Despite mixed feelings, two new movies recommended for your viewing pleasure

The Mountain Between Us (20th Century Fox)

BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

Score: B

Rated R -- 164 minutes


After wrestling all weekend with the often confusing plot of BLADE RUNNER 2049, I reached a compromise in strongly recommending this film for those people who are willing to invest some time. After all, we have waited 35 years for this sequel to Ridley Scott's groundbreaking masterpiece. I don't feel any blame for the director Denis Villeneuve, screenwriter Hampton Fancher, nor his brilliant production staff led by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, editor Joe Walker, and exquisite musical score from Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer. Also, unfortunately too many names to list for Design, Art, Set, Sound, Costumes, and Makeup.

Initially, I first scribbled in my screening notes, "I would have expected more out of the story." With much thought, I blame myself for not being able to keep up with 2049. Permit me to present you with three reasons why you should go and see BLADE RUNNER 2049 at least two times.

The first time, just sit back and enjoy the brilliance of this visual masterpiece. Over the next 35 years, it may just be considered one of the best science fiction movies ever made.

Appreciate all of the actors who are delivering award-level performances. Last December, Harrison Ford said goodbye to STAR WARS. Today, Mr. Ford is saying goodbye to BLADE RUNNER. Harrison Ford has appeared in some of the greatest films of all time and while he does not have much to do in this sequel, his presence is satisfying.

Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, has followed-up with LA LA LAND by delivering his finest performance yet. It is a subtle, reflective, and powerful role. Pay attention to his facial gestures, his eyes, and his mouth.

Part of the success of Ford and Gosling is the superb supporting cast the director has assembled. The cast is huge -- so in this review, I want to concentrate on the inheritors of the new Hollywood. You read the following here first: watch the career path of Cuban actress Ana de Armas as a result of this film.

This "Best Supporting Cast" also includes familiar faces, if not familiar names: David Dastmalchain, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Barkhad Abdi, and the great Jared Leto.

The second time, make sure that you have had enough sleep and not have a lot on your mind. We are talking philosophy. What does it truly mean to be human? The keyword to appreciate 2049 is to concentrate on every scene, follow every plot line, pick up on every nuance, and wrestle with the major themes that will become obvious.

If you look down at your popcorn for just a moment, you may miss something. And be patient, even in the extraordinary motion picture, there will be a few scenes that go on far too long. Yes, another film that could cut 20 minutes or so. But in doing so, that means some of the visual images would also be cut.

At the press-only screening, the director sent an outline of what we could and could not write about -- requesting that we were not to reveal certain plot lines nor give away the mysterious twists, turns, and surprises. I have so much respect for this director that I am absolutely following his personal request.

So why a solid "B" score? I also won't give that away. You be the judge. Unfortunately, with a budget of $150 million and another $100 million for marketing -- the demographics do not bode well for a great big huge profit.


Score: C

Rated PG-13 -- 103 minutes


"After a week of tragedy and Vegas pride, a love story feels pretty good!"

In many ways, THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US is a simple feel-good movie. It is a traditional drama involving two strangers stranded after a tragic plane crash. These strangers must find a way to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain.

The film is directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad. A Dutch/Palestinian, this marks his Hollywood debut.

After all of the tragedy that we have experienced over the past week, it will be nice to return to your favorite movie theater and watch a pretty good story. It is adapted from Charles Martin's 2010 novel. Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe penned the screenplay. While it is not the best script, with different actors, it would quickly go to home video.

That being said, with Oscar winner Kate Winslet and Golden Globe winner Idris Elba, you cannot help but stay with them and hope that they both will survive. They are just such fine actors who really know how to play off of each other. In the end, I found myself cheering for their survival.

Credit also goes to Mandy Walker for his absolutely exquisite cinematography. Canada has never looked so beautiful.