Blade Runner 2049 Is A True Sequel To Blade Runner, For Better Or Worse…

I was skeptical when it was announced that Alcon Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Sony were teaming up to make a new Blade Runner movie.  It seems like movies that are remade or get sequels decades after the original miss the mark more often than not, but Blade Runner 2049 stays true to the source material and delivers a sequel that feels much like the first movie from 1982.  Of course the flip side of that is if you found the first movie to be long, dark, pretentious and have issues with the male gaze, the same will be true of Blade Runner 2049, but if you love the first one like I do (or at least learned to love it later in life), you will probably love Blade Runner 2049.

I am not going to give away a lot of the plot, since for once the trailers don’t give too much away, but it is safe to say that K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner like Deckard (Harrison Ford) was in the original.  A Blade Runner is a police officer that hunts down and ‘retires’ rogue Replicants (genetically engineered/created slaves).  He also gets tasked with a case that takes him in way over his head.

Also like the original Blade Runner, in the grand scheme of things the plot is a pretty small story in the movie’s world.  Nothing really changes due to the events in this film.  I think 2049 may have a happier/more hopeful ending than Blade Runner, but not by much.  This is a still a future that is terrible, and no one is happy.  Especially not the Replicants who are treated like disposable garbage and are yet still resented for existing.

The performances are all muted in Blade Runner 2049.  It is like everyone is on valium.  This of course is by design.  We are not supposed to know if this is because they are Replicants or because they live in the worst future possible.  My guess is a bit of both.  Though that does add extra power to the scenes where characters do emote.  There is a reason the people in this film are breaking down.

Denis Villeneuve did a good job creating another great futuristic Film Noir Blade Runner movie.  You will either love it or hate, but I doubt you will forget it (though its long shots may put you to sleep).  In the end how you feel about Blade Runner 2049 will probably depend on how you feel about the original Blade Runner, since 2049 very much sticks to the formula that made the first one so good, or bad (though I am going with good).

LEGO Ninjago Was Just A Few Bricks Short…

When Warner Brothers and LEGO went looking for a third property to turn in to a feature film I am sure Ninjago made a lot of sense.  The sets are already very popular with kids (especially boys), and the TV show on Cartoon Network is still going strong after seven seasons.  The problem is that LEGO Ninjago still feels like something made for TV, and it doesn’t do a lot of the things that made the previous LEGO movies so good.

The main character Lloyd (Dave Franco) is the leader of the elite Secret Ninja Mech squad that fights off the evil Lord Garmadon’s (Justin Theroux) attacks.  However, Lloyd is also Lord Garmadon’s son, but since his identity is secret everyone hates him at school for being Garmadon’s son instead of being loved for saving the day … pretty much every day.

Teenage superhero kid with a rough home life is a pretty common theme, but it is played for some decent laughs in LEGO Ninjago.  Unfortunately the laughs don’t come often enough, and worse I am not sure the makers of this movie saw the other two movies.  Two of the fun selling points from The LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman are missing.  The integration of other sets, and the Master Builder mythos.  LEGO Ninjago is completely its own thing.  There is never a Batman, Voldemort or Eye of Sauron in sight, and the characters barely ever build anything.  This is 100% a Ninjago movie, except it changes a lot of things from the TV show, so that way hardcore fans of the series are confused too.

On the plus side the movie still looks great, and LEGO movies are still probably your best bet for a kid friendly action flicks.  The graphical engine they use to make these films continues to pump out on screen wonders.  Sadly, they just make me wish they were using them on another LEGO Movie or another LEGO Batman, or if they were going to do Ninjago, why not integrate it in to the existing world.

I have been kind of hard on LEGO Ninjago, but it was actually a fine movie.  It is just that fine after two home runs (well maybe a home run and a triple) is a little disappointing.  Though if my daughter is anything to go by, your kids will love it, and you will not hate your time watching it, so it is an okay family movie night choice, but the other two LEGO movies are better ones.

Shmee Visits Dunkirk!

I heard a lot of things about Dunkirk before going to the theater and watching it: It was inspired by silent films; It got events and names of soldiers wrong; It starred that kid from One Direction, but most of all I heard that it was excellent, and guess what? All those things are true!  While it may be slightly historically inaccurate, and it does give Harry Styles his first starring role, Dunkirk is 106 minutes of gripping cinema!

Most war movies are all about the action.  You are either down in the trenches/foxholes with bullets flying by, or up on the battlefields while men are giving heroic speeches to other men before they to charge headlong in to combat.  Not so with Dunkirk.  The battle is lost before the movie starts.  This movie is just about 400,000 men trying to get home while being harassed by Nazi Germany.  That is not to say there is no action in Dunkirk, but for the most part it is different.  Guys just trying to keep their heads down and not get shot.  Though Tom Hardy’s fighterpilot sequences are a little more straight forward.

Speaking of straight forward, Dunkirk’s stories, there are three main plots, all happen at different times, so that was a little jarring at first, but once you get the pacing down it all makes sense and comes together nicely in the end.  Also all of the stories are great.  There isn’t one where I felt that Nolan lingered too long, or conversely didn’t develop the thread enough.

Dunkirk is a Christopher Nolan film from frame one.  The sound, the color, all of it exudes his style.  If that is a turn off for you, I think Dunkirk is still worth watching because at least all of his style is still working with a story worth telling.  Dunkirk is the best war movie to come out in a long time, and I am sure that it will get some talk around award season, though I am not sure that it will win (we have to wait and see how the indies fair this winter).  Dunkirk was a movie made for theaters, so do yourself a favor and go see it before it leaves your local multiplex in a week or two.  It is well worth your hard earned cash.

David Harbour Looks Begrudgingly Good As Hellboy!

I am still struggling with a Hellboy not being helmed by Guillermo del Toro and not staring Ron Perlman, but I have to admit David Harbour looks pretty dang good as HB.  If the rest of the movie can match the quality shown above, maybe, just maybe, they will get my butt in a seat January 2019, but they are going to have to keep showing me good stuff like this.