The Messiah narrative thread with Paul and the Fremen is a bit white-saviour-y, but will hopefully be nipped in the bud in the sequel, and the plot is otherwise excellent: a twisting tapestry of planet-hopping politics, breathtaking sci-fi/action, moody mysticism, and compelling coming-of-age/family drama fare. Strongly acted (Paul and parents in particular), with incredible sound and visuals (lots of big, immersive movie moments–the nighttime assault on Arrakeen being one highlight).
A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years. (IMDb)
If I was rating individual scenes, this would have a bunch of 10/10s, no question, thanks to some incredible visuals, sounds, turns, and Villeneuve’s impeccable sense of tension and atmosphere (see the opening search, the horse discovery, Joshi vs. Luv, K and dreammaker Dr. Ana, the stunning final fight). Unfortunately, Leto’s cliche villain and Deckard’s return make for a less compelling and more tangential-feeling third act, at least plot and character-wise, keeping the film from perfection.
A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. (IMDb)
The “communication” thematic perspective is refreshingly down-to-earth (nailed it) for an alien flick, but a mid-movie voiceover somewhat mars its thoughtful slow pace, its human-human angle feels a little forced, and the rash rebel interruption is unfounded, not to mention cliche. Small flaws aside, this remains a smart and exquisite-looking sci-fi with a memorable final act, as the bits of Louise’s emotional backstory are masterfully eased into the forefront, unraveling a stunning twist.
A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. (IMDb)
A goosebump-inducing premise here is expertly developed, thanks to a deliciously detailed and well thought out screenplay and a strong performance from Gyllenhaal. A constant sense of discomfort pervades the entire film as even the simplest conversations or sequences are given uneasy undertones. The feeling grows as the plot gets continually weirder, darker, and more confusing. It’s one of those complex films you need to Google to understand completely, but it’s no less thrilling in the moment.