Blade Runner stuns with ambiguity, American Made entertains

Blade Runner sequel and American Made

I love Science Fiction movies, but I don’t understand Blade Runner. There, I said it. All my life I’ve heard about how great it was, that it was the best science fiction movie ever made, and about the is Harrison Ford’s Decker character a replicant or a replican, I mean, a human.

I’ve watched Ridley Scott’s 1982 film at least four times times in the last 10 years, most recently last summer and I still don’t get it. Sure, it’s a beautiful looking film that sets the standard for how dystopian urban areas can look on film. Its neo-noir style and plot sets it apart from other science fiction films and moves it closer into the mystery genre. The film’s score is electric and futuristic while also being very 1980’s.

By nearly every standard it’s a triumph of film making but I just don’t connect with it.

OK, let’s get into this. In Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard. He’s what is known as a “blade runner” and his job is to track down replicants. You see, in the future (2019) the Tyrell Corporation has created synthetic humans, or replicants, to be soldiers and off-world laborers. Each replicant is designed to have a life span of a few years and they are banned on Earth.

A group of combat-trained replicants make it to Earth and Deckard is tasked with finding them. Their leader, Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, wants to know why he was created and how to extend his life. During his investigation, Deckard meets and falls in love Rachel who is a newer model replicant that may not have a lifespan limit.

Anyway, Deckard and Batty come face to face and Deckard manages to survive long enough for Batty’s life span to end. It’s kind of sad really and just before he dies, he delivers what has become known as the “Tears in Rain” monologue is considered one of the best in film history. It ends with Rachel and Decker running off together and the question “Is Deckard a replicant?”.

Now, taking place 30 years later, Blade Runner 2049 takes us back into that dystopian future. And a new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling, unearths a secret that could plunge society into chaos and would set a new precedent for what it means to be human. It all centers around what happened to Rick Deckard who has been missing for 30 years.    

Do you need to see the original film? Yes, you absolutely do. There are themes of humanity it explores that carry over into this film, and it’s important to understand what’s going on in the film’s universe.

Seven different versions of Blade Runner are in existence. The most common are the U.S. theatrical version, the International theatrical version, the director’s cut, and the final cut. The one you want to watch is the final cut. It’s the only one in which Ridley Scott had full artistic control.

Does it answer the ultimate question? Is Deckard a human or replicant? Harrison Ford promised that the answer would be clear, but I must have missed something because I’m still not sure.

Denis Villeneuve’s take on the film is, like Ridley Scott’s, a triumph by nearly every standard. It gets away from the neo-noir style, but stays in the realm of mystery. It is a beautiful film and explores the themes of humanity and what it means to have a soul that were essential to the original.

I have nothing bad to say about Blade Runner 2049 but, just like its predecessor, I just didn’t connect to it.

It came out last weekend, but I want to tell you about Doug Liman’s new film American Made. Tom Cruise stars as Barry Seal, an airline pilot recruited by the CIA to gather intelligence on the growing communist threat in Central America.

He also gets recruited by the Medellin cartel to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The CIA then takes things further, and has him smuggling weapons to the military group known as the Contras and even smuggling in Contras for training by the CIA.

Seal has so much money coming in he doesn’t know what to do with it. He has a fleet of planes and a group of pilots working for him. Things are going well until some of the pictures he’s taken make it into the press. Then it starts to fall apart.

Here’s your Arkansas connection to the film. Barry Seal’s smuggling operation was run out of Mena and several people in Arkansas politics were believed to have been involved in the operation. A lot of it is innuendo, but some of it’s probably true.

You may recall the Iran Contra arms scandal which fell on Colonel Oliver North and nearly brought down the Reagan Administration? Barry Seal was connected to it. It’s interesting to read about if you do some internet searching you can find out about most of it. We’ll probably never know how deep it really went because of the CIA's involvement, which it still denies.

I do want to point out that you shouldn’t get your history from a Hollywood movie. Facts, stories, characters and timelines are changed to fit a narrative and to make the movie better. Several aspects of Seal’s operation and life were changed for the film and you can see the movie and look it up for yourself. The filmmakers didn’t even bother to notice that Arkansas’ Attorney General from 1979 to 1990 was a male and not the woman you see in the trailer.

Aside from that, American Made is a fun, entertaining film. Tom Cruise is an underrated character actor and he shines as the arrogant Barry Seal, even his southern accent works. I had a really good time watching this one.

New in theaters this week, stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain in The Mountain Between Us.

When they realize help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across hundreds of miles of wilderness, pushing one another to endure and discovering strength they never knew possible. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad, and stars Academy Award winner Kate Winslet alongside Idris Elba.

In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women's movement, the 1973 tennis match between women's world #1 Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men's-champ and serial hustler, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), was billed as the Battle Of The Sexes.

It became one of the most-watched televised sports events of all-time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.

The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue).

Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.

Victoria & Abdul tells the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria's (Academy Award winner Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen's Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself.

As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

In My Little Pony: The Movie a dark force threatens Ponyville, and the Mane 6 - Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity - embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship to save their home.
 

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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