Cayle’s Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

When Blade Runner was originally released in 1982, it was a commercial disappointment. Over the next three decades, however, not only has the film gained a cult following, it managed to influence other films such as Ghost in the Shell. Its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, has been one of the most anticipated films of 2017. Will it live up to the hype?

Taking place thirty years after the events of the original film, “K” (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant who hunts other replicants as a blade runner. However, he gets recurring memories of himself as a child despite the being the new model of replicant. The film follows his efforts to find the child in question.

Over the past few years, Denis Villeneuve has been building up an impressive resume that all culminated with the Oscar-nominated Arrival. In my opinion, Blade Runner 2049 might be the best film he has done to date. He manages to capture the proto-cyberpunk feel of the original film and give it a modern-day update.

Another great aspect of the film is its cinematography and its production design. The cinematography of this film is both breath-taking and atmospheric thanks to Roger Deakins. If this man does not win the Oscar for Best Cinematography, it would be the crime of the century. The production design manages to pay homage to the iconic visuals of the original while adding its own flair. My only critique of this film is the scenery porn that does not add anything to the movie. They may look great for the trailer, but it adds nothing to the film.

This film has a spectacular cast. Ryan Gosling does a fine job playing “K”. However, a special mention must go to Harrison Ford. His reprisal of the character Deckard is his best role in recent memory. It’s amazing how can be a great actor when he’s not phoning it in. The rest of the supporting cast does a fine job in the film, (including Bautista of all people). Even Jared Leto, who may be the weak link of the cast, managed to do a solid job in this film.

This may or may not be a controversial opinion, but I will say it anyway: Blade Runner 2049 joins various movies such as The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, and Aliens as one of the best sequels of all time. In a time where unoriginal studio executives are cashing in on nostalgic audience members, this film manages to do something where the other remakes/reboots/unnecessary sequels fail to do: it manages to continue the story of the original film. Villeneuve truly understands the intent of the original film. The original Blade Runner presented some existential questions about our humanity. 2049 expands on those questions by exploring them further. However, the film does not give a simple “yes or no” answer to those questions but rather leaves them open-ended as it should.

Overall, Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy sequel to the original film.

SCORE: 10/10

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Cayle’s Movie Review: American Made

Edge of Tomorrow was one of my personal favorite films of 2014. It was a refreshing take on the time loop narrative. When I heard that director Doug Liman and Tom Cruise were collaborating on another movie, I had to check this movie out.

Tom Cruise was easily the best part about this movie. He easily carries the movie as Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who becomes a drug runner for the Medillin Cartel and later an informant for the CIA. He has enough charisma to convincingly pull off playing a real-life maverick like Seal.  Domhnall Gleeson is also fine as Seal’s main contact in the CIA.

While it is great to have some comedic scenes peppered out throughout the entire duration of the movie to ease the dramatic tension, American Made consists of nothing but comedic scenes. As a result, the movie has some tonal conflicts. We never get to see Seal or his family in any real danger because of this. However, I will not go further into this aspect of the movie because it contains spoilers.

Overall, American Made is a frenetic action-comedy that manages to be quite fun. If you’re looking for a historically accurate movie, American Made isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a fun action movie, this movie is right up your alley. Although it’s not as good as Edge of Tomorrow, it’s fine for what it is.

SCORE: 7/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”

Kingsman: The Secret Service was the biggest sleeper hit of 2015. Arriving in February of that year against Fifty Shades of Grey, The Secret Service was a hit with both critics and audiences alike. Its sequel, The Golden Circle, managed to be one of the most anticipated movies of this year. How does it compare to its predecessor?

Taron Egerton, who reprises his role as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin/Galahad in this sequel, is the best part about this movie. Egerton has proven himself to be a capable lead actor with this movie. Mark Strong also returns as the character Merlin. The movie manages to show the growing relationship with Eggsy as a mentor. Another great thing about this movie are its action scenes. Matthew Vaughn has proven himself to be a great action director with films such as Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and the first Kingsman movie of course. This movie is no exception as he manages to up the ante with the action.

While Julianne Moore is a great actor, I felt she was miscast as the drug kingpin antagonist Poppy Adams. She’s not as charismatic as her predecessor Samuel L. Jackson, who stole The Secret Service as the evil media mogul Richmond Valentine. Not only that, her character came off as surprisingly preachy with her motives. This is a sharp contrast to the previous film as it had a more satirical bent to it.

Another problem I had with the movie was the subplot involving Statesman. The movie’s advertising focused on the appearances of Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges as agents of Statesman, the American counterpart to Kingsman. However, they are barely in the movie. The only member of Statesman to get any extended screen time was Agent Whiskey (played by Pedro Pascal), and he barely got any advertising. To put it in perspective, the supposed celebrity cameo was in the movie longer than Tatum and Bridges combined. Although one plot point was spoiled in the official trailer for the movie, I will not go into detail here. However, I will mention that it’s a plot point that doesn’t add anything to the movie besides more plot holes.

Overall, The Golden Circle does not live to its predecessor in terms of tone and writing. As I have mentioned before, The Secret Service felt like a fresh breath of air when it was first released. Unfortunately, The Golden Circle suffers from a case of the “sequelitis”. However, it manages to be entertaining thanks to its cast and its direction.

SCORE: 6/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “mother!”

The movie mother! follows a poet by the name of “Him” (Javier Bardem) and his wife “mother” (Jennifer Lawrence) as they remodel their house. A mysterious man (Ed Harris) shows up and asks for a place to stay. The next day, the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeffer) shows up the next day. This soon creates a domino effect of unwanted guests.

Mother!, which was directed by Darren Aronofsky, is a film that divided both audiences and critics alike. Some people think it is a masterpiece while others say it’s an exercise in self-indulgence. The main question of this review is, what do I think about it?

To start things off, mother! Has a solid cast. Jennifer Lawrence is spectacular as “mother”, the scorned wife of a poet with writer’s block. In my opinion, Lawrence gives one of the best performances of her career. Javier Bardem is also great as “Him”. It is refreshing to see him play a complex character such as “Him”. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeffer are also great as the shady houseguests of the main couple. They both manage to give off an aura of menace throughout the duration of their screen presence.

The best thing about this film is its visual direction. Aronofsky has a knack for innovative film techniques, including his extensive usage of Steadicam. Thanks to these techniques, mother! has a very chaotic style that sets itself apart from other studio projects. The film’s third act is where the film takes its visuals up to eleven. I am still surprised that this film was released by a major studio.

The most notable aspect about this film is its use of allegory. There are many debates online about what the story stands for including religion, the environment, humanity and the consequences of fame amongst others. I cannot go any further into these details without spoiling the film.

Personally, I thought the use of allegory and metaphor in this film was handled very well. I thought the writing in this film was very subtle despite its chaotic imagery. However, the film’s main problem is its pacing. The film starts off as a slow burn before going into overdrive in the third act. Despite its wonky pace, Mother! is a film that is worth seeing at least once.

I have mentioned before that this film is very divisive amongst critics and audiences alike. I would highly recommend this film for the more adventurous film-goer. This film is not for casual film-goers and the faint of heart alike. No matter what the marketing says, this is a film that defies genre.

SCORE: 9/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “It”

It, which was based on the 1986 Stephen King novel of the same name, follows a group of misfits known as the “Loser’s Club” as they battle a demonic clown entity known as “Pennywise”.

Stephen King’s It was previously adapted as a two-part miniseries back in 1990. It was so successful that it still resonates with viewers almost three decades later. As a person who saw the It miniseries much later than everyone else, I thought the first half was solid while the second half fell off the rails. How does this movie compare to the original?

2017’s It is one of the few times that the remake is better than the original. While Tim Curry was more iconic in his portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Bill Skarsgård might be the scariest portrayal. He manages to give off a frightening presence whenever he appears on screen. Although I am not a fan of child actors in general, I felt the main characters of the Losers Club were the best thing about this movie. Their dialogue felt both witty and natural. You get to see those characters bond together as the film progresses.

The one thing that is keeping this movie from being great is its over-reliance on jump scares. It already has a creepy atmosphere, why ruin it with cheap jump scares? Is the director afraid that his film won’t sell if his movie doesn’t have jump scares? This is a trend that needs to go away.

In conclusion, It is a well-made movie that falls short of being of the best Stephen King adaptations.

SCORE: 8/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

The Conjuring was a great throwback to old-school horror films such as The Exorcist. While its sequel isn’t as fresh as its predecessor, it was still a solid film. Its spin-off, Annabelle, was a movie that nobody asked for. However, Creation manages to be better than its predecessor.

The best thing about Annabelle: Creation is its direction. I must admit that I haven’t watched David F. Sandberg’s previous film Lights Out. However, Sandberg managed to create an unnerving atmosphere throughout the duration of the movie. Thanks to this movie, Sandberg has the potential to be a great horror director. In addition to the visual direction of this movie, Creation has a solid cast that includes the likes of Ouija: Origin of Evil’s Lulu Wilson.

While the film does have a creepy atmosphere, some of the scenes are ruined by jump scares. I don’t know if was Sandberg’s choice or this was due to the interference from the studio. Whatever it is, it managed to downgrade the movie. My other problem with Creation is its idiot plot. Some of the characters in this movie appear to exist solely to push the plot along. They might as well paint a target onto themselves.

While Creation is an improvement over its predecessor, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Conjuring movies. It is an entertaining movie that had the potential to be a much better movie if it weren’t for the plot conveniences.

SCORE:6/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: Detroit

The film follows the events surrounding the infamous Algiers Motel incident that occurred during the 1967 Detroit Riots.  Detroit might be Kathryn Bigelow’s best film as a director to date. She manages to capture the intensity of the Algiers Motel incident. Throughout the duration of the movie, the audience doesn’t know if the main characters would survive the night. Stylistically, I would compare this movie to last year’s Don’t Breathe (a film that, coincidentally, also takes place in inner-city Detroit). I will explain more of this later in my review.

Another great aspect about this movie is its cast. Aside from John Boyega and Anthony Mackie, the cast consists of actors who aren’t big name celebrities. This manages to work in the movie’s favor as it focuses on the characters and not on the actors. Will Poulter is the standout performance of this movie. It must have been difficult to play a person who abuses his authority.

My main criticism of the movie is its focus. I felt that the film’s epilogue was too long. The film’s third act dragged on for quite a bit and could have been trimmed by at least ten minutes. I may be nitpicking here, but I felt that the movie should have been called Algiers instead of Detroit. Yes, the real-life Algiers Motel incident took place within the Detroit riots of 1967, but this movie focused mainly on the incident itself.

I don’t know if the following opinion is considered “controversial” or not, but here it goes: Detroit might be the best horror movie of the year. Instead of some masked serial killer or some demonic entity being the focus of the film, the film deals with a real-life horror story. When Oscar season comes around, however, this movie would most likely garner nominations thanks to the involvement of Kathryn Bigelow. As mentioned by James Rolfe in his Monster Madness review of Exorcist II: The Heretic: “With horror movies, [Oscar nominations] doesn’t happen often. Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker. Put some zombies or vampires in those movies and see how many awards they get.”

Overall, this is an intense movie about a real-life incident that went down during the 1967 Detroit riots. While the movie has its flaws, it manages to capture the life-and-death situation of the Algiers Motel incident. It is a film that will cause a dialogue with its audience.

SCORE: 9/10