Classic Sci-Fi: Blade Runner

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‘Blade Runner’, released in 1982, was one of the most unique films of its time. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, ‘Blade Runner’ featured a then on fire Harrison Ford in an attempted dramatic science fiction role.

Ridley Scott’s first directorial effort, ‘Blade Runner’ became a cult classic, and one that, with subsequent edits that have been released, has become a beloved classic of the sci-fi genre.

Set in the year 2019, ‘Blade Runner’ presents a bleak, film noir kind of future. A future where robotic replicants are banned from Earth and hunted by police specialists called Blade Runners. Don’t worry, I didn’t spoil anything there. That tidbit is scrolled across your screen once the film starts.

When ‘Blade Runner’ was first released there were complaints from some critics about the pacing of the film. While that is completely understandable, the pacing was done to show off the splendor of the world that Scott had created and in no way actually detracts from the film, in my personal opinion. That being said, that kind of pacing would definitely be a concern in this day and age of fast tracking, hard hitting films.

The film itself is shot in a way to allow the audience to question the nature of the main character portrayed by Harrison Ford. Not only that, the film doesn’t ever answer that question, leaving it up to each individual member of the audience to come to their own decision.

Rutger Hauer is simply scene stealing as the lead antogonist, Roy Batty. Upstaging even Ford when onscreen together, Hauer to this day believes that ‘Blade Runner’ is one of the best films ever made and his favourite role ever.

A classic for sure, I am glad I was able to go into ‘Blade Runner’ as blind as I did. An enjoyable film and one that anyone that is a fan of science fiction should watch.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Starting all the way back in 2000, the ‘X-Men’ franchise was one of the founders of the modern cinematic comic book film, and with this years ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, they have once again broken new ground.

Bringing together the the major players from the original trilogy and 2011’s ‘X-Men: First Class’, ‘Days of Future Past’ aims to further the versions of the main characters from the 60’s, while also working towards fixing some errors seen in the original films.

Featuring the likes of Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen and Jennifer Lawrence, ‘Days of Future Past’ may just be one of the most unique films we have gotten from the comic book genre.

Spanning 50 years and utilizing one of the most loved X-Men stories of all time, and quite possibly the most influential comic idea ever, this film hits on all of its notes and does a better job of fulfilling all of its goals than anyone could have ever hoped.

From a flip of the much talked about cameo from ‘First Class’, to newcomer character Quicksilver off-handedly referring to his parentage, this film has many little nods to fans of the comics and long-suffering fans of the cinematic X-universe. While the attempts line up the ever building histories may not have been 100% successful, knowing that a film like ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ should forever be taken as out of continuity will help alleviate some of those concerns.

Bryan Singer, who directed the first film, ‘X-Men’, along with the previously best film in the series, ‘X2: X-Men United’, has returned to the franchise that he made famous, and in so doing, has given us the best entry so far. In returning, he also gave us one of the best scenes in the entire franchise with the real introduction of Quicksilver’s powers, and I for one cannot wait until ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ to see how that character is further fleshed out.

I won’t go into much more detail than that, but I will say that the action hits are perfectly timed, the character development arcs of the major returning characters from ‘FIrst Class’ are wonderfully done, and taking care of a pair of the biggest mistakes from the now down right awful ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ was greatly appreciated.

If nothing else, ‘Days of Future Past’ restores our faith in the cinematic X-universe, and with pretty much throwing up a pair of middle fingers to ‘The Last Stand’ and ‘Origins: Wolverine’, it also clears up some of our biggest gripes about their attempted continuity.

So far, it has been a great year for Marvel characters at the box office. With the best film from Marvel Studios to not feature Iron Man in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, a great attempt from Sony with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and now with Fox’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, I really cannot wait for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ at the start of August.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Godzilla

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I must preface this article with one simple line: For one reason or another, I am not really sure, I have never seen any of the classic ‘Godzilla’ films. With that in mind, I found myself actually quite excited for Warner Bros. last collaborative effort with Legendary Pictures, the new ‘Godzilla’.

As a giant monster fight flick, ‘Godzilla’ is near perfect. As a disaster film, ‘Godzilla’ is amazing.’ As a movie interspersed with a human story, it starts to become a letdown. And that is exactly where this film starts to lose its momentum.

The plot of ‘Godzilla’, as done from the human perspective, comes across as completely pointless at the end. If you removed the all human interaction from this film except for the back story aspects, ‘Godzilla’ would have had the exact same final result.

Which brings us back to what this film really is and why people will see it and love it: The monsters and the destruction. Sadly, due to the way this film was edited, and written, Godzilla, the MUTO’s and the destruction all take a backseat at times, which really dampens  the impact of the film.

The reveal of the MUTO’s, the false reveal of Godzilla, the actual reveal of the title character and all of the fights were really well done, especially the teasing of the initial fights. I, unlike others, found that this was a great way to keep the audience baited for the film, and without this method, the two plus hour runtime would have been far too much.

In the end, ‘Godzilla’ is a really well done monster/disaster flick that has some flaws with its human-centric story, but overcomes this when it really matters most to the film.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Best Picture: Titanic

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I decided at the start of 2014 that I will do my best to watch as many of the Academy Award Best Picture winners that I have never seen before. Shockingly, it was a longer list than I anticipated. While I own a decent number of Best Picture winners, I haven’t sat down to watch many of them, and in the past two years, only watched two more members of the list in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Unforgiven’.

So, the first film on tap for the conquering of this list this year was ‘Titanic’, for two reasons. First off, if there is one Best Picture winner that I had absolutely no desire to see at all, it was ‘Titanic’, a film I have long considered to be the biggest chick flick of all time, so I might as well just get it out of the way. Secondly, it was a gift on Blu-ray to my fiancee with a promise to watch it with her, so it also fixed a long standing issue with the honour of my word.

As for the film itself, ‘Titanic’ really is two different films in one, and sadly, neither of them touched home with me. At the start it really is a slow-burn against type romance film, decidedly right up the alley of most of the female population. The second half really is a borderline disaster flick as the unsinkable Titanic goes to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Sadly, the latter part of the film cannot escape the earlier parts, as the sinking is really used as a backdrop against which the continued love story reaches its climax. Neither of these facets are really built for a guy like me. Don’t get me wrong, I can respect great film-making at any time, even if I might not like the story, and that is precisely what ‘Titanic’ is for me.

This series will be ongoing throughout the summer as I start to make my way through other Best Picture Winners from previous Academy Awards.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Neighbours

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R-rated comedies in the summer cinema months have become quite the way to counter-program against big-budget tentpole flicks, but even these comedies have been hit or miss over the years, case in point being ‘The Hangover’ and ‘The Hangover Part III’. One of those is laugh out loud hilarious, while the other was beat the dead horse retread.

But every summer, we will get a handful of these risque comedies, and the first of 2014 is ‘Neighbors’ featuring r-rated comedy staple Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne. Featuring a premise of a married couple who still think they are in their prime going toe-to-toe with a fraternity that moves in beside them, ‘Neighbors’ was bound to have some laughs.

And while there were indeed a fair amount of laughs during the film, ‘Neighbors’ fell prey to a desire to have an actual plot to itself, and one that was really never needed.  In those moments where the film fell to its desire to tell a story, ‘Neighbors’ seemed to drag and kill momentum. It it was done to be a pallet cleanser to setup the next round of jokes and sight gags, it wasn’t really needed.

When ‘Neighbors’ embraces itself, it manages to follow on the heels of recent r-rated comedy smashes like ‘The Hangover’, ’21 Jump Street’ and last year’s ‘This Is The End’. However, it doesn’t push all the way through like those examples and will sit in a second tier of hits.

Still, it does enough to break up the early part of the summer that has been dominated by the likes of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ to be a good couples choice film.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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It took a little longer than normal for me to get to the theatre to see ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, what with a newborn baby and all, but in the end, it was actually still worth it, even if the film has some flaws to it.

To begin with, I want to mention that I really feel that this film, at nearly two and a half hours, was too long. Not in a bad way though. It isn’t like ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ felt like a film that dragged. In fact, it is the opposite. My thoughts on the run time are because of Sony’s attempt at forced universe building.

As a result of that attempted universe building, the main villain of this film, Electro, was left to be undeveloped and not setup properly. Electro was meant to be a major threat in this film, but the forced shoe-horning in of the Green Goblin left Jamie Foxx to flounder has a c-level bad guy.

On the plus side is the continued chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. As this reboot was originally aimed to have high elements of high school romance, there is no denying that the ease with which Garfield and Stone bring that to the screen is one of the high points of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’.

I have also long stated that the Spider-Man we are getting in this reboot is miles ahead of the Sam Raimi trilogy, and that is once again at the fore in this film. Spidey is a wise-cracking, fun loving alter ego for Peter Parker, and the opening scene highlights that for anyone that may have missed the reboot two years ago.

Speaking of that opening, that is the first of the three major Spidey villains that appears, and unlike ‘Spider-Man 3’ this film managed to keep them separate for the most part which actually allowed the story to progress naturally enough for the most part.

In the end, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is an enjoyable film that has some flaws, and if Sony would just stay out of the way, Spidey flicks would be some of the best we would ever get from studios.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.