Posted in 1980-1989, Film Review

Blade Runner (1982)

Image is property of Warner Bros, The Ladd Company and Shaw Brothers

Blade Runner: The Final Cut – Film Review

Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah

Director: Ridley Scott

Synopsis: Set in 2019, A police officer, known as a Blade Runner, is tasked with hunting down and eliminating four human like beings, known as replicants…

Review: Every once in a while, a film comes along that initially audiences, and indeed critics do not appreciate upon initial viewing. Yet, over time, opinions change and it becomes clear that some films need perhaps another watch, to allow audiences to really appreciate a film in all of its majesty. Never is this more applicable than for Ridley Scott’s neo-noir classic Blade Runner. It would be fair to say that upon its first arrival in cinemas back in 1982, this film was hardly a run away success with the critics divided. Yet decades after its release, its holds its place as a sci-fi masterpiece.

Over time, numerous cuts of the movie have emerged (eight in total) but the final cut is almost certainly the cut that you should seek to watch. Immediately right from the opening shot, there is something so mesmerising to look at Los Angeles in 2019 as was envisioned back in the 80s, though we don’t quite have those flying cars as of right now! The CGI, for a film released at that time, is breath-taking and still holds up to this day. The set decoration also really helps capture that futuristic vibe perfectly, with a very futuristic sounding score from Vangelis.

All the various cuts would suggest that in all of this time Scott was not quite ever fully satisfied with the film, but despite all these versions, the core story at the heart of the film remains a very fascinating one that explores a plethora of different themes, all of which perhaps have helped the film to stand the test of time. Artificial intelligence was not exactly anything new in terms of science fiction cinema, yet the way it approached the subject and its exploration of many other themes ensure it has become a landmark piece of not just science fiction cinema, but cinema in general. That being said, the screenplay is bogged down in places by some pacing issues, as some scenes do drag for longer than they perhaps need to.

blade runner 1982

Harrison Ford was at the time, one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. Fresh from his success in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones universes, he certainly showed he had the charisma to be the leading man. As Rick Deckard, the man charged with hunting down these sinister replicants, he doesn’t quite have that Han solo or Indy-esque charm about him, but his performance ensures that Deckard is a testament to his talent that he added another memorable character to his collection. However, leading replicant Roy Batty (Hauer) manages the quite remarkable feat of stealing the limelight away from Ford, giving a very chilling performance. He deftly manages the balance between maniacal evil and compassion. Furthermore, he also gives what has deservedly gone down as one of the greatest (and improvised) monologues in film history.

Minor nitpicks aside, there can be no doubt that the impact this film has had, and continues to have over science fiction cinema cannot be underestimated. Indeed, the cult following that this film has gained in the years since its release certainly tells you all you need to know.  when a film has stood the test of time, even in spite of several different versions and quite the extensive amount of tinkering on Scott’s part. Nevertheless, what exists in the Final Cut of this film is a staple of science fiction cinema, and will more than likely continue to be so for several more decades to come.

Not so greatly received upon release, but over time, generations have appreciation for the wonder and beauty of the story that Scott brings to the table. It has deservedly gone down as a landmark piece of cinema.

 

Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

Image is property of A Band Apart and Miramax Films

Kill Bill: Volume 1 – Film Review

Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Vivicia A Fox, Gordon Liu, Sonny Chiba

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis: After a Bride (Thurman) is brutally beaten up by her former assassination squad members on her wedding day, after a lengthy spell in a coma, she wakens and swears revenge on her former colleagues, and her boss, Bill.

Review: If you ever want some terrific over-the-top violence and some well written characters from your movies, then Mr Quentin Tarantino is the director who usually has you covered, particularly when it comes to the over-the-top violence, and blood, lots and LOTS of blood.

For many people, their wedding day is the happiest day of their lives, well not for a lady who we initially just know as The Bride codenamed, Black Mamba. Her former colleagues of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad arrive at the ceremony to literally rain blood and bullets on her parade with some messy consequences that leave her in a coma for four years. Once she awakens, she is furious and on a very personal mission of revenge against her former assassination squad members. As the old saying goes “hell hath no fury, like a woman scored.” She is a woman on a mission with a hit list of names to find and take revenge,  which as the film reminds us, is a dish best served cold.

After making his name in very bloody fashion with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and six years after the release of Jackie Brown, Tarantino emerged with a new film that originally spanned over four hours, as such he decided to cut it into two movies. This first film of this extraordinary story focuses on the Bride as she tracks down the first name on her death list O-Ren Ishii, (Lucy Liu) but in typical Tarantino fashion, the story is not told linearly, jumping back and forth between the present and events in the past, but he does so with great effect.

Tarantino, after winning an Oscar for an Original Screenplay for Pulp Fiction, once again shows off his tremendous talent as a writer. Yet here he certainly honed his craft as an excellent director of action. From the very first shots that  feature a very beaten up Bride, you know it’s time to fasten your seatbelts, as you’re in for a bloody and entertaining thrill ride. The story is tremendous, with very well developed characters all round, with a superb screenplay. It’s very apparent that anime, martial arts and spaghetti westerns are influences in the writing, with plenty of visual nods to the aforementioned genres and it’s all fused together incredibly well.

Uma Thurman in the lead gives an absolutely tremendous performance, one of the very best lead female characters that has ever been put to the big screen. She is utterly without mercy and compassion as she hunts down her colleagues and will not hesitate to kill any and all who stand in her path. As she’s our protagonist,  you want to root for her as she battles her foes, with the film’s final showdown certainly being one of the most gripping and enthralling confrontations that has ever been put to screen, certainly one of the most bloody too with swords swinging and limbs flying absolutely everywhere, and lots and lots of blood.

Her former colleagues that we meet here O-Ren, Vernita Green (Vivicia A Fox) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) all give tremendous performances as the merciless members of the assassination squad. Furthermore even though we never see his face, the big boss Bill emits a sadistic, cold, merciless persona just through his voice, and the late David Carradine does an excellent job bringing him to life and besides Thurman, it’s his work that helps to steal the show. Tarantino almost never fails to bring deep and interesting characters to the big screen in his movies, and the crop of characters, both lead and side characters certainly don’t disappoint. It’s a bloody thrilling ride, and we’re only halfway into the story.

Terrific writing, expert directing and some top performances particularly from Thurman and Carradine, Tarantino managed to slash together another extraordinary film that definitely ranks among his very best.

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