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.

Top 10 Films for 2016

It’s a mixed bag of top 10 films this year, with a top-heavy favourtism for the thriller!  From the funny-sweet, Hunt for the Wilderpeople to the ultimate crime thriller, Sicario *

I have to say the biggest stand-out for 2016: Director Denis Villeneuve.  More Denis, we want more!

10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Coming in at number 10 is the New Zealander Comedy / Drama that stole the world’s heart: tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt where the characters are able to take a laugh at themselves ‘cause it’s all heart bro.

9. Pawno

At number 9 is a local Drama based on a day-in-a-life in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

It would have been easy to get bogged down in the melancholy, but there’s humour here, the focus on the good: a poem written to a beautiful girl in a bookshop, drummers tapping out a heartbeat with the dance of a local in appreciation, the expression of graffiti and the love of a dog.

Pawno shows life in all its complications with the simplicity of a leaky kettle or a favourite mug.

8. The Revenant

Where Leonardo Di Caprio finally won his first Oscar, and for good reason.

There is a real authenticity here, thanks to Di Caprio, but director, Alejandro has given the film something almost mystical. Nature untouched, is a bit like magic. The Native Americans believed in the will of the trees and the wind, and I think Alejandro managed to capture some of this magic. Not an easy feat and worth watching.

7. Arrival

My favourite director of this year Denis Villeneuve has given his Midas touch to a film that really could have fallen flat.  The insight Villeneuve has managed to show of Dr. Bank’s character is astounding.  If only for this aspect, I enjoyed the film.  Then combine the incredible story, soundtrack and pace with that extra flavour that makes the characters so believable, you’ve got a winning film.

6. Life, Animated

I can understand how this documentary, directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams, has won so many audience awards: Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival and the list goes on…

I laughed, I cried, I smiled and I learnt something not only about Owen and his battle with autism, I also found an opportunity to reflect on my own life journey.

5. Mustang

Set in Inebolu, a Black Sea village 600 kilometres from Istanbul, Mustang is about the freedom of five young sisters with wild hair trailing down their backs, with a glance and an innocent smile that can lead to so much trouble.

As her first feature film, Deniz Gamze Erguven has given us a story that feels like it should already have been told, and I congratulate this fresh view of life that is usually hidden behind closed doors.

4. The Conjuring 2

Director James Wan is genius in his use of not only the soundtrack, but also the trickery of shadows, slips in time, old toys; a focus on the eyes or a terrifying portrait brought to life.  Seemingly simple devises, but used so well.

There’s a journey here.  An invitation to take hold of a hand  – a, Gotcha, then I’ll let you go a bit… then, I gotcha againThis time, I gotcha good.

3. Triple 9

I liked this film because it went beyond all expectations. The story just kept unfolding to its bloody conclusion. I couldn’t look away: cringing, gasping, hoping and ultimately smiling contently at a well thought-out conclusion.  Love a good crime thriller!


2. The Hateful Eight

There’s not a lot of action here. But the dialogue between the characters is hugely entertaining. The depth of thought put into the characters: Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue was particularly impressive.  And the not so subtle gallows humour and O. B’s bad luck is gloriously funny.  I had a ball watching this film – good fun!

  1. Sicario

I couldn’t fault this film.  The story, characters, soundtrack, cinematography and editing all combined to create tension and to keep the audience guessing.

If the violence didn’t add to the story, then it wasn’t included. Clever devises used by director Denis Villeneuve used the imagination of the audience to piece the action together giving this film it’s true brilliance.  If you haven’t already, watch this film!  You’re in for a real treat.

* I know, I know, Sicario was released end of 2015, and I do ask for poetic license being my first ‘best of the year’ list for the website.  Being my first reviewed film to earn 5 stars, I couldn’t resist Sicario, at the top, in all its crowning crime-thriller glory.


GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MArrival

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Screenplay by: Eric Heisserer

Based on the story: “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Without giving too much away, Arrival is a unique movie experience where language is viewed as more than communication; where learning a different language changes our neural pathways to change the way we see, feel and think.

Director, Denis Villeneuve has given his Midas touch to a film that really could have fallen flat.

With the space ships, or Shells in the sky used as the only marketing tool,  I admit, I was worried.

But Arrival had a unique flavour that bent the mind in unexpected ways.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist contracted by the US government to attempt communication and translation of alien language.  With 12 Shells hovering over cities across the globe, each country attempts to figure out the purpose of the aliens’ visit.

I know, I know, not another alien movie.  But Arrival isn’t just an alien film.  The word, ‘alien’ was used once with Dr. Banks asking, ‘am I the only one using this word?’

And that gives you an idea of the beauty of this film.  There was a distinct lack of drivel.

I love how Villeneuve can get you right up with the characters, to feel the tension and emotion.

Anxiety is shown so well in this film.  And Amy Adams is to be commended.  Her strength, intelligence and femininity shone – Denis making the most of Amy’s blue-eyed goodness.  The insight Villeneuve has managed to show of Dr. Bank’s character is astounding.  If only for this aspect, I enjoyed the film.  Then combine the incredible story, soundtrack and pace with that extra flavour that makes the characters so believable, you’ve got a winning film.

The real surprise for me was Jeremy Renner as the physicist, Ian Donnelly.  I admit I’m not a fan of Renner.  He has played so many cringe worthy characters, I shudder to think.  But in the role of Ian Donnelly, and handled with the skill of Villeneuve, this quiet, thoughtful character resonated well as a support to Dr. Louise Banks.

This isn’t an action film, nor your typical sci-fi, and Arrival isn’t scary.  But the subtleties and suspense of the story kept me completely absorbed.

Arrival isn’t so much an alien film as an exploration into language and how it affects our view of the world.

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