Film Review – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
35 years after the release of Ridley Scott‘s highly influential Blade Runner, its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, has finally arrived in theaters. With major talent such as Denis Villenueve and Ryan Gosling added to the mix both behind and in front of the camera, many pointed to this film as their most anticipated film of the fall season. The following review will be spoiler free.
30 years after the events of the first Blade Runner, Officer K (Gosling) discovers a long-kept secret that could lead to an all-out war if discovered by the rest of society. This secret causes him to seek out former blade runner Rick Deckard, who has been missing for the last 30 years.
As with seemingly every other high profile film these days, there were plans to make a sequel to Blade Runner long before 2017. Talks actually began in 1999 when British filmmaker Stuart Hazeldine wrote a script titled Blade Runner Down. However, rights issues for Blade Runner were up in the air, making a sequel at the time very implausible.
Later on, Ridley Scott flirted with making a sequel in 2007, tentatively calling it Metropolis which would obviously be a tip of the cap to the 1927 classic film. But, his interest later turned to television and streaming in 2009 when he teamed up with his brother, Tony Scott, to create Blade Runner shorts that were prequel iterations to the 1982 original. Unfortunately, rights issues made it impossible for the series to tie in closely to the original film which made the plan quickly fall apart due to a lack of funding.
Thankfully, talks of a true sequel finally picked up in 2013 with Harrison Ford confirmed to return as Rick Deckard in 2015. Denis Villenueve also signed on around the same time, later claiming that he joined the project so that “no one else would f*** it up.”
Unmatched Visual Flair
Roger Deakins, the director of cinematography on the film, has been nominated for an Oscar on thirteen seperate occasions. But, he has never won. If he doesn’t get his first victory for Blade Runner 2049, then I might just blow a gasket.
Every frame of Blade Runner 2049 is utter perfection. Practical effects reign supreme in the film, providing rich, true atmospheres that feel lived-in, dirty, and bleak. This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but you haven’t anything quite like this. Even the simplest of shots are absolutely stunning in every imaginable way.
Just look at this:
How is that even possible?
Although it may seem like it, there’s no hyperbole in this discussion whatsoever. The blend between practical and CGI effects is so seamless that you’ll find your mouth open in astonishment the majority of the film’s run time.
Blade Runner 2049 is Slow, But it’s Not Boring
For those that want a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure, you won’t find that here. Use your Blu-Ray of Guardians of the Galaxy if you want that type of entertainment. Blade Runner 2049 is a deep exploration of themes that takes its time to flesh out every single character that’s pertinent to the plot. There are fleeting moments of action within this deep story. However, the film’s main focus quickly diverts to other, more lofty, issues.
Blade Runner 2049 is the definition of a film. This is NOT a movie, but rather a piece of art that you need to dissect.
But hell, you probably knew that already if you’ve ever seen or merely heard of the original Blade Runner. This sequel isn’t for everyone, but it will absolutely entertain those who are willing to handle its structure.
For your troubles, you’ll see an unbelievable performance from Ryan Gosling in the lead role. Mirroring the feel of the movie, everything about him is very understated. Great writing and scene structure allow him to speak vividly just with his eyes. It makes it that much better when he shows emotion.
A Storyline that Distorts the Idea of Humanity Even Further
It’s very difficult to discuss Blade Runner 2049 without dipping into spoiler territory. It’s plot details are heavily rooted in a spoiler element that propels the film. However, what can be said is that its themes are very, very present. Blade Runner 2049 never insists upon itself, but the questions it poses are discussed with the most expert percision. You won’t find all the answers to the questions it asks. But then again, a movie like Blade Runner 2049 should never contain the end-all be-all answer to its core concepts.
The line between human and replicant has been blurred to an almost unquantifiable amount. Where the original may have faltered in creating a streamlined narrative that is both captivating and insightful, 2049 succeeded mightily. It’s one thing to praise the visuals and the scope of the world. Still, it’s the weaving together of amazing, intellectual discussion with a great narrative that separates this film from something like Valerian and the City of a Thousands Planets.
Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing triumphant in filmmaking. If he hadn’t done it already, Denis Villenueve proved that he’s one of the best, if not the best, directors working in Hollywood today. His careful, understated direction provides for amazing sequences that are filled with existential questions and visual flair, all the while providing a narrative that incredibly satisfying and clever. It gets an A+.
Go support this film by seeing it in the theaters as its success will undoubtedly usher in a wave of high-budget, thought-provoking films for us all to enjoy.
This may be somewhat of a hot take, but 2049 might be better than the original (Internet, don’t hate me).
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