Category Archives: Movies

Weather To See Blade Runner 2049 (Pun Intended)

I saw Blade Runner 2049 last weekend and the first thing I want to address is the weather of the world in 2049 (mostly because that’s probably the only thing I can talk about without spoilers).

2049 is only 32 years from now. I hope/imagine that I’ll be around to see it, but I just can’t comprehend — even with climate change — how there can be drenching rain constantly soaking a city while elsewhere in the city (at least I think it was the same place) it’s gently snowing. I mean, obviously, the director wanted certain visual-emotional backdrops for the scenes that took place in each of these disparate ecosystems (driving rain is dark and dismal while soft snow is light and peaceful). But then 100 miles away, you’ve got San Diego where it’s just a gloomy haze, and a little further in the other direction, you’ve got a desolate Las Vegas which apparently hasn’t seen a drop of rain in the thirty years since the events of the first movie took place.

Again, I realize this was done for visual effect, and when you look at the colors, it kind of makes sense in the transition from blue and gray LA to gray and orange SD to pure orange LV. My creative mind is more than willing to ignore climate continuity issues in deference to making a movie that looks as cool as BR2049, but my logical mind kept popping in every time K went to a new location to say ‘How is that possible?’ At the end, I was like ‘Are they actually on Kamino? Is this Obi Wan and Jango Fett fighting right now? Surely Denis Villeneuve is old enough to remember Attack of the Clones?’ (He is) And if the Pacific has risen to the point where it laps at the edge of a wall around LA, then wouldn’t the same thing be happening in the scrap heaps of San Diego?

Okay… enough of that…

In lieu of expounding on what anyone who’s seen the movie knows is the best part (and thereby spoiling it), I’ll point you to this fairly succinct article: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review which is basically what I would have written but probably less coherently and in twice as many words.
Now, I liked Blade Runner 2049, mostly for the reason explained in the article above, but also for the visual direction and the slower, more introspective storytelling. However, I can see why it hasn’t done as well as expected at the box office because audiences these days are conditioned for action followed by action followed by more action. Which brings me to the second thing (and I think the only thing besides the weather) that bothered me about the movie: Joi.

Blade Runner 2049 is 2 hours and 43 minutes (not counting the twenty minutes of previews at the beginning). A lot of that time (it seemed to me, at least) was spent building up the relationship between K and Joi. I thought this was kind of interesting and I didn’t really mind seeing more of Ana de Armas on screen, but when I think back, I can’t recall a single plot point in the movie impacted by Joi’s existence. This subplot took up a lot of room in a long movie yet seems like it could have been completely eliminated, or at least replaced with a much shorter exposition of K’s character, without affecting the rest of the movie at all. It almost makes me wonder if there was a version of the script that didn’t have this and Hollywood said, ‘No, if you’re going to make this, you need to have some sort of sexy love interest that we can promote in the trailers.’ Or maybe there’s a version where Joi does something with more of a direct impact but it got cut because the movie was already too long and no one realized taking that part out made her completely irrelevant?

I tried to mentally review the movie and see if she was somehow responsible for K’s motivation, or helped him grow as part of his character arc, and I can kind of see how you could be fooled into thinking so if you were making this movie, or maybe if you were just really attached to the idea of Joi and wanted her in the movie. (Like any good scifi geek probably would be) But really, K is motivated by the fact that he’s a replicant police officer in the beginning and then his motivation shifts to something else external (avoiding spoilers) which isn’t related to Joi. She’s just kind of there as arm candy and as a marginal effort at humanizing K (which, again, I think could have been done in less time just as effectively).

Sorry – I don’t want anyone to think I’m not recommending the movie, because I do think it was good. I mean, if you like scifi, it’s a must see just because. But if you don’t, it can still appeal to people who like their movies a bit more literary than the usual summer blockbusters (while still on a blockbuster budget).

Was it better than Denis Villeneuve’s other recent hit Arrival? No way. That movie was great. Blade Runner was just good. And again, it sounds like tepid praise. And sure, if you search for ‘thought-provoking science fiction movies’ on your favorite search engine, all of those will probably be better than BR2049… but the list of movies that are worse is a lot longer than the list of those that are better.

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The Sci-Fi Keeps Coming

thor-the-dark-world

So, at the risk of turning this blog into a full-out “movie” blog… Here’s some more that I didn’t catch in my Summer Movie Preview (and as an update there – I’ve actually seen 2 of the movies on that list, which for me is pretty good because I grew up when movies were $3.25 so paying $9-$12 to see a movie in a theater seems ridiculous). Also not that these aren’t “summer” movies, per se (hence the title referring to Sci-Fi rather than Summer); two of them come out in November bracketing my birthday very nicely.

Kick-Ass 2
Pluses: I love Chloe Moretz. She’s awesome. I’ve only ever seen her in 30 Rock and the first Kick Ass and looking at her filmography, I think I might like her less if I were forced to watch the other movies she’s done, but in this context, she’s great. Jim Carrey is pretty much unrecognizable as The Colonel, and it seems like a good role for him. Clark Duke is cool. He was good in The Office and I like his style of humor (from the trailer it almost seems like he’s playing the same guy).
Minuses: You knew after the first one was a hit, they’d try to do it again… but this time it seems more like a straight up Good-Guy-Bad-Guy type thing as opposed to the kid turning into a superhero and then getting in over his head and having to struggle to be an actual superhero. Lots of other superheroes… could be good, or could suck. Either way, though, it can’t possible be as bad as Super, which I cannot honestly recommend to anyone who doesn’t just absolutely love gratuitous violence. If they’d kept that one to just even a decent level of violence, it could have been as good as Kick Ass (because Rainn Wilson’s character was a unique take on an origin story, and Ellen Page was hilarious as his sidekick). I thought the first Kick Ass was pretty over-the-top, but it almost seemed like Super was made just to be like “No, guys, this is over the top!” KA2 looks like it’s probably more mainstream and therefore will hopefully have a normal amount of unnecessary bloodiness.

Riddick
Pluses: Low expectations. I don’t think anyone is really expecting this to be a “good” movie… But it should be as entertaining as any Riddick movie. Well, probably not as good as Pitch Black but better than The Chronicles of Riddick, so by “as entertaining as any” I mean: as entertaining as the average Riddick movie.
Minuses: You’re taking a pretty big risk if the the only way to escape an alien planet is to tell everyone who wants to kill you where you are in the hopes of capturing one of their vessels.

Ender’s Game
Pluses: The book is a Sci-Fi classic and it looks like they’re going to do a good job of adapting. Of course, multiple Academy Award winners and nominees doesn’t guarantee good performances or a good movie, but it can’t hurt. Hopefully they don’t try to big-budget-actionify it…
Minuses: I’m almost afraid to say I want to see it because, yes, Orson Scott Card is totally anti-gay. Even his attempt at getting people to see the movie was half-hearted at best. To summarize: Hey guys, I still think gay sexual behavior is wrong and should be punished, but since the Supreme Court say it’s okay, then my opinion doesn’t really matter, so go see my movie anyway. Thanks dude. On the one hand, all the people who actually made the movie have already been paid, so boycott won’t really hurt them all that much. On the other hand, a boycott is probably only going to show up as a number on an executive’s spreadsheet where it will drag down the average revenue of the “sci-fi” category and make them less likely to want make more. On the third hand (this is sci-fi, right?), look at all the sci-fi movies that are getting made and one flop probably isn’t going to make that much of a difference. I mean, you’ve already got Upside Down dragging things down… So maybe for my birthday I’ll make a choice between…

Thor: The Dark World
Pluses: A cast that reads almost as impressive as Ender’s Game. Obviously there’s less moral elements (in the movie and outside of it), so that’s good for me being able to state my desire to see it but probably less good for the overall quality of the film. It’ll be fun. Probably not as good as The Avengers, but probably as good as the first Thor, which was fun.
Minuses: To be honest, none. As long as you’ve got the appropriate expectations.

and

About Time
Pluses: It’s about time travel. I’m a sucker for that even when it comes in the form of a romantic dramedy (which is actually in Merriam Webster – wow). It’s not a complete carbon copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife (even though it does also have Rachel McAdams her hair is totally different [and much worse, if you ask me]). About Time is a dramedy – even categorized as comedy and drama on Rotten Tomatoes, while TTW was a Romance/Drama (not sure if there’s a combination of those two words). This time, the guy can actually control the time travel, and I like the set up of conflicts this seems to set up (or at least appears to from watching the trailer). It’s from the guy who did Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Love Actually, all of which I was far too macho (or just trying to be) to appreciate when they came out, but did enjoy eventually (even in spite of Renee Zellweger’s inability to open her eyes for what seemed like the entire movie; and the fact that Love Actually was a bit over the top and mushy on the romance).
Minuses: If it doesn’t have any sharpness or roughness to it, the movie could easily slide into romantic drivel. Time travel is hard to get right. The lead guy looks a little bit too bumbling and awkward and unattractive… Even with time travel, I’m not sure I’d believe he could end up with Rachel McAdams (at least not as the perfect woman she’s portrayed as in these movies).

So there’s that. I hope to have some non-movie related posts soon, but these are so easy since I only have to spend 2 minutes watching a trailer and then write what I think instead of having to document some technical process or something with screenshots and directions, let alone actually thinking deeply about something…

Happy Birthday To Me! (Later This Year)

Ender's Game Display

Just in time for my birthday!

First Ender’s Game Trailer

So, I did a summer movie preview just 4 days ago, and now I guess this can count as my fall movie preview because I’m pretty sure this is going to be the best movie this fall:

If I only had enough money to go to one movie this year, I would be a very poor man indeed, but this would be the movie.

On a side note related to the summer movie preview post, there is now a trailer for The World’s End which looks super awesome and is easily in contention for the 2nd movie I would see if I only had enough money to go to 2 movies.

Scifi Is The New Black (Summer 2013 Movie Preview)

Summer_2013

In reading the Redeye Summer Movie Preview, I noticed that SciFi movies are kind of taking over. Now, granted, I filtered the two page spread by movies that I actually want to see, which means that the list is obviously going to be skewed toward sf-nal stuff… but if you look at the entire list, I think you’ll agree that I’ve got most of the movies that will be worth seeing in the following list:

The Great Gatsby
Much Ado About Nothing
The Lone Ranger
The East
Star Trek Into Darkness
After Earth
Man of Steel
World War Z
Pacific Rim
The Wolverine
Elysium
The World’s End

The first four are certainly not Scifi (though I’m not entirely sure about The East, hence my putting it right before the SF part of the list starts). Let me clear the decks a bit by just saying that I think this is one of the most packed summers in terms of movies that I really, really want to see. There’s 12 right there. And I’m having a hard time deciding which of those I want to see most.

So, as much as I love Joss Whedon, and while Baz Luhrmann is cool and fun, and Johnny Depp will probably make The Lone Ranger worth seeing… The movie I’ll be most excited to see will almost certainly come from the last 75% of the above list. And while the title of the post makes it seem like it’s going to be about how Scifi is taking over (and maybe it still will be), I am really just going to attempt to decide for myself which one I am most psyched to see… Starting with…
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