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By midlandsmovies, Oct 5 2017 11:22PM



Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Dir. Denis Villeneuve


Let’s cut to the chase but I’ve never been a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi noir original – even going so far to include it in my top 10 overrated films of all time back in 2012 – so I approached this film with some trepidation. I come at all films with an open mind however, and with such highlights as Sicario, Prisoners and the lauded Arrival in his catalogue of successes, director Denis Villeneuve certainly has the sci-fi and visual chops to take on the belated sequel.


Ryan Gosling (K) is now the LAPD blade runner who hunts down older artificial humans known as “replicants”. He soon stumbles upon the discovery of a skeleton which appears to be that of a replicant woman who died during childbirth, a situation until then thought impossible. Linking the bones to the missing Deckard, K is ordered to destroy the evidence by his superior Joshi (a superb Robin Wright) but soon a set of clues leads him to question his own “implanted” memories and his reality.


Blade Runner 2049 takes the themes of the first – humanity, memory, one’s purpose in life – and adds the dazzling cinematography of 13-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins who not only recreates the look of the original rain-soaked streets, but expands the digital noir influences ten-fold. Shadows lurk everywhere as Villeneuve and Deakins work together to create phenomenal shots, with some of the best of them composed simply in pure silhouette, keeping the characters (and us) ominously in the dark.


Ana de Armas provides great support as K’s artificial partner Joi – a hologram who ironically infuses Gosling’s character with the only emotional attachment and is a great addition to the Blade Runner mythos. Yet, the lack of emotional connection between the audience and the film is one of its sad flaws. To me the original had a sense of detachment but it is practically nihilistic in tone here – the future is death – to humans, to children, to androids and even to holograms.


In spite of that, Harrison Ford gives a great performance when he eventually returns as Detective Rick Deckard but don’t expect to see him in the first 2 hours. However, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv provides a feisty antagonist, much more so than Jared Leto whose Tyrell replacement Niander Wallace is underused and missing from half the movie.


An amazing first hour which sets up the tone, the vision and the look of the world works brilliantly alongside an amazing synthesiser score from Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch which is fantastic and truly groundbreaking. This beginning also provides us with a set of interesting characters (at first) and Gosling even throws in a joke – confirming a balance of components that works so well.


But like a malfunctioning android, the film begins to fall apart at times and although its style never falters once, it often fails to cover the cold tone and the incredibly slow pacing. At its best, its perfect visionary sci-fi yet at its worst it harks to Only God Forgives with repeatedly boring shots of a moody Ryan Gosling moping around a neon city at night in a drama-vacuum. The film makes sluggish progress and its script’s heavy-handed links to creation and A.I. are a result of further hackneyed garbage from Michael Green, the scribe of the awful Alien: Covenant.


In many ways it’s the perfect sequel – if you enjoyed the original I guarantee you’ll find the expansion and nods to it more than satisfying and for those who feel the original had flaws then this film clones them to a fault. Blade Runner 2049 therefore ends up being a truly technical tour-de-force but as cold as a glacier and moves about as fast.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 14 2016 11:59AM

Suicide Squad (2016) Dir. David Ayer


A group of imprisoned super villains are recruited by a secret government agency to complete a black ops mission in exchange for reduced sentences, leading to inevitable chaos.


When a mysterious supernatural entity threatens the world, a secret government agency led by high-ranking official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits a selection of the most dangerous villains for combat. If anything goes wrong, the government will not be liable, and the criminals will be destroyed. Each member of the aptly named 'Suicide Squad' has a bomb implanted into their neck before the mission which will be detonated if they fail or do anything that goes against protocol. It will be up to them to rise above the apparently impossible events that will take place before them, in what many would to be a suicide mission.


The highly anticipated Suicide Squad - tipped to be the hottest film of summer 2016 - has taken a lot of flack since its release. After seeing it, I can't say that I agree with the panning it has received. Prior to the trip to the cinema, after eating many mixed reviews, I wasn't too optimistic about the film, but it was quite a bit better than I had thought it was going to be.that being said, however, it was not perfect...


I couldn't really fault the performances. Will Smith had some very quick-witted one-liners as Deadshot (people have argued about whether this should have been the case, but I thought they were necessary to keep the film moving along).Margot Robbie was insanely good as Harley Quinn and was equally as entertaining. I feel like the other members of the Suicide Squad were purely to fill it out, but they generally did this quite well. Jai Courtney provided some good laughs as Boomerang, while Jay Hernandes balanced this out as Diablo, who had found himself some sort of a conscience whilst incarcerated. Cara Delevigne was the only one who I didn't think met the same standards as the others, but her character, Enchantress/June Moone, wasn't on-screen all that long so I can live with that.


Jared Leto's turn as The Joker was pretty short lived, and this is probably what disappointed me the most. I feel like Suicide Squad was quite heavily sold on his name, and for him to only feature for roughly twenty minutes was a slight let-down.


I would say I will now discuss the storyline, but there wasn't really that much of a storyline to pass comment on. What bit of narrative that did exist was quite rushed. It would have been far better, I think at least, if the villains had been introduced to us in their won respective films before this one so that we weren't all going into Suicide Squad cold. The thing to keep the film afloat was the action. The film survived on gunshots and explosions, and if it hadn't have been for this, the three of us who went to see this film may very well have fallen asleep in the cinema.


All I can really say about Suicide Squad is that it is a fun comic-book adaptation that is what it is. It's a film that is guaranteed to make money no matter what, so can afford to be flawed as people will still queue to see it. It was never meant to be taken too seriously! They might be the worst heroes ever, but it's certainly not the worst film ever. However, nor is it the best.


7/10


Kira Comerford

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