and disappointment, I do want to watch it again but somehow I don’t think I’ll fall for it as much as I did the original. I went in not expecting much and was rewarded with a mixed bag. No character of Batty’s calibre? No somersaulting Daryl Hannah (What?)

I could take the existential angst and themes of identity but it just wasn’t enough. In a way if Deckard wasn’t thrown into the mix, this might have fared better with just K.

Watchable by all means. It’s just a shame that a breathtaking opening first half was dragged down by poor pacing and a dithering plot line.

2.5/5

*NEW* DETROIT REVIEW *NEW*

Tense, riveting if a little long at the tooth.

Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.

The animated opening credits sequence about African migration during WW1 and WW2 was a little disjointed. The important issue was the overcrowded African American ghettos in the 60s.

The focal point of this piece. The growing frustration and rocky tension captured perfectly during a botched raid at an unlicensed nightclub.

You could have cut the tension with a knife as the white police officers tried to prevent unrest by arresting suspects away from the Main Street.

An attempt that proved pointless as the crowds gathered and the violence began. I loved how director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal looked at both sides to this disheartening affair.

You supported the forces during the initial looting and rioting. BUT by day two, they completely mishandled the situation. Beating and shooting looters for stealing food?

And let’s not forget, the trigger happy military looking for any excuse. Shooting at a child in a fifth storey building after mistaking her for a sniper. Horrendous.

I was really surprised and impressed at the British/Irish talent involved; Jack Reynor (Sing Street), John Boyega (Attack The Block) and Hannah Murray (Skins).

BUT Will Poulter stole the show for me. He played the shady Krauss brilliantly. The Son of Rambow star has come a long way. A complete change in direction from the comedy circuit and a mature performance.

Hell, those brows made him look evil. As a side note, if there is going to be a solo Joker movie (without Leto); this guy deserves a look in, surely?

Krauss’ decision making and inability to accept blame was frustrating, to say the least.

I loved the contrast between Krauss and Dismukes (Boyega). One going out of his way to cause destruction, the other doing his best to keep the peace.

Dismukes was an interesting character. A man just trying to do his job and avoid bloodshed. Branded an “Uncle Tom” of the streets for not rising up.

Crossing between the bordered up store fronts and military barricades to offer assistance where he could. I just wish there was more of that.

As much as I enjoyed the Dramatics’ Motown music and felt for them as they missed the gig of a lifetime due to rioting, the pace did test. The only thing I found Bigelow movies (of late) suffering from.

The middle act was where I could feel my interest wading. Don’t get me wrong. The cast involved with the Dramatics were brilliant and Algee Smith (Earth to Echo) had a fantastic voice!

I just felt the motel mingling, Coltrane talk and white power discussions meandered the piece. That was until a silly prank with a start-up pistol set off so much more.

The next hour, I was shocked and transfixed as Krauss’ team made one gruesome mistake after another.

The pressure mounting as they struggle to find a suspect or a gun. I will always commend Bigelow for delivering nail-biting suspense; Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Point Break (What?)

Regular Bigelow stalwart Barry Ackroyd’s grainy cinematography certainly brought a little more realism to it BUT the shaky cam (Like The Hurt Locker) was incredibly disorienting and erratic in places.

There was only so much yelling, swearing (and dropping of the N bomb) and gospel singing I could take as the hold-up reached breaking point.

The sick interrogation tactics had me on tenterhooks. Putting knives near the “suspects” as a ploy to use the “act of self-defence”. Horrifying.

Hannah Murray was surprisingly good. I’m used to seeing her playing drugged up or gormless protagonist.  You felt for her character as she was accused of being a prostitute for having no standards for sleeping with black men.

I didn’t expect to see Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War) pop up in this as Krauss’ “prime suspect”. A war vet who escaped one war zone to join another. The punishment he received was mortifying. Desperately goading him into reacting.

The pace did test BUT the main thing I was disappointed with was Boyega. He is a great actor BUT his character grew increasingly passive as the film reached its shocking conclusion. His presence fading further into the background.

If not for a gruelling police investigation (A mockery in itself) after the Algiers Motel, I would have deemed his character unnecessary. Another bystander.

BUT the aftermath of The Algiers Motel was where it hit home.

The court scenes were infuriating. The injustice of it all as the cops strolled out the court house smirking. The legal system taking the side of the ones who were supposed to be protecting NOT abusing it. Regardless of the facts and accounts.

The abrupt finale went out with a whimper. BUT that was kind of the point.

I couldn’t believe the post-credit titles at what happened to the people involved. The case never really given true justice.

I can’t say it’s a good film (in the context of what it was about) BUT it delivered an atmospheric thriller with substance that is worth your attention.

3.5/5

*NEW* SUICIDE SQUAD REVIEW *NEW*

Suicide-Squad-poster

Meh. I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either.

Based on the DC Comic, the government gives a team of super villains a chance at redemption. The catch: their mission will probably kill them all.

The first 30 minutes was brilliant. It hit the ground running and got straight to business.

Director David Ayer’s rapid quick cut editing and mad eclectic soundtrack ticked all the boxes as each dysfunctional member of this demented squad were introduced with their own theme song and back story.

A little silly BUT it gave off that Guardians of the Galaxy vibe.

BUT despite doing a good job of flicking through everybody’s origins and getting them into the mix as quickly as possible, more time should have spent on that.

I don’t think newbies or non-DC fans need to know too much going in BUT I was more intrigued in the back stories we were teased with than the Enchantress’ apocalypse plot.

We only had a taster of the warped relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker in several flashbacks.

The biggest scene stealer and the one I was looking forward to seeing was (of course) Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street).

She captured Quinn perfectly. Mental and vexing in one scene, troubled and lost the next. And not too bad on the eye either (What?). She really picked up the pace which tragically lagged.

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Jared Leto, on the other hand, failed to make an impression on me. I was unconvinced by his clips in the trailers.

I said the same thing for Heath Ledger back in the day BUT he proved me wrong tenfold and became one of the best Jokers I’ve seen.

I mean there were a lot of factors going against Leto. BUT after hearing all the weird method acting rumours and the lengths he went to get into character, he was only in this for 15 minutes.

He looked the part BUT in one scene, he won me over; the next he infuriated and that laugh! Sounded like he was trying to cough up something stuck in the back of his throat.

giphy

He wasn’t really necessary or needed in this piece as Harley’s origin story was rushed through too quickly.

BUT this wasn’t the Joker’s movie. It was supposed to be about the Suicide Squad.

I had to agree with someone who said this movie should have been called Deadshot. We had more exposition and focus on Will Smith’s hitman than we did on anybody else.

We had his troubled relationship with his daughter. Animosity towards the Caped Crusader.

I thought this could be a different role for Smith BUT he provided his usual spiel and whether it was the shoddy lines in the script, it just didn’t work. I was impressed with the effects and Deadshot’s shooting skills BUT it soon got very repetitive and very dull.

His fractious relationship with Joel Kinnaman’s Flag was the only thing that broke up the monotonous action. I haven’t really rated Kinnaman in his Hollywood endeavours (The less we say about Robocop, the better) BUT he was great as Flag. The rock that was weighing down on this bunch of parasites.

Jai Courtney’s Boomerang should have been so much better than he was. His quips and quirky behaviour had potential BUT wasn’t really explored. All we knew was that he carried cans of beer and a pink unicorn under his jacket. Okay then.

Karen Fukuhara’s Katana was a waste of time. An unnecessary addition to a bloated squad. Everyone else had a quick synopsis about their past. All we got was a quick flashback to an irrelevant street brawl to explain why she was late for the party.

Oh . . . and some guff about her sword bearing the soul of her dead husband?! What? Why? By the end, I didn’t care.

Adam Beach’s Slipknot was also another waste. His introduction nothing more than a statement from Flag (and a poor one at that). Jay Hernandez’ Diablo just moped around. His personal reasons for not fighting were so freakin’ predictable that by the time he wanted to share, I wanted him gone.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (LOST) was another disappointment as Killer Croc. The make-up and effects were brilliant BUT he was in the background far too much.

Viola Davis (The Help) and Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) made more memorable turns! Frankly, Davis wasn’t in this enough BUT thankfully we might be seeing more of her.

The second half ruined the whole thing. It took such a sombre turn and got far too serious with our motley crew all suddenly growing a conscience.

I didn’t think the team really gelled enough to forge proper bonds and considering how violent and anti-social they were, they decide to look out for each other and become pals in one night? Come on. It hampered the momentum of the piece a treat.

They spent so much of the running time squabbling, escaping or sulking. The relationships were either forced or clichéd.

The middle act meandered along and when we weren’t subjected to petty feuds, we had a ridiculous end of the world plot that had me in stitches.

The supernatural stuff didn’t work one bit. Cara Delevigne did her best as the Enchantress BUT her character was far too weak and the shoddy CGI didn’t do her any favours.

What was the deal with her demon dance?! She was supposed to be summoning a death machine NOT the funky chicken.

The story line got so stupid that you began to wonder why we needed these guys in the first place.

Especially when we had cameos from a couple *COUGH* SPOILERS *COUGH* members of the Justice League. And that finale was so hammy and stupid. The demon fight sequence – what da fuq?

Mixed bag, to say the least. I’ve seen a lot worse.

A mad riotous opening first half was spoiled by a lagging pace, clichéd dialogue and a complete mismatch in tone with a ridiculous finale.

If Ayer could have kept that mad energy and stopped trying to be like every other superhero film, then we would have had a winner.

A fun mess that’s not completely worth the mauling it’s received.

2.5/5

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB REVIEW

Dallas-Buyers-Club poster-2013-movie-poster-HD

Alright, alright, alright.

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is diagnosed with the disease.

An engrossing (and gritty) tale of one’s man fight for survival. I can’t believe this was a true story. McConaughey provided a stellar performance. Worthy of that Oscar gold.

What made this story more interesting was the fact that Woodroof was a homophobic redneck who had unprotected sex with drug users. The moment he revealed his diagnosis, he was soon ostracized by his friends and evicted from the trailer park. A somewhat darker Southern take on Philadelphia.

Woodroof was very much a man on the path to destruction. At first, it was quite difficult to empathise with him. His drug and alcohol abuse merely making his condition worse. He even stole the only FDA approved drug AZT.

“Screw the FDA, I’m gonna be DOA”.

BUT as his condition deteriorates, Woodroof has to deal with the bureaucracy of the US healthcare system and the FDA as he buys and sells unapproved FDA pills. Unapproved pills that are proving more successful in their trails than AZT.

Woodroof strikes up a business opportunity. Establishing a drugs membership, The Dallas Buyers Club, for struggling AIDS sufferers who aren’t getting the proper treatment. With his partner in crime, the transsexual Rayon (the Oscar wining Jared Leto), the pair work together to fight against the system and their expiry dates.

It was incredible watching the lengths that Woodroof went to. An unbelievable story. Yves Belanger’s cinematography created a gritty look that fitted the tone and mood of the piece. Great direction by Jean-Marc Vallee (Wild), a well written script adapted from an in-depth interview with Woodroof himself by Craig Borten and a superb cast consisting of Jennifer Garner (Alias) as the conflicted Dr Eve Saks, Dennis O’Hare (True Blood) and Steve Zahn (in a surprisingly straight faced role) made this one to watch.

The pace was slow burning BUT allowed everything to bubble along perfectly. Leto and McConaughey were a fantastic duo. I couldn’t believe Leto was in this. He was on scene stealing form. The pair really put their bodies on the line for the roles. They looked ill. It did ponder the question on how far actors should go for a role. McConaughey lost over 3 stone. Crazy.

Dallas Buyers Club marked a resurgent return for the man and he hasn’t looked back since with True Detective, Wolf of Wall Street and Interstellar filling his filmography, I think there will be more to come.

Endearing, intriguing, emotional, gritty. Not what I expected at all. BUT all the better for it. Definitely worth your time.

4/5