Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens (2015) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Science Fiction Themes and Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka
Director: J.J. Abrams

A scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to transport a droid carrying information regarding the whereabouts of long lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order.

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Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens was one of the most anticipated films of all time. After Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, they started on making a new trilogy, and people were looking forward to seeing new movies. While there’s certainly a lot of divisiveness about the sequel trilogy now, I think most people generally liked The Force Awakens, and I’m still one of those people. As a ‘soft reboot’, this is the best this movie could’ve possibly been, and it succeeded very well as that.

To get this out of the way, yes, The Force Awakens is very derivative of A New Hope, and most of its plot points are very similar, but it does enough to differentiate itself from that first movie. Not to mention it was a good way of introducing the current state to new audiences. I will admit that some parts copy just a little too much, like I could’ve done with something else other than a killer star base that’s just bigger than the Death Stars. From beginning to end, J.J. Abrams gives the movie a fast pace, but it also work for the story, it doesn’t go so fast that it skips past important details or anything. Plotwise, I think the only thing I had a problem with was the option to blow up an entire planetary system of the New Republic. Doing this pretty much ensured that there was basically no system or anything, and it was a wasted opportunity for world building. That’s my only big problem with the plot or anything I think. I guess not all the answers to things were given in this movie, but that basically passed it on to other instalments to provide them there.

The newer cast are quite good. Daisy Ridley acts really well as Rey, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding her character and you don’t learn a lot about her, and so it required someone like Ridley to play the role in a way to make her work on screen. I really do feel like John Boyega’s Finn didn’t get to do as much as he could’ve (especially with the setup with him as a stormtrooper, which we hadn’t gotten with other main Star Wars characters beforehand), but Boyega does what he can and is pretty good. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime, generally because his character was meant to die early on, but was kept alive since they liked Isaac. That was a great decision, because Oscar plays him really well, even in his short screentime you really like him easily, and that’s all because of his performance. The standout actor and character across the sequel trilogy is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. I’m not the type of person to put characters up against each other, but at the very least, he in this movie is a lot better than Darth Vader in A New Hope, since the two get compared a lot. Kylo is more than just a copy of Vader. He’s conflicted, he’s all over the place, and at least in this movie is trying so much to be like his grandfather. Even just looking at him in this movie, Kylo is one of the best characters in the Star War series. The other main antagonists were General Hux, Captain Phasma, and Supreme Leader SNoke. Domhnall Gleeson plays the role of Hux pretty well, and in this movie it does take him seriously (until he was used as the butt of many jokes). Gleeson doesn’t get many moments to shine in the trilogy, but he does have a big speech before Starkiller base fires a weapon, and he owned that scene pretty well. Gwendoline Christie as Phasma is pretty much the Boba Fett of the sequel trilogy, she looks cool but doesn’t really do anything. I know that her not doing much doesn’t really matter, but I would’ve liked her to have had a little more screentime and things to do. As for Snoke, you only get to see him for a couple scenes, but Andy Serkis added quite a lot to him through his motion captured performance. I really wished that Lupita Nyong’o got to do more as Maz Kanata, she play it fine enough I guess, but she mostly just gives out information. I have no idea why Max von Sydow was in this movie, he was pretty much just a cameo. The main cast from the previous movies returns, with the most notable being that of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, who both play their roles of Han and Leia very well once again.

J.J. Abrams directed this very well, effectively fast paced. Everything from the production design, practical effects, digital effects, everything on a technical level is great, fantastic on a visual level. The action is also quite entertaining and put together nicely, from the ship battles, gunfights, and to the final battle between Kylo and Rey, which I still think is one of the best lightsabers duels in the series. The exception of these action scenes is of course is the Rathtars scene. At this point I accepted that it exists, but compared to the rest of the movie I didn’t really love it. John Williams scores this movie quite well, but I do think that the sequel trilogy’s scores aren’t nearly as great or memorable as the other two trilogies. The most memorable themes were that of Kylo Ren, Rey, and the Resistance, nonetheless the score on a whole worked well for the movie.

Star Wars Episode 5: The Force Awakens was a great way of bringing back Star Wars to today’s audiences. It’s very well directed, the cast are good, and quite well paced. It set up things for future instalments to potentially pursue, and was a good way to get people on board with Star Wars again. It was at the very least a good starting point for this new trilogy.

Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (1983) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 6- Return of the Jedi

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Carlrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (Voice)
Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: Richard Marquand

After a daring mission to rescues Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) struggles to help Darth Vader (David Prowse) back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor’s trap.

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I remember when I was younger finding Return of the Jedi to be my favourite of the original Star Wars trilogy. In rewatching it more recently however, I admit that I’m not that impressed with it anymore, honestly I was rather underwhelmed by the movie on the whole. It’s no doubt got some great parts to it, and its acted and directed relatively well, but most of the movie is generally just ‘fine’.

I’m not really sure how most people view the early section of rescuing Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, but to me it wasn’t that good, and actually had me a bit worried for the rest of the movie. It keeps you there for quite a while, gradually watch the droids go into Jabba’s place, then watch Leia’s unsuccessful attempt at rescuing Han, then there’s Luke making his attempt. It’s just rather boring and sort of a pain to sit through. One of the absolute worst parts of the movie is the worst scene to ever ‘grace’ a Star Wars movie, which is also one of the worst changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy. I’m talking about what is known as Jedi Rocks. Now originally there was a scene of a band playing a song in Jabba’s Palace, and watching it online, it’s actually alright. The song was subtle, simple, and it lasted for less than a minute. It seems that Lucas was never satisfied with how this was done however, and added way more to this sequence, replacing the song, making it longer, louder, and having these random aliens take up the screentime, and it’s incredibly obnoxious. It’s even worse if you’re like me and you’re just not liking the Jabba Palace section, and it just tests your patience. It’s the single most painful moment to watch in the entire series. Back to that whole first act, it improves a little when Luke appears (and established himself as a much more powerful Jedi now) and ends up fighting a Rancor, but it really starts to pick up to being kind of good once he gets his new green lightsaber and starts fighting Jabba’s people, along with the other main characters. That action scene was satisfying and almost made up for everything that came before… almost. Also, every time I hear about Boba Fett being apparently great, I’m instantly reminded of his part in this movie where he gets accidently knocked down by a partially blind Han Solo and then eaten. Just thought it was worth mentioning as well.

So the first act wasn’t all that good, but I really didn’t care much about the storyline on Endor either. This is where they are going to down the shields on the second Death Star. This is the big conclusion, and I felt like I really should’ve felt the stakes, or some degree of emotion really. However it feels oddly inconsequential and nothing much happens in here. There’s not even a lot of scenes between Han and Leia where they talk about things that aren’t the objective. It’s just about the rebels trying to take the base, and also the Ewoks are in it. Now as for the Ewoks themselves, I don’t hate them but I don’t particularly like them either. Maybe if they were Wookies or some other species that was at least more credible (or one you can take somewhat seriously), I would’ve liked it a lot better. But as it is, it honestly felt like Lucas just went with these just for making toys. Let’s just say that the Ewoks are something that you’d expect from The Phantom Menace more than any other Star Wars movie. Not to mention, I almost feel like they only just pad out the runtime so that this section isn’t 20 minutes long. However it’s not like they’re the reason I didn’t like the storyline, on its own it wasn’t that interesting or engaging either. When they finally get to the battles at the end it picks up, for the Endor bits the Ewoks unfortunately make it hard to take it seriously. The ship battles to take down the Death Star 2 are pretty good however.

It’s really a shame that I don’t love this movie, because the storyline with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is pretty much pitch perfection. Luke is a full on Jedi now, and has learned a lot since Empire. The movie really builds up their eventual next meeting that happens in the second half of the movie, with now the knowledge that Luke is his son of course. The movie also adds the part about Leia also being his sister, which I’m all good with, but their kiss in Empire Strikes Back is still going to feel weird forever. It all comes to a head in the throne room scene during the attack on the second Death Star, and there’s a fight between Luke and Vader. I also liked where it actually showed Luke for a brief moment give into the dark side as he even chops off Vader’s hand, but doesn’t follow through with killing him. This moment along with bits in Empire Strikes Back cements Luke as an imperfect and flawed character instead of a perfect Jedi (which The Last Jedi also follows along with), which just made him all the more compelling. Then there’s the moment where The Emperor is electrocuting Luke and then you have that fantastic moment of Vader choosing to save him by throwing Palpatine over the edge, fulfilling Anakin’s prophecy of bringing balance to the force (until suddenly when the Emperor returned again from the dead in a later movie for some reason but whatever). The worst change from George Lucas is possibly when he added in Darth Vader saying “No. NOOOOOOOOOOO” just before he ‘kills’ Palpatine. It was such a powerful moment requiring no lines at all, just the physical acting by Prowse was enough to convey everything. But for some reason ever since that change was made, it was kept for future versions of the movie, and I’ve never liked it, and its much less to do with the silliness of the lines. Despite this plotline having large stakes, it feels very personal and intimate, and that made it even better. Also while we are on the topic of changes, I’m more than fine with Anakin’s force ghost being updated to be that of Hayden Christensen’s appearance.

The cast are all good. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams and others return and provide some good work once again. This movie also introduced Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor and he’s having an absolute blast in this role, perfect casting.

The direction isn’t quite as good as the previous movies, but it has its moments. Some of the CGI still looks a little off, the green screen of the speeder section on Endor particularly looked like it was out of a Bond film from the 60s and 70s. Whenever it came to the action with the Ewoks, it was just rather silly, and not in a good way. The rest of the action however is generally filmed well. The fights with the lightsabre are good, especially the end Darth Vader and Luke battle. John Williams of course scores this movie excellently.

Return of the Jedi has a lot of issues, and I’m not really that much of a fan of it. Outside of the cast who play their roles well, as well as some aspects on the technical side, it’s just sort of whatever. The first act drags and is borderline straight up bad, and even much of the rest of the movie after that wasn’t particularly engaging or entertaining. What ultimately saves this movie is that Luke and Vader storyline, which is genuinely fantastic and I couldn’t think of a better way of ending that. The movie has some merit, but ultimately I can’t say that it’s better than ‘just good’.

 

The Expendables 3 (2014) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent “Trench” Mauser
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Director: Patrick Hughes

Years ago, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) co-founded the Expendables with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). After Stonebanks became an arms dealer, Ross was forced to kill him — or so he thought. Now, Stonebanks is back and he’s on a mission to end the Expendables. Ross decides that the way to fight old blood is with new blood, so he assembles a team of younger, faster, more tech-savvy recruits. The battle to topple Stonebanks becomes a clash of old-school methods vs. high-tech expertise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the 3 Expendables movies. I seem to remember that the first was an okay but rather forgettable action movie, and the second was noticeably better and rather fun throwback flick. However, the 3rd movie really doesn’t work, and its surprisingly because the filmmakers somehow forgot the purpose of these movies to begin with. It’s not even entertainingly bad, it’s just middle of the road flat and average.

The movie starts off well with an entertaining opening action scene (it involves Wesley Snipes breaking out of prison). After that though it’s rather weak, even as a standard action flick, and on the whole still manages to be quite boring. Expendables 3 doesn’t seem self aware like in the 2nd movie and its worse than in the first movie. The Expendables was meant to be this throwback to 80s action movies but instead this movie is about getting a new team, in fact this movie spends too much time with recruiting the new Expendables. I’m also not expecting some kind of compelling story, but even on the level of trashy action movies, this falls pretty flat. Even some of the sillier aspects aren’t entertaining this time, its just incredibly hard to get into the movie. It does improve in the third act as it gets into the climax but it’s not worth sitting through the entire 2 hour runtime to get to that point.

The whole thing about Expendables is that part of its appeal is that it had 80s action stars all together (except Jason Statham for some reason). Expendables 3 forgot that, Stallone is very much the lead but much of the original cast of the first two movies is sidelined for the younger cast. The younger cast includes Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, and the younger cast really don’t add anything to the movie at all and just end up being annoying more than anything else. The older cast fare a little better, the returning Expendables cast with the likes of Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger do well enough but again, sidelined. Harrison Ford in this movie pretty much replaces Bruce Willis’s role (since Willis didn’t return due to some disagreements between him and Stallone), having a few scenes and all. It’s nice seeing him here but unfortunately doesn’t elevate the movie enough. Wesley Snipes is also a nice addition. Antonio Bandareas is a good actor and on paper him being in the Expendables movies sounds really great, but his character is really annoying, so it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Mel Gibson was a good villain for the movie, the best villain in the trilogy by far, in fact he’s probably the best part of the whole movie. There’s particularly a standout scene with him in a truck like halfway through the movie.

The first Expendables was directed okay by Sylvester Stallone and the second was much better directed by Simon West. The third movie is directed by Patrick Hughes and unfortunately wasn’t all that done well. There is a lot of cuts and shaky cam during the action scenes, its like it was directed like an average modern action movie. Unlike the previous movies in the series, The Expendables 3 isn’t given an R rating. My problem isn’t necessarily that it’s not rated R (since you could just remove the blood from the other movies and they’d work almost as well, if not better), the problem is that it feels like it was shot to be R but then they changed to PG-13, resulting in some things looking different. For example, instead of blood spurting out when people are shot, it’s just lots of dust bouncing off them. There is some really poor CGI here, I know we shouldn’t be expecting much from it, but it even feels poor compared to the previous movie. The climax is entertaining enough, however the Stallone vs Gibson fight should’ve been more than what we got, doesn’t even touch the Stallone vs Jean-Claude Van Damme fight at the end of the second film.

The Expendables 3 is not awful but it’s rather average and somehow pales in comparison to the previous 2 movies, which weren’t even that great. It feels watered down, the new cast mostly don’t add much to it, and it’s just rather boring. Pretty much the only part about The Expendables 3 that is good enough that might be worth watching is Mel Gibson, who makes for an effective villain and the best out of the trilogy. Really the only movie in this trilogy that I’d say is worth watching is the second movie. Even if you’re a fan of the first two movies, I’m not sure that you’ll like this one.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
Ray Winstone as George “Mac” McHale
John Hurt as Harold “Ox” Oxley
Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth
Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1957, archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) is called back into action and becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.

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Despite the original trilogy being received very well, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got a lot of hate when it was released, especially from audiences. I always remembered liking it across the few times I had watched it, but I hadn’t seen it all that much, and it was just under a decade since I last saw it. With my recent rewatches of the other movies, I knew I needed to get back to the fourth one, and I’m glad to say that I still like it quite a lot, despite its very present issues.

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Storywise, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wasn’t as strong as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade but I was still interested in the adventure and was entertained from beginning to end. To a degree it plays things rather safe, it doesn’t do too much differently and it could’ve tried to stand out more among the other films. With that being said, it is the only Indiana Jones movie to features aliens. Some people don’t like the movie ultimately being about aliens, as you quickly find out. While I can certainly understand why plenty of people aren’t so that into that, thinking about it, I don’t really have that much of a problem with it. I do like the new setting, it’s a couple of decades later after the last movie, and so it’s during the Cold War, with Russians being the main source of conflict. With this being an Indiana Jones movie, it does have its silly moments as to be expected. Although there is the scene where Shia LaBeouf is swinging on vines with monkeys, the biggest one where Indiana Jones survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge. This scene is beyond infamous, even many long time Indiana Jones fans hate on it. Honestly though, I found it absolutely hilarious and kind of enjoyed it. Considering this is the same series where Indiana Jones and two others flew off a plane in a inflatable raft onto a mountain, sliding off it and falling onto rapids without sustaining any injury, I think this isn’t that unexpected. With that said there are some parts that they could’ve toned down, as in some scenes (especially towards the end) there were certain things I would’ve preferred them not showing.

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Harrison Ford reprises his role from the last time since 1989. Some say that he wasn’t up at the level that he was in the other movies, mainly that he was too old for the role, but I thought that added to his performance quite well. At the same time, in his performance here I still saw an older Indiana Jones and not just older Harrison Ford (especially after seeing the other movies more recently). The line delivery, the comedy, the energy, all of it was here. Some people really didn’t like Shia LaBeouf in his role of Mutt Williams here, but I actually thought he was pretty good on his part. Considering what his role sounded like on paper, it could’ve been way worse. I do have a feeling that much of the dislike of the character might’ve come from the fact that it was LaBeouf playing him at that time. Karen Allen returns to reprise her role of Marion Ravenwood, and while she and Ford don’t have quite as strong of a dynamic as they did back in Raiders of the Lost Ark, they still had some great chemistry and it was still nice seeing them back on screen together. Ray Winstone and John Hurt also worked quite well in supporting roles. Cate Blanchett is the villain, and is actually probably the most memorable of the Indiana Jones villians, albeit being a bit cartoonish. However she works because of the dedicated and reliable performance from Blanchett, campy and entertaining, yet threatening enough as an antagonist.

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Steven Spielberg returns to directs this, and I still think he did a pretty good job. On a technical side it all works, it’s a great looking movie too. The action is pretty good on the whole, with some entertaining sequences that aren’t quite as memorable as the action in the rest of the series. There was a fight scene with Indiana Jones and a Russian later on which was sort of weak, but most of it is fine. The use of CGI has been criticised quite a lot, honestly most of it isn’t so bad, the biggest problem is the overuse of it (you can really feel George Lucas’s hand on that part). Even a gopher is created using CGI early in the movie for some random reason. Some of the action scenes do have this weird CGI feel to it, as if some parts of the background had digital effects thrown in for some reason. The third act without spoiling anything has some CGI which doesn’t look the best and in fact looks very goofy. I do agree that they should’ve had more practical effects, generally the use of CGI was unnecessary. With that said, when it came to the practical effects and production design it was all handled very well. The score by John Williams is good, there aren’t many distinct or memorable themes compared with the other movies, but the score as it is was worked. It’s always satisfying hearing these iconic themes in a movie again.

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As a return to the series almost 2 decades after the last film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is just a little bit disappointing. Nonetheless, on its own, I can’t deny that enjoyed it a lot. It has plenty of silly moments, it used a lot of CGI unnecessarily, and did play things a bit safe. However it was entertaining from beginning to end, the cast was great, and I enjoyed being on the adventure. I’m glad that it exists and I have problem placing it alongside the original Indiana Jones trilogy.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence127
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody
Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan
Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr.
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers.

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The main Indiana Jones trilogy is one of the most iconic cinematic trilogies of all time. After Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones goes back to familiar territory with the third instalment with The Last Crusade, but this leads to possibly the best movie in the entire series (at least close to it). Everything from the writing, direction and the performances are great, it is really entertaining and among my favourite movies.

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The movie starts off on a high note with its introduction featuring a young Indiana Jones played by River Phoenix, and it only gets better from there. It keeps you constantly entertained from beginning to end with a great adventure that never has a dull moment. With that said it, it really picks up in such a massive way from the moment that Indiana Jones meets with his father, then it’s pretty much perfect all the way right to the very end. It is also the funniest of the movies by far, with some effective comedy that hits every time, and never gets annoying like how it got to at many points in Temple of Doom. Even the slapstick really ends up being quite funny. The biggest source of comedy in this movie as I’ll get into later is the interactions between Jones and his father. One thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark is that the third act while not bad wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the movie. The climax of The Last Crusade on the other hand is creative and exciting, and by far the best of the series.

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Harrison Ford is effortlessly great in his role of Indiana Jones, as to be expected. He sells every part of the character well, including the action and the comedy. Sean Connery was great as Jones’s father in one of his best performances (possible his best). It’s an unexpected casting considering Connery’s past roles with the likes of James Bond, but he works perfectly in here and was a perfect contrast to Ford. The dynamic and chemistry between these two just works excellently, which is good because they are a big focus of the movie from the first act onwards. The rest of the cast are good, including returning actors from the first movie with Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies, and the main villain played by Julian Glover. It’s also worth noting that River Phoenix plays younger Indiana Jones for less than 10 minutes, but yet he played that part pretty much perfectly in his screentime.

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Steven Spielberg’s direction was great, it’s got a very good look throughout at the various locations. There are some great set pieces from start to finish, in great locations. From a boat chase through Venice, to a tank battle with Nazis, all of these set pieces are fantastic, and are even just slightly a step above the action from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and that’s saying a lot). The score by John Williams was great as to be expected, it’s more upbeat and triumphant compared to the other scores in the series, and it’s very memorable.

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My favourite Indiana Jones movie jumps between this and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for now I’ll put them on the same level. The direction is great, it is witty and entertaining from beginning to end, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are excellent, and overall it very well balanced. This and Raiders of the Lost Ark are firmly among my favourite movies, and are definitely worth watching (as is the whole series).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott
Amrish Puri as Mola Ram
Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal
Philip Stone as Captain Philip Blumburtt
Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1935, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) arrives in India, still part of the British Empire, and is asked to find a mystical stone. He then stumbles upon a secret cult committing enslavement and human sacrifices in the catacombs of an ancient palace.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark released back in 1981 had made a big impact on pop culture and cinema as a whole, and it made Indiana Jones a household name. The first and third movies are my favourites of the series by far, while Temple of Doom has always been a little weird to me. Even when I was younger,, there were some parts I really wasn’t sure about despite me liking this movie. Re-watching it again, I feel pretty much feel the same and have a ton of issues, but at the same time there’s a lot of good parts to it.

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From the very beginning you can tell that this is a very different movie to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and indeed it is different from the other movies. First of all, it is noticeably darker on many levels. People who know me know that I really like darker movies, however the way things are handled here wasn’t exactly the best. I’m not one to get overreactive over dark this movie should or shouldn’t be, nor would I complain about it probably not suitable for children or anything. At the very least though, the way it seems like the movie is trying to be more reactive and edgy than actually organic for the story when it comes to these darker aspects. Child slavery, pulling hearts out of chests, and even the attempts at gross out elements at certain points with bugs feels like it’s trying way too hard to get a reaction. However the problem is not just that, Temple of Doom is also quite an annoying movie, and it takes quite a lot for me to be annoyed with a movie, especially with an Indiana Jones film. Whether it be Kate Capshaw’s character, some certain silliness with the plot, and the humour, which to be blunt was mostly dumb and annoying. Because of this, this just makes it hard for me to get invested in the movie. However even if you just look at it on a plot level, it just wasn’t very interesting, and honestly it was rather weak. Jones happening to come across this poor village and needing to retrieve a sacred stone to restore things for them, and that’s it. And now the topic I’ve been avoiding for a bit, the racism. I’m not going to go too much into it given that so much has already been said about it, except that there’s quite a lot of it in this movie, and it’s pretty hard to look past it. I will say this about the movie, as it approaches the climax in the third act it does get better and much more entertaining, even with its more annoying and silly aspects.

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Harrison Ford has still very much got it when it comes to the role of Indiana Jones, and plays his role very well as to be expected. However it’s worth noting that given all of the movie’s issues (and there are many), Ford manages to carry the movie throughout. Kate Capshaw plays the love interest in Willie Scott. I haven’t really seen Capshaw in anything and I don’t blame her for her performance here, because the character is beyond terrible and annoying on so many levels. Willie screams a lot, has to be rescued a lot, and basically does nothing throughout the movie save for like two times. I get that she’s meant to be in contrast to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they really overdid it, and she’s absolutely insufferable from beginning to end. It doesn’t help that she’s basically a tag along, she has absolutely no reason to be there (compared to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Irina in The Last Crusade), and Indy could’ve even ditched her way earlier in the movie (no idea why he kept her around to begin with). Even Capshaw said found the character to be nothing more than a “dumb screaming blonde and a damsel in distress”. Honestly when I think of the movie she is one of the first things I think of, and that’s not a good thing. There’s also the character of Short Round played by Jonathan Ke Quan, who can honestly be quite annoying at points, but compared to Willie wasn’t so bad (and he actually did some things at points). The villain of the movie is Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, a cult leader basically. He’s alright enough as an antagonist but outside of him being different from the other Indiana Jones villains and him pulling hearts out of peoples’ chests, I don’t think is very memorable.

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Despite some very questionable stylistic and directing choices that don’t work all that well, generally the direction by Steven Spielberg is good. On a technical level it is great, from the production design, the costumes, the effects, the way it is shot all of it is done rather well. As I said the 3rd act is where the movie really picks up, and a big part of that is the action. There are some quite effective action sequences, the stunt work is impressive, and there are some effective and tense moments. Indiana Jones has never been known as a realistic series, and when it comes to plausibility it’s as silly as you’d expect it to be. The only bit that really stuck out as being particularly dumb was one of which was a scene early on that involves falling out of a plane. John Williams’s score is great as usual, and has some very memorable themes.

Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom - 1984

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a bit of an odd movie. It has its strong moments for sure, much of the direction from Spielberg is still good, and of course Harrison Ford is great as Indiana Jones. However it had some issues, so many parts of it were really annoying when it came to the plot, characters and humour, the story just didn’t interest me all that much, and of course it had the racism and sexism. With all that said, all of the Indiana Jones movies are certainly worth watching and that extends to Temple of Doom.

Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: Irvin Kershner

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millnennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda (Frank Oz). Only with the Jedi Master’s help will Luke survive when the Dark Side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse).

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The Empire Strikes Back has been known as the best Star Wars movie, and for very good reason. It takes the best elements of the first movie and improved them, while taking the story and characters into new territories. Even nearly 4 decades later, it still holds up very well.

This movie is darker than the previous movie for sure, however that’s not the only reason this movie works so well. It doesn’t repeat what the previous movie did, and takes the story and characters on different (and more interesting) directions. I actually don’t have any complaints really with the story or characters. I liked the storyline of Luke going on Dagobah and training with Yoda, I liked Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO escaping in the Falcon from Imperial forces, and I also really liked the first act battle scene on Hoth and the climax on Cloud City. I’m not one to call movies perfect, but Empire Strikes Back is at least very close to being perfect. I really don’t have too much to say about that aspect.

The cast have improved and grown since the first movie. The biggest improver over the past movie was Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, he’s grown quite a lot as an actor and a character. Hamill also really sold the impact of learning that Vader is his father, which of course is one of the most iconic scenes of all time. There’s also Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as Han and Leia, who share great chemistry. I found Darth Vader in A New Hope to be just fine, but he’s on another level in this movie, and this movie is where he became great. There’s no Tarkin that he has to follow orders from, outside of the Emperor, he’s really the one in charge, and he’s shown to be really ruthless throughout. The additions to the cast were good as well. Billy Dee Williams was introduced as Lando, and although he’s just in the third act, he does well in his screentime. There’s of course Yoda voiced by Frank Oz, who immediately became iconic upon his first appearance, and he was great as well.

This movie is very directed well by Irvin Kershner. The visuals also mostly hold up pretty well, and there are some spectacular sequences, from the fighters against the AT-ATs on Hoth, to the Falcon flying from TIE fighters, to the final fight between Luke and Vader. That last fight was particularly great, such an improvement over the lightsabre fight in A New Hope. It seems that compared to the other two movies in the trilogy, George Lucas didn’t add so many changes and that was for the better, in fact it seemed the changes helped quite a bit. For example, in the scene with Darth Vader communicating with The Emperor via hologram, they replaced their original version of the character with Ian McDiarmid delivering the lines, who famously played him from Return of the Jedi onwards. Definitely helped with continuity. Also in the scenes taking place at Cloud City, there were windows added in, so it looks a lot better. With that said there was one change to one of the earlier versions which may well have been the worst change of the original trilogy. At the end of the iconic “I am your father” scene, instead of joining Vader, Luke willingly falls down. For some reason in one version, Lucas added in a screaming sound for him, which made it almost like he fell. Thankfully he seemed to have realised that it wasn’t a good idea and removed that bit, which is good because that would’ve actually ruined the scene. John Williams’s score for Empire Strikes Back is even better than A New Hope. The highlight is the new Imperial theme, it was sort of there in the original Star Wars, but in this movie, Williams revamped it into something even more menacing and iconic.

I still feel confident in saying that The Empire Strikes Back is by far the best Star Wars movie. In every other Star Wars movie, even the ones I love, there usually are some clear issues that I have with them. That’s not the case with Empire however, watching it again recently, I couldn’t really find any problems with it.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Epidode 4 - A New Hope

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness as Ben Obi Wan Kenobi
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Director: George Lucas

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) joins forces with a Jedi Knight (Alec Guinness), a cocky pilot (Harrison Ford), a Wookie (Peter Mayhew), and two droids (Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker) to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescues Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the mysterious Darth Vader (David Prowse).

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Star Wars (or what is now known as Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope) is an absolute classic, and pretty much everything has already been said about this movie. However, since I’ve been going through and reviewing all of the Star Wars movies again, I still have to talk about it, so I’ll do my best. Even with some issues (from the movie as it was released or some changes made later on), it had such an impact on cinema, even just as one movie before it became a series.

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Talking about the movie is pretty hard because so much of the movie practically speaks for itself. I’ll talk more about my personal thoughts, and even some problems about certain things. It was revolutionary for its time, with regards to the story, the world, and the technical execution. I will say that after the opening scenes and R2-D2 and C-3PO land on Tatooine, it does slow down a bit, and there’s a period where I’m not that invested in the story. It picks up when we first meet Obi Wan Kenobi, and picks up even more when we meet Han Solo and Chewbacca. When it’s them on the Death Star, that’s really when the movie shines, all the way to the end with the final attempt to blow it up. From that point forwards, it’s almost perfect and really entertaining. The story is simple but well planned out, and you can really tell why this movie was so influential, especially with the worldbuilding.

The cast mostly do well. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker wasn’t exactly great in this movie, however he noticeably improves over his next film appearances. Completing the rest of the trio is Carrie Fisher as Leia, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and both are great. Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi is also excellent, he really makes the character believable. With the combination of David Prowse’s physical performance and the iconic voice of James Earl Jones, Darth Vader is an iconic character. With that said, Vader wasn’t anything special in this movie, he has a classic look, can choke people with the force, and has a red lightsabre, but you more or less see him pop in and out of scenes, and you don’t really feel such a presence with him. He only really started being great in Empire Strikes Back.

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Considering all the odds and the ambition of the film, George Lucas has directed this excellently. Sure some visual effects haven’t held up, but that’s to be expected, with this movie coming out all the way back in 1977. Ignoring the visually effects, there is the fight between Obi Wan and Darth Vader which wasn’t the best. Of course you know that there it was probably special back then and that they were constrained from being something more than tapping swords. Still, you can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed watching it today. Everything else however is a masterclass on a technical level. The designs for the locations, aliens, costumes, everything is flat out perfect. While the lore of this world hadn’t been fully explored and explained in this one movie, it does very well to immerse you in the one that Lucas has created. Even a lot of the effects hold up today. The action scenes, from the fire fights to the end fighter pilot sequence, are all directed very well. There are some changes that Lucas added in on future versions of the movie for some reason, and not many of them are wanted. When the main characters arrive at Mos Eisley, there are random things passing in front of the camera and things in the background that weren’t exactly needed (probably in an attempt to make the location more active and alive), kind of distracting. And of course there’s the numerous changes to the Han shooting Greedo scene, honestly it doesn’t matter to me who shot first, but it’s fascinating how many times George Lucas kept trying to change this. In the more recent version of the movie (on Disney+), right before Greedo is shot by Han (or they shoot at each other or whatever), he says “Maclunkey”. Aside from that the only other notable change was the random addition of a scene of Jabba and Han, which was originally cut from the movie. Looking at it now, you can really tell that it was cut for a reason. It’s unnecessary already but it’s made worse by the horrible CGI on Jabba. It doesn’t drag down the movie but it does stick out in your mind. John Williams’ score speaks for itself, absolutely iconic and outstanding.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope is a classic, and nothing will change that. There are some problems I have with it, but that just affects my enjoyment of the movie. I think it’s impossible to deny the importance and significance of this movie.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language and sexual themes
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as K
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
Ana de Armas as Joi
Sylvia Hoeks as Luv
Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi
Mackenzie Davis as Mariette
Carla Juri as Dr. Ana Stelline
Lennie James as Mister Cotton
Dave Bautista as Sapper Morton
Jared Leto as Niander Wallace
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.

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Blade Runner 2049 was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. It’s a sequel to a sci-fi classic 35 years in the making and it has some talented actors involved with big names like Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto. But most of all, Denis Villeneuve is directing, and he has made some excellent movies, with them being some of the best films of their respective years (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival). So naturally I was curious about how it would turn out. Blade Runner 2049 truly surpassed my expectations, with the direction, acting and story, it blew me away. This isn’t just the best movie of the year and one of the best sequels of all time, I might also go so far as to call it a masterpiece.

I really can’t reveal too much about this movie, I can’t even really talk about what this whole movie is about as there’s so many plot points which could be considered spoilery (thankfully the trailers don’t contain any spoilers either). So I’ll do my best to not give away too much. You don’t necessarily need to have watched the original Blade Runner to understand what’s going on, but it is a bonus for those who have, you’d be more familiar with this world and be able to understand more about what’s going on (and you’ll have a better experience overall). This movie really is a continuation of the original Blade Runner story, its not been modernised or re-energised to appeal to a conventional movie audience, which I love. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green and the story is really great, exploring interesting new ideas while delivering a very compelling story. Doing a sequel to Blade Runner isn’t easy, you have to make it true to the original but at the same time deliver its own story and not try to just repeat what was done previously. It also must expand on the world built on from the original film and also be a good as a film in itself while not end up being just a setup for more potential sequels. This story thankfully hits all the right notes and the story is incredible. It does have some ambiguity and some questions that aren’t necessarily answered by the end but that could possibly be left to the audience’s interpretation as to what the answers are. That’s all I’m willing to say about it. This movie is longer than the original, with it being around 2 hours and 45 minutes long and while I definitely felt the runningtime, I was glued to what was going on every second. Don’t expect it to be a fast sci-fi flick like the trailers may have pitched it as, this is still a neo-noir mystery science fiction film. With that said, the pacing is handled much better than the original, while it is quite slow in its pace, every moment seems like it matters. It doesn’t ever have moments that seemed to drag on for no reason like the original film. As someone who likes but doesn’t love the original Blade Runner, I thought 2049 was better. Make of that what you will.

Blade Runner 2049 has a great cast, the characters they played were fascinating and they were cast perfectly. Ryan Gosling is once again great, here he plays Officer K, the main character who’s a Blade Runner. Gosling plays every scene perfectly, especially when he’s learning all this new information, he can convey so much with just a single look with no dialogue at all. Make no mistake, this is really K’s story and Gosling was the perfect actor for this role. Harrison Ford is very much a supporting role in this movie but he does have an important role in the story, and Ford does some of his best acting ever. More supporting actors with Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Robin Wright, Dave Bautistia and Jared Leto all are great. All stand out with their unique characters, and that’s all I’m willing to say in a spoiler-free review. Without naming specific people, I would’ve liked to have seen more of them but they all served their purpose to the story well.

Denis Villeneuve is the director of Blade Runner 2049 and as I said previously, his previous work on film has been remarkable, 2049 is no exception. Everything from the visuals, to the lighting to the sound and the camerawork is pure cinematic genius. There is so much attention to detail, there’s nothing out of place. This is among Villeneuve’s best work, along with Arrival and Prisoners. This is hands down the best looking movie of 2017. Cinematographer Roger Deakins does incredible work here and deserves so much praise. This film looks so beautiful, it feels like a lot of the movie weren’t using CGI, and everything looks amazing. There isn’t much in the way of action but whenever its on screen its good. The score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is also great, at times it feels like the original Blade Runner soundtrack and overall fitted the film incredibly well.

Blade Runner 2049 is so far the best film of the year, and with already some incredible movies released in 2017 that’s saying a lot. Denis Villeneuve and his talented cast and crew has created an incredible sequel that surpassed the original in every way. It stands on its own as a masterpiece of sci-fi, I guarantee that decades from now its going to be a classic film that ages well. When it was announced, a sequel to Blade Runner was called one of the worst ideas to ever be made. After seeing 2049, I have to say that it was one of the best ideas ever made. Avoid any spoilers, avoid really reading or watching anything relating to this movie and see it as soon as you can. Also watch it on the biggest screen possible. You won’t regret it.

Blade Runner (1982) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty
Sean Young as Rachael
Edward James Olmos as Gaff
Director: Ridley Scott

Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced by the police Boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to continue his old job as Replicant Hunter. His assignment: eliminate four escaped Replicants from the colonies who have returned to Earth. Before starting the job, Deckard goes to the Tyrell Corporation and he meets Rachel (Sean Young), a Replicant girl he falls in love with.

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I remember the first time I saw Blade Runner. It was 5 years ago and after having a lot of expectations for this supposed Sci-Fi classic… I was disappointed. I just found it boring and didn’t know what to think of it. I decided to revisit it recently in preparation for Blade Runner 2049 and I will say that I liked it a lot more than the first time, but I still don’t love it. However, Ridley Scott’s direction is impressive, and there are a number of the performances that I like, and it was definitely ahead of its time.

This movie is under 2 hours long but it has some pacing issues. For those who haven’t seen Blade Runner yet, make no mistake, even though its Harrison Ford in another sci-fi film, it’s nothing like Star Wars. It is generally slower paced, which I’m fine with, its just that at times it really drags and when it does, it really loses my interest. With that said, most of the time I was invested in the story, I was a lot more interested in the story upon a second viewing compared to my first viewing. This movie with its themes, story and setting definitely influenced a lot of later futirsitc/dystopian/sci-fi movies. The 3rd act was the highlight for me. For this version I watched The Final Cut, which from what I can tell is the definitive version of the film. I personally can’t comment on the other versions (four versions exist) as I’ve really only seen this one version. The ending of Blade Runner is a little bit ambiguous, and also depends on the different versions of the film.

Harrison Ford acts well as Deckard, the main character of Blade Runner. A lot of his complexities and characteristics are very subtle and Ford manages to convey that with ease, he’s not an easily read-able character. Sean Young is good as a replicant who Ford’s Deckard comes across. Rutger Hauer plays the ‘villain’ of the film, as the leader of the group of replicants that Deckard is hunting. Honestly, he was the stand out performance, he feels quite human despite not really being human, he almost doesn’t feel like a villain. He really impresses, especially in the third act.

Nobody does Sci-Fi like Ridley Scott. This movie is visually beautiful and there is so much attention to detail. This movie definitely looked great for its time and its still impressive today, there are some things that look dated as expected with a movie from the 80s, but most if it really works. The world feels real and the way that Scott decided to portray it was great. The score by Vangelis also really worked.

Blade Runner is good, with its acting, direction and story, however I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, especially on the first viewing (I can speak from experience). I do have some issues with the pacing, and it isn’t the type of movie that you just easily watch, you really have to be in the mood to watch it. Even if I do like Blade Runner now, there’s probably a lot with the meanings and interpretations that I’m missing, and I don’t quite love it yet. However, if you are a huge Sci-Fi fan, I think you really should watch it as soon as you can. As for what Blade Runner 2049 will be like, I have no idea but I have faith in director Denis Villeneuve to deliver a solid follow up.