|Even in the gloom it's still pretty in, Blade Runner 2049|
"I did your job once. I was good at it."
No you weren't, el Deckarino! From what I recall, you drunkenly stumbled through every Replicant encounter, got your ass kicked, and then came out on top by the unreliable grace of a rabbit's foot and screenwriter's will. I am positive that I'm in the minority on this one, but to this day I still don't believe the original Blade Runner to be that great of a film. The "experts" all say that I should agree with them, yet I don't. Over the years, I have given that movie at least a half dozen chances (mostly The Final Cut) and every time it is the same for me; I get bored, sleepy, and constantly wonder what the big deal is. Visually, it was definitely ahead of its time, but don't give me this deeper meaning bullshit. Those themes were rushed through and all of the characters were practically "blink and miss", except for Roy Batty. Rutger Hauer's (Hobo with a Shotgun) life loving Replicant brought all of the film's emotion, and yet still didn't get enough to say in the end. I guess Ridley Scott (Alien) thought that it was more important to show long aerial tracking shots of his "vision", than it was to put some actual depth into his characters. So just because some nerdist elite with a film school degree shoved up his ass says that I should love and acknowledge Blade Runner as one of the greatest sci-fi pictures of all time, doesn't mean I have to follow suit. I would rather dream about unicorns and figure out my place in the universe instead.
Do you know why Denis Villeneuve is my current favorite director? Besides his awesome track record over the last few years (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival), the man knows how to take an established property and improve upon it. Just as James Cameron came in and made Aliens an unexpected improvement over Scott's original, Villeneuve has taken nearly every aspect of the 1982 Blade Runner and has surpassed it. Blade Runner 2049 is also Villeneuve's apparent attempt at successfully honoring its predecessor. The themes this time around aren't as subtle, and it's so much more enjoyable because of it. Instead of having me wonder what the hell was going on for the entire film, I was able to sit back and take in everything that this film had to offer, which is a lot. It would have been so easy to fall into all of the technical features and ignore everything else, yet Villeneuve's ability to tell an intriguing story while simultaneously feeding us eye candy, is leagues beyond what most directors can do. Visually there is so much to see and appreciate here, and veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men) keeps the cameras all lined up to perfection in the meanwhile. The sets and props are all in line with the bulky metallic style of the original, and the artistic palette is much broader here. The musical score encompasses what a Blade Runner picture should sound like, and consistently reminds of it. There's more mystery solving here than action scenes, although when they finally happen, they're worth the occasional waiting periods to get there.
Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines) is really good at portraying restrained characters. In Blade Runner 2049, he plays another subdued role that is just itching to explode in raw emotion. We follow him for the film's entire run of nearly three hours, and empathize with all of his investigations and personal trials. We see most of his feeling side when he's interacting with his VR girlfriend, played by Ana de Armas (War Dogs). There's a love between them that Gosling uses to access his synthetic (yet genuine) connections to his humanity, after long days of dealing with an uncaring world. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad) has only three of four scenes as the big bad corporate monster, which left me with the impression that he was trying to channel a non-religious David Koresh (Waco) more than anything else. In fact, his odd role felt more appropriate for the live action Ghost in the Shell, than it did here. His assassin played by Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks, is similar in cold, fear-inducing execution of undesirable roadblocks to Hauer's classic antagonist, however she's still no Roy Batty. Another stone-faced actor here is from Robin Wright (Wonder Woman), who always guarantees that you'll hate and respect her at all times. Some familiar faces show up, but none of them are like Harrison Ford's face. Nearly two hours in, we finally get to see the guy from the trailers and he's just as snarky as ever. I'm also happy that he didn't get the Sean Connery treatment for this sequel (Highlander 2: The Quickening).
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Blade Runner 2049
The Good- Sapper Morton's farm, the landfill attack, two ladies for the price of one, Deckard's vintage casino, "Her eyes were green.", and the tension of that final battle.
The Bad- I'm all for loud sounds and booming scores, but the score in this one got so ear-piercing at times that a dog would've howled.
The Ugly- Call me stupid if you want, but I didn't realize until near the end of this film that the Replicants weren't robots! You won't need to, since I've already called myself a dumbass enough for it anyways.
Blade Runner 2049 takes a classic and honors it, by doing everything better to create a film series that's worth its place near the top of the science fiction list. For me, I'm reminded of how Tron Legacy improved upon the original Tron (well, more visually than with actual story improvement). This is a must see for genre fans and visual fans alike. Denis Villeneuve continues to impress me with his passion for filmmaking. Now, let's see him do an improved live action version of The Last Unicorn. I bet he could make that dream a reality.
Rating- 9 out of 10
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
R | 2h 44min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 6 October 2017 (USA)
A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Hampton Fancher (screenplay by), Michael Green (screenplay by)
Stars: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas