Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

1982’s Blade Runner has been reworked and remastered more in the past three decades plus than most classic albums. Along with Alien, director Ridley Scott created a one two punch of science fiction classics in a span of just three years. While the former spawned a series of sequels and offshoots, it’s not until 35 years later that a proper Blade Runner sequel has arrived.

Mr. Scott serves as executive producer because he was busy making the mediocre Alien: Covenant. So it’s Denis Villeneuve handling behind the camera duties one year after his highly rewarding alien pic Arrival. He proves himself as a natural choice to revisit this dystopian future that’s been an incredible influence on many sci-fi experiences that followed.

That influence has mostly been in its bleak look and astonishing production design. 2049, as the title tells us, takes place 30 years after what we saw in the early 1980s. Our central character is K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant who serves the LAPD like Deckard (Harrison Ford) in the original. These days, K’s kind are programmed to be more obedient and their primary function is in slave labor. K’s day job involves hunting down old school replicants. In the ultra stylish night, he invents a relationship with the gorgeous holograph Joi (Ana de Armas).

One of K’s assignments leads to a startling discovery that suggests replicants have the ability to procreate. The existence of a being of that ilk is troubling to K’s boss (Robin Wright), fearing a war will break out between humans and replicants. The revelation also intrigues Wallace (Jared Leto), the blind owner of the corporation that manufactures the product. He envisions this as a considerable financial opportunity and tasks his chief enforcer (Sylvia Hoeks) to find the now grown child.

This all eventually leads back to Deckard, with Ford completing a trifecta of revisiting signature late seventies and early eighties roles. It also involves his romantic interest Sean Young from the original. She returns in the archival footage manner. 2049 expands the Blade Runner universe and also expands the running time, clocking in nearly 45 minutes longer than part 1. In that respect, the sequel takes a bit longer to get its motor running.

Luckily for us, the visuals that were so special 35 years ago are remarkable here as well. There are sequences that are bleakly beautiful. Those expecting a full update on Deckard’s dealings may be surprised to find he doesn’t appear until about two-thirds through the proceedings. This is Gosling’s picture to carry most of the way and he does so with a quiet intensity.

Like Villeneuve’s Arrival, this is a sci-fi venture more steeped in its themes than action sequences. Violence comes in short and sudden bursts and that’s in line with two of the filmmaker’s other efforts Prisoners and Sicario. It’s no accident that I’m comparing 2049 just as much to those three movies as I am with the Scott original. Villeneuve succeeds in making this long gestating follow-up his own while clearly valuing an adoration of the first. That doesn’t happen too often as even Scott has fallen short with his return to Alien world. The legions of admirers of what came 35 years ago should be pleased.

***1/2 (out of four)

Good Time Movie Review

There’s a moment in Good Time where Robert Pattinson takes a brief respite from the chaos around him to watch an episode of “Cops”. The rest of the 100 minutes show our main character’s overwhelmed thief and those around him engaging in activities that might land them on the long running program. They do keep their shirts on, but their level of criminal sophistication is on that low bar level.

The hand-held camera work from the aforementioned TV show is present as well. Yet brothers and directors Ben and Josh Safdie employ plenty of other creative touches to create a crime flick far more interested in style not substance. The film’s title could only be described as ironic as no one’s time here is that. It’s frenzied and panicked. And almost everyone here is up to no good.

Connie (Pattinson) is a two-bit crook in New York City with a mentally challenged brother Nick (played by co-director Ben Safdie) that he’s overprotective of. We begin with Connie breaking him out of a therapy session and taking him to a bank robbery gone wrong. Nick gets arrested and thus begins a night long odyssey of Connie trying to bail him out.

That journey involves all sorts of vile types that match Connie and some that he takes advantage of. His erratic older girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) belongs in the former category. A sixteen year old girl (Taliah Webster) whose grandmother’s apartment he hides out in is more the latter. Connie also unexpectedly teams up with fresh out of jail alcoholic low life Ray (Buddy Duress), who manages to be a more clueless delinquent than our main subject.

For a stretch, Good Time mostly succeeds due to Pattinson’s commitment, a pulsating electronic score from Oneohtrix Point Never, and a couple developments in the crazy night that are surprising. Bringing Connie to a bizarre amusement park to retrieve acid and cash is an admirable left turn. So is a journey into Ray’s backstory of an idiotic first day out of the slammer.

Eventually it grows tiresome. There’s been plenty of crime tales with no one to root for, but these characters can’t manage to sustain the time worth spending with them. The Safdie brothers have plenty of impressive visual flourishes. Maybe next time the storyline will be a better time spent with bad people. It happens occasionally here, but not enough. I’ve watched “Cops” marathons with similar types that held my interest longer.

**1/2 (out of four)

Good Time Box Office Prediction

A long way from Twilight, Robert Pattinson is receiving critical acclaim for his latest pic and it is heist drama Good Time, which expands nationwide this weekend. The A24 release comes from directors Ben and Josh Sadfie with a supporting cast featuring Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May to solid notices and it stands at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a performance from Mr. Pattinson that’s drawn raves. Over the previous weekend, it drew a commendable $165,000 on just 20 screens.

Doing an opening weekend estimate for Good Time is a little tricky since I don’t have a theater count at press time (in other words, this prediction could change). I’m going to assume it’s on maybe 600-700 screens. For now, I’ll say it manages to reach a bit between $1-$2M out of the gate.

Good Time opening weekend prediction: $1.5 million

For my Leap! prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/16/leap-box-office-prediction/

For my All Saints prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/16/all-saints-box-office-prediction/

For my Birth of the Dragon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/17/birth-of-the-dragon-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Good Time

The Cannes Film Festival showcased a rather unexpected potential player in the awards derby with the crime drama Good Time, which debuts stateside in August. The film comes from indie directors Ben and Josh Safdie and finds Twilight star Robert Pattinson as a bank robber trying to break his brother out of jail. Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh are among the supporting cast.

Early word of mouth for the A24 offering has been quite positive. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and it was reportedly greeted with a six minute standing ovation in Cannes. Much of the praise has been awarded to Mr. Pattinson. If the pic is able to break out in any substantial way in the U.S., he could emerge as a dark horse candidate for Best Actor and the Original Screenplay could get some buzz as well.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Gavin Hood’s Eye in the Sky succeeds as a tense and strongly acted thriller which presents a moral test to the audience without being preachy. That’s a compliment to screenwriter Guy Hibbert for not feeling the need to bash us over the head with whatever his personal politics might be. We don’t know and don’t really need to.

The subject of drone warfare and its prevalence in recent conflicts is one that audiences will bring their own leanings to. This film presents a scenario in a matter of fact manner with characters on different sides of the fence. That situation is in the country of Kenya where a trio of high value targets are in the same location. The British government is in charge of deciding how to kill or capture them and many of the shots are being called by iron willed Colonel Powell (Helen Mirren). Her chain of command is superseded by fellow soldier General Benson (Alan Rickman in his second to last role). Their experience on the ground makes them simpatico when it comes to decisions, but they’re in a constant morass of government officials kicking the can up the chain.

It isn’t long before the capture order becomes a kill order and it’s an American Air Force pilot (Aaron Paul) tasked with dropping the drone from his base in Nevada. There’s one significant complication: a little girl is selling bread right outside the target zone. The question of her being likely collateral damage weigh on the conscience of our characters to varying degrees.

There are moments in the Sky that can’t help but be somewhat humorous even considering the potentially tragic circumstances, as many of the people shown can’t bring themselves to make any final decision. You may not feel like you should be amused by it, but there are times where it feels like the intent. This also extends to small moments where real life gets in the way of those making these massive judgment calls, from children’s toy shopping for one to a bout of food poisoning for another.

The acting is all first-rate with special credit to the always dependable Mirren and Rickman, whose characters disdain for their higher-ups indecisiveness is barely bubbling under the surface. When Eye concludes, it has managed to take the time to lay out the pros and cons of each momentous decision. Yet it invites us to make our judgment call on whether it was all worth it. In this case, that’s the sign of some filmmakers respecting their audience and successfully keeping us enthralled throughout.

***1/2 (out of four)

2014 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor Prediction

Tonight I continue on with my Oscar predictions in the six major categories as to who/what I think will win. A couple of days ago, I forecasted Supporting Actress and predicted a win for 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o. We move forward with Supporting Actor. Let us recap the nominees:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

This category was of interest due to the high number of people who could have been nominated. Those mentioned in prediction circles that didn’t make the final cut include James Gandolfini in Enough Said, Daniel Bruhl in Rush, Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks and Will Forte in Nebraska.

While the net was wide for could have been honored with a nomination, the list is considerably shorter as to who will win. And that list pretty much comes down to one name: Jared Leto. The actor/musician’s work in Dallas Buyers Club represented a major movie comeback for him and he’s been rewarded with just about precursor there is – Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice, and several regional critics associations.

If anyone else were to take home the gold statue, it would be a huge upset. I see Fassbender as the only one with a remote shot at the upset, but Leto is easily one of the safest bets in the top categories.

Predicted winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

I’ll be back soon with my prediction for Best Actress!

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s FINAL Predictions

The time has come to make my FINAL predictions for the Oscars. Nominations will be out on Thursday and I’m predicting every category that involves feature films. Therefore, the animated and documentary short films will not be predicted. I have written extensively about why I’m predicting certain movies, performers, and so on. That time is over. Here is my final listing of what and who I believe will be honored. The predictions are written by order of chances of nomination and I am listing runner-ups for each race in case some of my picks don’t pan out (which is guaranteed to happen). And here we go:

BEST PICTURE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. American Hustle

4. Nebraska

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Her

7. Captain Phillips

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

9. Dallas Buyer’s Club

Runner-Ups:

10. Saving Mr. Banks

11. Philomena

12. Blue Jasmine

13. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

14. August: Osage County

15. Lone Survivor

16. Fruitvale Station

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

3. David O. Russell, American Hustle

4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Spike Jonze, Her

7. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

8. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST ACTOR

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

4. Robert Redford, All is Lost

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

7. Christian Bale, American Hustle

8. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

9. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

BEST ACTRESS

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

3. Judi Dench, Philomena

4. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Amy Adams, American Hustle

7. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour

8. Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

4. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

5. Will Forte, Nebraska

Runner-Ups:

6. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

7. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

8. James Gandolfini, Enough Said

9. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

3. June Squibb, Nebraska

4. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

7. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County

8. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. American Hustle

2. Nebraska

3. Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Her

5. Blue Jasmine

Runner-Ups:

6. Dallas Buyer’s Club

7. Gravity

8. Fruitvale Station

9. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

10. Saving Mr. Banks

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Philomena

3. Before Midnight

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. August: Osage County

7. The Book Thief

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1. Frozen

2. The Wind That Rises

3. Ernest&Celestine

4. Monsters University

5. Despicable Me 2

Runner-Ups:

6. The Croods

7. A Letter to Mono

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Gravity

5. The Invisible Woman

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. Rush

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. Nebraska

7. All is Lost

8. Prisoners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. The Great Gatsby

2. American Hustle

3. 12 Years a Slave

4. The Invisible Woman

5. The Book Thief

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST FILM EDITING

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. American Hustle

4. Captain Phillips

5. Rush

Runner-Ups:

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Lone Survivor

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. American Hustle

2. The Lone Ranger

3. The Great Gatsby

Runner-Ups:

4. Dallas Buyer’s Club

5. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Gravity

2. Rush

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Captain Phillips

5. Lone Survivor

Runner-Ups:

6. All is Lost

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. 12 Years a Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

1. Gravity

2. Captain Phillips

3. Rush

4. Pacific Rim

5. All is Lost

Runner-Ups:

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

7. Lone Survivor

8. Man of Steel

9. World War Z

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1. Gravity

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

3. Pacific Rim

4. Iron Man 3

5. World War Z

Runner-Ups:

6. Star Trek Into Darkness

7. Elysium

8. Oblivion

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. The Book Thief

4. Saving Mr. Banks

5. Her

Runner-Ups:

6. Monsters University

7. All is Lost

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. “Let It Go” from Frozen

2. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

3. “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

4. “In the Middle of the Night” from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. “The Moon Song” from Her

Runner-Ups:

6. “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

7. “Rise Up” from Epic

8. “Sweeter than Fiction” from One Chance

I’m not listing alternates for the final two predicted categories, mostly because I’m supremely not confident with my limited knowledge for these races.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing

Blackfish

The Square

Stories We Tell

20 Feet from Stardom

This means my predictions would garner the following number of nominations for these pictures:

10 Nominations – 12 Years a Slave, Gravity

8 Nominations – American Hustle

6 Nominations – Captain Phillips, Nebraska

5 Nominations – Rush

4 Nominations – The Great Gatsby, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street

3 Nominations – Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis

2 Nominations – All is Lost, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, The Book Thief, Frozen, The Invisible Woman, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Pacific Rim, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

1 Nomination – Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Lone Survivor, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, World War Z

And there you have Todd’s final Oscar predictions. I will have reaction in a blog post Thursday once nominations are released and include a tally of how I did!