Reviewed by :Zach Wheat
I grew up in the 80s, I love science-fiction, especially dystopian science-fiction, and like most Generation X kids, Blade Runner was by far one of, if not the most memorable and loved movies for me in my childhood. When I first read about the sequel, I was very irritated and thought they should leave it alone. I thought it was a cash grab and yet another Hollywood swindle to yank money out of nostalgic old people and keep Harrison Ford’s career alive.
The only reason I saw this movie? I was at the local mall to get new lenses for my glasses and had to kill time. My expectations were very low, and I was very jaded going into this, and it was shockingly good in my opinion. Like all-time-classic good, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I feel like I need to see Blade Runner 2049 four or five times just to get everything that’s being offered. The amount of detail here is over the top, visually and story-wise.
I’m writing this now because I can’t go to sleep. This film haunted me and all I can think of is getting up and going to see it again in 3D (which I was unable to do today at the local mall).
One thing to note: Hampton Fancher was the first to option Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep? from Philip K. Dick and wrote the original screenplay, long before any studio or Ridley Scott were involved with the original. Having him onboard for the script for Blade Runner 2049 provided the continuity that made this work. It feels very much like Blade Runner and it had me drawn in for every second. There is nothing I enjoy more than being told a good story, and this was a great story, so good that I want to see the script and scrutinize every detail, because it was so elegantly written.
Denis Villeneuve did a fantastic job directing. No, it didn’t feel like a Ridley Scott film — it felt more like a Tarkovsky film, and that seems to have turned off people expecting a sub-two hour Hollywood action movie. That so far appears to be the biggest complaint. I felt like every minute was necessary to tell the story, and if the movie would have been four hours long, I would have been happy to sit for it. I felt like Villeneuve was trying to make art and not milk the franchise for dollars (as so many poor sequels have in the past decade).
The score was fantastic, it added a great deal to the atmosphere and intensity, and I think Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Walifasch did a commendable job filling the shoes of Vangelis. It feels like a worthy successor to the original soundtrack. I will be buying it and playing the hell out of it. I will also eventually spend money I can’t afford on a 4K television when this comes out on Netflix/Blue Ray/etc. This film is the best argument I’ve found so far for owning one.
Casting was superb. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Ryan Gosling playing the role of “K” and in my opinion, it was the best performance of his career. If you are a Ryan Gosling hater (and there are many, as there are for every pretty boy movie star), please do your best to get over it and see this film.
It was great to see Edward James Olmos (personally and coincidentally, my favorite actor) make his cameo, and Harrison Ford seems interested enough in reprising the role of Rick Deckard that it’s enough to almost make you forget the wooden performances in his Indiana Jones and Star Wars revivals. Yes, there is a Sean Young appearance and she got her SAG credit. For the sake of spoilers, I’m keeping my mouth shut, but I found Ford’s response to her in the scene to be the best acting he has done in years.
Overall, the ensemble was a collection of familiar consistent thespians of merit: Robin Wright, who might have the best agent in Hollywood, Mackenzie Davis who stole the best episode of Black Mirror made to date (San Junipero), Dave Batista, who was the better part of recent Bond and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, Lennie James, who plays my favorite character on The Walking Dead, Morgan Jones, and the method actor’s method actor, Jerod Leto, played yet another creepy weirdo with credibility.
With that said, the three lesser known actresses in this film, Swiss actress Carla Juri who plays the eccentric Dr. Ana Stelline, Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks who plays the intense replicant Luv, and Cuban actress Ana de Armas, who plays Joi, the VR girlfriend of Ryan Gosling’s K, were in my opinion, the biggest standouts in this excellent film.
There were some reviewers that complained that Ana de Armas had too much screen time, but I think she was very central to the story, and may very well have created a very comfortable career for herself. I felt more empathy for Joi than probably any character in the film…and she was a flickering, holographic piece of software. Her character very much expanded the questions Blade Runner asks: “What is a human?” and “What does it mean to be a human?” and I found her performance very welcome.
Are you going to Like It?
I’ve read a few negative reviews. These are from people that didn’t like the original in the first place, people who said it was “too long” (and presumably think Akira Kurasawa and Andrei Tarkovsky are lousy directors), people that claimed the plot (a mystery) was too complicated, and others that objected to a cast that had too many white males, which is strange considering Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling are the only white men in the film.
If you liked the original, I doubt you will be disappointed. As far as sequels go, this is in the territory of Aliens and Godfather Part II. It honors the original, yet contributes fresh idea, and creates satisfying character arcs both for the new characters, and old ones.
It’s a visual masterpiece that did everything I want a well told science-fiction story to do. It deserves to be seen in the cinema. Visit the loo before you sit down. You will savor every one of its ambitious 163 minutes and I believe it will be a while before I see a new film that affects me so profoundly.
This jaded Gen X-er and bitter sci-fi fan who has been underwhelmed at every sci-fi production since the third season of Battlestar Galactica gives this movie a solid A and recommends that it be seen as soon as possible in a proper cinema.