‘Blade Runner 2049′ is a visual masterpiece that suffers from a lengthy run time.

blade-runner-2049-poster.jpg
Blade Runner 2049
 tells the story of a young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

After the countless disappointments in high budget, science-fiction and fantasy films that have been churned out in recent times, it’s rare to find something that actually works. To continue on with the Blade Runner universe, French-Canadian writer and director Denis Villeneuve couldn’t have been a better choice and his choice of lead in Ryan Gosling even better.

If the name seems familiar, he’s best known for his critically acclaimed crime-thrillers/science-fiction films in Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015), and Arrival (2016). Thankfully, he’s one of the few writer/director’s out there who’s told dynamically diverse films that hold female leads, much like Taylor Sheridan who penned Sicaro.

The problem with this film is although a visual master piece, suffered because of it. It’s overly-lengthy run time at a whopping two hours and forty-three minutes meant that you needed more than one drink to get through it. There were many times where there was nothing happening and if removed, could have resulted in a much tighter, more intense film than the indulgent piece of visual art it was.

The plot was meandering at best, wandering from place to place, and eventually getting to the point the film itself was trying to make. Overall, the pacing was incredibly tedious and sluggish that held an interesting enough villain who failed to spend more than five minutes on screen. Because of this, Blade Runner 2049 felt like nothing more than an aesthetic visual art diary. It’s not the fault of the actors who were hardly given enough in the first place to work with, despite a promising concept that failed upon delivery.

To be quite frank and brutally honest, the entire story is something that could have been told in under an hour. Especially with the anti-climatic ending where the film went out with a whimper and not a bang, leaving you feel drained and needing to lie down.

Actors Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, and Robin Wright all performed brilliantly considering what they had to work with — fleshing out their characters as much as they could. Leto felt very under utilised with his character being so much more prominent throughout the film as the times we did get to see him, he would make you feel uneasy with the slightest of movements.

Despite the film barely reaching the groundbreaking status of the original 1982 film, Villeneuve does his best to make the film as creative as possible and he succeeds in that. At least visually. When news broke that he was taking the helm of the Blade Runner sequel, there was no doubt mixed feelings. Although it may not have captured the magic and the story within the original, he exceeds expectations as a visual experience, fully using all the technology available in our modern era.

Unlike many of the blockbuster films nowadays, Villeneuve doesn’t just deliver a spectacle, but he manages to pick up from where previous director Ridley Scott had left off. It’s been a thirty-five year long wait and even with the time difference, the bar has been raised very high.

All in all, the film was overlong without much story yet visually impeccable, worthy of an IMAX screening.

Film-O-Meter: 7/10.

Advertisements

‘Battle of the Sexes’ is an empty shell of what it could’ve been.

timthumb.jpg
Battle of the Sexes
 tells the story of the true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.

Going into the film, there was the vague knowledge of this event in tennis’ history and not really knowing the outcome. From what the trailer gave us, the film itself hardly focused on the match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King — it instead focused on all the events that precluded the match before actually focusing on the butting of heads between its two players taking up the last quarter.

Riggs’ part of the story was a minor part as it focused more on Emma Stones’ Billie Jean King and her affair with her hairdresser. It’s funny how the trailer’s managed to leave this part of Battle of the Sexes out completely as it was a major portion of the film itself. You ended up going into the film with the thought that you were going to see a film about the fight for equal pay and instead received a love story of sorts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this — the only issue was with how the film was marketed, if it received any marketing at all.

As per usual, Stone shines in her role with warmth and vulnerability as her scenes with Andrea Riseborough’s Marilyn held an easily believable chemistry. It’s no wonder that she’s finally getting the credit she deserves. And, of course, Stone’s opposition in Steve Carell’s Bobby Riggs is gloriously hilarious as ever as he plays an over-the-top chauvinist pig and hustler. He has a knack for really making you believe the roles he’s playing, despite the character’s downfalls.

Though, despite all this, there was an obvious unease in watching the film — the film could have explore more of the ever out-of-control media circus and the public’s reaction as a culture to it. Currently we live in an age where we turn to late night comedians and their talk shows for their more often than not accurate viewpoints on politics and our society. If Battle of the Sexes delved more into the media circus surrounding the event, or even having a more focussed view instead of trying to cover too much, it could’ve been that much better and less of a bore.

And once we get to the event that the whole film has been leading up to, it feels like we’re at home watching a tennis game on the television. There’s no excitement in how the match was shot and was a very stock standard event, making the sport more of an eyesore than it should be. If this is the height of the film, the supposed climax, than it hardly feels like it. There was nothing at all exciting about it.

Battle of the Sexes comes at a time where misogyny is being public fought and LGBT+ rights something being fought for but the film came across as nothing but an empty shell of what it could been in an unfinished war

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

“The Beguiled” is barely beguiling.

timthumb.jpg
The Beguiled
 tells the story of the unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls’ school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.

The thing about writer/director/producer Sofia Coppola’s films are that they’re extreme languid, over glorified pieces of pretty. What I mean by that is they’re more often than not lauded for their pieces of cinema when they’re nothing more than something to put you into a deep sleep.

This remake of the 1971 film was spoiled by the fanaticism that left out particular key aspects of the civil war that played quite a huge impact. This can be found in Hallie, who was a slave, and had many interesting points to add to the film as a whole. And this wasn’t the only thing that was left out — the crush between the soldier and Amy, insinuating the pedophilia, and the incestuous memories of Ms. Farnsworth’s relationship with her brother as well as the flashback’s that revealed the true nature of the soldier and the sexual fantasy aspect of the characters that were the basis for their motivation in the story.

It’s safe to say that the characters were impoverished of what they once were, stripping away all the rich character development and leaving behind a vapid retelling. It seemed nothing more than a fancy dress party captured on film. All of this made the film feel like nothing more than a shallow, one dimensional film that she created for the sake of creating a moving piece of “art.” And not to mention the fact that more often than not, the film was too dark to properly see anything that was happening.

How Sofia Coppola continues to make films is beyond me…oh, wait. She’s a Coppola. She has a name. And is the perfect example of how people like Sofia Coppola can continue to make meaningless films like The Beguiled while struggling filmmakers attempting to break into the industry continued to be turned away. And it’s a surprise that some would consider even remaking the original, let alone Sofia Coppola, with the film to receive relatively favourable reviews.

Although she may be one of the rare female filmmakers of prominence in modern Hollywood, it’s a shame that she is when she churns out content like The Beguiled, The Bling Ring, and Somewhere.

The Beguiled was lifeless and dull, despite how many have called the film a “slow burn.” It’s anything but. You feel nothing for the film and it’s quite noticeable. When you watch content, you expect to transported away from the real world into something of a fantasy but with this, there was just…nothing. Instead, you begin to question yourself at what exactly the point of The Beguiled was and how it failed as a film altogether. It’s basic filmmaking, let alone when you’re creating something, to understand that you have to ask yourself questions like “what are you trying to say?” and “what are the themes?”

Jessica Chastain’s comment at this years Festival de Cannes where she said that “women’s portrayal in film is disturbing” can be seen to be directed at this particular film. It proves that a film like The Beguiled starring several women does not mean it has any feminist themes whatsoever, with this particular iteration coming across as very vengeful and sexist where it paints no gender in any positive light.

Not only is The Beguiled problematic, the filmmaking is very concerning, and hardly at all ambitious. We’re not asking for much as an audience — we just want to be apart of a film that knows what it is, in which The Beguiled hardly was a film in the first place.

The Beguiled is barely beguiling.

Film-O-Meter: 0/10.

Filmmakers take note – ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is how you make a comic book film.

tumblr_inline_owpkdacueF1qd1ee1_500.jpg

Kingsman: The Golden Circle tells the story of the British intelligence agency and their journey of discovering an allied spy organisation in the USA after their headquarters are destroyed. These two elite secret organisations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

The thing with sequel’s is that, more often than not, they never live up to their predecessor. There are the few exceptions such as Empire Strikes Back or The Two Towers, otherwise theres always the preference for the original. In the case for this new Kingsman film, it’s exactly that – the preference for the original was given. Not only did it discover the likes of Taron Egerton, really giving him a step up into the industry, but shedding a light that Colin Firth was more than the romantic lead with the acting chops to prove himself.

The Golden Circle has the originality of it’s processor, filled with fun, over the top antics, and putting people in situations that we may not expect them (this time around being Sir Elton John swearing like a sailor and kicking ass in heels and his more than flamboyant outfits). What it lacks this time around, however, is ‘The Secret Service’s’ distinct creativity. This is something that can definitely be seen with Vaughn’s previous work in Kick-Ass – with the impeccable casting of Chloe Grace Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johson (also another platform for their careers), the original was so out there and entertaining but failed to provide a renewed energy in the second instalment.

Despite The Golden Circle feeling so action packed, the entire film feels like its way too long for its own good. Standing at two and a half hours, it feels like so many things could have been left out to make the film a more enjoyable experience. The film lurches from set piece to set piece, not really giving time for either us or the characters to just breathe. There has to be times in films, even momentarily, where events can settle and everyone on either side of the screen can recover. This can be pinned down to pacing and the almost excessive use of slow-motion.

Even though The Golden Circle still remains entertaining at best, at worst the story isn’t the strongest with obvious plot twists and almost forgetting some of the characters. Channing Tatum’s Tequila, Jeff Bridges’ Champagne, and Halle Berry’s Ginger Ale hardly received the screen time they deserved. It would’ve been great to know them some more as their performances are strong and engaging in the time they’re on screen.

At most, when articles from sources like The Mary Sue describing how uncomfortable Egerton was with that ‘sex’ scene that he refused to perform the acts required of him, calling in Poppy Delevigne’s husband instead (who was performing opposite him in the scene), it really makes you step back and think about the film as a whole. Yes, it may be an entertaining bit of fun where you can love the characters for what they are and enjoy a film that’s over the top in ways that, say, ‘James Bond’ is not, you really have to question if the team behind this instalment of ‘Kingsman’ is really pushing the envelope too far. If you’re lead is refusing to do something, this should really ring alarm bells, but it didn’t and the scene went ahead anyway. Creativity isn’t something that Writer/Director/Producer Matthew Vaughn is short of so in all honesty, another situation that could have accomplished the same thing could have been thought of.

Vaughn has revealed that a third ‘Kingsman’ film is planned with a spin-off ‘Statesman’ film. All we can hope is that some sense in the madness is found that can bring us back full ‘circle’ to what made us love ‘Kingsman’ in the first place. Much like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ ‘The Golden Circle’ will make audiences glad they returned to the cinema to experience the world once more, but ultimately wasn’t as satisfying as they’d hoped it to be.

If anything, Vaughn and writing partner Jane Goldman, know how to make a comic-book adaption. Filmmakers take note.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘American Assassin’ barely assassinates your boredom.

American Assassin is story centered on counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp.

To be quite frank, American Assassin was undoubtedly boring and predictable, despite its cast. That and the marketing campaign for the film was beyond poor that going into the film, there was nothing to know about it, and unable to recall the trailer for the film (maybe, even, the trailer was so unmemorable in the first place).

The film is riddled with cliches and you can guess what’s about to happen before it does with performances as bland as boiled cabbage. The fun in the film, however, can be found in protagonist Mitch Rapp’s (‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘Maze Runner’s’ Dylan O’Brien) horribly fake beard and hair cut that made you want to jump through the screen to chop it all off.

It could have been so much more, especially as the climax went out with a fizzle instead of a bang. It’s nothing but another very average Hollywood effort in the mid-year slump. There’s no clearer message in the fact that films like American Assassin are the reason why the box office takings are down in recent years. The film is acceptable to a point where you just have to pass it off as absolutely ridiculous and fails miserably.

It’s just a shame that there’s nothing else out at the cinemas at the moment you’d rather see. In the end, you’d rather spend your time and money watching Tom Cruise run away from things than a film so generic that you fall asleep halfway through.

FIlm-O-Meter: 4/10.

‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ should be seen just for the Jackson and Reynolds chemistry.

hit-body-poster-small.jpg
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
tells the story of  the world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

If the trailer’s were anything to judge the film by, The Hitman’s Bodyguard looked like it may have had something there but otherwise looked like a generic action film. And those thoughts aren’t wrong as at least the first twenty minutes are exactly that, but at least needed to set up the rest of the film.

Once you get past the opening section of the film and Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘motherfucker’ flinging character and Ryan Reynolds finally teaming up, the entire film changes. This can either be a good or a bad thing though it certainly made the film more enjoyable. The film doesn’t take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either, especially with the likes of Jackson and Reynolds teaming up. This isn’t a James Bond or Bourne film. It’s pure action comedy and a load of fun.

The main problem with The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that the cliches that riddle the film nearly completely ruin the chemistry Reynolds and Jackson have with each other. If the entire script wasn’t re-written mere weeks before the shoot, there may have been more time to sort out all the issues we see in the film’s current state.

Predictability aside, the story is told and you can figure it all out before it actually happens on screen, but that’s not important. What’s important that you’re just having fun and enjoying yourself while laughing at the chemistry, despite one or two jokes falling flat.

The action sequences are really on point as the film pushes the limits of their surroundings in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was nice to see another part of the world being used in such a way from boat races to car chases and helicopter rides. There’s no stopping it.

It’s not a film that everyone will like but either way, The Hitman’s Bodyguard should be seen just for the Jackson and Reynolds chemistry.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘Wind River’ proves that indie filmmakers deserve more recognition.

PosterSpy_WindRiver_1.png

‘Wind River’ tells the true story of an FBI agent who tens with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

A big thank you to the likes of actor, writer, and now director Taylor Sheridan for having two successful scripts with female leads that don’t have sex as a major part of the story. It’s hard, nowadays, to find films and television shows that aren’t stained with this in graphic detail. Even though the film is centred around a rape of a young Native American woman, it doesn’t show the gruesomeness in its full extent.

‘Wind River’ takes us into rural America, far away from the world and cities that we’ve become used to seeing on the big screen. Those in rural Wyoming are tough and there’s no mucking around, really showing characters at the edge of darkness. The exhaustiveness of the city doesn’t reach here but it doesn’t mean these people are simple whatsoever — there’s more richness and complexity than the fake attitude and deceitfulness that may come with the supposed “high life” that we’re conditioned to aspire to, though it’s nothing but an empty shell of what it presents itself to be. People here work hard and have been through much, causing their bitter and resentful attitude’s to stir.

It’s really a shame that this film isn’t as widely recognised as Sheridan’s previous work in ‘Hell Or High Water’ starring Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, and Ben Foster that was released at the end of last year or even ‘Sicario’ with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin from 2015. It’s a film worth searching for to see at the cinemas as he’s tension and subtitles make him one of the best filmmakers of our time. There’s something about Sheridan’s films that are just so profound and thrilling as he brings to life an array of diversity in his gripping stories.

What’s disappointing is what it’s such a shame that those like Sheridan and even Jeff Nichols (‘Mud,’ ‘Take Shelter,’ ‘Midnight Special’) are overpowered by the bloated, over glorified filmmakers saturating the market today. Hollywood, however, will always look at the ticket sales instead of the work being produced, making it harder for those like Sheridan and Nichols to get their films made and released into the world.

‘Wind River’ is a complex and cleverly written thriller that starts out as a typical ‘whodunnit’ but becomes so much more than that. It’s about retribution and the clash between the outsider’s and locals, between the whites and natives, as a level of frustration arises from this murder investigation that brings up all these kinds of cultural suspicions.

In many ways, Elizabeth Olsen proves herself to be a formidable actress and the better actress of the Olsen family. She’s a character out of her element but this could also be a very good vantage point for us to see through. She’s supported by Jeremy Renner, who’s a man of few words but his actions definitely mean more than the little words he speaks. Their dynamic is not something like that of an odd-duo, it’s more the both of them trying to prove themselves in their environments.

It’s been a long time since we had a thriller that was as good as this.

Film-O-Meter: 9/10.