Review by Ulysses E Campbell
Basically: Like the original, Blade Runner 2049 is a stylized sci-fi noir.
Ok, first thing, I hate when the sequel comes out ten years or more after the original movie. And particularly so when it is more than 30 years after. Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 film by Ridley Scott and based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
The original has achieved cult status in the thirty five years since its release. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t care much for the movie. I read the novel and the movie bore minimal resemblance, aside from the fact that the book is always better than the movie anyway. I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation. However, I’ve come to appreciate the film more over the years. Ridley Scott, whose main claim to fame at the time was he’d directed Alien, went on to a lucrative and stellar career as a Hollywood producer and director. I mention all this as it is impossible to separate the original Blade Runner from Blade Runner 2049. The sequel is entirely dependent on the first film, but if you enjoyed the original, particularly if you’re one of those who revere it, you’re going to love this one.
I’m glad Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel, however. When I heard about the production I initially believed it was a reboot. And I feel there are entirely too many of those already. So, Blade Runner sequel? Why not? It certainly left the door open at the conclusion of the first movie. Deckard and Rachel in love and running away together. Rachel revealed as having no expiration date like Pris and Roy Batty.
Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as K, a blade runner or—for the uninitiated—a police officer charged with pursuing and retiring replicants. Androids. K is drawn into a web of intrigue as he must follow a cold trail to a replicant who could potentially destroy the very fabric of modern culture. Like the original, Blade Runner 2049 is a stylized sci-fi noir. Gosling is a tremendous actor. He’s been nominated a couple of times for an Academy Award and I expect that he’ll win one day soon. Although Harrison Ford is featured prominently it is actually Gosling who carries this movie. He gives a nuanced performance that draws in the audience.
Here Ford gets another chance to revisit an old role. You’ll wait a minute to see him but he still has plenty to do in this movie. And you can’t have a Blade Runner sequel without Rick Deckard. But after what happened to Han Solo in The Force Awakens, you’ll be hoping Deckard makes it out alive (I won’t tell).
The rest of the cast is superb. Robin Wright, who keeps showing up in big movies, is excellent as K’s superior Lieutenant Joshi. Other standouts are Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, and Lennie James. There are some cameos by other performers from the original that fans are certain to enjoy. Despite the prevalence of actresses in major roles there are some definite and obvious misogynistic elements to the film—but that didn’t substantially detract from my overall enjoyment of the picture.
As one might expect, the look of the film is spectacular. The overall appearance and feel of the movie keeps to the established world, but the visuals are seamless due to the sophistication of modern special effects. Although it isn’t a complaint of mine, I frequently hear younger viewers talk about their dissatisfaction with computer generated imagery. I don’t think that will be an issue here. The army of animators who worked on this film were able to take their time and get everything rendered perfectly.
The soundtrack aids in establishing the atmosphere of the movie as well. I would have thought I’d miss Vangelis’ soundtrack but Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer do a great job producing a similar sound that evokes the original without copying it.
One drawback was the length. Total run time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Now, the movie didn’t drag at all but the pacing was slow in many parts. It takes its time getting where it is going. And there will be those who read a certain level of significance into the glacial pacing. But it could have moved quicker.
Blade Runner 2049 earns the R rating. There is nudity, sexual imagery and situations, profanity and violence. I’d be wary of taking children younger than about 15. The pacing would probably have most kids bored out of their skulls anyway. Probably better to leave them home; let them grow up some before watching this one. In fact, I think that was probably why I wasn’t more enamored with the original, I had just turned 19 when that came out.
Blade Runner 2049 is solid movie and an enjoyable film experience. The downside is, it was just a little full of itself. It went too far out of its way to prove what a great movie it was and I didn’t think it was quite that deep. Better to be entertainment than try to convince me there was a profound message there. That and the fact it was a little too long caused Blade Runner 2049 to miss with me for a perfect rating, but easily 8/10 stars.
In the end: Go see this one before someone spoils it for you.