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Blade Runner – Review

25 Jul

I should really be ashamed of myself for having waited 21 years of my life to see Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. I have read Philip K. Dick’s outstanding novel on which the film was based, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and was completely sucked into the dystopian city that he brought to life. To begin with, I was surprised with the similarities between the book and the movie after hearing how different they were, and I was also surprised that I have to call this film a little bit over rated.

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Deckard is (Harrison Ford) is a retired blade runner, a branch of the police force whose main objective is to hunt down and “retire” androids that are called “replicants.” After four advanced Nexus-6 models escape from an off planet colony and come to earth, Deckard is forced out of retirement to hunt them down. These new models are a bit more tricky to find, however, due to advanced emotional control and, in some instances, false memories implanted into their brain to give an “emotional cushion.” This assignment will prove to be a life changing one as Deckard begins to see that he may be playing for the wrong side of the law.

Ok, I know I’m going to get a lot of heat for this one, but I have to be totally honest. I felt a little twang of disappointment with Blade Runner. Part of me thinks that I was expecting a bit too much from it. Another part of me realizes that Deckard is a really boring character whom I really didn’t care for. In the novel, seeing the world from his perspective and getting the inside scoop on his thoughts made him a much more interesting character. As the main protagonist, he just doesn’t really work. I’m way more interested in Rutger Hauer’s role as the lead replicant, Roy, who brings more humanity to his role than Ford. On top of that, we are introduced to characters early in the film which we then don’t see again for what seemed like a really long time. Then after all of that, the movie seems to wrap up really quickly.

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So, while the movie bothered me at some parts, it really does exceed in others. For one thing, the special effects are superb. Seeing the spinners flying through the dystopian Los Angeles, complete with advertising zeppelins and moving billboards as tall as skyscrapers is mind blowing. If anything, Blade Runner deserves a spot on anyone’s list of best science fiction films for the visuals alone. I hear a lot of complaints that this is a very dark movie and can be hard to see things at times. This is true, but Blade Runner falls into the sub genre of tech noir, which means it’s science fiction in the style of classic noir films. Thankfully, that god awful narration by Harrison Ford has been taken out of the re-releases!

Like the book, Blade Runner is definitely a philosophical tale. Deckard begins to see throughout his journeys that destroying these androids is a moral dilemma. In what I consider to be a fantastic monologue given be Hauer towards the end, he explains that his replicant eyes have seen things that most humans on earth would never believe, and when he is gone, so are the memories. The theme of eyes is very important to the story, and visually, Scott even went so far as to make the character’s eyes glow at some parts by reflecting a small light directly at them. The eye is the window to the soul, people say, and that is what the movie can be boiled down to. Deckard is hunting the androids because they have no soul, even though his job is more soulless than the androids he is killing.

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In my honest opinion, Blade Runner is just a tad bit over rated, even though the more I really think about it, the more I am liking it. Some things about it could definitely be changed, even though it’s been tinkered with throughout the years so  much so that even George Lucas would be blushing. It’s not my favorite sci fi movie, and objectively it isn’t the best, but it is something of a marvel and is definitely a reminder that blockbusters these days don’t have as much of a philosophical or soulful push that they had just a few decades earlier.

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Hobo with a Shotgun – Review

28 Aug

Let’s face it. There are many movies out there that are just not meant to be taken seriously. One of the most extreme cases of this is the film based off an award winning “Grindhouse” trailer, Hobo with a Shotgun. This film is absolute trash film making, but it is self aware and revels in its debauchery with a glaring smile. If you can stomach the insanity, then this is a wild ride that hearkens back to the crazy days of exploitation film making.

 

Hope Town is in some serious trouble. A crime boss that goes by The Drake (Brian Downey) and his two sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith), run the town with an iron and violent fist. Many people are killed everyday in the sickest ways possible, that is until a Hobo (Rutger Hauer) arrives via train and begins taking justice into his own hands with his trusty shotgun. Now the criminals are the ones filled with fear and Hope Town’s hope may be restored.

I’ve seen this movie twice now with two totally different people. The first person was laughing along with me and enjoying the mayhem and carnage that was relentlessly thrown at us. The second person sat there cringing at the geysers of gore and unflinching violence. This little experiment goes to show that you really need a certain level of tolerance to comfortably sit through Hobo with a Shotgun.

 

The style of this movie is in a league of its own. It’s over saturated, lit with neon, and at times simply out of this world crazy. It’s easy to get lost in the looks and I even strangely began to appreciate it as more than just a trashy film. There was obviously a cinematographer who knew exactly what he wanted and achieved it very well. I never thought I’d mention the cinematography in a movie such as Hobo with a Shotgun, but something about it just struck me as unique. The color palates are all over the place with shades you never thought would blend well together, but strangely enough they work. For example, a particular room is lit with blue, green, and orange gels. It looks weird, but appropriate.

While the characters may not be developed well, they are really cool. The Hobo is a totally kick ass character who has no qualms blowing off a pedophile’s head, with gratuitous chunks of brain matter decorating the window of the car. The Drake and his sons are whack-a-doos who sometimes act way too off the charts, but they were funny as hell and said some of the most ridiculous lines in movie history. The only character that I felt was lame was the prostitute, Abby (Molly Dunsworth). She’s a main character who I never really care about. She doesn’t really do much or really anything I care about, save for one cool thing towards the end. But that’s ok. The Plague makes up for her more than enough.

 

I’d also like to mention the nice use of strange camera angles and lenses to distort some of the more intense or crazy images. Give the film makers credit. Despite this being a gore fest trash reveling movie, there are artistic bits that put it a step higher than your average grind house flick.

One thing that bothered me was some of the dialogue. I know, I know. It’s cheesy for the sake of being cheesy, but some of it was just too much. Any bit of dialogue concerning bears and zoos weren’t even funny. It was almost embarrassing at how horrendous the lines were and the sincerity they were spoken in. It was just so different from the other ridiculous lines that are obviously said as a joke.

Hobo with a Shotgun isn’t just violent. It’s ultra violent. Every scene has some new twisted and sadistic image in it that will leave you wondering how they think of this stuff. It’s trashy and devoid of good intentions. Hobo with a Shotgun exists only to push the limits of what is acceptable onscreen, and how far film makers can go to make us laugh. This certainly is not for everyone and it may not be considered excellent film making, but this film is destined to be a cult classic.