With Denis Villeneuve at the helm, Blade Runner 2049 is worthy sequel to one of sci-fi’s most influential film
As a cinephile, I tend to prefer original, different, and daring films. However, I’m completely stuck in a time where creative content is scarce. It’s a time where Hollywood likes to play it safe and what’s safer than sequels, remakes, and franchises. But who can blame them? These type of films tend to do more at the box office, and the audience seems to keep making that demand. But there comes Blade Runner 2049, a sequel that defies all odds. A continuation of one of sci-fi’s most controversial film but at the same time, it’s a stand-alone film, only inhabiting the Blade Runner universe. 2049 shows us how to make a great sequel and why they are so important.
Cronenberg, Villeneuve, and Dolan: Canadian movies are in good hands
How many movies can you name that are directed by Canadians? If you were like me, probably only 2. That’s why I have made it my duty to explore more Canadian content. On my journey, I have found that while we may be called polite and nice, Canadian directors surely do not stuff those stereotypes in their work. But what about Titanic and Avatar, both of which were cute stories directed by Canadian-born James Cameron? Well, those are only the popular ones. Cameron has directed Aliens and The Terminator as well. Canadian Denis Villeneuve is also gaining popularity. His new movie, Arrival, is up for 8 Academy Awards. As Canadian content is becoming more and more prominent, let’s take a look at some lesser known Canadian movies.
Denis Villeneuve has created his most intelligent movie yet
There are so many things right in Denis Villeneuve’s latest directorial masterpiece. From Bradford Young’s crisp cinematography to Johann Johannsson’s minimalist score, Arrival is probably this year’s best movie. It will likely spawn comparison to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar as they both deal with complex philosophical concepts and life beyond Earth. While the comparison is earned, Arrival is smarter and better executed than Interstellar.
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is one of the best linguists in the world. When aliens have landed in 12 distinct places on Earth, the military calls upon Louise to translate the alien’s foreign language. They speak by releasing black smoke that creates weird circular symbols. Those symbols represent an intricate language that humans need to understand in order to ask the pivotal question – “What is your purpose on Earth?”
With the help Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise must find out if their otherworldly friends may actually be foes. Louise knows more than anybody else that language is the key to understanding a group of people and she may not be ready for the consequences this knowledge brings to her.
Again, Villeneuve continues to create visually stunning films. The long wide shots of the alien pods and the interaction with the aliens capture some of the most beautiful cinematography this year. Using symbolic language helps add to the movie’s already incredible visuals. The aliens themselves, covered in white smoke, are elegant even if they are not ascetically attractive.
Amy Adams give one of her best performance as the gifted linguist. Her story is emotional and powerful. Adams convey every emotion and help paint a strong female character. Her character is always one step ahead of everyone including the audience. She establishes that she is, in fact, the best linguist for the job.
Just as smart of Adam’s character is the incredibly complex story. Sci-fi is always a difficult genre to execute. Usually dealing with complex philosophical ideas and theories, Arrival is not different. Villeneuve tackles the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is the idea that learning a foreign language rewires your brain. Along with the theories of time and dimensions, these big ideas get executed to almost perfection. The puzzle this movie assembles gets every piece to fit together
Villeneuve never gets scared of Arrival’s big ambitions. He takes the necessary time to tell his story both visually and verbally. The pace may get tiresome for mainstream viewers, but for fans who enjoy great cinematography, you will not get bored.
Arrival is ambitious, and while sometimes that ambition can be a movie’s downfall, it is its biggest strength. It draws upon complex ideas and nails every one of them. Amy Adam, cinematographer Bradford Young and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson all add to propel the movie to success. The team has made a film that they can all be proud of because not many of this sorts of movies can say that they nailed every ambition.