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[Joint Review] – ‘Blade Runner 2049’

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 6 October 2017 [USA]
 
Director: Denis Villeneuve
 
Writer: Hampton Fancher - Michael Green - [Screenplay]
 
Cast: Harrison Ford - Ryan Gosling - Jared Leto - Ana de Armas
 


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Posted October 8, 2017 by

 
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Louis’s Perspective:

Probably one of the most anticipated films of the year, Blade Runner 2049 is a sci-fi spectacle and has already been receiving rave reviews in its opening week.

Set roughly 30 years after the events of Blade Runner, we follow blade runner K (Ryan Gosling) as he hunts down the last of the Nexus 8 replicants. The newer replicants, like K, are much more compliant as opposed to the Nexus 8 models, still considered extremely dangerous.

K manages to dispatch the replicant he has been hunting, Sapper (Dave Bautista), but finds something unusual on the replicant’s property. A routine job soon turns into a mystery and the deeper K digs, the more he begins to question everything he has ever known. He desperately requires answers, and to uncover them he must seek out a ghost from the past – one who may reveal a truth that will shake the foundations of Earth’s society and the general notions held about replicants.

First things first, Blade Runner 2049 is a beautiful looking film, despite the bleakness of 2049 Los Angeles. Denis Villeneuve and his director of photography, Roger Deakins, chose amazing locations to show the scale of the world. The limited use of colour, as in the original film, show us how segmented this world truly is. This is definitely not the kind of future we want to live in.

The plot is fairly straightforward with a handful of twists and turns thrown in along the way to keep viewers guessing. I would have preferred a slightly more complicated tale rather than just a regular mystery, but I feel that that was never the purpose of this film. Blade Runner 2049 exists solely to add depth to a universe we have all been curious about. The plot was never the point.

In fact, the beauty of Blade Runner 2049 is in its detail. The way the holograms flicker because the machinery doesn’t work, the tune that plays every time K’s emanator activates, much like our phones’ ringtones. Even the setup of Lieutenant Joshi’s (Robin Wright) office, so similar to modern day offices but with advanced technology.

The sets throughout are mind-boggling and spectacular. The office of replicant creator Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) is stunning, as is the hotel we see near the end of the film. This film is something to behold.

Of course, in a film such as this, acting isn’t really the priority, but I still felt like Ryan Gosling was a bit stiff during some of his scenes. Fortunately, he is not required to emote too frequently, and thus, manages to get through the film. However, considering the length of the film, I’m surprised that no other character gets as much screen time as Gosling. Though he fits well within the universe, the film is quite a weight on the shoulders of a man accustomed to Oscar-baiting emotional films. He’s led many a film before and has received several accolades but I have yet to see a performance by him that truly blows me away.

As always, I managed to avoid most of the promotional material for this film but the one thing I couldn’t avoid was that Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard would be a significant presence in the film. I must admit, I was severely disappointed at how small his role turned out to be. I kept expecting him to appear during the first half of the film and his absence definitely curtailed my enjoyment of the film.

But, the main drawback of Blade Runner 2049 was that it was much too long. At 2 hours and 44 minutes, not only is the film long by modern standards, it is much longer than the original film as well. There were far too many scenes that seemed to be placed in the film solely for the director to revel in, with no thought given to pacing or audience enjoyment. It felt like we were watching a self-indulgent director’s cut that had no regard for the importance of editing, which is strange considering that Villeneuve has professed his love for the original theatrical release of Blade Runner.

I can see why the director wanted it this way: the audience get to dwell in the atmosphere of the film and the director has the opportunity to build the world to his satisfaction. The problem with having long scenes with little action to drive the plot is that there are some moments that make one cringe a little and others that seem so superfluous as to detract from the story altogether.

I’m also astonished that a film made in the 21st century can have so little diversity. Most of the main characters are white, even those in the background. There’s a smattering of actors of colour but no one prominent, unless you count Ana De Armas’ Joi, the primary love interest who is essetially a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Had her character not existed in the film, the plot would not have been affected in the slightest. Such a character really has no place in a 2017 film of this calibre – and is counterproductive to the conversation on diversity.

Which brings me to the female characters. There are a fair few, but none of them have any substantial roles. They exist solely to advance K’s story, an incredibly regressive move for this film. Yes, the film shows us how much we change only to stay the same – what with the rather archaic sexism on display and a version of racism, as well. But, the film does not address these issues nor make a comment on the fallacies of such a society; without this, all the film director does is add a superficial upgrade to present society without fixing any of the bugs. I just can’t understand how Hollywood keeps doing this.

I must admit, I found myself feeling a bit underwhelmed as I left the hall, for the above reasons. Having said that, though, Blade Runner 2049 is such an immersive experience that I almost feel bad about being negative. As I said earlier, because of the length of the film, you get to dwell in it, really absorb the details. By the end of it, you feel like you’ve actually been living in 2049 and you can’t help but resist as the credits roll and you feel yourself being dragged back to boring old 2017.

Blade Runner 2049 may not be a perfect film, in fact it has some egregious flaws, but it is the kind of science-fiction most aspire to make – completely immersive and believable. Despite its flaws, Blade Runner 2049 is a film that’s hard to leave behind.

Written by:

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 20.58.57

Louis Skye
@LouisSkye77
bloggingatwarp10.blogspot.com
Freelance Contributor

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Amelia’s Perspective:

2017 has blown by quickly with some massive blockbuster films that have been hit or miss this year, and October kicks the fall season into high gear. In what has already been highly praised as “One of the best films of the year.”, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 follows up the sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner, 30 years after Rick Deckard went on the run. Critics have had to be very conservative with their reviews because the entire plot of Blade Runner 2049 is a spoiler. Ryan Gosling stars as K, a young blade runner who uncovers a long buried secret which leads him on a journey to find the long lost Deckard, with Harrison Ford returning to one of his most iconic roles.

In 2049, there are humans, and there are replicants. Since the events of the original film the replicants, who are artificial human beings, have changed. The original replicants are still banned from earth, but the ones in this movie are legal, and they live among the human race. The film is an investigative one, with K pulling on strings that lead him into different places and to meet people he hasn’t met before. It is not structured like an action sci-fi flick, which some longtime fans were nervous about, but it is structured how you would want a Blade Runner movie to feel like. What Denis Villeneuve achieved with this sequel was what most of his other films do. He inspires future filmmakers by putting together an epic with a well crafted story told in three acts.

Ryan Gosling is absolutely riveting to watch in this movie. As K goes on his journey, he experiences a lot of feelings and conflicting emotions that he hasn’t felt before, and his acting is at the best we’ve ever seen him. Whatever was asked of him and whatever he wanted to bring to the character, he delivered. Harrison Ford’s presence is felt throughout the entire movie even when he isn’t on screen. Deckard is traumatized and horrified by his past and, which is used to the advantage of characters throughout the latter half of the film. His legacy as Deckard brings to life the mysteries of the plot and is the catalyst for what is to come.

The cinematography of this film will knock you out of the park. Roger Deakins’ work in this film brings back the retro aesthetic of the original film, and he’ll encase you in everything you loved about the original. The hustling cities, the rain, the lighting, they’re all back and updated for one of the most fantastic looking movies you will ever see. The score mimics the original in its own way, and once again, it feels retro.

One thing some people were worried about going into the film was that it would end up being some sort of ‘reimagining’ or a ‘reboot’ that brings the energy back to the franchise, and thank the lucky stars it was not whatsoever. It is its own ‘thinking man’s sci-fi’ that can stand alone as its own, and it’s a truly mesmerizing piece of film. Denis Villeneuve has brought a masterpiece to life, and adds one more to the list of his fantastic movies. Film lovers should watch out in the future for anything directed by him, because now we know it is going to be awesome.

Written by:

Amelia Borger
@ameliaborger
Freelance Contributor

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