Blade Runner 2049


Viewed – 25 Ocotber 2017  Cinema

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?

Blade-Runner-2049

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.

Verdict:  3 /5

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La La Land


Viewed – 20 May 2017  Blu-ray

Probably the most celebrated movie of the last twelve months that swept up at each award ceremony, gaining Oscars, Baftas and Golden Globes a plenty.  I must admit I was intrigued and have always enjoyed a good musical.  This stars Emma Stone as a young woman with a dream of becoming an actress who waits tables at a cafe on the Warner Brothers studio back lot.  At the same time we have Ryan Gosling’s talented Jazz pianist trying to make a name for himself with dreams of opening his own, old-school Jazz bar.   These two strangers it seems, are destined to meet and so we have what appears to be a classic Hollywood love story, peppered with the occasional grand song and dance routine.

La La Land

A nostalgic homage to Hollywood of old, ala Rogers & Hammerstein or Doris Day musicals but with a contemporary setting.  Should work wonders, huh?  Well … the problem here is, these two actors lacked chemistry and their central love story, going from disliking, to tolerating, to falling in love etc. just didn’t engage … I just didn’t really get caught up in any of it.  Every time you’d expect some convincing emotion or actual depth to their relationship, they’d break into a dance routine or a song instead.  I’m sure it’s all meant to be symbolic but it just made their relationship ‘meh’ at best.  This is not helped by some very vague story details and forgettable supporting characters (Stone has a boyfriend at one stage…not that you’d remember him).  Thankfully the movie is packed with eye-catching dance routines, at times stunning visuals, great choreography and colourful costumes.  However along with forgettable actual songs (nothing really stands out) and principle leads you feel are better off not being together … something has gone horribly wrong. 

The movie saves itself somewhat in the closing moments and the final interactions between Gosling and Stone are quite touching.  Both stars are also very good, proving themselves capable singers (with Stone especially having a fantastic solo moment) … however with such a focus on re-creating a bygone era and less focus on delivering an engaging story, I felt this ultimately failed.  Worth watching for Gosling and Stone and some great dance numbers, just don’t fall for the hype.

Verdict:  3 /5

Top Ten Movies 2016


I watched a lot of movies this year.  I watched a lot of very good movies.  I also watched a few bad ones and several disappointing ones.  But the list below, in descending order compiles the movies that had the greatest impact on me during 2016.  A few may have actually been theatrically released prior to 2016 but I didn’t get to see them until this year.

10.

Zootropolis

Zootropolis

‘Disney does it again with very likeable characters, gorgeous animation and a fun, exciting story with plenty of great moments’

9.

The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys

Shane Black writes and directs the spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and the result is every bit as good as that sounds’

8.

The Witch

The Witch

‘One of the more original and genuinely disturbing horror movies of the year’

7.

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

‘It shouldn’t work but oh boy … does it.  Disney deliver a remake that really impresses’

6.

X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse

‘Underrated comic book entertainment and for me, the best X-Men movie since X2’

5.

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

‘The biopic of the controversial rap pioneers proves more emotional than I expected’

4.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One

‘A spin off movie every bit as good as the famed saga?  Oh yes and then some!’

3.

The Revenant

The Revenant

Alejandro G. Iñárritu delivers a powerhouse man vs nature survival epic that breaks as many hearts as it does DiCaprio’s bones’

2.

Sing Street

Sing Street

‘Feel good coming-of-age drama with great music, great characters and great performances’

1.

The Martian

The Martian

‘Ridley Scott proves without a doubt that he’s still got it and delivers a powerful, funny, breath-taking sci-fi drama with genuine heart’

A few almost as deserving ‘honourable mentions’ include:

When Marnie Was There

Arrival

Captain America: Civil War

It’s been another great year for movies and I am already looking forward to what 2017 has in store.  Happy New Year everyone and hoping next year is good to you all.

Craig.

The Nice Guys


Viewed – 09 October 2016  Online-rental

I am a big fan of the movie Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and consider it one of the career highlights of Robert Downey Jr.  The same could also be said for Shane Black, who penned the script to Lethal Weapon amongst other accolades and also directed said Downey Jr vehicle.  So coming to this latest written and directed effort from Black, you could say my expectations were dialled on the high side.  We won’t mention Iron Man 3 (oops).

The Nice Guys

With a very similar vibe to Bang Bang, this sort-of homage to 70’s detective shows has somewhat amateur detectives Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling on the trail of a missing girl who is somehow mixed up in the shady world of the porn industry and the death of a famous starlet.  Immediately this is Shane Black on blistering form; at least dialogue-wise, which leaps off the screen and is delivered with no end of personality and charm by the principle leads.  This has many very funny lines and even funnier situations (that rotating car display) as our bumbling duo go from one crazy encounter to the next, topped off with some surprisingly thrilling moments.  Along for the ride is Gosling’s character’s daughter who it seems understands how to be a detective ten times better than her adult counterparts do and you could call her the Inspector Gadget’s niece of the trio.  Also we have a not-ageing-gracefully Kim Basinger as some department of justice bigwig sporting Botox or plastic surgery, but fails to really bring anything but familiarity to the party.

The plot takes a step back to Black’s flair for dialogue and moments and it shows, as what it all ends up being about is rather ‘meh’ and well, just what was all that with Misty Mountains?  The movie also threatens to spiral out of control with a bit too much  slapstick and occasionally really stupid humour … but is held together by a likeable trio of performances and a great sense of time and place.  Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang suffered similarly but again that didn’t detract from what was otherwise solid entertainment – and the same can be said here.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Only God Forgives


Viewed – 28 December 2013  Blu-ray

Was looking forward to this.  From both the director and star of cult classic in the making, Drive comes a revenge thriller set in Bangkok.  Following the murder of his brother, a drug dealer (Ryan Gosling) and his conniving mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) set out to avenge the death and come up against a ruthless cop, who lives by his own rules, regardless of the law.

Only-God-Forgives-Ryan-Gosling

Shot in a noir style with lots of lingering stares, very brief dialogue and a deliberate slow pace – this goes for serious moody thriller with an exotic setting, but instead delivers a tiresome, amateurishly acted drama livened up with extreme violence.  What Director Nicholas Winding Refn’s previous effort managed, was style and substance and good casting – this has all those ingredients, but doesn’t gel.  The dialogue is delivered straight faced, emotion-free and with long pauses between each sentence, making every scene look like a student art movie, complete with some mystifying symbolism.  The revenge plot is ok, even if the villainous Cop’s motives are confusing, and although Scott-Thomas delivers a diverting femme fatale, Gosling – who was so good in Drive and broke out from his usual pretty boy rom-com type-casting, is wasted – even a fist-fight towards the end is a let down. 

A real shame then as I loved the setting, thought some moments were quite disturbing (the brother’s murder) and technically it’s shot well and looks great … Bangkok becoming a character of it’s own – but overall a case of too much style and too little actual movie.

Verdict:  2 /5