Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

Month: October 2017

Blade Runner – Is Deckard a Replicant

At some point during the making of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott decided that it would be brilliant if Harrison Ford’s character were a replicant.

Some kind of irony, I suppose, that Deckard was retiring replicants but was a replicant himself without even knowing it.

So he added the unicorn scene in the Director’s Cut so that we could all be let in on the joke.

And then Hampton Fancher, Michael Green, Denis Villeneuve, Harrison Ford and Scott himself became involved in making a sequel. So they had to face this question. Obviously Ford was going to look a lot older in the sequel. So what would that mean?

So the decision they made was to leave the question just as open as it was at the end of the first movie.

But for me (as for Harrison Ford) Deckard was always human. And the unicorn scene was a mistake.

The reason I think Deckard was human was because he was clearly no match for the replicants in combat. He was lucky to survive each encounter with a replicant. He only survived the final encounter with Batty because the latter allowed him to. And he felt pain, as the fight with Batty so clearly illustrated.

And the reason I thought that Deckard  should have been human was that he represents us. In his encounters with Rachel. In his encounters with Batty. The movie only makes sense if he is a human experiencing those emotions. Feeling empathy for Batty. Falling in love with Rachel. And Batty chooses to let him live. Not because Deckard is another replicant. But because Deckard is human. When he says “I’ve seen this you people wouldn’t believe” he is referring to “you humans”, in my opinion.

So Ford is right, and Scott is wrong.

And Fancher and Villeneuve (presumably out of respect for Scott) decided not to set the record straight.

Here is the great “Tears in Rain” scene from the original movie.

Blade Runner 2049

So as I mentioned in my last post, I went to see Blade Runner 2049 on the opening night. This posting contains SPOILERS.

It is hard, of course, for a sequel to live up to a classic (the 1982 movie has a score of 8.2 on IMDB and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes). I know (from interviews on YouTube) that Denis Villeneuve was very conscious of this. But he had Hampton Fancher on to write the story, and Ridley Scott on board as Exec Producer, and Harrison Ford on to reprise his role, so he went for it.

The movie has a score of 8.5 on IMDB and 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. So they did a lot that was right.

The thing I liked most about the new movie was (of course) the way it looked. They did an amazing job.

I also liked the way they way they extended the questions from the original about what it is to be “real” and what it is to be alive (or “human” as most people seem to say).

The things I liked least were:

  • The fact that we knew that K was a replicant before we ever entered the cinema (from things we saw him doing in the trailer)
  • The overly long scene with K, Joi and the prostitute
  • The role of Niander Wallace in the movie (and the fact that there was no resolution for this at the end of the movie)

The thing which surprised me most was when the young Sean Young made an appearance! I’ll need to watch that again because I was so busy trying to figure out how they did it (and noticing what looked like bad CGI) that I wasn’t paying proper attention to what went on.

One thing I would suggest which would have made the movie better, IMHO, would be to have asked Vangelis to do the soundtrack. They brought everyone else back, why not him! It was particularly obvious to me when they brought some of his music in towards the end.

So overall (like the majority of fans I think) I was very happy with the sequel. It is a good movie and picks up lots of threads from the original.

Blade Runner 2049 – Nearly Here!

There has been lots of publicity recently for the upcoming Blade Runner sequel.

Warner Bros have released a series of trailers, TV spots, shorts and featurettes. And the director and cast are appearing everywhere, notably:

  • At Comic-Con
  • On all of the talk shows, including the Graham Norton show last week (Ford and Gosling)

Reviews seem to be generally positive. The Guardian calls it “a gigantic spectacle of pure hallucinatory craziness“. Rotten Tomatoes seems to have 47 reviews and is currently scoring the movie at 96%.

The movies opens this Thursday and I have bought my tickets for my local cinema. Interestingly:

  • The move will start at 20:49 in the evening
  • The cost for two tickets (a “Deckard Double”) was €20.49.

Clever!

Can’t wait!

Star Trek Discovery – the wait is over

So the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery are available on Netflix. I watched them earlier this week.

There had been a lot of negative commentary about the series before it aired so my expectations were low.

Mark Zicree (Mr. Sci-Fi), for example, had a YouTube video called “Klingons are dull”  which spoke about problems on the show and speculated that a decision had already been taken that there would only be a single series. It also (as the title indicates) talked about the fact that the Klingons are not the most interested subject (a sentiment I echo – I had no interested whatsoever in TNG episodes that focused on Worf or the Klingons).

So having seen the first two episodes I can say that low expectations were justified.

The things I disliked most – in additional to there being too much about the Klingons of course – were (spoilers ahead):

  • The opening scene which (a) had no apparent purpose and (b) ended up with the two lead characters making a sign using footprints in sand (what the hell!)
  • The opening titles are awful. So different from the other series and so poor.
  • The lack of any chemistry between the crew members. Captain Georgiou and Michael Burnham (the two lead characters) were supposed to have worked together for years and to be very close but there was absolutely no sign of this (other than some of the things which they said)
  • The actions of Michael Burnham when she commits mutiny (what the hell!)
  • I can’t believe that they cast Michelle Yeoh as the captain (I was very happy about his, of course, as I’m a big fan) and then allowed her to fight a Klingon where (a) she showed none of her martial arts skills and (b) she was killed! Why would you cast he in this way? Maybe the production team cast her without even seeing “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (what the hell!)
  • The Klingon ship summoned other ships using “photonic activity”. These ships were light years away presumably and these photos would have been travelling at the speed of light surely!!
  • The scene where Michael Burnham escapes from the brig (what the hell!)
  • The bit where the hologram of Sarek sits down on the deck in (what the hell!)

Further to these last three points: I remember how Gene Roddenberry hired scientific advisers in the original series to help to make sure that what they were saying and showing had at least some basis in science. It is clear that no scientific advisors have been hired on the new show.

I have watched some videos where people (including Mr. Sci-Fi) review the two episodes. Marc Zicree, made the following observations:

  • He said that he didn’t believe most of the words coming out of people’s mouths. 
  • He talks about Georgiou and Burnham beaming over to the Klingon ship and how ridiculous this would be (and against every principle which has been established in previous series!)
  • He talks about how the episodes seem to be too much based upon “set pieces”.
  • He also observed that there is no warmth or humour, and no apparent commentary on current issues or events.  Other reviewers mentioned that the team has said that the Klingsons are supposed to be based on Trump supporters and they pointed out some very contradictory elements of this supposed analogy

Observations by other reviewers include:

  • They talk about the clumsy over emphasis on casting female, black, and Asian actors in the lead roles.  All of this has been done before in the Star Trek series.
  • People are particularly critical of the Michael Burnham character and, indeed, the actress. As well as being very poor and very unbelievable, they observe that nothing which happens in the first two episodes allows us to have any empathy for or interest in her. How can see be the central character?
  • One person noted that the initials for the series are STD and how appropriate this may be!

So I am planning to watch some more episodes (there will only be 15 after all apparently) but I am not expecting much.

Here is Mr. Sci-Fi’s review:

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