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)

The Non-Sequel Actors

Next weekend sees the release of two high-profile sequels: The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The pair of part II’s have something rather interesting in common: they serve as the first sequels that their stars Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep have ever appeared in. Pretty surprising huh? Both have been mega-stars for decades and have never followed up on a character until now.

This got me thinking: what other major actors have never been in a sequel? And it’s not an easy list to cobble together.

Some actors are known for their cases of sequelitis. We know Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in a multitude of them, including Marvel Cinematic Universe pics and franchises ranging from Star Wars to xXx to Incredibles. He was John McClane’s sidekick in Die Hard with a Vengeance. And looking early in his filmography, 1990 saw him appearing in The Exorcist III and The Return of Superfly. There’s also Patriot Games from 1992 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 from 2004. Son of Shaft will be out next year. Dude loves his m****f***ing sequels!

Sylvester Stallone has made a career of out of them. Creed II will mark his 15th sequel by my count. There’s the Rocky, Rambo, and Expendables series and there’s also Staying Alive (which he directed and had a cameo in), Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the just released Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Eddie Murphy has returned in the following series: 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle, and Shrek. There could be a part II of Coming to America on the horizon.

Harrison Ford has the famous series like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Jack Ryan pictures. There’s also More American Graffiti, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and last year’s Blade Runner 2049.

OK, back to thespians who don’t constantly appear in sequels. Leonardo DiCaprio? Well, who can forget one of his first roles as Josh in 1991’s Critters 3? 

Matthew McConaughey has a similar situation. Since he’s become known, no sequels (not even returning in Magic Mike XXL). Yet one of his first roles was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. 

Unlike his 80s comedic counterparts Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Steve Martin (all in plenty of them), I couldn’t immediately think of any sequel that John Candy did. Yet he provided a voice-over in the 1990 Disney animated follow-up The Rescuers Down Under. 

With Marlon Brando, I guess it depends on how you look at it. He refused to come back for a flashback cameo in The Godfather Part II. Yet he did appear in 2006’s Superman Returns… with a caveat. That footage was culled completely from his work nearly three decades earlier in Superman and it happened two years after his death.

So here’s the deal… it is really tough to come up with performers in the modern age who haven’t appeared in at least one sequel. However, here’s five of them and feel free to list others in the comments!

Warren Beatty

He’s famously picky about his projects and he’s never played the same man twice. There were rumors that he wanted to do another Dick Tracy, but it never materialized.

Annette Bening

Beatty’s wife has had a long and distinguished career free of sequels. She was originally cast as Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns but dropped out due to pregnancy.

Russell Crowe

The Oscar winner has yet to return to a role, though I’d certainly sign up for The Nice Guys II. P.S. – I do not count Man of Steel as a sequel.

Jodie Foster

She declined to return as Clarice Starling in 2001’s Hannibal after an Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs ten years earlier. That was her biggest chance at a sequel and there are none before or after.

Jake Gyllenhaal

His first role was as Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers, but he was nowhere to be found for part II or any other sequel. However, that long streak ends next summer with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And there you go! As I said, feel free to chime in with your own non-sequel actors…

Oscar Watch – Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t the only high-profile sequel to a 2015 release coming to a theater near you this month. Sicario: Day of the Soldado follows up on the critically acclaimed Denis Villeneuve crime drama that garnered three Oscar nominations in that year. Soldado debuts a week from tomorrow and reviews are already out.

The verdict? Somewhat mixed as it stands at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. That’s a pretty far cry from the 93% that its predecessor earned. Interestingly, I’ve seen at least two critical reactions that compare it to Rambo: First Blood Part II. Go figure. Even with its great buzz from reviewers, 2015’s Sicario missed out on the big nominations, including Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Benicio del Toro for Supporting Actor. The pic did receive nods for the Cinematography of Roger Deakins, the late Johann Johannsson’s Score, and Sound Editing. Deakins does not return here and he finally won a long deserved statue for last year’s Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve was busy with 2049 as well and Stefano Sollima takes over directorial duties here.

Bottom line: the Soldado reaction leaves it as an extreme long-shot for any recognition, while part 1 found itself more in the mix.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Box Office Prediction

Not your traditional summer sequel involving superheroes, dinosaurs or animated characters, Sicario: Day of the Soldado arrives in theaters next weekend and hopes to serve as counter programming to said seasonal blockbusters. The pic is a follow-up to 2015’s Sicario, Denis Villeneuve’s critically acclaimed crime thriller that garnered three Oscar nominations. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin (this summer’s reigning sequel king) reprise their roles from the original, though Emily Blunt does not appear (she’s been busy with A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns). New costars include Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, and Matthew Modine. As for Villeneuve, he’s moved onto Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 and Italian director Stefano Sollima is now on board. The original’s screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan (who also is responsible for Hell or High Water and Wind River), is back penning this sequel.

Sicario opened in the fall of 2015 and its first wide release weekend brought in $12.1 million with an eventual gross of over $46 million domestically (it earned $85 million total worldwide against a reported budget of $30 million). Soldado may manage to slightly outpace that debut number of part 1 and a sequel is apparently already in the works. That premiere could put it in a battle for third place with the weekend’s other newcomers (Uncle Drew) and behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado opening weekend prediction: $13.8 million

For my Uncle Drew prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/19/uncle-drew-box-office-prediction/

The Shape of Oscar 2017

Well, the 90th Annual Academy Awards have come and – after 220 minutes of ceremony – gone. This is my annual wrap up of the show and (of course most importantly) how I did with my predictions!

In short, not too shabby…

I went 19/21 on my predictions – missing out on just Best Original Song (“Remember Me” from Coco won over my upset pick “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall and A Fantastic Woman took Foreign Film over The Insult). Neither were a surprise.

In fact, the night was rather predictable as far as winners. The Shape of Water was the big victor, taking Picture, Director (Guillermo del Toro), Production Design, and Original Score. The acting winners (Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Allison Janney in I, Tonya) were the wise ones to have in the pool. Get Out got its recognition via Jordan Peele’s Original Screenplay. Legends like James Ivory (for his Call Me by Your Name Adapted Screenplay) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (for his Blade Runner 2049 work) finally won gold statues.

Some other quick observations:

  • Jimmy Kimmel, as he was last year, is a solid host for the show. I would have no problem with him essentially being the new Billy Crystal and hosting every year or every other year. That said, it sure would be interesting to see what a Tiffany Haddish or Dave Chappelle could do with it.
  • That 90 years in movies Oscar montage could have gone on another half hour and I would have been fine with it.
  • I hope the Phantom Thread costume designer is enjoying his jet ski today.
  • And, of course, no Best Picture screw up! Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway can relax today.

And there you have it, folks! That’s my shape of Oscar 2017.

 

Todd’s FINAL 2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

Well… here we are. After months of prognosticating and speculating, the 90th Annual Academy Awards is upon us this Sunday. This post serves as my final predictions for what and who will emerge victorious in five days.

I am listing my predicted winner as well as my runner-up in case I’m not perfect… and I certainly won’t be. I’ll have reaction up Sunday night as to how I did and my general thoughts on the ceremony.

Until then – these are my FINAL Oscar Winner predictions:

Best Picture

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

PREDICTED WINNER: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Best Actor

Nominees:

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

PREDICTED WINNER: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Best Actress

Nominees:

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

PREDICTED WINNER: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

RUNNER-UP: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

PREDICTED WINTER: Call Me by Your Name

RUNNER-UP: Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Get Out

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

PREDICTED WINNER: Coco

RUNNER-UP: Loving Vincent

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

A Fantastic Woman

The Insult

Loveless

On Body and Soul

The Square

PREDICTED WINNER: The Insult

RUNNER-UP: A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

PREDICTED WINNER: Icarus

RUNNER-UP: Last Men in Aleppo

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria and Abdul

PREDICTED WINNER: Phantom Thread

RUNNER-UP: The Shape of Water

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Darkest Hour

Victoria and Abdul

Wonder

PREDICTED WINNER: Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Wonder

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Blade Runner 2049

Best Sound Mixing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Mighty River” from Mudbound

“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name

“Remember Me” from Coco

“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

PREDICTED WINNER: “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

RUNNER-UP: “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman 

And that leaves the following breakdown of number of wins for each picture:

4 Wins

The Shape of Water

3 Wins

Dunkirk

2 Wins

Darkest Hour, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Blade Runner 2049

1 Win

I, Tonya, Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, Coco, The Insult, Icarus, Phantom Thread, Marshall

 

2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

The 2017 Oscar nominations came out yesterday with yours truly battling a so so 71%. Naturally we now move to predicted winners in the categories. This will not be my last time predicting as I’ll make final winner estimates on the eve of the ceremony.

For now, here’s who and what I have taking home the prized golden statue:

Best Picture

The Shape of Water

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name

Best Original Screenplay

Lady Bird

Best Animated Feature

Coco

Best Foreign Language Film

The Insult

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places

Best Editing

Dunkirk

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Best Production Design

The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design

Phantom Thread

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour

Best Visual Effects

War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing

Dunkirk

Best Sound Mixing

Dunkirk

Best Original Score

The Shape of Water

Best Original Song

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

That’s all for now but expect final predictions shortly before the ceremony!