Blade Runner 2049 at Cinemacon

2049aIts pretty much all over the web now so you may have already read about it, but at Cinemacon in America, Sony Pictures who co-financed the film and have International rights to distribute it (Warner will distribute the film in the States) has shown 5-6 minutes of new footage. From all accounts it was very impressive stuff, utterly beautiful visuals and quite dark too. I won’t go into detail of the scenes shown, as you can find that easily enough elsewhere if you want to know. I suspect it indicates it will at least form part of the first proper trailer for the film that is likely due anytime soon, so I’m sure it will be on the internet soon enough (more was teased for Wednesday, so that may indicate a trailer is imminent).

But it has got me thinking about ‘going dark’ sometime soon. Modern trailers show way too much of films; even teasers tend to. So I’m in two minds about even watching the trailer when it surfaces. The Alien: Covenant trailer is great but it leaked too many details of the film, and I don’t want a similar experience with something as anticipated as Blade Runner 2049. Can I even manage to avoid details in the months up to release? Its still seven months away and trailers/clips won’t be the half of it. We’ve already had Edward james Olmos reveal that Gaff has a (minor) part in the film.  Its something about modern films; its rare enough for a film to be as genuinely secretive as Blade Runner 2049 has been up till now, but Studios don’t tease anymore, they show. Some trailers are almost three-minute versions of the entire movie they are advertising. They seldom leave any real surprises and are all too keen to show the ‘money’ shots.

Of course I’m curious. How can I not be? I so desperately want this film to be good. Considering I originally felt that Blade Runner doesn’t need a sequel… well, in a way I still don’t. Its my favourite film and its a single entity, always has been and no sequel was ever intended when it was made. It dates back to that strange era when Studios weren’t launching franchises with every bloody release. Back to an era when scripts had a beginning, middle and an end and no cliffhanger/tease of a further, better film. It was 1982, and films were better back then. They were films, not ‘products’ or trilogies (Star Wars and Bond et notwithstanding, I realise I’m making a pretty sweeping statement, but hell, did Spielberg rush into an ET 2? I rest my case- nowadays I doubt he’d have much choice). So anyway, it doesn’t need a sequel, but more importantly, it doesn’t need a bad sequel that tarnishes with the originals reputation or how we ‘read’ it. Prometheus went some way in spoiling rewatches of Alien by revealing the Lovecraftian Space Jockeys are big bald aliens in suits. I don’t want something in Blade Runner 2049 doing the same with Blade Runner.  Let’s not reveal that Deckard was a Nexus 7 or that Holden a Nexus 5, or that Batty didn’t really die, he was just rebooted and went on to fight in other battles Offworld.  Its difficult I know.  kudos to all involved in even daring to make it, and make it good, but please, yes, let it be good.

So I’m sitting and wondering, is this time to ‘go dark’ and avoid Blade Runner 2049 info like the plague? Will it even be possible?

Advertisements

Damn, this poster is cool…

AlienCovenantI refuse to get suckered by those marketing boys, but crikey, they seem to be doing everything right with Ridley’s latest, Alien: Covenant. First the trailer looked great, then they released a really nice video short/prologue to set the film up, and now they go release this fantastic poster. Even those of us burned by Prometheus will be getting the hots for this movie. I guess job done, publicity boys. Over to you Ridley…

The 2017 Selection Pt.3

2017s3Here’s the latest state of the 2017 selection. There’s been a few additions since my last update. And hey, I’m still trying to curtail the spending this year.

Heat: God, another copy. Its just one of those movies. I think I have a VHS copy up in the loft somewhere, a widescreen version that came in a big box, don’t know if anybody out there remembers that edition. Studios must love idiots like me. So I buy this thinking it might be definitive and before it’s even arrived people are moaning about colour-timing and sound issues. I don’t know. At least it was strangely (suspiciously, maybe?) cheap. So I’ve got it in HD for something like a third of what I paid for it back on VHS. I won’t mention the DVD  thats lying around someplace. And no, I haven’t watched this copy yet.

The Leftovers- Season Two: I mentioned this awhile ago, as its what finally got me around to watching season one, and (hurrah!) I’ve also watched this too- review coming soon. Yeah, I’ve watched something in the 2017 selection- will this catch on? (he wonders, noting he still hasn’t watched Assault on Precinct 13 or Vampires or Garcia yet) .

Dr Strange: Actually, yes, I’ve watched this too, as my review a few weeks ago will attest. Well, I hadn’t seen it at the cinema and I’d been curious about it for months.

Logans Run/The Omega Man/Soylent Green: A triple-feature blu ray set, with each film coming in at under £4 each. Well, I’m always a sucker for deals like that. These are three 1970s dystopian science fiction films, each flawed in their own way but each having redeeming features making them worth re-watching, at least for someone like me who grew up with them on tv- I guess  viewers born post-1990 needn’t bother, they’ll likely hate them. Their loss; hell, they are worth watching if only for the soundtracks (which I have on CD for all three- yes I am that nerd in the corner).

Arrival: The best film of last year. A compulsory  blu ray purchase. I watched the disc the other night and yes, it just confirmed Oscar had it all wrong- Amy Adams deserved a nomination at the very least, and quite possibly the statuette itself too. This is a science fiction film for the ages and deserves to be ranked up there with CE3K. I should probably do another review based on the home experience. Indeed, I could watch this all over again already. There’s something strangely rewatchable about this film, the way it flows, the direction, the acting… wonderful sound design. This film has me so excited for Blade Runner 2049 (if only they could do something about that title; it still feels awkward to me). Its made me wonder though, how rare it is to watch a science fiction film these days and think it’s one for the ages.

So anyway, as we tumble towards April, this is the latest photo of my disc purchases this year. And yes, by year’s end, I vow to have watched everything in this photo.

A Violent Night On The Town

kinopoisk.ru2017.18: The Purge: Anarchy (2014) – Film 4 HD

Back in the day, The Purge: Anarchy would have been a pretty fantastic John Carpenter movie. It feels like its Escape From New York 2, and screams for a Carpenter/Howarth score and Carpenter’s keen widescreen eye and gritty 70s-cool aesthetic. Indeed, its a pity they couldn’t have gotten him out of his semi-retirement to shoot this movie and maintain that 70s/80s vibe with a score and everything. What a movie that would have been.

As it is, The Purge: Anarchy is a pretty commendable effort and a big improvement on the original Purge movie. That film had the siege mentality of Assault on Precinct 13 but lacked in execution; but the central premise of one night in which anarchy reigns and all crime is deemed legal was sufficient enough a hook to enable the film to succeed. Buoyed by that films success this film clearly raises the bar in scope and channels Escape From New York with its ragtag, misfit bunch caught in the dead of night in a city full of murderers. Maybe the Carpenter influence isn’t really as intentional as it seems, but to me it’s inescapable, as both Purge films feel like Carpenter films at heart.

The trouble is, maybe these Purge films are being made a few decades too late?  These days even b-movies are pretty slick efforts, and these films for me really should seem more basic, grungy, 1970s-gritty stuff- yeah, more like those Carpenter classics or Cannon films starring Charles Bronson. Instead they come across as crisp, mainstream exploitation movies, as cynical as that seems, and a mooted move to a tv series only reinforces that.

 

Scarlett Goes Bonkers

lucy12017.17: Lucy (2014) – Film 4 HD

There was a time when a Luc Besson film meant something rather special. I still recall the almighty stir caused by La Femme Nikita when it came out on VHS and Besson seemed to hit the international mainstream with a bang, and later films Leon and The Fifth Element only cemented him as a major director. He had an ability to make big, stylish films with an American ‘look’ while maintaining a quirky European mentality and feel. But then something weird happened. As a director, his career has followed an odd trajectory towards obscurity, as he seems to prefer to write screenplays and produce films rather than direct. If anything, this doesn’t help matters as everytime he does finally direct a film the ensuing weight of expectation becomes something that the films can rarely live up to (possibly why John Carpenter doesn’t make films anymore). Not that Besson seems to care what anyone else thinks.

So anyway, Lucy is a film I always wanted to watch but considering Besson’s fall from grace as a director I was wary of catching up with it. Mixed/downright angry reviews when this came out at the cinema didn’t help either. So after a few years it has turned up on tv and I’ve given it a shot. Glad I did. Sort of.

Lucy is bonkers . I used to think The Fifth Element was odd and eccentric but goodness, its positively restrained next to this utterly turbocharged crazy mash-up of The Matrix and Akira. The shadow of Akira in particular looms large over the film, an obvious major influence on Bessons mad story about advanced human evolution and mind-bending powers twisting the very fabric of reality.

Logic is thrown out into the street and kicked snivelling into the gutter, because Lucy is just plain nuts. Spectacular yet often oddly boring action sequences attempt to divert attention from the utterly daft premise, but it is kind of fun.Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to superheroics in films thanks to her track record in several Marvel films but as the titular Lucy she races from well-meaning dumb blonde to cosmic time-travelling Goddess in about ninety minutes. Its a breakneck pace that ultimately undermines the film as it becomes ever-more divorced from reality and more like a silly cartoon. Maybe Besson should have been happy to leave Lucy using 50% of her superpowers and left us some frame of reference and danger. Instead he goes all the way to 100% and Lucy leaves humanity far behind her. God only knows where a Lucy 2 might have headed.

But yeah, its mindless fun for much of its time, and as always Johansson is a charismatic lead. Worth a watch.

 

Person Of Interest Nears End-Program

poi42017.16: Person Of Interest Season Four – Blu-ray

Person of Interest almost seems something of a curio in this changed landscape that is television today. It isn’t a cable blockbuster, and it isn’t a season of ten or twelve episodes. No, this is a throwback to how tv shows always used to be, a 22-episode season on Network TV, complete with scripted teases/pauses for commercial breaks. These days, that’s almost an oddity. One could be forgiven that television has moved on, what with Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and MadMen and  other shows on cable, and so many other shows airing on providers such as Netflix and Amazon. In many ways, television has indeed moved on- Person of Interest seems from some other era.

Which is, to be frank, part of its appeal. While it does have a story-arc that stretches across each season, and indeed over all the seasons as a whole, many of the episodes generally work as seperate stories focusing on guest-stars and characters/storylines unique to each episode, often ending with an old-fashioned ‘reset’ that sees the regular characters ready and waiting for next week’s adventure. Its almost quaint, and yet it feels almost comforting in a tv landscape that can make so many demands on viewers. I recently tried watching episode 1 of series two of The Expanse and it had be scurrying away to my season one boxset, as I couldn’t really make any sense of this new episode. I hadn’t seen any of the show since last June/July and I could only recall a vaguest sense of the plot and the new episode utterly lost me, frankly. Its exhilerating to have such sophisticated storytelling that makes such demands on the viewer but it can frustrate too. Person of Interest is decidedly Old-School- not necessarily drop in/drop out whenever you like, but its all fairly familiar and tends to bring you up to speed easily enough.

At times that’s one of the shows problems- it isn’t really sophisticated at all. Very often the dialogue awkwardly explains what is going on or someones backstory or motivations, stuff viewers are familiar enough with if they are paying attention, but handy to keep casual viewers up to speed.Although sometimes it feels like it is filling the blanks for those who are late getting back from the commercial break. Which is ironic, as I’m binge-watching it on a box-set, so there are no breaks to commercials for cat food and recaps from a few episodes back are pretty redundant watching an episode or two every night..

poiWhile the show is inferior to Fringe, possibly the last genuinely great Network-based genre tv show, its nonetheless impressive that it maintains a pretty high quality level whilst somehow making 22 hours of television each season. Thats not easy, especially when it tries to maintain film-quality production levels each week, with plenty of location footage on the streets of New York.  Like Fringe, Person Of Interest struggled with ratings, something Network TV is notoriously rabid and ruthless about, but thankfully a truncated season five offers some kind of conclusion to the show. I’ll see soon enough, having now finished season four.

Maybe the show doesn’t really attain the heights I’d hoped for it a few years ago, but it is good fun, and it certainly has that old-school appeal that many of the new blockbuster shows, for all their complexity, often lack.  Part of the charm of the show is naturally its great cast of fairly entertaining and interesting characters, the saving grace of many such shows and why we keep on returning to them, but it also feels like the kind of television I used to watch back in the 1970s and 1980s. Sure the production values and overall quality is way higher than all that Glen Larson stuff etc but it has that old comforting feel. The tv equivalent of a comfort blanket and a handy undemanding escape from reality. That seems like faint praise, but I don’t intend it to be.

Now, where did I put that Season Five box..?