Blade Runner 2049

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+Blade Runner 2049

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Screenplay Written by: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green

Story By: Hampton Fancher

Based on Characters from the Novel: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Written by: Philip K. Dick

Cinematography: Roger Deakins

Music Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch

Produced by: Andrew a. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Bud Yorkin, Cynthia Yorkin

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, with Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.

Atmospheric and quietly menacing.

Based on characters from the novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (written by Philip K. Dick), screenplay writer, Hampton Fancher (with Michael Green) has returned with Blade Runner 2049:  the highly anticipated sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve.

The future is bleak with the population moving off-world on the back of replicant labour – a new version of replicant that/who obeys without question.

The conflict of using ‘that’ or ‘who’ sums up the film’s question: Are replicants just soulless machines? Or the evolution of a new species?Blade Runner 2049

After the EMP detonation that caused a global blackout in 2022, the replicants who pre-date the chaos and have no end-dates are hunted and retired by blade runners.

From the opening scene the quiet absorbs you into a world intensely over-populated and dark.

Set in LA, the feeling of over-population extends to the entire Earth; the realisation that nature has lost.  Humans dominate the world and the replicants are slaves.

But the line is blurring.

As the human, blade runner enforcer, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) states, we’re all looking for something that’s real.

***

With all the chaos of people and city and technology, you’d expect noise, but there’s a deep silence to this film.

The soundtrack is a vibrating menace that drives the dark mood of the film allowing a simplicity to each scene while creating depth in the subtleties. Blade Runner 2049

Controversy surrounds the composition of the score with Jóhann Jóhannsson (who previously collaborated with Villeneuve on “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival”) being replaced by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.  See article here.

Villeneuve relies heavily on the soundtrack to create the underlying foreboding feeling of a dark future.  So, I can understand the importance of getting the soundtrack right for this film (and in his previous films) as it plays such an important part in telling the story.

Yet, it’s the imagery here as well.  Each scene is a perfectly made moment carefully crafted through shifting light reflecting off water, holograms sharing the same space as a piano, the falling rain and snow and the eyes of, K, as he’s stares while being brought back to baseline.  And Harrison Ford still has presence on screen returning as Rick Deckard.

Villeneuve’s craftsmanship has brought the story to the screen as only he can – his handling outclassing the script itself.  Fans of the first, Blade Runner will not be disappointed.

At one point I noticed how quiet it was in the cinema, realising no-one in the audience wanted to break the spell.

Ryan Gosling brings a needed impressive performance as the film rests heavily on the blade runner character, K.  He brings that silent strength – not so much in his words but the way he holds them, making you believe he’s there.

Under the direction of Villeneuve, Jared Leto as the replicant creator, Niander Wallace, gets the tone just right, the subtleties showing Wallace’s immoral character.

And that’s the quality of the film, subtle: complicated emotions yet, made to feel simple.  A kind of gentle unfolding with an underlying darkness driving life into the shadows, but the shadows fighting back, like life…

Ah, don’t you love it when a movie makes you feel all moody when you leave the cinema!

Blade Runner 2049 will appeal to more than sci-fi fans.

The quality of the cinematography, sound and setting alone make it a worth-while watch on the big screen.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MGuardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn

Producer: Kevin Feige

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito

Written by: James Gunn

Based on: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki

If you enjoyed the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the chances are you will also enjoy this joyful follow-up, imaginatively titled ‘Vol. 2’. A fast paced, playfully psychedelic scene early on re-introduces the five main characters from the first film in what appears to be an entertaining yet largely irrelevant action sequence that serves no real purpose other than to dazzle.

This sequence does end up having some plot relevance later, but more than that, it helps re-familiarise viewers with the main characters or introduce them to those people who might not have seen the previous outing. Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), part human/part something else and his gang of frenemies have lent themselves out for hire as mercenaries in the months since the events of the previous film ended.

Peter’s encounter with someone claiming to be his father helps drive the central storyline but there are plenty of sub-plots to keep the action zinging along.

Twiglet Groot has grown into an adorable toddler version (huge merchandising opportunities abound!) who loves music. The cuteness quotient threatens to overtake the film’s edgier moments but luckily, baby Groot hasn’t lost its ruthless killer instinct which helps balance things out.

Where the first film focussed on introducing the characters of this offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how they came to be a kind of connected group, the second film takes time to explore themes of family, growing up, belonging and searching for something that sometimes turns out to be much closer than originally thought. Family dynamics, parent-child and sibling relationships are all explored or experienced by the main characters, and there is more ‘quiet’ time for revealing most of their histories, which helps explain a lot of their behaviour or motivations.

Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) still gets most of the best lines, delivered in his deadpan way, where his honest desire to be helpful often comes across as hurtful. Rocket (voiced with gravelly menace by Bradley Cooper) demonstrates his deadly fighting skills while confronting his own ghosts, assisted by blue Ravager Yondu Udonto (Michael Rooker) whose lethal arrow causes entertaining carnage and mayhem in one memorable sequence.

As with the first movie, music is important in establishing mood. Whether it’s ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ in an early, super-playful scene, or travelling with the Guardians to a paradise accompanied by George Harrison’s classic, ‘My Sweet Lord’, or getting reflective with Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’, the choice of songs overall work incredibly well.

The costumes range from gorgeous, especially those of the Sovereign Queen (Elizabeth Debnicki) and her people, to highly unusual, and many of the sets, planets and ship interiors are so incredibly imaginative and beautifully realised that it’s like being inside an enormous kaleidoscopic theme park ride.

The novelty factor of the first film is obviously no longer there, but the situations, humour, character development and multiple plots of this second outing coalesce by the end into a joyful explosion of colour, movement and resolution (of sorts). Under no circumstances should you leave before the very last credit has finished because there are some additional scenes that hint at the promise of continuing adventures. Bring them on!