Do Androids Dream Of Ryan Gosling?
163 Mins. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi, Robin Wright & Jared Leto. Director: Denis Villeneuve.
Replicate this franchise all you like. But you'll never break the same rain soaked ground as the original, legendary Ridley Scott directed 'Blade Runner' 1982 movie and the real read of the visionary Phillip K. Dick's iconic 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep' book that gave this film it's novel idea. Even with all the different versions of this blueprint moment movie for you junkies to feast on (five to be exact), with more cuts than a butchers for your eyes. Without the ahead of even most modern movies today times 'Blade Runner' there wouldn't be the paranoid android of 'The Terminator' franchise, or the cyberpunk future of 'The Matrix' revolution for the science fiction genre birthed by Phillip K. Dick's future fables reload. And as for some of your favourite anime 'Akira'? Forget about it. Even the cruelly, critically underrated and whitewash called 'Ghost In The Shell' movie starring everyone's favourite Asian actress Scarlett Johansson (who actually did an amazing job) earlier this year had Tokyo neon like shades of lost in blade translation advertising. Upgraded and video projected taller than their skyscrapers of tomorrow that acted as a commercial advertisement for the Los Angeles smog meets Hong Kong industrial look of this decades later California. Whose former sun cracked streets now soaked with noir drama hallmark settings have no one no longer asking why it doesn't rain in Southern California. And before original runner and 'The Martian' and 'Alien: Covenant' director Ridley handed the Han like replicant blaster to amazing 'Arrival' alien director Denis Villeneuve of 'Sicario' and 'Prisoners' fame (one who already showed that his films like the 'Enemy' Jake Gyllenhaal doppleganger double-act feature more than meets the eye), an awakening anime precursed this new age of '2049'. The beautiful 'Blackout 2020' was something else as was the nice 'Nexus Dawn 2036' short starring 30 Seconds To Mars lead singer and 'Suicide Squad' Joker, Jared Leto and 'Doctor Strange' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' star Benedict Wong (M.I.A. in this movie). Who himself recently as a fortnight back starred in an episode of the 'Electric Dreams' series of short stories from K. Dick. But now after a 35 year wait, almost hinting at a half century and an 'is he or isn't he' cliffhanger for more fingernail gripping decades in the making than the return of 'Twin Peaks', 'Blade Runner 2049' is here like origami in the rain just when you were tired of counting electric sheep.
And judging from how this all looks through the mist of a neon nights rain, it's safe to say with Villeneuve we are in the midst of the most vivid and versatile director working today. The 'Arrival' sci-fi game and narrative changer really has arrived. If the look of the first 'Blade Runner' back in the 80's left your jaw slack, than this new milleniuum one in '2049' will have you picking it up off the floor. Visually and sonically behind the synth scintillating score manned magnificently by the classic composer today Hans Zimmer this thing really is an effervescent masterpiece. A reboot of a groundbreaking 80's cult classic hasn't looked or sounded this sensational since Disney and Daft Punk gave 'Tron' a whole new 'Legacy' bathed in neon mapping chrome reflections. This takes that decent Colin Farrell 'Total Recall' remake of the Phillip K. Dick taken for wholesale Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and snaps its neck like Arnie against the bad guys. This is more out of this world than Mars as the C.G.I. takes the cars, holograms and a time where puncuated product placement (we see you Atari, Sony and of course Coca Cola) is only seen as perfect here and dials it all the way up. All whilst keeping that 80's aesthetic so clean and fresh it almost appears like it hasn't been messed with. At times it looks like you're watching a remaster of the original and that's not to fault the flawless graphics here (even if those iconic clear plastic umbrellas are missing their flourescent light tubing fit for a room handles). More to credit the original classics C.G. or physical set up to make up for the lack of in a futuristic feel of a film still made by technology looking forward to tomorrows world. Still anytime the spinner cars aren't going back to the future and somewhere where you don't need roads through another noir neon night downpour, we are taken to a 'Last Of Us Vegas' like nuclear fallout deserted desert of the future. Burnt in 'Mad Max' apocalypse orange and solitary primed for the vast outlook of an IMAX screen. Chord enchanced by the scene setting, blaring and pounding, futuroscope score amongst sand covered statues that almost looke like giant humans burnt to ash pillar posts. But aside from all these beautiful bells and whistles of ultimate cinematic wonder, Villeneuve's smart story of emotional arcs and soulful heart continues the narrative of the original classic in this compelling, candlewax slow burner of a blockbuster that is still noir-ish. Offset by brief but brutal all out action assaults that amaze as they beat you into submission, drowning your screaming senses. Paying honoured homage all whilst setting its own path for the future and the discussions that will come with the most talked about and meaning debated movie of the year and sequel of all-time. Let alone the four sequels that prouducer Ridley Scott has on the idea pipeline that may be 'Prometheus' like overkill, but may also have promise if Villeneuve is still in the driving seat. His definitive direction making you wonder what it would have been like if Scott had the same freeing trust in Neil Blomkamp (the 'District 9' and Elysium real world futuristic grit director who is the new Phillip K of the film world) and his 'Alien' movie. Instead of the 'Android: Covenant' we got this year in the robotics of 2017.
But even if you think the man in the chair Ridley should retire, nothing it getting rid of these replicants. Even if 'La La Land''s two-stepping Ryan Gosling's K (see the tribute...no we aint talking about those 'Men In Black') is hunting them down like Deckard with 'Drive' like trademark 'Only God Forgives' stoicism. In his second classic of the year that people feel they also dare not give this any less than a full five star, masterpiece review. Even if this just falls short of the original that many claim it supersedes, when really that was always a Tom Cruise mission (or an oblivion like outlook). As this incredible sci-fi movie that stands all on its own still doesn't feel a shade (just a shade) quite right as a 'Blade Runner' movie no matter how much graphics they use to bring all your old nods back (but that's the point this Denis dynamic is a new landmark movie all in it's own right and moment). Look I'm sure Harrison Ford wasn't too happy with 'Rogue One' bringing back Carrie Fisher in C.G.I. after their real loving and knowing reunion. So imagine his joy at some of the additional, unnecessary add ons here that almost made this writers hardcore friend with a 'Blade Runner' tattoo look for a cover up. Gosling is as great as ever here however in a role that swan spreads its wings like the 100 feet ballerinas he dances between as he stalks the streets. But we all know there is no 'Blade Runner', even in '2049' without Harrison Ford. And the still whip smart (especially in the not so taken seriously sarcasm department, for something equally refreshing and genuine in this business) 'Indiana Jones' and 'Star Wars' star is not going through the walk-on, just another day at the office before he breaks his ankle coming out the Millennium Falcon cameo motions. His intro return scene is decades and hours earned classic even if we did see it in the trailer already. And as for the glass of scotch in the trailer legend of punching Ryan Gosling by accident for real in this movie. Judging from the realism we see here it looks like he did it again and again...perhaps he did leave the whole bottle of Jack for Ryan in the end. Even if he did take all the stage hand produced ice for Gosling's almost broken cheek bones for his own bruised knuckles. But these hits have got nothing on the raw emotional impact of the real acting that follows for the first time truly since the 'Witness' and 'Regarding Henry' era. Perhaps it's all the talent this movie has afforded Ford. Like 'Knock, Knock' and 'War Dogs' standout Ana De Armas an anything but hollow hologram vision. Hooking up with Ridley Scott's 'Martian' maverick actress Mackenzie Davis for an akward 'Her' avatar like menage that lies somewhere between touchingly beautiful and cringingly shallow. 'House Of Cards' First Lady Macbeth Robin Wright slicking her Jenny trademark hair back and calling the shots. If she tells you to run, then you make like Forrest. Dutch 'Renegade' actress Sylvie Hoeks as quite the replicant enforcer who can take you out all whilst some man circular mini buzz-saw files her nails. Or Drax the Destroyer and Bond henchman Dave Bautista as 'Guardians Of The Galaxy's' very own muscle man of meat wall, showing you he's one replicant you don't want to wrestle with. Even Barkhad "I'm the Captain now" Abdi gets a cool cameo look in. And then of course there's 'Dallas Buyers Club' Oscar winning supporting actor Jared Leto, right before he dons the legendary smoking jacket of the recently dearly departed Playboy man himself Hugh Hefner, in relatively normal guise minus some contacts. As this monologue in Hauer homage maddening actor amazingly wears prosthetics in his eyes for the whole film to perform in this picture "blind". Impressive? Yes! Inspired? Well take a look at fellow musician/actor Jamie Foxx playing piano and leading the whole 'Ray' Charles biopic all whilst going prosthetic sightless for the movies whole damn performance. Whilst Leto's three sparing scenes that were originally meant for the late, great Starman himself David Bowie (now imagine that. Now this change feels something akin to Michael Shannon doing his best Ziggy Stardust glam rock impression in 'Tron: Legacy'), draw Jesus visions from Villeneuve. Yet despite this almighty misguided comparison this movie that deals with life, death, the rebirth of man and all that creation and replication at the core not once falls to pretention (the only thing to ever ruin 'Blade Runner' was Oscar Pistorius). Even if some of the critics calling this movie stuck between a blockbuster and a noir place better than the original might just be in cult blasphemy. They say its a masterpiece. On a cinematic and sonic scale it inspiringly is under the influence. But behind all that style is a substance that needs merely a little more mastering before its a cut above the rest as your science fiction hallmark front runner. But an android can dream...right?! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Further Filming: 'Blade Runner', 'Ghost In The Shell', 'Total Recall (2012)'.