Blade Runner 2049 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Sony Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Yup! Blade Runner sure was a movie, wasn’t it? I mean I was always more into eighties Carpenter than eighties Scott, but it’s clearly a movie that’s impact can still be felt to this day from science fiction films like The Matrix and Dark City to anime like Ghost in the Shell and Akira. Heck, even the live action Ghost in the Shell looks as much like the original Blade Runner as it does the source material! Many of us have been living in this film’s shadow for as long as we’ve been alive, and so the prospect of a sequel seems rather quixotic considering how hard it would be to not only live up to that movie’s actual merits but to also live up to the sense of scope and impact that it ended up leaving in its wake. Does the director of that one movie where Jake Gyllenhaal meets a giant spider have what it takes to stand with one of the titans of the genre, or will this project collapse faster than Rutger Hauer’s plan to not die at the age of four? Let’s find out!!
One more thing! Some people may consider a pertinent detail that we learn five minutes into the movie to be a spoiler. I don’t REALLY see it as a spoiler considering how early it is in the movie, but I figure I’ll just put up a SPOILER WARNING here just in case you want to go in completely blind. TURN BACK NOW IF YOU MUST!!
We good? Okay, so the year is 2049 and the movie begins with Agent K (Ryan Gosling) who we learn within the first five minutes of the movie is a replicant which is an artificially created human but ALSO a cop for the LAPD. A Blade Runner in fact which is a cop that specifically hunts replicants! Hence the title… though I’m still not sure WHY they’re called that considering he uses a gun and tends to leisurely stroll from place to place. Anyway, replicants haven’t been a problem for a while now as the CURRENT big bad organization Wallace Corp has fixed all the kinks that were in the Nexus 6 models from the first film (they had a tendency to rebel and kill humans) but K still has to hunt down these old timers whenever one crosses their path and we see him at the start of one of these missions as the movie begins. Once the deed is done (in GRUESOME detail), he ALSO discovers something else that’s on the replicant’s property that shouldn’t be there but holds secrets that could turn this world on its head. Oh, and in case you were wondering OF COURSE Deckard (Harrison Ford) is somehow involved, so K has to not only find answers as to what exactly they found but where it came from and who else knows about it. While on this super-secret assignment that I’m not gonna spoil, he also has to contend with Wallace Corp head honcho Niander (Jared Leto) as well as his replicant assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who seem to know exactly what’s going on and are keeping tabs on him just in case he either discovers too much or finds something that they’re looking for as well. Will K unlock the mysteries that are so mysterious that they can’t be discussed here? Will they in some way deal with his mysterious past which is a mystery even to him? JUST HOW MANY SECRETS CAN ONE MOVIE HAVE!?
Arrival and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Well this is another movie that just kind of snuck up on me. Apparently we’re not supposed to know movies are coming out unless they’re part of a franchise or have talking animals in it. The thing is that had I known about this more than a week before it came out, I probably would have gotten really excited to see it as it’s directed by the same guy who did Sicario which was one of my favorite movies of last year. That, and hard sci-fi is usually an easy sell for me, so maybe it wouldn’t have hurt to throw this trailer in front of that new Independence Day movie or something. Anyway, does this in-depth examination on the problems with communicating not only work as a scientific procedural but as a badass alien flick, or is all the moody imagery and themes about humanity’s inability to effectively talk to one another just a cover for a mediocre slog? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a montage as we see Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) give birth to her daughter Hannah and watch her grow up and die due to some sort of illness. After that uplifting introduction, we see Dr. Banks go back to work (presumably some time has passed since the funeral) where she’s a professor of Linguistics at… some college. Unfortunately, it JUST SO HAPPENS that aliens have started landing all over the planet in these giant spaceships that are referred to as Shells, but always looked like black contact lenses to me. Because she’s so good at what she does, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) brings her to one of the landing sites to see if she can help them understand the alien creatures inside. Those two, along with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) who is a theoretical physicists need to work together to get these aliens talking or else the world governments, especially a Military leader in China General Shang (Tzi Ma), get too antsy about the shells just hanging around and start firing at them. Can this rag tag group of smart people unlock the secrets inside of these spaceships and prevent humanity from destroying them and possibly themselves in the process? Just what exactly do these aliens want, and why are they just hanging around instead of doing something productive? Seriously, they mastered light speed travel, but they couldn’t figure out a way to communicate with the primitive species BEFORE parking their giant spaceships!?
Sicario and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Isn’t it great to that we start getting GOOD movies again? I mean sure, Black Mass had its problems but compared to some of the crap I had to sit through in the last two months, it was practically Kubrick. Now we’re getting this movie AND The Martian in the same week without a single bible thumping propaganda piece in sight! Does this tale about government agencies working against the Cartel manage to be one of the better films of the year, or is a disappointing procedural that will get lost in the shuffle by the time the Oscars roll around? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) who’s head of some sort of tactical response team in the FBI stumbles across a horrifying crime scene during one of her missions where the Cartel has apparently been burying people they kill in the walls of the building. Okay… well it gets even worse when the team accidently sets off a trap bomb that may have killed any remaining hostages that the team thought were on the premises. Despite the awful day she had, the silver lining comes in when she catches the attention of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who offers her a chance to work with him on more direct missions against the Cartel. She agrees to go with him and meets with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) who’s a complete mystery and may not even be working for the United States in any sort of official capacity. Still, he proves to be very effective in the line of duty as he and Matt (along with Kate who’s still adjusting to their methods) work on operations that will definitely cut the Cartel’s legs out from under them. Still, she has her reservations to the actions they take and once her partner from the tactical response team Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) gets in on it to, it’s clear that her conscious is getting the better of her and that Matt and Alejandro aren’t exactly who they seem to be. Will Kate decide that their methods, while unorthodox, are necessary for the war they’re trying to fight, or will she not allow herself to go through the mental hoops necessary to somehow justify their actions and her own?