Quick Hit: A cinematic feast of visuals and ideas.
Hello and welcome to Sci-Fi month here at DFP. We choose this month in honor of my birthday, so we're filling it with films a plenty from one of the best genres. I hope you enjoy it!
The original Blade Runner is one of those tenants that modern science fiction is built upon. Those that may not appreciate the genre may call it boring, but it is a film that presents deep ideas (like many things based on Phillip K. Dick’s stories). That was what I was most worried about when it came to Blade Runner 2049 – that we would take a deep, thoughtful science fiction movie and turn it into a shoot-em-up sequel.
However, I was wrong to be afraid in the capable hands of Dennis Villeneuve (Arrival, Enemy). He takes everything that was fantastic about the original and uses modern technology to accent and accelerate the themes of the movie. I can’t get over the visuals, and so I’m going to talk about them first. Blade Runner gave us some great ones, but Roger Deakins gave us some next level work here (Academy Award winning was all but a foregone conclusion). Whether it was K walking into smoke, the variety of colors, or even the intense close-ups given to mix with the landscapes, there wasn’t a moment in this movie that wasn’t perfectly visually executed.
I was also a huge fan of the score. Often times with classic films that are being continued, the original score from the film is minded for nostagila and pushed at the right point to hit maximum emotional impact, and usually only involves slowly or speeding up the original theme. I liked that Hans Zimmer incorporated some of his own ideas into the score, along with the classic synth tones from the original. It means that instead of blantantly copying and using our emotions to wreck us, we had some actual thought that went into new ideas. Bravo!
I also liked that they took the ideas presented in the first one and build upon them. The Tyrell corporation collapsed (possibly because they were constantly hunting their own product, and had created ones with an indefinite life span), and there is new blood with now completely servient replicants, including K (Ryan Gosling of La La Land and many others). K is a Blade Runner, and begins chasing some particular replicants – and that’s all I’m telling you about the plot, so let’s move on.
I loved all the casting throughout the film. There was a LOT going on (my only detractor from an A+ - more on that later), and I couldn’t find a single character that I thought felt miscast. Gosling stands out, mainly because the writers didn’t try to make him Harrison Ford. Instead, they allowed his normal romantic look and haunting eyes to carry the story in periods. Even his physicality is different than Deckard, and at times his performance carries the story through its slower moments. Also, shout-outs to Ford, De Armas, Leto, Wright, and Bautista for their roles in the glory.
The only thing I didn’t like about this movie was the fact that it felt overstuffed. The detail and world-building was amazing, but at times, it causes the film to start to plod along a bit. Some of this has something to do with the style of the story (which is written much like the first, in a procedural format), but some also has to do with sequel building and I just didn’t need to have that to add to the runtime of a movie whose finished product was 2 hours 45 minutes.
All in all, I think this movie will always be remembered fondly as one of the best belated sequels we’ve had. I’m giving it an “A”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"