REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049

Image: Warner Bros.

Chris Luckett

I don’t tend to get excited for movies. (You see enough Transformers or Madea vehicles and it’s easier to just let yourself be pleasantly surprised by the gems.) And, sacrilegious as it is to say, I’ve always felt Blade Runner was an overrated movie. Incredibly innovative and paradigm-shifting to sci-fi, don’t get me wrong; but not a perfect film from a narrative point of view.

Yet Blade Runner 2049 has been my most anticipated movie in the back half of 2017. Part of it was the brilliance of the first trailer, part of it was seeing the world Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott envisioned with modern CGI, but the crux of it was director Denis Villeneuve.

Villeneuve has made three movies. He debuted in 2013 with the fantastic Prisoners, followed it up with the even more intense Sicario, and topped it all off with last year’s Best Picture-nominated Arrival. All three masterpieces, and each better than the one prior. It set the expectations for his fourth, Blade Runner 2049, so high for me the movie couldn’t meet them. But it comes close.

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REVIEW: The Force Awakens

Chris Luckett

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

When it was announced to the world that the director of the seventh Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, would be J.J. Abrams, it made the most sense of anyone imaginable. The task of continuing arguably the most beloved film saga of all time — while also redeeming the collective disappointment of “the prequels” — was a fool’s errand, after all.

Of course, so was rebooting Star Trek in 2009, which Abrams handled with such deft aplomb that it resurrected the entire franchise. Abrams showed the perfect flair for paying respect to a series’ roots (which a new Star Wars movie is required, by nature, to do) while also being unafraid to take bold chances (which the three most recent Star Wars movies largely failed to do).

Perhaps most anticipated about The Force Awakens has not been what the exact plot would be or how new and old characters would intertwine but how well Abrams would do with the torch that Disney passed on, after George Lucas finally released his grip. The world can now release its collective breath. J.J. Abrams’ hugely successful rescue of the series represents the truest new hope for the saga since 1977 — and in more literal ways than you may expect. Continue reading

REVIEW: The Age of Adaline

Photo: E1 Films/Lionsgate

Photo: E1 Films/Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

The Age of Adaline bears more than a passing resemblance to 2007’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but in all the right ways. Rather than feeling derivative of David Fincher’s Oscar-winning opus, it feels informed by its predecessor and seems to aim to learn as much from Benjamin Button’s problems (particularly its running time and pacing issues) as its virtues.

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REVIEW: The Expendables 3

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made their B-movie homage Grindhouse in 2007, it was bad, just like the real, schlocky grindhouse flicks of the ‘70s. The lesson was that if skilled filmmakers do a tribute to something that was bad to begin with, the result will simply be a well-made, bad movie.

Sylvester Stallone, writer and star of The Expendables series, has consciously made movies that recapture the bombastic nonsense of ‘80s action flicks like Cobra, Commando, and Missing in Action. With each one, he’s done a better job. That also means that each has been a worse movie, and indeed, The Expendables 3 is the worst yet. Continue reading