Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

 

Blade Runner 2049

One of many images that are entrancing in Blade Runner 2049

Despite some holes and question marks in the screenplay, Blade Runner 2049 still manages to be the best sci-fi sequel since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It is a movie that challenges the mind and brightens your eyes with some of the most gorgeous imagery of recent years. I have only seen the original once, but I know that I have to return to get some answers (though not all the questions will have them).

The plot is a lot harder to follow this time around, but not too terrible. Basically, the new Blade Runner in town is named “K” (Ryan Gosling). After reporting to his boss (Robin Wright, having a very decent year with this film and Wonder Woman) the discovery of a dead replicant who died giving birth to a child, he is sent out to erase the mistake and kill the child. As he digs deeper, he realizes he is more and more in danger. It eventually leads him to the Deckard (Harrison Ford).

I will stop there for two reasons: I don’t wish to ruin any plot points, and I am also afraid that I may have still misunderstood the plot. I can talk about a few other characters, however. Dave Bautista (Drax of Guardians of the Galaxy) is rather surprisingly subtle and reserved as a runaway replicant. The owner of the replicants is played by Jared Leto, proving to be a better villain (or is he?) than he was in Suicide Squad. One of my favorite performances came from Ana de Armas as Joi. Joi is basically Suri, but far more upgraded. She has been with K (who she now names Joe) for so long she is almost like a personal secretary. So lovely and ironic is it that she is one of the most human characters in the film.

Now we get to the visuals. They are, quite simply, marvelous and uncanny. It should come as no surprise, mainly thanks to two men. The first is director Denis Villeneuve (who recently was nominated for 2016’s Arrival). He knows how to pace the film at the right tempo: If you think there is not enough action in the film, you are not paying attention.

The second, and possibly most critical, is cinematographer and legend Roger Deakins. Here is hoping that his losing track record at the Oscars (0-13) might end next February. Watching the movie, I had that same feeling when watching films from Studio Ghibli. You could pause each shot, and look at them for hours. You know what? I take back what I said: Roger Deakins will win the long overdue Oscar, and will get a standing ovation.

Parents, even if you children may have seen the original, you should be warned that his film has a lot more nudity in it than the first one. While the only real sex is through blurry glass, there is still a bit of sound. Add in the swearing and (not so horrible) action/violence, and you have a movie for only High School and above.

I mentioned before that the plot does have some holes: one character clearly betrays another and then shows their utmost loyalty. Even so, this movie is worth seeing just for the visuals alone. They are haunting, spellbinding, breathtaking, cold,…seriously, words don’t do the visuals justice.

On the sights alone, Blade Runner 2049 is a movie that, once seen, is something we people will not believe.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

 

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad”

It took me a lot of thinking as to how I wanted to respond to Suicide Squad. Like most people, I am rather disappointed it did not live up to the hype. However, I did still find some good things in it as well.

For those who don’t know, Suicide Squad tells the story (not long after this year’s earlier disappointment that was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) of a politician (of some kind) named Amanda Waller (the always talented Viola Davis). There is a situation that is far too complicated to explain, and would also be far to boring for you to read. All I will say is that it involves Enchantress, who takes over the body of June Moone (both played by Cara Delevingne).

Waller’s plan: gather up the worst bad guys and have them take care of the situation in exchange for shorter prison sentences. Roll Call: There is Deadshot (Will Smith, who, of course, is one of the last actors anyone would expect to play a bad guy), who never misses a shot. Harley Quinn (a wonderful Margot Robbie), who is only the second craziest character in the film, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is, you know, a crocodile. Boomerang (Jai Courtney, who gives a performance not entirely unseen in other movies). Slipknot (Adam Beach, in one of the worst roles you could ask for), who is able to escape easily. Finally, there is Diablo (Jay Hernandez), with pyro power (and regret for previous actions). The first 10-20 minutes of the film provides you with more information than I have already said (and maybe more than we needed to know in the first place).

They are under the control of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is also dating June Moone. Protecting him is Katana (Karen Fukuhara), whose Katana sword contains the souls of those it has vanquished.

I save the one character everyone was eager to see for last. That, of course, is The Joker, played by Oscar winner Jared Leto. Bottom line, while he does do a good job, he is not better than Heath Ledger’s immortal performance in The Dark Knight. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that Leto does not get as much screen time as we would like. I mean, in my opinion (and I doubt I am alone), when you have the greatest villian in comic book history, wouldn’t you want to see more of him?

It also does not help that the action is more of the same we have seen in other comic book films (slow motion action is really getting old to me).

Parents: The PG-13 rating is justified. There is swearing, some violence, action, and innuendo (Harley Quinn does wear some rather revealing clothing, and there is one scene in a night club. No stripping, however). High School and above.

All others in the movie do what they can. My favorite in the movie would go to Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, because she looks like she is undoubtably having the most fun. Will Smith (who at least did this and not Independence Day: Resurgence) is still possibly the most charming actor in movies today, so while he does a good job, it is still so hard to believe that he is playing a bad guy (though movie does try to remind us he has a heart because of his 11 year old daughter).

Still, as Hitchcock once said:

“To make a great film, you need three things-the script, the script, and the script.”

Overall: Two and a Half Stars ** 1/2