Another Double Feature

This October has been a busy month for movies, so here are my reviews of the first two of four. There’s a romance, a sci-fi, animation, plus a political thriller.  Tonight we’ll focus on the sci-fi and animation.

Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. It’s a sequel to the 1982 movie Blade Runner, which also starred Harrison Ford. The important thing to know is that you have to watch the original Blade Runner in order to understand the sequel. As far as the premise goes, since it’s a complicated one, here’s the summary from Rotten Tomatoes. “Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.”

The best part about this movie is the visuals. Every single set piece is amazing to look at, every shot from the cinematographer is perfect, and the computer effects are so good that everything in this looks real. It’s easily the most visually stunning movie I have seen this year. The soundtrack is interesting. The acting from Gosling and Ford is also well-done. The story is fine and a little basic, although some of the deeper philosophical questions it poses ultimately doesn’t add up to much.

The only real problem with 2049 is the pacing. While better than the original Blade Runner, it is still really slow. This movie is unnecessarily long, almost 3 hours to be exact. You could cut over 30 minutes of footage in places and it wouldn’t make a difference. In addition, the advertising (like Mountain Between Us) is also misleading. You would think that this is an action-thriller, but instead it’s a slow moving detective story with some moments of action.

In the end, Blade Runner 2049 has fantastic, stunning visuals and good acting performances. However, the slow pacing and overlong runtime hurt the overall experience. I give it a 60%. If you watched and liked the original Blade Runner, then you’ll like this. Having watched the original, this one is an improvement over the original. That one had amazing visuals (especially for 1982), but there wasn’t much of a story and the pacing was even slower. Now if you didn’t watch or care about the original, then unless you like to look at interesting visuals, then I would skip this movie. It seems a lot of folks did that since this 155 million dollar film bombed at the box office.

Here’s the trailer for the original and the new one, so you can get an understanding as to what this is.

My Little Pony: The Movie

Yes, I actually watched this movie. I’ll repeat myself, I actually watched this movie. It was an on the spot decision and I was genuinely curious as to whether I could stand it or not. I’m a fan of animated films, especially those from Walt Disney and Pixar. Both studios have put out some of the most memorable movies from Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs to Toy Story. In my view, many of these films can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. But something like this? Well, there was only one way to find out. Luckily, I was the only one in the theater so my dignity wasn’t ruined.

How did it go? Well before the movie, there was a 5 minute short film. All I will say about it is that it’s so colorful that I thought my eyes would bleed. Things weren’t looking good. But after that short was the movie and 1 hour 40 minutes later, it was over. And to be honest, I was pretty surprised.

The premise and story is pretty much that of a typical Disney movie. Everything is grand in this magical land filled with ponies, pegasuses, unicorns, and other creatures, until the bad guy comes with the intent of taking over. The villain is the Storm King (voiced by Liev Schreiber) along with his assistant, Commander Tempest (voiced by Emily Blunt). But before they take over everything, 6 ponies and a small dragon, led by the Princess Twilight Sparkle (yes, that’s her name) escape and travel to different lands in order to get help to defeat the villain. Also like a typical Disney movie, this is a musical.

As for background, the movie is based off the television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a show so popular that it’s been on continuously for the last 7 years and even has a relatively large adult fanbase. The show itself is based off the 30+ year old toy line by Hasbro. The most surprising thing about this movie is that it’s not as mundane and cheerful as you would think. The story is somewhat complex and there are actually a fair amount of drama and action scenes with a little violence. Of course it’s still kid-friendly, but it’s not as cheerful as you would think. The whole thing is called My Little Pony because My Little Horse just doesn’t sound as nice. Anyway, I was decently entertained by this movie. The story was interesting enough, the (mostly) traditional animation was cute looking, a few of the songs were actually nice to listen to, and there was enough drama and action to keep me interested. The pacing was also good and not as mind-numbingly fast as other kids movies. As for the intended audience, there’s no bad content in here, there’s jokes, and the movie’s lesson about friendship is delivered well.

However, just because I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, that doesn’t mean that this is a great movie. While the premise and story are like many Disney movies, this just doesn’t work as well as those movies do. While some songs were good, others were bland and there’s nothing in particular that makes this movie stand out from the wide variety of other children’s movies. But the worst problems are with the characters. They’re all cute, but there’s way too many of them. For example, there’s 6 (all female) main characters. They have names, but I can’t remember them, so I’ll describe them by fur color. The leader is (as mentioned earlier) Twilight Sparkle, a purple pony who’s smart, but nerdy, and can both fly and do magic. She also has a dragon assistant named Spike. Then you have the pink pony, who’s happy all the time and likes to throw parties. Next is the orange pony, who’s a southern cowgirl. Then you got the yellow pegasus, who’s shy and loves nature. Next is the light blue pegasus, who’s a sports fanatic and the most tomboy-ish. And finally, there’s the white unicorn who’s heavily into fashion and complains a lot.

In addition, there’s the two villains (one of whom is actually the most interesting character in this) and a bunch of new characters the ponies meet. This includes a cat guy, bird pirates, and sea ponies. As you can see, there’s a TON of characters in here and because of that, the vast majority of them are stereotypes and have little character development. For me, this was an issue. But since most kids who will watch this already watch the show, they shouldn’t have an issue with all these characters.

In the end, I went into this movie feeling slightly embarrassed and quite cynical. But by the end, I came out actually having enjoyed it. It’s a nice reprieve from all the R-rated action movies I’ve been seeing. My Little Pony: The Movie benefits from colorful animation and an above average story that has more drama, action, and violence than you would think. Not to mention some catchy songs. However, there’s way too many characters and the whole thing is so Disney-esque that there not much that makes this stand out from the crowd of other animated films. I give this a 60%. Kids will love it due to the comedy, characters, and they will learn an important lesson. As for adults, while this is no Disney or Pixar film, you can get enjoyment out of this. If it’s a rainy day and you want to see something cute and wholesome, watching this on-demand would be a good option and it won’t be a waste of your time.


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