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Tag Archive: Vangelis


Review by C.J. Bunce

Credit for the success of Blade Runner 2049 as a worthy sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner is a shared prize for director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario), the writers, including screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Alien: Covenant), source material creator Philip K. Dick, and original Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher (The Mighty Quinn), plus at least two dozen other unnamed creators whose early science fiction works were mined for the story.  Predictable, derivative, slow-paced, and overly long, Blade Runner 2049 still lands as a solid sequel and will no doubt please fans loyal to the 1982 film.  The beauty of the sequel is the earnest, ambitious effort of Villeneuve under the eye of executive producer and original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott to give the story a reserved touch.  The sequel has the now classic dystopian look of the Mad Max or Terminator: Salvation variety, stretching the original Syd Mead futurism and punk noir vibe into a different but logical new direction–think Blade Runner with the lights turned on.

From the first scene Villeneuve & Co. dig in to not just sci-fi tropes but cyborg heavy themes that sci-fi fans know very well from similar explorations in countless books, television series, and films since the early 1980s, when the idea of adapting something like Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into a big budget film was something less familiar to film audiences.  The filmmakers touch on many classics–Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Shakespearean tragedy–to countless episodes of the Star Trek franchise (lead character and Replicant K/Joe played by Ryan Gosling revisits several direct themes the android Data explored in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  More than ten minutes is spent revisiting the latest technology called an “emanator” that Star Trek Voyager fans will be familiar with as the Emergency Medical Hologram’s “holo-emitter,” a device allowing holograms to move around the world.  What in the early 1980s may have wowed audiences is here not so eye-popping because of the legacy Trek tech called the holodeck.  But none of these flashbacks to sci-fi’s past really take anything away from the elements re-used in Blade Runner 2049 because they are all stitched together into a clean story.  To some it will be a Where’s Waldo? of sci-fi storytelling and to others the simple nostalgia of exploring Isaac Asimov’s themes of the Robot and the Self will be worth a revisit.

Many questions are asked in the lengthy 2 hour-and 43 minute-long film, and some, but not all, will be answered, disappointing a few loyal fans of the original.  Deaths of characters and actors since the original limit the return of certain characters from the original, but where they happen it’s done right.  One scene, however, is a complete misfire–a character walked onto the screen to the gasp of this reviewer’s theater audience, only to find it wasn’t really who was expected based on the build up of the scene.  But the biggest misfire is Villeneuve’s use of sound and score.  Thankfully for the reputation of Vangelis, which scored the original film, Villeneuve turned to Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer this time, creating a dreadful use of sound in a film.  Where the use of Vangelis’s synthesized cautious, futuristic melodies took a backseat to story and dialogue in the original, here Wallfisch and Zimmer lean on dissonant John Cage-esque chords and blare noises like someone sitting on a piano or a kid plugging his guitar into an amp for the first time, over and over, at full volume–the aural equivalent of J.J. Abrams lens flares.  The poor sound really takes away from a visual work that could have benefitted by a closer reflection of the use of sound in the original.  I.e. take at least one earplug along, especially in an IMAX or other digital theater.

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juno_160701

Independence Day wasn’t only linked to outer space in theaters this weekend with the release of Independence Day: Resurgence.  A real-life five-year mission ended this week with a new look at an old celestial friend.  Following U.S. missions that sent the Pioneer 10 spacecraft past Jupiter in 1973, and Galileo into its orbit between 1995 and 2003, NASA maneuvered a spacecraft named Juno into Jupiter’s orbit Monday, July 4, 2016, providing new, never before seen views of the solar system’s largest planet.  “Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden.

“And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before?  With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved,” said Bolden.

The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began at 10:18 p.m. Central Time, decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter.  Juno then turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

Juno-space-probe

“The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Juno’s scientific purpose is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter.  Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras.  The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

If you haven’t kept up on the mission, check out this footage about Juno, courtesy of NASA:

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