Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

10

“All the courage in the world cannot alter fact.”
– Wallace

SYNOPSIS: A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years. – via IMDB

VISUAL FEST. AUDIO FEST. RYAN GOSLING FEST. Okay, now that that is off my chest, I am going to try to form whole, coherent sentences to express how much I loved this. I expected to like it, Villeneuve is super talented, and figured even if the plot fell a bit flat, visually it would still be gorgeous, right? Right, well, I got a story I enjoyed the heck out of and it was visually arresting to boot and Gosling… yes.

Back to trying for the coherent sentences… I loved the way this movie looked. The perfect dystopian future, and the colours used were awesome. The sound, too, is not to be underappreciated here as it was the perfect fit and just blended with everything and worked to build and maintain that heavy atmosphere. Gosling struts around all gorgeous, and delivers a very Drive-esque performance, and I liked it. He’s good at it. It was great to see Harrison Ford return, as it really ties the two movies together strongly.

I see this movie is getting a lot of praise and a lot of flak. Obviously I fall into the former camp. I was engaged throughout, and thought it was a good bit of writing that even people who have not seen the original movie will be able to follow this. The plot takes time to set up and play out, and while some people gripe that this makes the movie too long, I didn’t feel that. I was hooked throughout, watching both the story unfold as well as taking in that world that had been spun for us, simply amazing.

Blade Runner 2049 is carried by some solid performance. Gosling impressed me, as always, and Ford is Ford, which in my opinion works for this. Leto can’t really be overlooked, either, as his Niander Wallace is a right creep, and Robin Wright was fantastic as the hardened Lieutenant Joshi. I am not going to discuss every single character, just know that everyone contributed something to the story. I really enjoyed the story, too, as it was engaging and interesting. Sure, you can poke holes in the story, but I feel that it was presented quite well regardless and it flowed. It made sense to me, and the pacing was just right, so that works for me, personally.

I can wax lyrical about Blade Runner 2049 for quite some time, but I think I am going to wrap it up now. A delectable visual buffet with sounds that will draw you right in and some great performances, Blade Runner 2049 is a prime example of how to do a successful sequel to a classic movie, and is definitely something I am looking forward to seeing again, and not just for science.

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

18

“I think if we are kind, it will be a kind world.”
– Walter

SYNOPSIS: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. – via IMDB

Alrighty, this is a movie I have been looking forward to for some time, and I know that my review is rather late in posting, especially considering I actually watched it weeks ago when it first came out. Alien: Covenant is worth the watch. I know that there has been some bitching online, but people need to breathe. There were some niggles to be had here, and there were some things that should be celebrated too.

First and foremost, Covenant managed to balance what I had hoped Prometheus would have when it came out: the gore and the existential philosophising. This is handled really well. The creation question still emerges and is dealt with far better here than in its predecessor, as it handles the themes as introduced in Prometheus more successfully, yet still delivers the blood and gore one craves when watching an Alien movie. It sets an atmosphere again that is both isolated and creepy as hell, much like the Alien films of old. It also has plenty action and some deep themes to look into, and there is blood. Oh yes, all that blood.

The cast, too, was pretty good here. Yes, a lot of them were there purely for sacrifice and the bloodletting we spoke about above, but then there are some performances that stand out. I was surprised that Danny McBride didn’t get under my skin as always, and I actually quite enjoyed Tennessee’s scenes, he was entertaining. Then there is Katherine Waterson’s Daniels, a resolute woman who is easy to root for, and I appreciate that. Naturally everybody has been raving about Michael Fassbender’s performance(s) in this, and I totally get why. The man is brilliant and an absolute scene stealer. I mean wow. He totally got involved here and brought all the goods to the table.

Now, I did have some issues. I didn’t like that the one huge plotsie that was set out here is so damn transparent it is impossible to miss. I would have liked some more mystery there. Another thing, I was not overly sold on all the different xenomorphs here. Yes, we get different ones for each film, yes, they all bring something to the table, but these ones made me thing a lot of the cat-like, super bad CGI xenomorphs of Alien³. Really. Also, the effects were a little dodgy at the best of times and pulled me totally out of the experience, which sucked a bit. A huge gripe I had was that ridiculously unnecessary sex/shower scene that was tacked in here. It had no place in the movie, and was totally uncalled for. Not a fan.

Alien: Covenant hits the ground running with its story and execution. Definitely nothing new at all, but it is brutal, fast paced, carried by good performances, and sets an atmosphere for the audience. The pacing is also quite good, as it doesn’t feel rushed or drawn out. While not a perfect movie, it is a damn enjoyable one. Scott gets to balance out his Prometheus themes with the horror of his original Alien, and so Covenant is birthed and I can appreciate it. Worth a watch I say, especially if you are a fan of the Alien franchise.

Review: Prometheus (2012)

12

prometheus poster

“How far would you go to get your answers?”
– David

SYNOPSIS: Following clues to the origin of mankind a team journey across the universe and find a structure on a distant planet containing a monolithic statue of a humanoid head and stone cylinders of alien blood but they soon find they are not alone. – via IMDB

prometheus david

The first time that I watched Prometheus I was exceptionally underwhelmed. Like, to the nth degree. There are plot holes and super flaws and so many subplots that are introduced and never wrapped up, there is just too much wrong with this film to make it great. It did have a stellar cast, and they worked with what they had and did a pretty good job.

I thoroughly enjoy Idris Elba, so to see him as Captain Janek was awesome. Theron grated (har har, imagine this) on my last nerve, again, though I expected no less. Guy Pearce could certainly have been used better, I wish we had seen more of Benedict Wong’s Ravel, and Noomi Rapace did just fine as the ill-fated Shaw. I think the one actor that truly think shone from the off in this film was Michael Fassbender. His David was charming, freaky, strange, something you couldn’t quite understand, more layered than any of the other characters and his performance was excellent and consistent. I had a blast watching him.

Let’s talk about something that really bugged me in this movie: nobody bats an eye for any of the messed up stuff going on. Heck, Vickers uses a flamethrower on Holloway, killing him in front of his lover, Elizabeth Shaw, and nobody bats an eye. Then there is the whole David betrayal, again, not a word, and what about the fact that Shaw is limping around later, abdomen gashed open and all that? Nobody bats an eye or says anything. I cannot buy into it. Someone will have to ask something sooner or later, no matter what.

Pity this was one of those films that had a trailer that was infinitely better than the final product – and before people get iffy about it, it is the truth. The trailer was intense, there was so much happening, there was urgency and fear and a real dangerous problem, by the looks of it. In fact, it pretty much gave away anything and everything of interest in the movie. Now, as for the film itself? It was languishing, there were holes in the script, there were things that just did not make sense, there was nothing so completely awesome in there to blow your mind, it was slow and trundled along, never really creating serious tension or delivering anything… it was just another movie. Simple as that. No more, no less. It explored big themes, or tried to, but delivered nothing.

I didn’t hate the movie like I did the first time around (because hell, I despised it), probably because I knew what to expect this time around, but it remains extremely flawed and doesn’t really offer anything. There are places the story can be taken from here and some exceptionally interesting premises that were granted and concepts that could be a thing of beauty, but what we got from Prometheus, on its own? Nothing, nothing at all, because nothing was ultimately realised. Aside from all that, the movie was shot well and looked pretty good, and the Engineers were interesting though incredibly underutilised, though I suppose this will help set up for a sequel. Uhm… I don’t really have much else to say, so I will just end it here.

Rapid Review: The Martian (2015)

20

martian_ver5

“I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.”
– Mark Watney

SYNOPSIS: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. – via IMDB

the martian

GRADE 7This was something I was looking forward to seeing because, well, Matt Damon. Yep, I will watch the man anywhere. Knowing it was a Ridley Scott film, I was tentative (come on, Exodus is still way too fresh in our minds to dismiss). He can either be brilliant or he can really suck. But back to space? Sure. Right off the bat, my fiancé was not a happy camper by the time this was over. While he said it was good, he was hoping for something more like Interstellar or Alien, and he got neither, but this does not mean the movie was crappy, it’s just not something he is going to rush again. I know there are a few people that feel that way. So, for me, the movie really isn’t bad. I was entertained and there was a lot to like, even with the shortcomings of it. However, I certainly don’t feel that the movie is worth all the hype that is running rampant about it, truly. I was a huge fan of Matt Damon in this, he just totally owned that role of Mark Watney, and he was geeky, nerdy, hilarious and resourceful, and he was entertaining every second he was on screen (not that I expected any less). Also, let’s not forget Sebastian Stan in 3D, something I can always easily get on board with because so much deliciousness there – but I totally could have done with more of him on screen. I loved the science side of the movie, and how it came together. I was a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings reference in the movie because a) Lord of the Rings and b) Sean Bean was present for the whole thing! I thought seeing the multiple uses of duct tape to be fabulous and provided me with plenty laughs, and the disco music Watney was subjected to? Priceless, and made for a hilarious soundtrack to the film. The film is visually stunning, and I was mesmerised from the off by it. All of this, however, does not make a great movie, there were some things I took issue with. The biggest flaw of this movie is the fact that everything happening on Mars is fascinating and engrossing, but the Earth element just does not measure up and falls short in too many places. Let’s not forget the silliness that was Rich Purnell, and no, I do not say that in an endearing way. The character was annoying to the nth degree, and made me cringe. Not to mention the movie was filled with things slotting into place at just the right moment, and information coming to the fore at just the right time, which made it a little too convenient for me to fully buy into. I found Watney’s crew to be incredibly underutilised – come on, they could have been more present, Chastain was criminally underused here. Some of the zero gravity movement looked a bit stiff for me, and I was incredibly unimpressed with the way that Watney loses all that weight as he stays on Mars, and a body double was used to represent this, yet the moment he is back in his (skintight) suit, he is all buff again. The script and pacing was all over the show, as well, and I thought it lacked inventiveness. Despite all this, The Martian is shot wonderfully, showcases a solid return to form for Scott, and is worth a watch at least once even though it is riddled with some silly faults.

Rapid Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

22

exodus poster

“Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity.”
– Moses

SYNOPSIS: The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. – via IMDB

exodus charge

GRADE 3So you know, when the trailers came last year I thought this looked alright, like it had potential. There were some big names attached to it and all that, I was under the impression Ridley Scott could do something with it. However, when I popped it in and saw the running time, I was a little sceptical. You have to be bloody brilliant to keep me entertained with a story for that long, but you know what? This is a movie based on the book of Exodus. Shit went crazy there, so I was sure that this would be alright. Oh my gosh, was I ever mistaken! For one, I have absolutely no idea what Bible Scott read. No jokes, seriously. I mean, it must be some special secret edition or something. That movie was not very loyal, at all (last I checked, one of Moses’s big selling points was that he could move water, not wade through it). It was long, oh so very long. It felt like it was never going to end, and it wasn’t getting to the point, either, which was even worse. Let’s pretend, for instance, that this was not some biblical epic, but just some film. Crazy concept, a war between brothers, help from a higher power, some extreme violence… well, the costumes looked like crap, the film was shot badly, everyone had a grating accent, there was no character development (and yes, I said that), what the fuck was Jesse doing out in the middle of the desert again, and why did everything look cheap and icky? Not only that, the hardcore plagues we came to see? Hustled through in about fifteen minutes. The battles from the trailer? Please, they were all there, nothing new in the film really. The logic was also incredibly flawed (all those Hebrew slaves magically outfitted with horses and the ability to waltz off and train and do their thing whenever they wanted, just for starters, as well as being crushed by an ocean. It means you’re dead, especially when you are in the middle of it). Also, there was nothing particularly emotional to identify with or any reason you would root for anyone. I know, I know, it looks like I am being harsh. Honestly, I read a lot of bad reviews on this, but I was still willing to give it a chance, I really was. Sitting down and watching it was just a really painful experience, though, and I really would not recommend it to anyone. Even when trying to look at this as a story that is not from the Bible, it really just falls flat, and there were crazy deviations from the book of Exodus throughout… no. I didn’t like this, I really didn’t. Plus there were some sketchy effects. Overall, pretty sucky, Bale and all!

Review: Body of Lies (2008)

4

Body of Lies Poster

“See, what’s changed is that our allegedly unsophisticated enemy has caught on to the factually unsophisticated truth – we’re an easy target. We are an easy target. And our world as we know it is a lot simpler to put to an end than you might think.”
– Ed Hoffman

Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a Middle East CIA operative, and incredibly good at what he does. He has rapidly climbed the ranking ladder, and works hand in hand with Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), who is his control back at Langley. Ferris is hunting terrorist Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbul), who is bombing on an international level. After gathering intelligence and being almost bombed to death, Ferris’s recovery has him posted to Jordan to continue his search for Al-Saleem. Ferris meets with Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), who is head of the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, and brings him into the loop. Ferris is sure that he can use the Jordanians for help, though the only rule is not to lie to Hani.

BODY OF LIES

“You Americans, you are incapable of secrecy because you are a democracy.” – Hani

When Hoffman screws Ferris over by performing his own side missions, they two butt heads. Injured in Hoffman’s side-op, Ferris goes to a local hospital and meets nurse Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani) and starts to fall in love with her. Intent on impressing her, he continues to return to her for his rabies shot, though he could go anywhere else. Hani recognizes small time crook Mustaffa Karami (Kais Nashef) and takes him far out into the desert, intent on turning him into Jordanian intelligence. Hoffman wishes to use Karami, but the Jordanian head will not allow it. Hoffman leaves, and Ferris follows.

In Washington Ferris devises a plan. He feels that he has finally uncovered a way to draw Al-Saleem from the woodwork, but the plan needs to be executed in minute detail. They work together and set up Jordanian architect Omar Sadiki (Ali Suliman), a harmless civilian, to be the next big terrorist. Al-Saleem was unrivaled, before, but Sadiki is his nemesis, his competition, and needs to be taken care of. Ferris feeds Hani the lies of the newest terrorist on the block, and use him to make the ploy seem far more realistic than it really is. The master plan is rapidly falling apart around his ears when Ferris goes to see Aisha and realizes that she has been kidnapped.

BODY OF LIES 1

Cooking up the master plan

With their plan going very well then hurriedly turning sour, Ferris needs to find a way to fix his royal screw up without any more body count. Aisha is in danger, as well as himself, and Hani has turned his back on Ferris because of the lies that he was fed, even after their deal was for truth to be the only method of communication. Will Ferris survive this, will Hoffman ever learn any real lessons, and will the war in the Middle East ever end?

A 6/10 for Body of Lies. Russell Crowe was amazing in this movie, I thoroughly enjoyed the life he gave his character, though he was an ass. It does not change the fact he rocked the role. Leonardo DiCaprio was great, as always. I felt though that this movie needed to be tightened up in places a bit more, though the idea that they had of “creating” a terrorist was pretty damn cool. It kept you interested, but far too often I found my mind wandering, and then having to reel in back in quickly – so not riveting. I am not sure what I expected of this film, but it is reasonably similar to other movies in this same category, so nothing to blow your mind, make you rethink things or anything like that. The one thing that really saves this film is the performances of Crowe and DiCaprio. There is really not much else to look forward to, to be honest. Far from the greatest film, it is alright to watch, but you will need to keep your wits about you to follow what is going on exactly. It is a serious watch, so unless you have a very serious friends group, I would not really recommend for light movie-night viewing.