*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 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 and 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

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*NEW* WONDER WOMAN REVIEW *NEW*

The best DC movie yet. But is that saying a lot?

Superhero movie of the year? Or overhyped drivel?

Gal Gadot, be still my beating heart.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

The only interesting character in Batman Vs Superman. Bearing in mind; I had no idea who she was or what she was actually doing (and why for that matter?)

Now we finally get some answers. Sort of.

The best DC movie outing but that doesn’t say much.

The opening origin story with young Diana was entertaining enough.

I never read the DC comics and knew only a little of the TV show with Lynda Carter. I don’t remember all this God stuff BUT the writers even managed to make the Lasso of Truth a believable (and lethal) weapon.

The 300 style training montage with the glorious Greek goddesses kept things ticking over as Diana defied her mother’s wishes by training to fight.

Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) were both underused as Diana’s sparring mother and aunt. One desperate to see Diana reach her potential, the other weary of it.

It was a little cheesy BUT it hit the spot as Diana grew stronger. The truth about her abilities rearing its ugly head just as a WW1 plane crashes into their safe haven. Opening a whole new world for our heroine.

The film was injected with the right balance of humour and heart. Something sorely missed in the other DC efforts . . . So far.

One particular highlight involving Diana, clad with sword and shield, strolling through a department store perplexed at the “battle” attire women wear.

The WW1 setting was a perfect focal point for our heroine. The film delicately handled sexism and politics quite well as Diana demanded to know why women couldn’t fight, vote or speak.

Not bad for a superhero movie.

The 3D was disappointing and hardly worth the ticket price BUT the special effects and action pieces were superb.

The No-Man’s land battle sequence was fantastic.

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was perfect. A great duo. Steve’s bewilderment and Diana’s defiant (if slightly naive) approach to achieving her objective was the glue that kept this piece together.

The banter and bubbling tension helped drudge the meandering pace (which tragically could have been cut by a good 20 minutes).

I loved the supporting cast. It was great to see Lucy Davis (The Office) back in the limelight. She was hilarious as Steve’s long suffering secretary. Diana’s reaction when she was told the purpose of a secretary was brilliant; “So you’re a slave?”

Of course, Diana and Steve couldn’t achieve their mission alone. They needed a rag tag team of misfits. Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle) was highly comical as Sameer.

I was elated to see ol’ Spud (Ewen Bremner -Trainspotting) as the drunk and disillusioned Charlie.

Eugene Brave Rock was a little weak as the poorly titled Chief. BUT he was nowhere near as weak as the villain.

Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was dreadfully bland and not quite as sinister as I had hoped. Reduced to popping pills and gurning some serious faces. Shame.

Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) drew more chills as Dr Poison (A terrible name!) with her scar and scary mask.

The finale was drawn out. It felt like the Man of Steel; once you’ve seen one super being smash another through set piece after set piece, it soon got a little repetitive.

Plus it rushed to such an abrupt ending that I was left wanting. Good in one sense but bad in another.

The only problem was that from all the hype, I also expected something a little more.

I have nothing against a strong female character taking the helm and to adapt a dated 70s TV show and make some of the sillier aspects into something empowering and less farfetched was a great feat.

BUT the drawn out pace and plot holed story line hindered an exhilarating blockbuster.

I was left asking questions (POTENTIAL SPOILERS, maybe?); if the Amazonian island was shielded away from the world – why was Trevor’s plane the one to break through? Explain the other wars after WW1 if Wonder Woman’s mission was to stop the God of War? What was she doing for the next century? Surely not sitting in a museum?

BUT for all its flaws, WW was still entertaining, engaging (if a little long at the tooth) and DC’s best effort to date.

There might be some hope for them after all.

3.5/5 (Just)

*DON’T SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS – there are NO extras, teasers, NADA*

A MOST WANTED MAN REVIEW

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Philip Seymour Hoffman was definitely a most wanted man for this drab moody political thriller. A showcase and a reminder of the loss of a talented actor. The film will certainly not soil’s Hoffman’s prestigious reputation. But Anton Corbijn on the other hand . . . not so much.

A drawn out and needlessly complicated thriller that proves to be oh so simple and tedious that the 127 minute length just doesn’t justify itself or keep you engaged. It was always going to be tough to do a spy film these days, especially after nine series of Spooks, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Homeland.

The opening score and the subtle title sequence was nostalgic of the 70s political thrillers. A good sign. The moody overtone captured perfectly against the Hamburg backdrop by the cinematography of Benoit Delhomme. The story was typical John le Carre. Spies lurking in the shadows. The inevitable waiting game as a mystery man washes up on the banks of Hamburg after evading capture from Russia. Is he a terrorist? A man sneaking refuge from a torturous nation? Or a distraction for a bigger play?

The inevitable chess game as each agency fishes information out one another waiting to see who makes the first blunder or bluff revealing their intentions. Each move carefully analysed and discussed. Cryptic references and stories that are saying something without saying something. Grigoriy Dobrygin plays the mysterious Issa very well and will certainly be one to watch. However, the main scene stealer was (and was always going to be) Mr Hoffman. The opening half hour was PSH chain smoking and walking a lot of steps. It was a waiting game and believe me you felt like you were.

Hoffman is a fantastic presence along with a flawless accent. He doesn’t break out of his German twang once. The same cannot be said for Rachel McAdams who certainly gives it a punt but dips in and out. Not everybody can do it. Willem Dafoe was surprisingly good but his character was wasted as the film churned along.

The mystery soon borders on pretentious and just plain dull. Maybe Andrew Bovell and Anton Corbijn should have taken some lessons from The Lives of Others. Slow burning but tense, intriguing, hypnotic with a nail biting finale. This was just slow. Corbijn had impressed with his previous efforts: Control and, more importantly, The American. Suspenseful, tense and brilliantly shot. I understand it was adapted from Le Carre. But even some of his weaker and less renowned works still had some intrigue. The hour marker allowed Hoffman to shine and show what we will miss from him and that is his acting prowess. Delivering lines with tenacity and conviction. Pumping some life into this lead balloon.

The sense of paranoia and fear against the post 9/11 backdrop certainly provided a suitable catalyst. Robin Wright playing the American envoy who gate crashes the party was good. Sweet and supportive in one second, cruel and commanding the next. Typical. Some will smile. The fractious tension between the Americans and Germans is set up perfectly in the relationship between her and Hoffman. The film finally appears to be getting somewhere, setting things up for a tense finale, only for it . . .  to fizzle away abysmally, becoming a lazy statement that is all so predictable. Commentary that has been made time and time again.

A look into the inner working of politics between the agencies was interesting if void of suspense. PSH didn’t look particularly well. He looked rough. I mean he never was the epitome of physical health but it certainly puts an air of darkness around the film, especially knowing that this was his last film to grace the silver screen. Daniel Bruhl was completely wasted in the role. A nothingy supporting role, a mere cameo that didn’t do him any justice, especially after the prolific year he has had appearing in Rush and The Fifth Estate. Anyone could have played him.

It is a good a send off as we will get for the man. The problem with these slow burning poker games, I’ve seen them done so much better. I have patience for pace if the characters are interesting enough to keep me peaked. We were watching one man as Hoffman spurned cryptic babble to a number of agencies trying to enforce their own method of politics in the veil of “counter terrorism”. Homeland proved that watching one man could be interesting but here’s the thing the man actually did something. Not hang around in a bedsit praying, whining and trying to pull a Mean Girl. (Okay, Homeland did do that too).

Dull, drawn out and desperate. For every little move, a nightclub chase here, it was crushed with one chess piece, being endless dialogue and conversation that went no where. It certainly captured the look and had a prolific star that will certainly be missed but had to little in terms of suspense and intrigue for me.

2.5/5