Archive for the ‘ Science Fiction ’ 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

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Chronicle

Chronicle, 2012, Canada/USA/South Africa

By Andrew Burns

Any kid with half an imagination growing up would be lying if they said they never thought about having super powers at least once.  Whether it to be faster than a speeding bullet, the ability to fly, or just have one of those bitchin costumes with a cape.  Imagining yourself become like one of those larger than life characters from the glossy 32 paged modern day mythology tales is almost like a rite of passage for every kid.  In this newest Sci-Fi film, Chronicle uses the handheld sub-genre to explore what happens when those imaginations suddenly become a reality for three teenagers from their point of view.

Much like other films of this handheld camera sub-genre there are key elements of the story that are left unanswered or up to the audience’s imagination.  We, as the audience, only see what is “caught on camera”, and nothing more.  Like other films in the past that used this style of filmmaking as a crutch or an overplayed gimmick (Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield) Chronicle actually makes it work to fit it’s story.

One of the three teenagers, Andrew, is about as social awkward as they come and decides to document each minute of his miserable home & high school life with a home video camera.  Andrew’s home movies are filled with scenes of school bullying, his abusive drunk father, and his cancer ridden mother on her death bed.  After some careful nudging towards a better high school experience by Matt, Andrew’s more popular cousin, he convinces Andrew to tag along to a huge party out in the woods one night.  Out there with Matt’s friend Steve the three of them stumble upon a larger hole in the ground with something alien-isk that changes each of them forever.  From then on out the three all possess unexplained telekinetic powers and get stronger after each day.

This film is obviously inspired by a mix of comic books and video games, from some brilliant daydreamers in director Josh Trank and his writing partner Max Landis.  Trank absolutely maximizes this story’s potential under it’s tiny $15 million budget with some incredible special effects.  With a cast of unknowns and a fresh idea Trank and Landis take a phenomenal approach to putting their childhood fantasies on to the big screen.

With a character as damaged as Andrew the film’s ending is no mystery to the average movie-goer, as they can predict the outcome after the first ten minutes of the movie.  Apart from that minor drawback Chronicle does a terrific job pacing itself with it’s supernatural development.  With a fantastic type of idea like this it was refreshing to see this story not told on a grand scale or set in those cinematically over used cities like New York or L.A..  At the risk of ruining the film’s ending I’ll just say the film’s climax might be seen as an exaggerated spike for the story’s slower progression but it takes you on a thrill ride that delivers a lasting impression.

4 / 5 Stars