Review: Blade Runner 2049

Things were simpler in 2019. If a Replicant went rogue, LAPD would dispatch a specialist-you know the one I’m talking about-to “retire” them. Fast-forward 30 years later, what do you have? A Replicant who specializes in retiring fugitive Replicants at the behest of the LAPD. What has this dystopian society come to?

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Image by Warner Bros., Scott Free Productions and Columbia Pictures

Denis Villeneuve takes the helm of Blade Runner 2049, picking up 30 years later from where Ridley Scott left his take on Hampton Fancher and Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi cult classic set in dystopian future Los Angeles.

Ryan Gosling stars as the protagonist of this feature simply lettered K. The film starts with K retiring a fugitive replicant who babbles about seeing a miracle almost 30 years ago. The assignment sets off a chain reaction of events that could send the world as humans and Replicants know it into frenzy, because it involves a frightening revelation that is practically game-changing and the human at the center of it: Rick Deckard, the Blade Runner who hasn’t been seen since his last assignment 30 years ago. K must find Deckard and get to the truth before anyone else finds him first, especially the new father of artificial humans Niander Wallace.

Blade Runner 2049 is a breathtaking and thought-provoking spectacle that captivates and doesn’t apologize for it! If you were a fan of the first film, I’m fairly confident that you will be satisfied by where Denis Villeneuve has taken the brainchild of Ridley Scott, Hampton Fancher and Philip K. Dick.

I’m fairly certain that this film will have Denis Villeneuve in the conversation for Best Director at the Academy Awards for this film blends the right amount of 21st Century cinematic visuals with a plot that has a firm hook in its audience and keeps them guessing about the macguffin of the picture, this secret born from an unburied mystery tied to the original Blade Runner himself. Villeneuve is certainly building an outstanding resume as a filmmaker over the past few years and Blade Runner 2049 is up there with some of the best film’s he has done to date.

Credit should go to Hampton Fancher and Michael Green for crafting a compelling screenplay that pays homage to the original film while also propelling the events and characters from the original plot into a new generation for fans to enjoy and wrap their heads around. What I love most about how this story was told is that once you think you have the mystery solved, the film still plays with you with one final suspenseful twist; it’s amazing.

This cast is superb. Ryan Gosling is great, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, David Dastmalchian, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi and of course Harrison Ford, who is well into his tour of reprising his greatest characters, all deliver performances that spur this picture along into a resounding conclusion.

I would say that the true star of Blade Runner 2049: cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins. The camerawork and visual appeal of this picture is exquisite beyond compare and I’m rooting for him in this year’s Oscar race (fun fact: he hasn’t won an Oscar [yet ;)]).

After Deakins, the score courtesy of Benjamin Wallfisch and one of my all time favorite film composers Hans Zimmer, was sensational. They will get awards recognition for this movie as well, I’m sure of it. Joe Walker’s editing, Dennis Gassner’s production design, the art direction, the set decoration by Alessandra Querzola, the top of the line visual effects and the costume design by Renée April, everything technical about this film was sublime to say the least.

Blade Runner 2049 is an awesome cinematic experience and I firmly believe that leading up to Oscar night 2018, you will hear it’s name called multiple times. Highly encourage to see in theaters right now!

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Movies of the Week: Victoria and Abdul & Blade Runner 2049

This weekend, I’m going back and forth through time as I watch two of my most anticipated films of 2017. From the director of The Queen, Philomena and Florence Foster Jenkins comes the story of a very unlikely and refreshing friendship between a meager servant and a monarch of great longevity. From the pages of Shabrani Basu’s book, Dame Judi Dench stars as her majesty Queen Victoria who becomes reinvigorated after striking a kinship with a lowly attendant named Abdul. Victoria and Abdul finally makes its way to a theater near me and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.

Director: Stephen Frears

Written by: Lee Hall

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon, Tim Pigott-Smith, Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar and Julian Wadham.

What am I expecting to see?: Plain and simple, Dame Judi Dench at the top of her game. Stephen Frears’ films, at least for me, I received them in a very lukewarm fashion; I think that they are solid on their own standing with a tremendous leading performance as the headline of why you should see them and Victoria and Abdul doesn’t look any different. I also want to see if newcomer Ali Fazal can hold his own against a acting legend such as Ms. Dench.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the work of the director of films such as Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival. His newest film promises to be one of the most dazzling of the year and his most ambitious to date. We’re going back to Ridley Scott, Philip K. Dick and Hampton Fancher’s post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, where a young cop uncovers a dangerous discovery and must track down Rick Deckard, who hasn’t been seen for three decades. Blade Runner 2049 is ready to get to work.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Written by: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi, Mackenzie Davis and David Dastmalchian.

What am I expecting to see?: This movie has so much going for it, regarding cast and crew, how could I not turn this down? I had the opportunity to see Blade Runner for the first time almost a month ago, so I have an idea of what I may be getting myself into as we find Deckard 30 years later. I want to come away from Blade Runner 2049 blown away, visually and thematically! Denis Villenueve has directed many excellent features over the past few years and I think this has the potential to top them all!

Review: Wonder Woman

I’ve had a good reason to be hard on the efforts of the DC Extended Universe over the past few years; especially last year considering my thoughts on their previous two pictures: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. This year, the producers of the DC Extended Universe look to turn the page on last year and seek to do so with their first superhero adventure starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

The film opens with Gadot as Diana Prince who receives a parcel from a new friend that compels her to reminisce on her earlier years. From her upbringing on the island of Themiscyra, home to the Amazons, where she was raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta, trained by her aunt Antiope, and encountered a man named Steve Trevor, who would guide her to the world of man on a journey that would change her life and the world at large forever.

To reiterate: I’ve been hard on the DC Extended Universe and I had good reason to be so. Their previous films have compelled me to set the bar low on their films going forward and I had to go into Wonder Woman with a low set of expectations. That being said, I must be blunt: THIS. MOVIE. IS. GOOD!

I must give credit where credit is due. Producers Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg crafted a solid origin story with coming-of-age themes that culminated in a very engaging, charming and the most entertaining DC movie to come out in years! I was satisfied with how they handled this movie; it wasn’t perfect but this was a great effort that really paid off!

I thought that the strength of this movie lied solely with Gadot’s performance meshed with Heinberg’s script and Jenkins’ execution. Wonder Woman is basically looking at the outside world with the perspective of childlike innocence, guided by a man who exposes her to the good and bad that a world at war has to offer someone who doesn’t exactly need to help.

If Gadot’s introduction in Batman v. Superman didn’t sell you on her ability to embody this iconic character, than this movie will most assuredly convince you! It was a treat watching her carry this movie and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Pine is splendid! Whether Diana is trying ice cream for the first time or feels concern or sympathy for the wounded soldiers on No Man’s Land, she just embodies the strength, compassion and innocence in this iconic character and she is relatable to audiences.

While I enjoyed watching this film, I only wish that the film could have done more with the supporting characters such as Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. I also hoped that the film would take more time to explore and examine Themiscyra, the Amazons and their cultures.

The cinematography of Matthew Jensen was solid, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music was satisfactory, Martin Walsh’s editing was solid, the production design of Aline Bonetto was good, Lindy Hemming’s costumes were very good, the visual effects were to my liking and technically Wonder Woman was very well put-together to give this character the strength to stand on her own.

Wonder Woman clearly raised the bar for films coming from the DC Extended Universe because what separates this movie from the films that came before it: fun! This movie allowed itself to have its own natural fun and that allowed the audience to have fun watching it; this is leaps and bounds better than any DC film that came before it!

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

For too long, the fight against the forces of evil has been spearheaded by men. The greatest heroes who have fought for humanity against foes driven to bring hurt and pain to the innocent are great men, but still men. The time has come for a woman to rise against those who would do harm to those who cannot protect themselves. It is time. It is her time! The Princess of Themiscyra, with shield on one arm, a sword in her hand, and a mystic lasso at her hip will rise to bring an end to the war that will end all wars. Diana’s crusade for justice is only the beginning of a journey that will place her in a league of her own. This is the story of a new age of heroism. This is the tale of Wonder Woman.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Written by: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Florence Kasumba, Ewen Bremmer, and Saïd Taghmaoui.

What am I expecting to see?: The last three films produced from the DCEU have underwhelmed to say the least, especially the films that flew under Warner Bros. and DC Comics from last year, so Wonder Woman is going in with an advantage of a low-bar already set. In the limited time we’ve seen her in the role already, Gal Gadot has done enough to sell audiences on her as Wonder Woman and now that she has this feature film to elevate herself, I’m hoping that she has clout to seize this initiative of being a powerhouse film hero in her own right.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!

Movies of the Week: Everest and Sicario

Tibet and Mexico have been featured in the news over the last few months. This week, they will be the settings of two of my featured films. The first is Everest. It takes grit to climb the highest mountain in the world. A select few have taken the expedition to ascend Mt. Everest and lived to tell the tale, I cannot call myself one of those select few because I know my body cannot handle the strain, but the story of two climbers reveal the perils that come with climbing towards greatness.

What am I expecting to see?: Watching the trailer for Everest reminded me of the experience of watching Gravity and the plot of both films are so similar that I hope I come away with the same experience. I don’t expect Everest to be as good as Gravity but I think Baltasar Kormákur will put on a hell of a show, I think Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson can craft a good screenplay about this terrifying storm and the climbing teams trying to endure the storm, conditions and the descent from Everest. I don’t expect much from the cast even though the cast includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki and Robin Wright. I will be seeing this in 3D and I expect Everest to potentially dethrone Mad Max: Fury Road as the film with the Best Visual Effects so far this year.

For an idealistic FBI agent, a business trip to Mexico spirals into a descent into darkness. Denis Villeneuve’s new feature Sicario stars Emily Blunt whose character is assigned to collaborate with a specialized task force whose mission is to halt the escalation in the war on drugs along the Mexican-American border. This task force includes an unpredictable operative with a sketchy agenda, presumably this man is a professional hitman, or if you use the language of those South of the Border, a Sicario.

What am I expecting to see?: I was thoroughly impressed with Denis Villeneuve’s previous feature Prisoners and Sicario looks to be another highlight in Villeneuve’s rising career. Sicario looks thrilling, Emily Blunt looks as if she’s in total control in this film, Benecio Del Toro looks outstanding, Josh Brolin looks steady and I hope Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay is sharp, brave and as gritty as it can get. I’ve been looking forward to Sicario for some time now and I hope my expectations are met.