Blade Runner 2049

A movie review from The Movie Snob.

Blade Runner 2049  (C).  First, a confession.  Although I know I have seen some scenes from the original Blade Runner, I’m not sure I have ever seen the whole movie from beginning to end.  But I know the gist of it: in a gritty, dystopian future, a cop (Harrison Ford, (The Force Awakens) has to track down and kill some dangerous rogue androids who are trying to pass as humans.  I’ve even read the Philip K. Dick novel on which the movie was loosely based.

In 2049, thirty years after the events of Blade Runner, the future is still gritty and dystopian, and there are still rogue androids (or replicants, as they’re called) needing to be “retired.”  The twist is that our protagonist, android hunter K (Ryan Gosling, La La Land), is a replicant himself–and he knows it.  The opening sequence has him accomplishing an ordinary mission, but further investigation uncovers a mystery that he spends the rest of the movie (a long 2 hours and 44 minutes) unraveling.  The visuals are impressive, the music is deafening, and although I didn’t totally follow the convoluted plot it still mostly held my interest.  I thought Robin Wright (Wonder Woman) was very good as the world-weary police chief that K reports to.  But I thought the most interesting part of the movie concerned K’s “home life,” so to speak.  As a replicant himself, does he have emotions?  It appears he has some emotional response, or tries to, to a holographic digital assistant called Joi (Ana de Armas, War Dogs), but flesh-and-blood human beings don’t seem to interest him.  His connection with Joi called other movies to mind, particularly her, Ex Machina, and even the recent Marjorie Prime.  And it didn’t hurt that Joi herself was stunningly beautiful.  Nevertheless, on the whole, the movie didn’t gel for me.  It’s too long, the final act isn’t great, and I didn’t think the ending made any sense.  And although there are quite a few important female characters, the movie has a misogynistic vibe.  So, there you have it.

Ender’s Game

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Ender’s Game  (C-).  I’ve never read the novel on which this movie is based, so I had no particular expectations going in.  I found it to be a fairly dull sci-fi/action flick with tons of special effects and very little else.  In the future, mankind has barely survived an attempted alien invasion by some nasty bug-like aliens.  In the following decades, the government has thrown its full weight into (1) building a space fleet to fight the aliens when they return and (2) training gifted young people to fly those ships.  Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield, Hugo) emerges as the Chosen One, a teenager with such prodigious strategic gifts that he is promptly packed off to a sort of Hogwarts-in-Space to complete his training and lead the battle fleet.  Indeed, most of the movie is about Ender doing his training, meeting his Hermione (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit), playing zero-G Quidditch, and what have you.  It’s just not very exciting stuff.  Harrison Ford (Witness) plays the gruff Dumbledore of the outfit.  Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), who’s looking more grown-up all the time, has a couple of scenes as Ender’s sister.  My goddaughter loved it (or at least claimed to), but I suggest you give it a pass.

Cowboys & Aliens

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Cowboys & Aliens  (C+).  I decided to check this bizarre-sounding flick out at the dollar theater, and I’d say that I about got my money’s worth.  The premise is right there in the title:  the time and place is the Old West, and the good townspeople of wherever they are suddenly come under attack by spaceships carrying nasty War of the Worlds type aliens.  Humanity’s salvation may lie in the hands of a gunslinger named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig, The Invasion), who stumbles into town at the beginning of the movie with a bad case of amnesia and an alien weapon shackled around his wrist.  Will he team up with Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford, Regarding Henry), the mean old guy who has the town under his thumb?  And what is the deal with the beautiful and enigmatic Ella (Olivia Wilde, Tron: Legacy), who seems to know something about the aliens?  The movie has lots of problems, such as unnecessarily gruesome violence and torture scenes and unduly disgusting aliens, plus the unbelievability that a bunch of cowboys (later joined by not a few Indians) could mount a plausible counterattack on the aliens.  But it had a few decent moments too, and that Olivia Wilde is definitely all right in my book.

Morning Glory

The premiere review for new Movie Court member Dan in Reel Life

This just in: Stay away from Morning Glory. Seeking a respite from the chill of Winter’s Bone, and from the, well, grittiness of True Grit, my girlfriend and I sought shelter at the “dollar” theater ($2 on Saturday nights) for what we hoped would be fun, light-hearted fare. We left the theater laughing alright, but not for the reasons the film intended. The ridiculous premises and clichéd dialogue left us second-guessing ourselves for not walking out halfway through.

The film chronicles the efforts of its heroine, Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams, The Family Stone) in turning around a struggling morning network TV show. In the process she battles an executive (Jeff Goldblum, The Lost World: Jurassic Park) who clearly expects her to fail and yet harasses her for her poor performance, a preexisting unmanageable anchor she promptly fires, a mother who abdicates her parental duty to support her daughter with absurd one-dimensional cruelty (“your (deceased) father was wrong to encourage your dreams” she tells Becky), and an incompetent yet quirky staff accustomed to failure. But her biggest hurdle and the crux of the film’s tension is gaining the cooperation of the legendary but disgraced anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, Hollywood Homicide). Becky has forced him out of retirement due to an obscure clause in his contract that will deny him severance if he refuses the job. Ironically it would seem the producers of this film coerced Ford to take the part in this stinker by some similar ruse.

It’s tough to fault the actors for the mess that is this film because the screenplay could have been written by Michael Scott. Also, Diane Keaton (The Family Stone) was in the movie. The less said about this, the better.

Grade: D-


Six Days Seven Nights

Netflix review from The Movie Snob

Six Days Seven Nights (B-). This is an utterly disposable little movie, but it was just fine for a weeknight timekiller. And somehow my pal The Borg Queen channeled it into her glorious huge TV directly from the internet, so we didn’t have to wait for Netflix to send the DVD to her! Astonishing. I noticed a couple of teensy pauses in the movie here and there, but this film is impervious to tiny imperfections, given certain glaring holes in the plot. The eccentric Anne Heche (Cedar Rapids) stars as a tightly wound New Yorker who jets off on a South Pacific vacation with her new fiance (David Schwimmer, Madagascar). A painfully contrived work-related emergency requires her to island-hop somewhere else, and she has no choice but to take a rusty old plane piloted by a Jimmy-Buffett-esque old pilot (Harrison Ford, Cowboys & Aliens). When she insults his plane, I seriously expected him to reply that it was the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. Of course they crash on a deserted island, and they bond despite their quarter-century age difference. Stupid and predictable? Yes, but sometimes that’s all you want in a movie.

Lost Worlds: Lives in the Balance

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Lost Worlds: Lives in the Balance (B). How unexpected — an IMAX movie about nature that warns us that man is destroying nature! But it’s still an enjoyable toboggan ride into the abyss thanks to the beautiful scenery. Harrison Ford (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) sounding half-asleep as usual, narrates a tour of various natural habitats including the jungles that have swallowed a vast Mayan city, the kelp forests off the coast of California, and some remote mountains in southern Venezuela. A handful of scientists go camping on the top of said mountains and discover a cute little black toad that crawls instead of hops and that likes to curl up into a ball and roll down hills. How toads got on top of the mountain is left unexplained. Anyway, I walked out with a whole new appreciation for biodiversity. Well, not really.