So much has already been said about Blade Runner 2049 – director Denis Villeneuve’s follow up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult sci-fi classic – that it’s hard to know where to begin.
The film – which, like its predecessor, draws upon Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep – has received near universal acclaim from critics, which is nothing short of remarkable for a sequel weighed down by 35 years worth of expectations!
But amid reports of underwhelming box office returns, casual moviegoers might be left wondering if Blade Runner 2049 lives up the massive amount of hype cinema buffs have built up around it.
The honest answer is no, probably not. However if Villeneuve’s film isn’t quite the masterpiece it’s being hailed as, it’s always good and often brilliant, and most importantly, serves as a worthy continuation of the Blade Runner story.
It’s no secret that clowns creep me out. It’s also a well-established fact that I’m a pretty huge fan of the works of Stephen King – despite being a total scaredy cat when it comes to horror!
So it’s fair to say that It: Chapter One – director Andy Muschietti’s big screen adaptation of King’s seminal novel about a demonic clown who preys on children – presented something of a challenge for me.
On the one hand, I’ve been terrified of It – otherwise known as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” – since I first encountered the 1990 TV adaptation of the book at the too-young age of six.
And yet on the other hand, not only is the book is a favourite of mine, but the remake has also received largely glowing reviews and is currently raking in some serious cash at the box office.
What to do, what to do?
In the end, my curiosity outweighed my fear. I plucked up my courage and went to see It, entering the theatre with a level of trepidation matched only by my high expectations for the film.
I’m happy to report that not only did I survive the screening, but my expectations were also largely met – although interestingly, It is strongest when it plays as a “coming of age” story, and far weaker when it tries to be an actual horror film.
A lot has been written about what a surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy was when it landed back in 2014, but it bears repeating: Marvel Studios really did accomplish the unthinkable in making a big budget film about an obscure superhero team – which including talking raccoons and trees, no less! – into one of the most critically and commercially successful blockbusters of that year.
Fast forward three years and the inevitable follow-up, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, has finally arrived to considerable anticipation. In promoting the film, returning director James Gunn promised fans something different, but in reality, this second go-round doesn’t really diverge too much from the formula laid down by its predecessor.
But then, when that formula produces such fun end results, does anyone really care if Vol.2 simply offers more of the same?
It’s becoming something of a dubious tradition for me to post outrageously postponed reviews in January, a custom only further perpetuated by the decidedly late arrival of this look at La La Land.
Now as then, the reason for this delay isn’t procrastination (well, the main reason anyway…), but rather it comes as the result of me mulling over my initial, complex reactions to what I had seen.
Because for all that Damien Chazelle’s musical has wowed audiences and critics alike – just this week it received a record-equaling 14 Oscar nominations – I have to admit that I had (and still have) mixed feelings on La La Land, even as I can’t deny the incredible craft that lies at the heart of the film.
Considering all the time and money that goes into each and every major studio release, it’s pretty mindblowing how many movies are released to no fanfare, and then promptly forgotten.
2012’s Rise of the Guardians falls squarely under this banner. Despite being the product of DreamWorks Animation, boasting an all-star voice cast, and drawing on a popular series of children’s books as source material, it flopped at the box office, and – much like its invisible protagonist – you’d be lucky to meet someone who even knew it existed.
That’s a real shame, as thanks to its smart approach to a fun basic premise – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost form an Avengers-style team to fight the Bogeyman – it’s actually a surprisingly sincere, heartfelt and entertaining adventure.
Flash forward 13 years and a new creative team has cooked up Bad Santa 2 with the hope of recapturing the same blend of pitch black comedy and surprisingly heartfelt emotion that made the first outing such a success.
Unfortunately, the end result comes across a bit like warmed-up Christmas leftovers: still enjoyable, but far less satisfying than when it was served up fresh the first time around.