Set in the distant future, a family dynasty are awarded the responsibility of reining over the planet of Arakis, a world who’s deserts contain a valuable resource called ‘spice’, sort after throughout the galaxy. As the only air to his family’s empire Paul Atreides stands on the brink of a greater destiny only hinted at in his dreams.
Under the direction of Denis Villeneuve, who gave us Blade Runner 2049 as well as sci-if gem Arrival… it’s clear that Frank Herbert’s epic tome couldn’t be in better hands. Bathed in a haunting, majestic beauty, this ‘part one’ of a proposed saga is arguably the year’s most visually captivating movie. Brought to the big-screen previously by David Lynch, this carries over the same structure and plot details whilst creating a feel all it’s own, managing to weave a Shakespearean-like tale of warring houses that also made me think of Game of Thrones. Casting is solid, with decent performances including a sensual Rebecca Ferguson, suitably supported by Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa. However the story sits on the shoulders of young newcomer Timothee Chalomet, who thankfully manages such a task in an understated yet capable turn.
The first half did take its time building characters and plot, and I found some elements easy to get lost by such as the various races / houses. So this may not be the easily digestible space opera of Star Wars, yet was still full of imagination and had some decent action … and as the credits rolled, with the promise of a story just beginning – I was left thirsty for more.
I’d heard good things about this 2013 thriller but had not got around to watching until last night. Starring two actors I always enjoy, Hugh Jackman and especially Jake Gyllenhaal … this looked like essential viewing from the very moment I’d heard about it. Telling the story of two suburban families who’s young daughters go missing one day, this follows the ensuing investigation that doesn’t bring many leads, causing Jackman’s father to take the law into his own hands. He decides to abduct the number one suspect and beat out some answers, whilst at the same time the detective in charge of the case, Gyllenhaal attempts to unravel and mystery.
Directed by the acclaimed Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) this is a taught and hard-hitting with above average performances not only from the leads but also Maria Bello. Unlike similar missing persons movies this raises questions of what’s right and wrong, although never did I not understand the desperation and pain experienced by the worried parents. With echoes of movies like (the underrated) Death Sentence and Zodiac, the gradually complex investigation is delivered with no end of tension, twists and turns. It kept this viewer guessing throughout and even if the final reveal is a little too neat, I was still left satisfied.
It’s a lengthy movie but never slow or stretched out and kept me gripped. A few questions are left unanswered at the end, with a mystery considering a character’s obsession with mazes left up in the air. But this was still solid entertainment with atmospheric direction and a stunning turn from Jackman making him one of the best working today. And to think I came to this for Gyllenhaal who whilst very good is left overshadowed.
I went into this fairly hyped. It’s been well received for such a long awaited sequel that probably nobody was really waiting for, yet I also had slight apprehension due to the fact of not being the biggest fan of the original. That movie whilst aesthetically impressive (more so for the time) and having some interesting moments and a solid turn from Harrison Ford, was ultimately rather empty and simple, lacking much of the depth or grit I’d been lead to believe. So how does this sequel hold up?
Ryan Gosling plays a Blade Runner who from the off you’re aware is also a replicant (an artificially engineered imitation-human), hunting and putting out of commission rogue replicants who have gone off the radar. Yet on one such mission he stumbles upon a grave of a female replicant who seems to have died in child birth – something nobody imagined a replicant was even capable of doing; conceiving a child. So the hunt for the missing child and answers to Golsing’s own past is set in motion.
Like the 1982 Ridley Scott original, this has a foreboding, dystopian future that is partly awe-inspiring and depressing. It’s a dark, moody vision of Los Angeles full of clouds, smoke, neon billboards and miserable people. Unlike Scott’s vision however this seems intentionally filmed with no real wow-factor, and with admittedly gargantuan set design and vast cityscapes appearing rather bland looking. This look is raised up a notch by some iconic looking, sci-fi imagery not out of place on a book cover or in the pages of a graphic novel, even if much of said imagery seems put there for the sake of it. Gosling is good and his journey of self-discovery is interesting (aided by a hologram girlfriend). Also where the movie eventually goes is clever, with how it ties into the original really well done. Add to this a late-to-the-party Harrison Ford pretty much stealing the show in a surprisingly layered performance, and on paper the ingredients are here to make a great movie. Sad then that the pace is so damn plodding, with almost every scene stretched out for maximum run time with long pauses between portions of dialogue, lingering looks between characters etc. Keeping myself entertained with this was a massive struggle. If some scenes had just been tightened up we’d have a 2hr movie rather than one approaching 3hrs, and somewhat underwhelming visuals aside, such a languishing pace is ultimately what lets the movie down.
If you’re a big fan of the original, you may still get something out of this. However if you want a movie that will keep you gripped throughout, this isn’t for you.
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