Archive for the ‘ Action ’ Category

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Blade Runner, 1982, USA/UK

By Andrew Burns

He first was that smooth talking space smuggler, and then that whip welding archeologist, Harrison Ford next became that badass Blade Runner in director Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic sci-fi film of the same.  Star Wars was my sci-fi cinematic bread and butter growing up but because of its R rating for parentally I never got to fully experience Scott’s fantasy epic till I was older.  Well I’m I’ll grown up now so I thought why not re-visit this classic, since it has actually changed over the years, in its latest and last revision: Blade Runner The Final Cut.

As fanboys and critics alike all enjoy condemning Lucas for his every alteration of the beloved Star Wars films, Scott too is guilty of tinkering when his own films over the years.  Blade Runner was originally released back in 1982 and has since then had a total of 7 different versions.  Back in 2007 Scott rolled up his sleeves one last time and turned out this version – The Final Cut – with enhanced visual effects and a slightly altered ending.

Even though I had seen parts of the original film many years ago I still couldn’t remember anything about it so I had nothing to compare it to when I watch this Final Cut.  Being too young to remember my first Blade Runner experience actually turned out to be a blessing.  It’s not too often one can re-watch a film from their childhood and still experience that same awe factor.  The updated visual for the world of a 2019 future Los Angeles is full of vibrant cityscape shots that rival today’s modern CGI onscreen creations.  The wide shot images of the advanced, yet run down, metropolis are crisp and beautiful revisions to its first silver screen appearance in ’82.  Scott doesn’t over do these updates and makes sure not to over polish the rest of the film’s footage.

The story of Blade Runner has inspired countless films over the years.  Blade Runner’s visual style is an obvious source of inspiration for films to follow.  However, it’s the combination of this revolutionary look and the movie’s interesting story concept which help lift it to cult status.  The tale of Blade Runner may seem overly complex given it sci-fi genre but it surprisingly never gets bogged down in technical details and is more about the inner struggle from its main character, Deckard (Ford).  Deckard is a retired police officer who gets pulled back into duty when six planet-banned bioengineered humanoids, known as replicants, return to Earth.  Replicants are human based workers (or slaves as they see it) that look like any average 2019er, were created to work off world as cheap labour.  Four dangerous replicants have come to Earth and are of the lethal advanced models. The fifth replicant isn’t as much of a threat considering it didn’t know it was a replicant.  Deckard is charged with track them down and killing all six replicants.  Or to put it in 2019 terms Deckard is a blade runner who retires replicates.  A bit hooky, but it works in the sci-fi genre.

Ford’s Deckard struggles with what it means to be human while he hunts these replicants.  On the other side the non-human replicants that go to deadly lengths to obtain a humanity for themselves.  The tag line from the Tyrell Corporation that births/creates these android replicates is “more human than human”.  That odd slogan plants the certain doubt in Deckard’s mind about himself.

If viewers have a hard time wrapping their head around the missing 6th replicant they can just as easily get lost in the wonder and spectacle visual universe Scott created.  For the refined Final Cut version of Blade Runner both fanboys and first timers will appreciated the modern movie tweaks to this classic piece of cinema science fiction.  The altered ending to this last and final version of the Blade Runner leaves the conclusion open to multiple interpretations for audiences to take it.  Viewers might exit the film believing one thing over another but will all leave with so serious vintage eye candy.

4 / 5 Stars

Drive

Drive, 2011, USA

By Andrew Burns

Its hard to sum up a film in just one sentence, let alone one word, but if I had to describe Drive that way I’d have define it as: “gnarly with poise”.  Either that or: “kick-ass soundtrack” would also work just fine.

It took a little while but I finally got around to seeing one of last year’s standout films and boy it did not disappoint.  Drive, simply put, oozes style into every facet of the film.  From the dark but vibrant cinematography, the unconventional car chases, the 80’s inspired soundtrack & score, or to the simple yet brilliantly acted dialogue-free exchanges between key cast members.  However, all that being said, a warning to those with a weak stomach, Drive has it’s fair share of moments that sneak up on you and cover the screen with blood.  That’s where the ‘gnarly’ part comes in.  Apart for a handful of those gruesomely violent outbursts Drive, and it’s lead Ryan Gosling, will lure in any audience member in with it’s distinctive style.

The film centers around Gosling’s character, who is only ever known as the ‘Driver’.  He is a garage mechanic and part time movie stunt driver by day, and get-away driver for hire by night.  Gosling’s character doesn’t mince words when it comes to his profession, or in his private life for that matter, as he probably has the least amount of lines in the whole film.  What Gosling lacks in dialogue he makes up for in style and badassery (yes I just made up a new word).  Gone are the days where Gosling was best known as the goofy kid from YTV’s Breaker High or the doe-eyed dude from the Notebook.  Drive has officially solidified him as cinemas newest badass.

With a movie called Drive I should touch upon a bit of it’s smart vehicular stunt work.  Yes the driving in the film may seem flashy at times but its never excessive and done with some surprising intelligence.  By intelligence I mean each swerve, each high speed turn, or even each braking stop has a purpose and is not done for some over the top dramatic effect.  When Gosling’s character isn’t out driving and out smarting whoever is chasing him, he is just cruising the downtown streets of LA.  Personally I don’t think that there has been night time driving scenes that looked this cool, cinematically, since Michael Mann’s 2004 gritty hit CollateralDrive takes it up a notch with it’s incredible soundtrack during those driving scenes, but I’ll come back to that later.

For a film entitled Drive the cars or car chases actually take a back seat the unorthodox group of characters it has.  Gosling and Carey Mulligan’s character, Irene, have a very complicated personal relationship which only becomes more complicated when her husband comes home from prison and gets involved with two mob bosses; played by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman.  Bryan Cranston rounds out this great cast as Gosling’s mentor, business partner, and boss.  The scenes between Gosling and Cranston play out to be the more humourous ones in the film as for every ten lines Cranston has Gosling’s reply is only ever a word or two.  Apart from Gosling’s perfect silent but subtle performance Brooks steals the screen whenever he makes a brief appearance.  Brooks will trick you into liking him as the nicest mob boss going one moment and then make you cover eyes in horror the next.

Lastly I just wanted geek out and reiterate about how awesome Drive’s soundtrack/score.  Being both a fan of Steven Soderbergh’s (The Limey, Traffic) main composer, Cliff Martinez, and a fan of the French DJ Kavinsky this flick sound-wise was right up my alley.  The marriage between the 80s inspired songs and layed back score turned this would be action movie and turned it into a thriller.  Not only did I go out and buy a copy of Drive after first seeing it, I made a second trip and picked up it’s soundtrack.  Yes, I liked it that much.  Need I say more?

4.5 / 5 Stars