Electric Sheep and Dreams - Blade Runner 2049 (REVIEW)
written by Jacob Chimilar
About 9 years ago thanks to some prodding from a friend who said it was one of the best sci fi films of all time I saw the final cut of Blade Runner and I just didn't like it. A few years later, I was told that again by a different person and again I wasn't a fan. I thought it was cheesy to start with the police chief (still think he is too on the nose) and it was a bit too obtuse for my liking. Now years later I can appreciate the film a bit more for its style and world building; I don't think the film's a masterpiece but it's an extremely well crafted film with stunning sets, props, score, cinematography, and costumes. Something that was apparently achieved when the film was postponed but the production team had an entire year to get the world looking the way it did before they started filming. However where it is lacking is in it's story. The plot isn't very engaging, focusing more on the individual characters over the detective story aspect of the film which is fine, it's just too bad they didn't mesh well.
Blade Runner 2049 is a continuation but also something that isn't a slave to the original in the ways that I listed above. . The cinematography is by the incredible Roger Deakins who brings his usual flair for explosive silhouettes and creamy smooth vistas and skin tones. Hans Zimmer comes in to score the film and brings the rumble he is so good at doing and makes seeing it with a good sound system worth it. The IMAX I saw it in was physically rumbling from the extreme bass notes but it falls short of the iconic Vangelis score that I love more than Blade Runner itself. However where this film improves dramatically is in it's storytelling.
This film is much more expansive than the original with our characters hoping around to giant wastelands and beautiful buildings of tech giants that rival that of Tyrell Corp. Ryan Gosling proved himself to be an actor who can say a lot with very little and his character goes through an emotional journey that keeps you thinking and guessing about at what level is something "real," providing lots to think about artificial beings and their place in the world. It's a bold film that tries to provoke thought while encouraging the audience to engage in the mystery of it all; and I'd say it succeeds. His interactions with others are varied and all together interesting as our main protagonist, with each stop providing a new and difficult challenge for our hero to come to grips with and overcome while still propelling the core mystery forward.
Even at over 2 1/2 hours long the film in just about the perfect length. It didn't really ever drag and kept things just interesting enough to sustain my attention. Like I said the score while good doesn't have quite the memorable quality of the original despite using the original synths Vangelis used I believe.
If you like Blade Runner, I'm not 100% sure you'll like this film, at least in its look and feel. It's just different, plain and simple. Beyond that is a story that as complex as a spider web that our hero has to work his way through to a conclusion that is satisfying and thankfully not one interested in setting up a franchise. There is no post credits tease, just a film trying to tell a compelling story and get the audience asking questions and enjoying the characters working out those questions for themselves.
A worthy sequel - like a dream