Lucien’s First Take: Blade Runner 2049 Teaser Trailer

My girl and I recently saw Deni Villeneuve’s latest film Arrival.  It was smart science fiction done perfectly right.  I have SO been missing smart sci-fi.  With all the stupid shit that I get subjected to all the time in big blockbusters, it is just awesome that I saw a science fiction film that isn’t just shit blowing up and people killing people.  In fact, the killing in the movie is treated as something that should be seen off-screen.  He wanted to make the movie about the characters that it’s happening to.  I love this guy’s movies.  He takes complicated themes and applies them to kinds of films that we’ve seen a million times.  Granted, they aren’t for everyone, but he doesn’t shy away from that.  When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to Blade Runner, I was so fucking nervous.  I mean, there are so many ways that that could be fucked up.  Since Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time, my nerves were piqued.  But then I heard who is directing it, and I saw Arrival.  Now I know that it is in perfect hands.  You couldn’t ask for better.

Got to thinking – maybe Arrival was Denis trying his hands at sci-fi.  Like, he wanted to see what he could do with a story that is as overdone as it gets, just to see if he could tackle a film that is slow, methodical, and filled with all kinds of subtext.  He nailed it, and because he nailed it once, I am positive that he can do the first film justice.  They have released a teaser trailer, and this is all I am going to be watching of the trailers that are released, because this was all I needed to see to get interested in seeing where the story goes.

We open with a scene of the dismal gray of the world.  Since the original film borrowed so much from noire style, I like that this movie is making sure to remind us that they haven’t forgotten that.  We then get to see a very orange world.  Where is this?  The film doesn’t up and tell us that, which is all for the better.  Maybe one of the off-world colonies?  That honestly would be pretty sick.  Our protagonist is approaching some dilapidated structure.  Already we are seeing subtlety.  Did you notice the door to the building that our protagonist enters?  Above them there is some writing.  It’s Korean.  That’s just awesome!  Since the street language from the original film was an amalgamation of various languages, it’s kind of cool that the building that this guy enters has Korean on it.  Villeneuve is already all over making this feel right.

Our protagonist is played by Ryan Gosling.  Excellent.  After watching Drive, I know that he’s the perfect pick for a movie like this.  He can do slow plotting and subtle acting.  He’s one of those actors who really gets into a role.  Can’t wait to see how he acts off of Harrison Ford.  Speaking of, we get to hear our favorite Blade Runner!  Yay!  And he doesn’t look medicated!  My biggest problem throughout ALL of The Force Awakens was how Ford looked like he couldn’t possibly care less about being in that film.  Now he actually looks like he gives a fuck.  This can only mean good things.  Villeneuve is something if a deranged perfectionist, so the way I see it, if Ford was willing to stick this out, it meant something to him.  Either that or the studio held a gun to his head and threatened a lawsuit if he didn’t comply.  But I’d like to think that he did it because he wanted to.

There are so many questions.  In the original film, the assumption was that Deckard was a replicant.  The theory is that all Blade Runners are.  They create replicants to hunt other replicants.  It’s a twisted reality.  So, since replicants have a life span, what’s the story with him?  What has happened since the events of the original film?  Gosling’s character says that things were “so much simpler back then.”  I take it that the replicant situation has gone more than a little out of control.  It was hinted that that was the inevitable result of using cloned people to do the dirty work that no one wanted to do.  That some kind of violent uprising was inevitable.  What’s happened?  Since it is Villeneuve working on the film, I know that there are some amazing answers that will be coming.

We leave the orange-tinted world that Deckard is in, and go back the rainy city.  A reminder to us that it is in the world of Blade Runner?  I suppose.  But the real treat is getting to hear a snippet of that iconic theme as the title comes up.  Font and all, this is so perfect.  I cannot wait to see where this goes.  Next October can’t come fast enough.

Initial Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Review: Arrival

arrivalWhen the film ended, and I looked over at my darling companion, the first thing she said is that this movie was complicated.  That’s a statement that can and DOES apply to all Denis Villeneuve’s movies.  This is a guy who expects nothing less than perfect from whatever he makes, and because of that puts out some of the most underrated films that I have ever seen.  The man loves to make his movies complicated, with both themes and symbolism that you can easily miss.  When my girl and I got to talking about the movie after we got done watching, I pointed out something that I am reasonably certain I caught that she missed.  I won’t say what it is.  I hope that there are going to be some fantastic arguments with people about all the parts of the movie.  This was the most unexpected sci-fi movie about aliens landing, and it is this movie that makes me absolutely certain that the sequel to Blade Runner (one of my all-time favorite films) is in good hands.

The plot of the film follows Amy Adams’ character, as a professor of language who seems to have had a tragedy befall her life.  I can’t tell you what it is.  Trust me, it plays into the plot in a big way.  While dealing with this, a series of strange crafts come to Earth from the stars.  The military asks her to come with them and help to establish contact, as they are completely unable to communicate with the beings.  The film chronicles her efforts to speak with the creatures, and decipher the one question that has the entire world on edge – what is your purpose on Earth?  A question that is far more difficult than you’d think to ask.

I cannot begin to praise how believable the elements of this film are without an INSANE level of exposition.  This feels so genuine.  So much of that pends on Amy Adams for her performance.  This woman is a rising star in my eyes of actresses.  She is fantastic in this role, and I hope to see her in more fantastic movies in the future.  The way she explains the usage of language and shows just how much of an academic understanding she has of the medium is wonderful.  When the film wants to show that knowledge, it does so incredibly well.  Amy Adams is the glue that held this movie together, and it is was damn-near perfect glue.

But let’s not cute short the rest of the performances.  Jeremy Renner is very good in his role.  You can see the development of his character from a science who takes what Adams’ character believes not seriously at all to respecting her as he sees just how good she is and how hard she is willing to push herself.  The relationship that develops between the two is believable and by the end, you feel their connection without some cliche kiss in the rain or something like that.  Just through little expressions, you see them growing on each other.

Then there is Forest Whitaker’s character.  In fact, everything to do with the military in this movie was worlds better than what you see the military like in other films.  Sure, they are quick to assume deadly intent, but you can see just how powerless and fearful they are.  This is so much bigger than any one nation, and as the situation grows more and more tense, globally, it makes sense why they are so on edge.  Whitaker grows to depend on his two experts feels real and even how he is having to obey orders when he knows that the situation is more complicated.  I hate in movies how the military is treated like some “let’s just shoot them” group.  Sure, we in ‘Murica do tend to shoot first and ask questions never, but in a situation where we don’t know if shooting might result in global destruction, even ‘Murica would have to bend to the idea of trying to find a peaceful solution.  Granted, there are some “we need to blow them up” moments, but there is enough time of them being unsure and trying to look into other alternatives that I can believe when it gets there.

Now let’s get to the effects in this movie.  I won’t claim that they are perfect.  In fact, there is one scene in-particular where Adams’ CG hair is so bad that it is kind of funny.  But this film keeps the visual effects to a minimum.  And when it wants to shine, it really does.  Since the entire conflict in the film is about translating the aliens’ language, the scenes where we get to see both sides communicating are just awesome.  I love the visual design for the language.  I wonder how much effort went into designing it.  Since Villeneuve tends to be an insane perfectionist in his movies, I get the feeling that it was a lot.

Lastly, if you are going to see this movie, keep in mind that it’s dense.  If you’ve seen this director’s other words, you should know that going into it.  It asks some pretty hard questions, and I can’t wait to get it on blu-ray so I can rewatch it and maybe do a Critical Examination of the film and some of the stuff I saw.  My compatriot wasn’t in the right mindset for how dense some of this got, but I could tell she was impressed when I took some of it and laid it straight.  Plus, I loved getting to watch a movie with her.  We don’t get to hang out nearly enough.  But she’s a busy girl.  Adulthood, am I right?

This was a fantastic movie.  It’s not for everyone.  If you are looking for some alien thriller with all kinds of action, you are DEFINITELY going to the wrong place.  I honestly recommend that anyone who wants to see this movie avoid trailers.  They spoil things.  This director doesn’t get the respect he deserves, but hopefully movies like this get him some more mainstream acclaim.  I can’t wait to see what he does with the Blade Runner universe.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

I already did a First Take about the initial trailer for this new film.  I wasn’t impressed.  Even now, the design of that lightsaber bothers me.  But whatever.  I’m just being a nit-picky bastard.  Not only that, but I have been burned out of Star Wars from how terrible the prequel films were.  I said that this new movie would have to go out of its way to impress me.  A couple other teasers and I wasn’t impressed.  However, they have released the final trailer, and I am just going to come out and say it – I am going to see this movie in theaters.  Assuming I have the money.  Budget is beyond tight, at the moment.  But I am going to see the film all the same.  If I don’t have the money, then I guess I’ll be avoiding spoilers like a bitch and then waiting for it to come out on Netflix.  If I had a Patreon page, would you all donate to that cause?  Don’t worry, I don’t.  Just making a funny.  Sort of.  Written word will never be profitable like YouTube, so I know that no one would donate.  Oh well.  Part of me wishes that I was able to somehow monetize this.  It has been my passion project for years.  Wait, I’m getting off topic.  The trailer.  I’ll let you all see it, then we’ll talk about it.

Well, if they wanted to convince me that this film is nothing like the prequels, this is it.  I mean, I love these environments!  For starters, it is cool to see inside the corpse of a Star Destroyer.  There is this girl character, and I have no idea who she is.  Would have been nice to see something about her.  We did get to know who this black stormtrooper guy is.  I actually like that.  Now, before you get on me, I did actually have an issue with this guy, but hear me out.  As much as we’d all like to believe the prequel films didn’t happen, they did.  The stormtroopers are clones, made from Jango Fett.  So who is this guy?  Why is he in this movie?  Did they start cloning other people?  I wanted an answer.  But now I’m cool with this guy.  It’s hinted that he wasn’t cloned.  Like was raised in this.  I might be wrong, but if that’s the case, then it hints that the Empire is having trouble rebuilding their clone army.  Or maybe they had to start over.  There are cool implications with this character, which is why I now am totally fine with him.  So yeah, don’t go losing your shit because I once had a problem with this.

Next up, there’s the music.  That’s the thing that REALLY got me about this trailer.  This fucking sounds like Star Wars!  For the first time, in ages, this actually sounds like Star Wars.  No idea if they got John Williams to do the score again, but if not, the person they got to replace him is REALLY fucking good.  I like this.

But more than anything else, it feels like Star Wars.  Not drowning in CG.  There is a lot there, but you see that there are sets, and environments, and real things that characters are interacting with.  Do you know how cool that is?!  I’ve been waiting for a movie that makes me feel like I am watching something worthy of the original trilogy again, and I gotta say, this is it.  I like what I am seeing.  The fighter battles were the best.  Something about watching the Millennium Falcon dodging TIE Fighter fire around a Star Destroyer corpse feels SO right.  JJ Abrams seems to have gotten the formula right, and I am actually eager to see what comes next.  This has been a year of disappointing blockbusters, but I think that this is going to be the movie that brings it all back.  Guess we’ll wait and see.  Though, since I am certain that the theaters will be filled for weeks after the film comes out, my review will almost-certainly be coming out next year.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick