Not Your Daddy’s Blade Runner
Apart from a few visual cues and references, the first half of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 seems tonally unrelated to the classic from 1982 – and that’s a good thing. Any sequel worth its salt better push its own envelopes.
Sure it would be easier to “Force Awakens” the material and appeal to a lower common denominator, but that would disrespect the ingenuity of the original, and alienate that key demographic of obsessed middle aged fanboys in the process. Villeneuve’s vision may owe something to original director Ridley Scott, but he brings a very specific set of skills to the table that are entirely his own.
So… all of the trailers thus far have avoided key details from the film, and some have blamed the spoiler-free ad campaign for poor box office – if 196 million dollars internationally in a few weeks can be considered poor box office. Me? I’m gonna spoil some things for sure, so if that’s not your speed, stop reading now.
Still reading? Good. So, first things first; Ryan Gosling plays K, a Blade Runner whose job is to “retire” older model replicants not programmed to blindly obey. Those older models, like in the original film, tend to get a little stabby. We learn in the first frickin’ scene that K is himself a replicant, and he knows it, unlike, say, Rachel in the original, who had no idea she wasn’t human.
Speaking of Rachel, K finds her interred remains which reveal she died during an emergency c-section. That’s right, Rachel was preggers – a total game changer. If replicants can have children, then maybe they should be masters of their own destiny, instead of forced labor and sex slaves. And from a manufacturing perspective, replicants that can reproduce would sure make it easier for the Wallace Corporation to pump out more replicants.
And so the search for Rachel’s offspring begins. The Blade Runners want that child retired to keep the status quo. The Wallace Corporation wants to reverse engineer this pregnancy phenomenon. The child is about thirty years old by now, the same age as, oh, Ryan Gosling’s K – programmed to obey but suspiciously conflicted about killing something born instead of built.
Any sequel worth its salt better push its own envelopes.
Edward James Olmos reprises his role as Gaff, albeit briefly, and Ana de Armas plays Joi, the hottest virtual reality assistant/lover you could feast your eyes upon – due in no small part to the best cinematographer in the world, Roger Deakins.
From a musical perspective, Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch ensure the score is appropriately reminiscent of the Vangelis original, It will give you goosebumps, I promise.
Rumor has it they may rush Blade Runner 2049 to home video sooner than usual, but if you can see it on the big screen, you really should. And while you’re at it, check out these three shorts released online to bridge the gap between the two films.
Review: Godzilla vs. Kong
Godzilla vs. Kong reminds me that I was an idiot as a child. I allowed the 4:30 Movie too significant a piece of my brain pie. I existed in a headspace where The Planet of the Apes and Gamera were more science than fiction. I was certain skyscraper-sized monsters lived in the woods a few blocks away, and that ghosts were under my bed. Somewhere in possibility-land, a black and white Lon Chaney slowly becomes a werewolf in a handful of dissolving frames.
Cut to my final form, and I can’t help but think these movies are just a total waste of time and resources. Sure, the effects can be impressive but often they have as much weight as a video game. Buildings smash into dust, an actor says a line against a green screen, then Kong sits on a throne like a stereotypical king. Ah doi!
Sure, the hollow Earth with upside-down mountains in the sky is cool – but where’s that sun coming from? The MechaGodzilla fight has some great effects, but you can watch those on Youtube without having to sit through a bunch of lines like “Kong bows to no one.”
Maybe I just can’t enjoy normal human things anymore.
Now that Captain America is Black…
Now that Captain America is Black
- Bucky Barnes will change his name to Summer Soldier Buckquan because “Nah son! we ain’t doing sh*t in the winter!”
- Fearing for their lives, Police officers will fire 751 shots at Cap in the 4th of many incidents to come.
- In a new altered timeline, Thanos will win due to Cap being detained by a routine traffic stop. “How can you afford Vibraniun on a government salary? Please step out of the vehicle sir.”
- Captain America will form a Rap group with Black Panther called “Black-America.” The group will not be received well but will eventually have all their intellectual property stolen for decades to come without any due repar… I mean royalties. #MESSAGE
- Racists will be utterly confused when they tell Captain America to “Go back to where you came from.” Equally confused, Cap will pack up all his belongings and stay put.
- Cap will be accused of stealing Thor’s hammer the next time he picks it up.
- Cap’s shield will be replaced with a Vibraniun PlayStation Controller since black men are more comfortable throwing that.
- The battle decree will officially be changed from “Avengers Assemble” to “Yerrrrr! It’s on sight!”
- After 40 years of service, Cap will travel back in time to 1998 to finally get that last dance with his true love, Laura Winslow. They will Cha Cha Slide to “Before I let Go” as the credits role.
- Upon retirement, those jaded with having an Af-Am do such an amazing job will appoint a failed real estate charlatan to take up the mantle. The New Cap will immediately try and grab Scarlet by her “Johansson” and declare himself the best Captain America that ever did it during his inauguration.
Chadwick Boseman Forever!!
It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)
Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.
Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.
Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”
If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.
R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.