Quick Movie Review: Blade Runner — The Final Cut (1982)

blade runner

I don’t deny Blade Runner’s influence on modern sci-fi. It brought the cyberpunk sub-genre to the film medium–creating the palette for what we still see in movies today. The visuals are superb and highly advanced for its time–even technically brilliant. It gets all its points from its aesthetics.

I’m just denying the fact that this movie is entertaining. I’m not trying to criticize Ridley Scott’s overall vision. It’s just not for me.

The world it’s set in is one we’ve seen many times in film since. Dystopian films are interesting. Especially futuristic ones. They’re a fun what-if scenario, as well as a comforting reality check of how bad this world could be. We also like seeing what creatives have in mind for our future, like flying cars, robots, etc. The futuristic films from the 1980s tend to be in a genre of their own. They showcase fun future elements while still being stuck with the ’80s mindset.

Blade Runner’s setting is fun, but at no point is this film fun to watch.

It’s set in Los Angeles in 2019. Our main character, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), is an ex-police officer–or blade runner–forced out of retirement in order to track down and kill bioengineered beings known as “replicants”. Replicants look and act exactly like humans, and were sent to an off-world colony to become slaves. But a small group of them have violently come back to Earth in attempts to extend their programmed 4-year lifespan.

At first you merely think the film is having a rough time setting up its already-convoluted premise, but we soon find out that the whole story is really much ado about nothing. The underlying themes are important, but the film doesn’t need all of its allotted time to get there. Maybe if the characters or events were interesting, we’d feel differently, but it seems the concept has taken precedent over the audience actually caring.

Along the way, Deckard befriends a more peaceful replicant, causing him to question his motives. But this isn’t all that obvious, as no one in this film seems to communicate properly or act rationally.

Blade Runner is unconventional. It isn’t Terminator or Mad Max. It doesn’t carry you at all. It’s not even plot driven. There aren’t any twists or dramatic turns, and we’re hardly invested in our characters. It has a point to make and that’s the only point.

It’s making a statement on how the humans and the robots may very well be indistinguishable in the sense that even the humans lack human qualities–perhaps even more so–yet the two species hate each other. But when your point is how humans lack humanity, then what’s going to make us care about our characters? In order for the point to be driven home, we have to be somewhat invested.

We get absolutely no backstory on Deckard, and no reason to really be interested in him. Where did he come from? Is he a robot too? We have no real reason to think otherwise. Even Ford can’t save this one.

Blade Runner is dated and sluggish. Many of the scenes feel unnecessary or just drag on far too long.

There’s no way this film’s pacing would fly nowadays without people branding the movie as pretentious or self-aggrandized. Critics apparently didn’t approve back then, but somehow its influence has made it a classic.

So for those of you who value ambiguity in movies you watch, you’ll likely enjoy Blade Runner. But entertaining, it isn’t.

I will say, however, that the last 5 minutes is somewhat thought-provoking and probably the deepest part of the film. It’s too bad the rest of it is an anti-climactic bore. A 2 hour build-up is hardly time well spent.

The two characters who meet during the climactic scene haven’t spoken or interacted for the entire duration of the movie, so when dramatics ensue, we feel robbed of what potentially could have been instead. We grasp at the emotions we should be feeling, but are consciously aware that it could have been much more if the plot was just rearranged a little bit. The payoff would have happened how it was supposed to have happened.

As an aside, the film’s score by Vangelis is one of the best I’ve heard. Also, Daryl Hannah’s performance is a standout as the twisted replicant, Pris Stratton. She’s so creepy and probably the most memorable part of the movie.

Twizard Rating: 72

Advertisements

Quick Movie Review: Rocky III (1982)

rocky iii.jpg

We’re officially into the ’80s now. And it feels like it. Things are a lot more campy. Mr. T is involved and everything he says is asinine. The film starts off with Rocky fighting a professional wrestler played by Hulk Hogan. It’s ridiculous, but so is the movie at this point.

Rocky Balboa is now America’s sweetheart. He appears on TV shows, he lives in a mansion, and his friends and family seem to be getting fed up with it all. I can see why.

Rocky has become unrealistically complacent. He is challenged by a boxer on-the-rise, Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T. Much to his trainer’s dismay, Rocky hosts a public training session filled with games, t-shirt booths, and an Italian band. And it’s all intercut with Mr. T’s serious workout regimen. I think the audience gets the point. He’s posing for pictures and kissing girls on the cheek while he’s working out. It’s silly. I get that his character is supposed to be more cocky now, but even this is obviously not okay. Over-the-top scenarios in order to drive home a point will always be too on-the-nose.

But then you realize that Rocky’s never really had it all that rough in the first place. Sure, he lived in a dump, but his career was essentially handed to him. So the spoiled and entitled mindset kinda makes sense.

Paulie has become obnoxious. Rocky flies to LA with Creed to train, and Paulie is unhappy being there. But I’m not even sure why he needs to be there in the first place. They decide that his character should be contrarian about it all, so every chance they get they make him say something negative. It’s annoying and he’s whiney. Stallone’s got this thing for stream-of-consciousness dialogue and characters saying what they feel in order to prove a point that the audience already knows, but sometimes it’s too much.

The first act or so takes awhile to get anywhere, but the second half is actually quite good. It gets comfortable in the formula it’s derived for itself. The formula that gives these movies such great finales.

I can see how this installment could be somewhat of a fan favorite. It’s got character and it’s fairly humorous in one of those you-don’t-notice-what’s-funny-until-you’ve-watched-it-twenty-times kind of way. It’s not as good as its predecessor, but I’d probably rather watch this comedy act than the first film’s self-aggrandizement any day.

Twizard Rating: 76

Quick Movie Review: Night Shift (1982)

night shift

While this is a film that feels very dated, it doesn’t lack quality. Other than a setup that drags on forever, there isn’t too much wrong with this film. With that said, there also isn’t anything that makes it stand out from the pack either. Although it’s technically sound, it doesn’t have many traits that prevent it from being forgettable. The story may have been somewhat unique for the time period, but it’s not told in the grandiose fashion that we have become accustomed to in this era of film.

Henry Winkler and Shelley Long hold their ground pretty well here, but the highlight of the film is Michael Keaton who really keeps the film moving. You can’t take your eyes off of him, whether you like his character or not.

This is a great effort by Ron Howard and not a film that most people will hate, as it also gives us solid character development–especially with Winkler’s character. The script is acceptable and the music is a great mark of the times. While the characters in this film are very often stressed out and distraught, Night Shift brings you back to a much simpler decade.

Twizard Rating: 81

Quick Movie Review: The Evil Dead (1981)

I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre. I like the unique ones, but the ones that exist purely for shock and awe are useless to me. The Evil Dead definitely falls into that category. Don’t let its legacy fool you. Full of bad editing and gore for gore’s sake, this movie borderlines pointless for me. There’s never any surprises, and the characters besides Ash are annoying and never learn from their mistakes. I start off interested but never feel satisfied with the unfolding of events and the unfulfilled plot elements.

The movie just drags on and the plot is stretched way too thin. They even attempt to waste time at the end by elongating the deaths of the creatures. Most of the film is either boring or gross. The only time it gets slightly interesting is when Ash is all alone towards the end. 

I will say that the art was pretty good, especially at the end, but overall the concept is empty and the movie never gives us a reason to worry about the fate of the characters–other than the fact that the music tells us too. I understand that The Evil Dead is supposed to be a cult classic and all, but I just didn’t get any fulfillment out of it, nor a whole lot of laughs. And it leaves me asking the filmmakers why Ash doesn’t get possessed along all with the others.

Twizard Rating: 48