Monday, 29 August 2016

August Blindspot: Blade Runner

Image result for blade runner poster

Blade Runner, 1982
Directed by Ridley Scott

I watched this film actually about a week ago, though I'm not sure why I waited so long to post my Blindspot review of it. To be honest, I'm not really sure what I thought of Blade Runner. In a way, I don't really think I thought much of it, neither good nor bad.

The concept and the world-building of Ridley Scott's cult classic is really great. The basic premise is that Deckard is a former Replicant Hunter who is asked to return to his job by his old boss when 4 Replicants escape their colony and need to be eliminated. What are Replicants? They are bioengineered androids that can pass for humans. They've been deemed illegal on Earth and are kept as slaves on other planet colonies. Like I said, the world-building of the idea of Replicants and how humans deal with them is really awesome. Even the story itself is really interesting.

I don't know though, something just didn't strike with me. To be honest, there was a scene jump early on in the film that left me confused and I was left feeling a little confused for the rest of the movie. Whether it was a choppy scene jump that actually confused me or if I got distracted and ended up confused, I'm not entirely sure. Also, I was watching The Final Cut. Does this make much of a difference to the film? I know there are quite a few cuts of this film out there.

Anyway, Harrison Ford is just really cool as Deckard, obviously. The 80's were definitely prime Harrison Ford era and this is something cool for his resume. However, was anyone hoping there'd be a big twist and that Deckard is a similar kind of replicant to Rachel? I was seriously hoping that would happen, but it did not. Twist for the sequel?

Honestly, I wish I had enjoyed the film more and maybe after another viewing I probably will. I am eager for the sequel as I'm very excited that Denis Villeneuve was selected as the director. The original had a really cool vibe and was much slower than I was expecting (which I liked) and I think it's definitely right up Villeneuve's alley. Also, Jared Leto better be playing some sort of Replicant because he completely looks the part.

Anyway, I did somewhat enjoy Blade Runner but did feel a bit confused for most of the time. I do plan to try to rewatch this film in the near-ish future (when I get some time!) So hopefully I can change my initial opinion on this film.


Thursday, 18 August 2016


Ben-Hur, 2016
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

I think I can probably count myself as one of a small group of people under 25 that saw the 1959 Charleton Heston version of Ben-Hur. In fact, I ranked it as my 3rd favourite Best Picture winner, so I actually liked the film very, very much. So when I heard that they were doing a new version of Ben-Hur, all I could ask was "why?"

And even after finally watching the new 2016 version, I still don't fully understand the need for this remake. In fact, I'm still fairly unsure who the target audience for this even is. Is it those who saw the 1959 version? But would 3D appeal to that 65+ audience? Is this targeted at the Christian community? Is it trying to draw in new and younger viewers who didn't see the more famous (and long) version? So while I can't exactly figure out who this was aimed at or why it was even remade to begin with, I can say that this remake was much better than I had imagined it would be.

Ben-Hur, if you dont' already know, tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince living in Jerusalem. His adopted brother, Masala, is Roman, and when they are grown up, Masala leaves Jerusalem to become an officer in the Roman army. However, Judah is falsely convicted of treason by his adopted brother and becomes a slave, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is driven to return and to have revenge on Masala.

While I did mention this version is much better than I expected, it is in no way a perfect film. In fact, the first 30-45 minutes are a little confusing and not well explained. There is a lot of drama with Romans vs the zealots in Jerusalem but it's not really made all that clear. As well, I feel like who characters even were was not overly explained either. It took a while for the film to eventually find it's feet. But eventually it did, and for quite a while the film was actually really good. Basically, it isn't until Judah becomes a slave that the film really picks up. However, the ending became somewhat clunky as this is the part where the story of Jesus is interwoven into the story and I don't know if the filmmaker really knows how to deal with this part. Without too many spoilers, I felt like it was much more a painting of "Jesus was a really, really good person with great ideas about how to live" instead of telling the audience that Jesus was in fact God and was here to save the world from sin and that he was much more than just a "good man". While I found the lessening of the religiousness and having it turned more into moralism to be somewhat disappointing, I was not overly surprised.

And how can I not mention the chariot scene? I saw it in 3D which was honestly pretty neat, even if my eyes kind of suck at seeing 3D stuff. I can tell this new version really tried to make the chariot scene, which is the most iconic scene from the 1959 version, much more epic, but I really feel like the original chariot scene still holds up so well and is still quite thrilling. Again, this is more a complaint of why remake something that is such a classic, but I digress. The chariot scene was well done, although I feel like most of it was Judah and Masala just grunting at each other and making faces.

Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur was quite good. He really nailed the air of a rich naive person who thinks everything can resolve nicely. And Toby Kebbell is also really good as Masala. Morgan Freeman's dreadlocks I found to be extremely distracting, but it was nice to see him around and he was solid (as usual) in his part as Ilderim, the man who makes money off these Roman circuses. Everyone was quite serviceable in their roles, and Jack Huston was actually quite good, but there was nothing that overly stood out to me about their acting.

To be honest, do yourself a favour and see the 1959 version of this film. I know not everyone agrees that it has held up, but it really is a good watch for a 3+ hour movie. However, this 2016 3D Ben-Hur is a serviceable remake of an absolute classic and isn't the worst remake of something I've seen. The pacing is really good despite the confusing beginning and clunky end, and doesn't feel nearly like it's 2.5 hours long. It's not a perfect film, but I've definitely seen far worse this summer.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad, 2016
Directed by David Ayer

A secret government agency, led by Amanda Waller, begins to recruit a dream team of super villains to undergo secret missions. However, Waller may have gotten more than she bargained for with the likes of Deadshot, Harley Quinn and the others.

Honestly, I had high hopes for Suicide Squad. I really hoped this would give DC the good reviews it surely needs and get its superhero trail going. Because, if I haven't mentioned already, I don't really care for Marvel movies. For me, they're a little too light, don't take themselves seriously enough and have a little too much humor. I know, I know. I'm probably the only person who complains that Marvel movies have too much humor, but whatever. I am a huge fan of the Dark Knight trilogy and have really wanted some more superhero films like that to be made. However, Man of Steel ended up being pretty blah, and I still haven't seen Batman v. Superman, but Suicide Squad seemed to be what DC needed. Suicide Squad assembled an amazing team of actors (Viola Davis, Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto altogether? Count me in!) and even recruited a really fantastic director, David Ayer. And while critics would right now have you believe this movie is terrible, I would have to disagree.

To be fair, I walked into Suicide Squad aware of the RottenTomatoes score and having lowered expectations definitely helps when it comes to opinions on movies, for me. I knew in advance that this movie was choppy (both in story and in editing) so I found it to be less distracting because I knew it would be that way.

Yes, Suicide Squad isn't a perfect movie. It has many slightly cringe-worthy moments and the villain is absolute garbage and I'm still not sure what her plot actually was, but I still enjoyed it. This is the kind of film that I felt was rushed and, had the team behind it been given more time to write a script or even just not be terrified of repeating the criticisms of Batman v. Superman and just went for it with Ayer's vision, it would've been one of the best films of the summer. However, for whatever reason (be it too little time, or just scared of repeating the BvS fiasco), Suicide Squad was several steps away from greatness.

And while I have made several complaints, there is a lot to like about this film. The film had a lot of genuinely funny moments. I absolutely loved the inclusion of Ike Barinholtz in this cast. As a Mindy Project fan, it was so great to see Morgan in this film. While his part is small, I loved seeing him around. But more on, I really loved most of the cast. Obviously Viola Davis was such a boss. Like seriously, can we just have a superhero/super villain movie starring Viola Davis? I would so watch that. And I think it's no surprise at this point that Margot Robbie steals the show completely. I'm so happy she's finally gotten a big role like this and happy for the roles it will land her in the future. Also, I haven't enjoyed Will Smith in a movie in a while, and he was an absolute pleasure in this. And while Jared Leto isn't my favourite Joker, his rendition really fit the film and I felt he nailed what he was going for. Also, is this the first film that Jai Courtney wasn't actually terrible? In fact, he was really great and really funny. And I feel like Joel Kinneman was, every so often, trying to sound like Tom Hardy (who originally had this role before dropping out).

And it wasn't just the acting that was enjoyable, but there were a lot of great moments. The fight scenes were well done and there was a lot of great humor. I liked the balance of humor and seriousness here better than I do most Marvel movies, but again, I realize this is an unpopular decision.

Like mentioned, the biggest downer for me was how terrible the villain is. Like, honestly the villain was so confusing and I don't really know what Enchantress was trying to accomplish. It's the exact same problem I had with X-Men: Apocalypse, with Apocalypse being incredibly uninteresting and have a really flimsy purpose. It was even just really corny to watch, every time she came on screen. The movie was so enjoyable and then the villain would come on screen and I'd remember why this film is currently sitting at a 31% on RT. Which is a bummer, because the rest of the film was actually a lot of fun.

I really do wish the best for DC, but three films in and no critical hit, I really hope that the DC team takes a few steps back and lets their directing/writing team have the time they need to work on and perfect the next few films. Because had this movie had that chance, it probably would've been both a critical and box-office hit. I understand that DC wants the success Marvel has, but even I can say that Marvel has done the work to earn what they have (or at least most of the time!) Suicide Squad was just a few steps away from greatness, and had a lot of potential. And even with a terrible, awful villain, it was a fun ride while it lasted.