Posts Tagged ‘harrison ford’

Blade Runner 2049

In 2049, in Los Angeles, there’s an uneasy peace between the humans and the replicants, who the humans built to serve them and pleasure them.  There’s a rumor going around that a replicant gave birth to a half human child and that rumor is enough to set off fireworks in the tinderbox that Los Angeles has become.  Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) orders officer K, (Ryan Gosling) a current Blade Runner, to find out if there is a child ‘retire’ the child, and to report back to her.  The key to finding the child seems to be finding former Blade Runner Rick Deckert (Harrison Ford) and verifying if the child really exists.  K finds the remains of a replicant, and takes them to the Wallace Corporation where the replicant is identified as Rachel. (Sean Young)

Nander Wallace (Jared Leto) is himself a replicant and has a stake in finding the replicant baby.  If replicants can reproduce, Nander can raise a replicant army to overthrow human rulers forever .  He sends a homicidal replicant named Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) to follow K, and find the child.   K is plagued by a persistent memory of a toy wooden horse that he had a child.  Is this a real memory, or has it been implanted?  Is this memory related to the replicant child?  Is there a replicant baby?  What does Deckart have to do with the baby?  Can K find Deckart?  Can he find the child, who’s now an adult?

I like the story of Blade Runner 2049, it’s simple and straightforward, which is more than I can say for the original Blade Runner film. But beneath its glossy surface, however, there are many flaws in the film, in character development, and plot development.  For example, Las Vegas seems to be utterly devastated and have only one resident, while nearby Los Angeles is relatively teeming with people.  The female characters appear to be decorative, except the one who is a homicidal android.  Why is she like that?  Why are strong women portrayed as murderous lunatics with no remorse?  Why are submissive women portrayed as desirable?  The black characters fare worse, one runs a sweatshop, and another is a clerk.  At a time when our demographic future will be much different than our current reality, Hollywood again chooses to largely whitewash.  The ending is left open for yet another sequel, perhaps featuring a reanimated version of cryogenically preserved Harrison Ford.  If producers wait another 35 years, that may be the only option left.

The acting is good in this film, probably better than this script deserves.  Ryan Gosling made a name for himself playing laconic humorless characters, so he should feel very comfortable playing K, and he is.  He’s more comfortable playing these emotionless characters like the driver in Driver, than he is playing a jobless jazzman in Lala Land.  Harrison Ford is also good at playing an irascible old crank, he does it in every role of late, and will continue to do it for as long as he can.  Robin Wright makes a brief but forceful appearance as K’s boss.  She is the strong feminine presence that this movie needed more of. Jared Leto overacts voraciously, as is his habit lately.

The direction is good, the pacing is quick and the action moves quickly, for a nearly 3 hour film.  The movie is visually striking, thanks to cinematography by Roger Deakins, who has done movies like The Shawshank Redemption, and Skyfall.  The direction is done by Denis Villeneuve, who has done excellent movies like Arrival or not so good movies like Prisoners.  He does well here, I don’t think this group needs any help with their acting skills, but he took a long and multifaceted story and laid it out very clearly.

Blade Runner 2049:  Cutting edge visuals with 1950’s plot.

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The Age of Adaline

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has stayed single for a long time.  She has resisted getting involved with a man for some very personal reasons.  She finally meets and falls in love with Ellis Jones (Michael Huisman) a wealthy philanthropist.  Adaline and Ellis date for a while, and Ellis takes her home to meet his parents, William, (Harrison Ford) and Kathy. (Kathy Baker)  Ellis’ parents like Adaline, but Adaline has a secret, and William figures it out.  Will Adaline tell Ellis her secret or will she break off her promising relationship with Ellis?

There is a joke about Ted Williams and a horse in this movie, the joke is about as stupid as the secret that Adaline is hiding.  The whole movie rests on a gimmicky premise, dressed up with some scientific doubletalk, and bad narration.  Not only is it a gimmicky premise, it’s a pretty perverse premise too, some kind of secret male or female fantasy, that really shouldn’t be marketed as a romance, because there is nothing romantic about it.  Other than the gimmick, this is a largely conventional romance, and that should be reason enough to stay away from it.  To top it off, there is a fake ending, and it ends just the way Hollywood ends all romantic films.  It took four people to write this drivel.  That speaks volumes about what it takes to write a screenplay in Hollywood.

I like Blake Lively, she was surprisingly good in The Town, but in this movie she has to play it like a straight drama, despite the outlandish premise, and so the performance suffers.  I like Harrison Ford, he’s a great action star, and a good character actor, given good writing, but he vacillates here between doting husband, and amateur detective, and his character is not interesting enough on either account to make this role worth watching. I like Ellen Burstyn, but her role was too cute by half, role reversal in the extreme, she deserved better.

The direction in this movie was horrid, the pacing was leaden, once the audience knows the secret, which happens very early in the film, the audience just waits and waits and waits for the secret to come out to the other characters.  The director, who I’ve never heard of, gets bland performances from a great cast, so it must be either, the writing or the direction or both.  This was both.

The Age of Adaline.  Blake is less than lively in the starring role.

star wars the force awakens

The force is bending towards the Dark Side once again, as the First Order is in firm control, and the rebellion is in retreat.  Finn (John Boyega) a conscripted Storm Trooper sees the massacre of a village in Jakku, and decides to join the resistance.  Finn escapes the First Order with the help of a pilot for the resistance pilot named Poe. (Oscar Isaac) No sooner do they almost escape when Poe tells Finn he must retrieve a BB8 droid with important information on it.  The droid is now being taken care of by Rey (Daisy Ridley) who scavenges scrap metal and sells it for food.

On the way back to Jakku, the tie fighter crashes, Poe and Finn are separated, and now it is Rey and Finn’s turn to escape from Jakku.  Rey flies an aging rustbucket of a ship away from Jakkku, with Finn manning the weapons. When they are cornered on the ship by smugglers, Rey and Finn get some timely help, and fly to Takondana to meet Maz Kanata, (Lupita Nyongo) a mystic who tells Rey and Finn more about their future.  Finn and Rey still have doubts about their roles in the resistance.

While the resistance may be strengthened with the addition of Rey and Finn, the First Order has a new source of power named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is under the tutelage of The Supreme Leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis), who is schooling Kylo on the finer points of The Dark Side.  Kylo also has a new weapon to play with, a weapon that is aimed at the planets of the Republic, which support the resistance. Kylo just wants an excuse to test his new weapon out. Do Finn and Rey banish their doubts and help the rest of the resistance and stop Kylo Ren from using his new weapon?

I love this movie.  JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasden (who helped George Lucas write the first Star Wars movie) seamlessly integrate new and old characters and plotlines into one cohesive story.  The new characters seem to mirror some of the old ones, but not in such an obvious way that it would turn off a veteran viewer of the Star Wars saga.  There was one aspect of the plot which I didn’t like, but overall the story is well told, and brings many disparate aspects together harmoniously.

The acting is stellar.  John Boyega is outstanding as Finn who is conflicted by his friendship for Poe and Rey and his desire for self-preservation.  Boyega also gives Finn a false bravado that gives the character a nice comedic touch. Oscar Isaac uses all the wit, charm, and intelligence he displayed in Inside Llewyn  Davis to make Poe a likable character.  Daisy Ridley is the real find here, she shows astonishing range, vulnerable in one scene, fighting convincingly in the next.  She also has good chemistry with Boyega, and that is key to the story as well.  Lupita Nyongo eschews her beauty and plays a character role, quite convincingly I might add.  Whatever they paid Harrison Ford to reprise his role as Han Solo, it wasn’t enough, he plays Han as the crotchety old codger, he’s basically playing himself, but it works so well for this character.  Carrie Fisher acquits herself nicely, she still has great timing and chemistry with Ford, and their scenes together are a treat. The one fly in the ointment was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, he looked like Gene Simmons and delivered his lines with the blandness of Hayden Christiansen.

The direction by Abrams is also superior, the pacing is excellent.  For a two hour and 15 minute movie, the scenes were lightning quick and action packed, and yet had backstory.  There were enough scenes reminiscent of A New Hope to make a veteran of these films comfortable, yet this movie can stand on its own too.  Abrams gets great performances from his cast, which includes a lot of newcomers.  Some of the scenes are predictable, but they had to be included in in the film because they are expected in a film like this.  Abrams had a lot of pressure on him to make a good film, and he did.  So all the rotten things I said about the later seasons of Lost, and Cloverfield, and the two Star Trek movies are forgotten, for now.

Star Wars The Force Awakens:  Abrams not sleepwalking through this movie.

enders game

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a young recruit tasked to fight the Formics, an alien species who killed millions of humans 50 years before Ender joined the fight.  Ender is being trained in a boot camp, whose leader, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees great potential in Ender.  But Graff’s assistant, Major Anderson (Viola Davis) feels Ender is far too young to train for war.  Ender at first thinks he is rejected for the service, and goes home, only to be bullied and almost killed by his brother, Peter, (Jimmy Pinchak) over the objections of Ender’s sister, Valentine.  (Abigail Breslin)

In reality, Graff wants Ender to lead the military response to the Fomics so badly, that he goes to Ender’s house and personally recruits him to join.  The new recruits or “launchies” are first trained by Sergeant Dap (Nanzo Anzoie) but is quickly promoted to a regiment led by Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias) Bonzo is immediately jealous of the friendship that Ender strites up with fellow cadet, Petra Arkanian. (Hailee Steinfield) The stress of the leadership position is getting to Ender, he is being bullied by Gonzo, and having nightmares involving his sister and the Formics, but his training is going well and enters the final simulation, with the help of legendary fighter pilot, Mazer Rackham. (Ben Kingsley) What are the results of the final simulation for Ender and his crew?

I like Ender’s Game. At first, I thought it was just another in a long line of “Chosen One” sci-fi adventures, like Star Wars, or the Matrix, but then I was pleasantly surprised by a better than expected ending.  It’s a thoughtful, well-conceived ending.  It’s an ending with a conscience, and that makes it better than the typical space shoot-em-up movie.  The author of the Ender’s Game series made some disturbing and ignorant comments which will probably doom any more movies from being made, and that’s unfortunate because this is a movie with a lot of potential.

Harrison Ford gives his best performance in years as the gruff (what else?) Colonel Graff.  Science fiction and adventure tales are Ford’s bread and butter, it’s nice to see him back in a genre where he is clearly comfortable.  Viola Davis is less comfortable in her role, and it shows.  Asa Butterfield is really good however, alternately tough and sensitive when he needs to be, this could have been a major stepping stone for him, but he continues to build a solid career.  He first caught my attention with a heartbreaking performance in The Boy in The Striped Pajamas. Hailee Steinfeld is also very good as a fellow recruit and possible love interest.  Ben Kingsley is good as the old hand hero pilot who gives Ender his final training.

The pacing is good, the special effects are not overwhelming.  Two hours well spent.

Ender’s Game.  The End of a potentially good series.