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Currently reading: Review: Blade Runner 2049 – Benefit or Hazard?

Review: Blade Runner 2049 – Benefit or Hazard?

The Worry of Belated Sequels

Is Blade Runner 2049 the sequel we have all been waiting for? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Although I am guilty of – pretty much – always wanting to see more from a film, be-it exploring further stories within the same universe, or continuing the adventures of the previous movie’s central characters, to discover what happens to them next – doing so; usually doesn’t end well.

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Whether it was my naivety as a child early on; or not, I can’t recall sitting watching a film and questioning whether it was any good or not. They just existed, and I watched them and enjoyed them – for the most part.

Yet, at some point I started to realise that I preferred one over the other. For example, I absolutely adore the Back to the Future trilogy, and I watched those films repeatedly, over and over again. I must have driven my parents crazy come to think of it.

But, when I was around six/seven years old, I had decided on my favourite, my second favourite; and my least favourite.

The first (and best) Back to the Future was the one I returned to the most. Then, because I grew up watching westerns, I would watch Part III – I just love the setting. Which left Part II in last place (sorry Macky).

This doesn’t mean Part II is a bad sequel, in-fact it’s far from it. But you have to admit, it lacks the charm and wonder of the first.

 

Since then, I have sat through many a poor sequel, some of which were down-right terrible. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Blade: Trinity are just a few worthy of the title.

Anyway, I’ll get to the question you are still asking…

 

Is Blade Runner 2049 a Sequel worthy of the Original?

Over the years we have seen many sequels attempt to recreate the magic of the original. But unfortunately, more often-than-not; the audience leaves the cinema wishing that they hadn’t seen it, and that the studio hadn’t made it.

Ridley Scott‘s 1982 original; Blade Runner, is considered a cult classic. A dystopian future-noir, worthy of any Blu-ray collection.

So, is the sequel – that has arrived 35 years after the original – worth watching? Or is it a cheap copy of the first film, wrapped in a new, synthetic skin?

Well, here’s your answer…

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Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t simply replicate what the original did, it builds upon it, and in doing so; soars to new heights.

The vast majority of today’s blockbuster sequels are lazy, carbon-copies of the previous movie. Each of them churned-out, year after year, from the Hollywood assembly-line. There’s very little thought put towards the storytelling or character development, and a near non-existent effort to emotionally engage the viewer.

Over the years, Hollywood has become more and more robotic in it’s nature, with it’s primary objective – money. It’s not about talking to the audience on an intellectual level, nor ensuring a movie is made with the utmost care and respect for the source material.

Most blockbusters water-down the film to achieve a lower age rating, allowing for more bums-on-seats, and therefore more money. These films tend to bring with them an intrusive mixture of explosions, forced comedy and loud music. Those films that maintain the higher age-rating; for maturer audiences, tend to throw in unnecessary violence, gore, bad language and sex – in an attempt to appeal to as many people as it can; within it’s age range.

Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t fall foul to these temptations, nor give-in to the usual blockbuster tropes.

 

Director Denis Villeneuve has achieved what most would have said; is near-impossible – a sequel that lives up to the original, and delivers on the hype.

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In the past we’ve had sequels that have lived-up-to, and in someways improved upon the original.

The likes of Aliens, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Dark Knight and Terminator 2: Judgment Day belong on that list, and thankfully Blade Runner 2049 can join them.

 

Review: Rundown & Verdict

Slight SPOILERS ahead, so be warned…

Although Blade Runner 2049 has achieved what the original did not, by releasing to critical-acclaim and high-praise, the film has still under-achieved at the box office.

This result is truly disappointing, as this is not a reflection of the film’s mesmerising quality or storytelling.

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Story:

Dusting off the boots and overcoat, Blade Runner 2049 picks up the story; thirty years after the events of the first film.

With Sicario/Arrival director; Denis Villeneuve at the helm, Ridley Scott as Executive Producer and original scribe Hampton Fancher, returning as lead writer – this sequel was in good hands.

Focusing on a new “blade runner”, we follow L.A.P.D. Officer K as he treads familiar footsteps from the past. Assigned to “retire” the Nexus-8 replicants, K unearths a secret that should have remaining buried, leading him to hunt for previous blade runner; Rick Deckard – who disappeared 30 years ago.

With society on the cusp of chaos, and relations between humans and replicants at breaking-point, the world in which the audience is submerged, truly feels dangerous and dystopian. Events that occurred between the original 1982 Blade Runner; and it’s sequel, help explain the world we see today – with a 10 day “blackout” having resulted in the deletion of replicant-production records.

I am unwilling to talk further about the story, as I do not wish to spoil it for those of you who are yet to watch the movie, but suffice it to say; that the story of Blade Runner 2049 is testament to showing that within the inhuman, lies humanity.

 

Acting:

Every single performance is well-acted, and highly believable, with Ana de Armas performance as Joi, being a particular favourite of mine.

Ryan Gosling plays Officer K with a calm, calculated brilliance; as he seeks to discover his purpose in life, while Harrison Ford‘s return as Rick Deckard is a welcome one. Showing that he hasn’t lost his edge as the rogue “blade runner”; 35 years on.

Although not the main focus of the film, Jared Leto‘s portrayal as Niander Wallace – the mysterious figure responsible for the manufacture of replicants – is particularly unnerving. As he instructs his loyal assistant; Luv – played by Sylvia Hoeks, to carry out his instructions with killer precision.

We also get great work from Robin WrightDave Bautista, Mackenzie Davis and Lennie James.

 

Tone:

Within minutes of the film starting, I felt immersed in the world of Blade Runner. The visual contrast of the environments and the “advertisements” within the city itself, really made it feel like home for any fan of the 1982 original.

The film carried itself with a bold confidence, never once worrying about the audience and their attention-span. Unlike most blockbusters of today, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t force-in unnecessary explosive set-pieces, or force your brain to want to vomit; due to quick edits and fast panning cameras.

Denis Villeneuve‘s sequel holds it’s head high, and with a dead-certain confidence; takes it’s time telling the story the way it should be told. Allowing the audience to truly absorb what is happening on-screen, through calm, gentle editing and a love for the source material.

Staying loyal to the key themes of Ridley Scott‘s original, the sequel twists things on its head, keeping the audience guessing – remaining elusive to the riddle of the original – and by doing so; feels very much… Blade Runner.

 

Cinematography:

Reinforcing the tone of the film, I can once again say that Roger Deakins‘ cinematography is truly breathtaking, and in my opinion; this here, surpasses all of his previous work. Forget Skyfall and True GritBlade Runner 2049 is the jewel in his well-deserved crown.

Never have I seen a torrential downpour look so beautiful, nor falling snow so inviting.

We see the bright, neon cityscape – infused with overbearing corporation logos and tantalising adverts for “pleasure model” replicants. The dilapidated building that is home to Officer K, rust-ridden industrial scrapheaps, and the eerie, glowing wasteland where the remains of crumbling buildings and statues lay.

From a cinematography point-of-view alone, what we see, is visually stunning, staggering in scale and truly awe inspiring.

Have a look below, and you’ll see what I mean:

 

Soundtrack:

As you’ll know yourself, movies that lack a good, engaging soundtrack; also lack the emotional impact of what plays out on-screen.

Thankfully, what we get here doesn’t disappoint. The score for the film is another masterful piece of work – brought to life by two critically-acclaimed composers.

Benjamin Wallfisch; who recently worked on the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King‘s It, and Hans Zimmer, whose works are globally recognised and appreciated – including; but not limited to: Dunkirk, The Dark Knight and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Staying loyal to the Vangelis’ themes of the original, what Wallfisch and Zimmer bring is both fresh and familiar.

The Blade Runner 2049 soundscape goes from a calm, gentle whispering to a howling intensity, perfectly complimenting what is happening on-screen and the situation the characters are in.

I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this, and although it infuses my mind with 80s nostalgia, the music isn’t that. It isn’t 80s. It’s sci-fi.

 

Summary:

To me, Blade Runner 2049 has been born from an admiration of what came before, a love for great story telling, and a desire to achieve beyond the norm, and truly captivate the audience.

Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t simply replicate what the original did, it builds upon it, and in doing so; soars to new heights.

As stated by Officer K; “to be born is to have a soul”, and believe-you-me, this sequel has just that, a soul.

 

Franchise-Noir?

Whether this spawns a full-on movie franchise, with future instalments for the big-screen, who knows? If not, I’d be happy with that. Two superb films, that although intertwined, can stand apart as true cinematic masterpieces of their own respective time.

 

That said, I’d love for other forms of media to explore the Blade Runner universe further.

Whether as a video game – who, given their loyal attention to detail in 2014’s Alien: Isolation, and their capability of making a top quality gaming experience, I believe developers; Creative Assembly, would be well suited to the task.

Or, maybe even a book series. Not necessarily following on from the movies, or even the original Philip K Dick novel; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but perhaps just set within the universe itself, following the lives and stories of a new set of protagonists and antagonists.

 

If you haven’t yet seen Blade Runner 2049, then I strongly recommend you do.

It’s a rare thing. Like a unicorn in a field full of wooden horses – it has to be seen.

Unicorn - Square

 

Do you agree with what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below:

As always, for all things Blade Runner, stick with movies at GoneFullGeek.

GoneFullGeek Movie Review

  • Story

    9
  • Acting

    9
  • Tone

    10
  • Cinematography

    10
  • Soundtrack

    9
  • Overall

    10