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Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

Today I read the Hugo Award nominations. Blade Runner, by virtue of it starting with the letter B, was the first film listed in the category “Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.” I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I admit that I was.

I was looking forward to this movie. I posted back in May 2017 that I wanted to see it. In fact, I was really disappointed when I couldn’t see it on release day. I was terrified that it would no longer be in theaters when I finally got to see it on October 28th. And honestly, that fear was justified. It should not have lasted that long.

“Arrival” — First Contact with White Male America

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ArrivalI just finished watching the movie “Arrival” which I really enjoyed. This didn’t really surprise me as the protagonist is a strong woman who is also a Linguist and it was a Science Fiction story about first contact. Now I admit, I made the obligatory “E.T.” and “Close Encounters” jokes during the film, but in general, the movie was engaging and interesting. I enjoyed the twist (spoiler: there’s a twist…) and was fooled along with most everyone.

Brave

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“Brave” (2012)
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell (Buy soundtrack)

Brave is going to have a special place in my heart because it’s the first feature film my son watched all the way through in the theater. (I don’t count Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because he was only a few months old at the time, and slept through the whole movie.) He and his father went to see Cars 2 last summer, but only made it through about 30 minutes before they had to leave. So, in order to be sure that we got to see the whole movie, we resorted to bribery (if he sat through the whole movie he got to go to Barnes and Noble afterwards) and chocolate raisins. And that worked. I’m not sure how much he really got out of the movie, but he did sit and watch the whole thing, only asking interminably if it was over yet during the credits. And I think he even liked it.

Brave is a fairy tale, but not an insipid or sexist one. It is the story of a young girl trying to find her place in the world, which was not the same place her mother wanted her to enter. This is a common theme for both girls and boys — their choices might not be the same as their parents’ and they have to figure out a way to reconcile it.

I particularly liked that this was a story about a girl. Pixar has been fairly boy-focused up until now, and I admit I wasn’t confident that they would be able to pull off a female main character, without going the Disney route of “reading” to prove she’s smart (Beauty and the Beast), annoyingly jealous and bitchy to prove she’s tough (Tinkerbell), or dependent on a big strong man (Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, etc.). So I went in expecting a standard girl-wants-to-be-boy type plot.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

Children of Men

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“Children of Men” (2006)
Starring: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

This movie came out a while ago, but I was lucky enough to see it in the theatre, even though my local theatres don’t usually play art films or nearly any film that isn’t first run. I don’t like to have to drive to Seattle just to see a film, so it’s nice when the local theatres get something new.

I learned of “Children of Men” from a friend who isn’t a fan of Science Fiction. She had seen it and told me I had to see it, no matter what. And she was right. As I said to her “this is why I read and watch Science Fiction.”

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Last night I had the opportunity to see a pre-screening of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie). This was a fun, over-the-top fantasy set in the 30s, the golden era of Science Fiction. Giant robots attack New York City, and rayguns that shoot concentric circles set the stage for a journey back to the Science Fiction of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you’ve been reading SciFi for a long time, you will probably love this movie. It has a lot of charm and the style is very reminiscent of old-style Science Fiction. I love the ray gun. How can you not love a movie that has a ray gun?

Movie fans who loved Superman will see a lot of similarities in style to this film. There are also references to the War of the Worlds and King Kong.

If you are a fan of CGI work, this is also another good reason to go see this film. In the commentary by the director after the film, he said that every scene was composited with CGI. Items that the actors touched (like the ray gun) were real, but anything they just looked at or stood near was most likely CGI. This kept the price down, but it also meant that the actors had to do a lot of imagination just to get through their scenes. The principles worked together on set (Jolie was filmed over only 3 days), but any extras were filmed alone in front of blue screens and then composited into the shots. Sir Lawrence Olivier is even in the movie!

Go see this movie! It is fun and great scifi and you’ll love it.