Review: Blade Runner 2049 – Disappointing to Say the Least

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I saw the new Blade Runner 2049 and after waiting and waiting and waiting for this film, I am NOT at all impressed. Growing up, Blade Runner was my film as well as my dad’s. We saw it 3 times at the theater and it was our night when it was on TV. So it literally pains me to say that after viewing this current incarnation, I feel duped and let down.

First, the visuals and production value were spectacular. The professionals behind this visually stunning dystopian world, were at the top of their game. The casting was on-point. Ryan Gosling was perfectly cast as one of the new models of replicants, and can we chat about Robin Wright. Here’s an actress who was all but forgotten, then she landed House of Cards and has gone on to critical acclaim for her role as Claire in HoC, Wonder Woman and here she is as another serious badass in Blade Runner 2049. She’s an older actress who has found her niche; strong and powerful women and her role in Blade Runner 2049 is no exception.

Then of course there’s Harrison Ford…being Harrison Ford. He still has a lot of the spirit he portrayed in the original film as one of the Blade Runners, Rick Deckard. He was feisty, could throw a great punch, gave us some chuckle-worthy digs in his scenes with Gosling, but what I liked the most about his role was that he was allowed to age. Jared Leto appeared out of nowhere in the first half of the film with about 10 minutes of screen time, then you didn’t see him again until the end and this go around, he had about 7 – 8 minutes of screen time, and no one really knows anything about him other than he’s the blind evil genius behind the corporation who manufactures replicants, but Leto delivered, considering what he had to work with. The rest of the cast were amazing as well.

But the storylines…that’s where it went south. They were beyond convoluted and disjointed. This film was in desperate need of better writers. Just when you would try to become emotionally invested in one storyline, they’d jump to another one and leave you dangling. THEN, here comes a subplot inserted into the already dangling plot line and you’re sitting there completely annoyed. Blade Runner 2049 played like the writers and the director just wrote and shot this film on the fly.

With a few exceptions here and there, the dialogue was consistently flat. This film has an abundance of beautiful visuals, I can’t say that enough however, it’s a pity that more wasn’t dedicated to the storyline and the dialogue. It was all over the place. Characters popping in and out with no real backstory to inform the audience of who in the Hell these people were. Then when they feebly tried to give the audience an explanation, it became even more confusing and complex….but not in a good way. This film was filled with eye-rolling pretentiousness; metaphors and symbolism galore. This was a pseudo-psychological journey into a laborious and overwhelming dystopian world that failed to excite your imagination and make you long for more.

Then that ending…no words. Sometimes you simply have to see something for yourself to understand someone else’s disappointment. Oh by the way, the film is LONG…an hour-plus too long! Now chew on that.  #BladeRunner2049

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Review: The Dark Tower

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This will be short and sweet. I thought every component was in place for The Dark Tower (based upon a Stephen King novel; come on, how could anyone mess that up) to be an awesome film, but the director and the writers who adapted this screenplay, didn’t know how to pull the story together enough to make the film cohesive or compelling. I do feel that they need to make a sequel and get another director who has an eye and feel for this genre of film, or simply get Ron Howard to direct it instead of just being a producer. Ron Howard is an award-winning auteur; he is among the elite directors in the industry. With Howard, this film would have made better sense. In addition, for the love of all things suspenseful, hire different writers who know how to compose a strong story that will hold your attention and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The writers did a poor job of weaving all of the storylines together, which resulted in some left dangling or ended with cheap resolutions. Idris Elba was perfect as the Gunslinger. He had just enough of the right nuances to make a disillusioned reluctant hero. Matthew McConaughey was campy, but he made you love to hate him as the Man in Black. Tom Taylor as the psychic kid, has a screen presence that is undeniable. Excellent cast, but bad storytelling and directing.

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

 

First, allow me to say this; I own every Ape film starting with the original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston. These films are my guilty cult classic favorites. If all else fails, I will watch one of these films and I’m good. So this would beg to question how could someone mess up an Ape film with a huge built-in audience; well the answer to that question is scattered throughout this latest entry, War for the Planet of the Apes. Where on EARTH does one begin. This film is a bloody bore from beginning to end. It is a combination road-trip and revenge film and allegory all rolled into one. The only thing that is crystal clear in this film is that apes are good and humans are bad.

Now let’s get to the meat of the film. Ceasar, who is the ape leader, should have been a memorable character but instead, he was brooding and distinctly uninteresting. He was the reluctant hero trope seen in countless films, yet he was way too reluctant for this film to generate any real interest in what happens to him. Enter Woody Harrelson’s sterotypical bad guy who not only hated apes, but is also hell-bent on murdering humans who contracted some ape-virus that rendered them mute, which included his own son, thus becoming worthless in his warped sense of Nazi-level purity.

Oh yes, we had Nazi and American slavery symbolism all throughout this film in the way in which the apes were rounded up, put in chains and placed in work camps, with some literally being branded so that they could be subservient to the soldiers and being subjected to cringe-worthy and degrading taunts. These apes were also used as “overseers” to keep the captured apes in line. Oh and did I mention the multitudes of sub-plots, one in particular that involved the good “Northern” soldiers on the hunt for the I assume, “Southern” soldiers led by Harrelson, who’ve gone rogue and are pledging their allegience to a bastardized ideology of superiority, slavery and murdering those they deem inferior. The Civil War was also alive and well within this slow-moving cinematic snail.

War for the Planet of the Apes has gotten high marks on Rotten Tomatoes and has been lauded as “the best in the series”; “smart, thoughtful, confrontational and challenging”; “impeccable film of risky dramatic range” and a host of other wonderful reviews, but I don’t happen to feel that this film is any of that. I love intelligent films with an old-fashioned feel, but War for the Planet of the Apes is a slow-moving, schizophrenic snooze-fest that didn’t quite figure out what kind of film it wanted to be. It had no solid storyline and looked as if the writers and director decided to incorporate everyone’s cool sounding ideas, and as a result of that boundary-less direction, the director didn’t quite know how to piece all of those “fabulous” ideas together in order for the film to make sense. I have no doubt the film will be number one at the box office, but just because it comes out on top, doesn’t mean it’s a good film.

If you go see this film, just know that if you want some mind-blowing special effects, incredible battle scenes and an epic ending that will have you insisting on seeing it again…you ain’t getting it with War for the Planet of the Apes. But what you WILL get is a film aimlessly meandering along with a ton of political messages and imaginery, laughable dialogue, a hard to follow storyline with characters that weren’t fully developed and a waste of over 2 hours that you will never get back.

The Beguiled was Be Damned…

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The coach put me on the bench because I’m batting double OO with movies, the last string of films I viewed…All Eyez on Me, Transformers:The Last Knight and 40 Meters Down, were side-eye inducing without a doubt. But this weekend I saw the new Sofia Coppola film “The Beguiled“, which is based on the 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. Before I go all IN on the film, here’s a little tidbit about Coppola. She just won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and is only the 2nd woman in Cannes history to win in that category. Let that sink in for a minute. Now getting back to this film. Out of the gate, the pacing was extremely slow. So much so, that I actually started looking for which exit I could get to the quickest. But I’m a trooper, so I hung in there.

None of the characters were fleshed out, especially Kirsten Dunst and Nicole Kidman’s caricatures of repressed southern belles. By the way, Kidman, Dunst, Elle Fanning and one other character in this meandering nonsensical film, kept losing their southern accents. I could have understood better if this were their first film (nervousness and all), but Kidman is an Oscar winner, Dunst and Fanning have over the years, gotten critical acclaim for their acting. They simply phoned in their performances and looked as if they couldn’t have cared any less if they tried. Now let’s get to Colin Farrell.

His once promising career really hit an all-time low with this schlock. He hardly had any dialogue and the dialogue he had, was comical and it wasn’t supposed to be. THAT’S how bad this film is. His best scenes were off-screen after Kidman’s character amputated his leg and he found out. Why Coppola chose for the audience to hear his tirade instead of seeing it, was puzzling to say the least. That probably would have been great to see because Farrell is a good actor and he does a lot of his best work when he’s in meltdown on-screen.

Coppola’s choices with how she shot this film left me and I’m sure so many others who’ve already seen it, wondering WHY? But here’s one choice she made I’m in full support of…the choice to NOT put the female slave character in this film that was in the book. The Black actress who would have been cast, dodged a bullet thank goodness. No one needs this incarnation of The Beguiled on their acting resume. The long and short of it is basically…The Beguiled didn’t make any sense at all. It was a story without any substance or direction. How Coppola won in Cannes in the Best Director’s category for THIS film is another mystery. To say The Beguiled wasn’t her best work is an understatement, and it also begs to question the legitimacy of her winning that award.

Coppola has done tons of applause worthy work such as Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, did the judges in Cannes see the same film as the rest of us? Did they get their eyes dilated that day and couldn’t really see the banality of this film….what happened? As one critic noted about the film “it was so unnecessary” and no truer words could EVER be said about this film. This was a good idea gone horribly wrong and Coppola, the writers who helped her create this puerile piece of tripe and the actors, had no clue how to make this film compelling enough to where it would hold your attention and the audience would become emotionally invested. Instead, it had the audience holding their breath counting the minutes until the agony was over.

I’m BAAAACK!!

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I’ve been on a rather long hiatus from blogging because sometimes life takes you in some of the most unexpected directions. But now I’m back at it; more energized, more opinionated and even more in your face than ever! So let’s do this and do it BIG!