Rating: R, Time: 2hr 43min, Director: Dennis Villeneaue, Cast on IMDb
Does the movie live up to the hype?
I think everyone that grew up in the 1980s was looking forward to the remake of Blade Runner and a return of Harrison Ford. Stylistically with the photography and costumes, they knock it out of the park. Story wise I think there are a lot of elements to resurface: the definition of humanity, who is a replicant, will the female replicant lover survive and which one of the villains will die? Story wise its very solid with a lot of small twists and turns that is not ruined in the marketing at all. They show just enough to hook the audience of the sequel, but have enough newness that the movie stands on its own.
Who was the surprise element?
Although done stylistically, the new replicant maker Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto is even creepier than in the original Blade Runner with the Dr. Tyrell. Wallace has a much more sinister power play and ruthlessness that the first one kind of dilly dallies about. Tyrell is more monolithic power holder like a Soviet Minister while Leto is a power broker in a broken world and no sense of his responsibility to humanity vs. making another trillion dollars.
How were the replicants vs. the first film?
One of the really cool extensions in the new film is this 3D hologram "wife" of the Blade Runner played by Ana de Armas. Over time she goes from a generic program as a girlfriend to form real memories and gain mobility, which allows her to step from the dream world into the real world. Finally, to run away with Joe she needs to separate herself from the wall backup unit freeing her, but leading to much greater vulnerability. In some of the final scenes, we see Joe run into the initial advertisement that convinced him to buy a Joi hologram girlfriend, where he is exposed to the generic thoughts she had that he thought were more individual. So we deal with the issue did she become human or remain a sophisticated program?
Was Harrison Ford necessary to the 2nd film?
Going into the film, I expected the director might choose to use Ford as a crutch in the film like in the bad Jason Bourne without Matt Damon, but completely using his image endlessly. Surprisingly, he is only in the 2nd part of the film, so K played by Ryan Gosling really has to stand on his own and make the story in the beginning. I found this really appealing from a story view. You did need Dekard to complete the final part of the film, so this was an effective use of the original Blade Runner, but also a bit reimagined in retirement and hiding as the first film ends.
Was the film too long?
This is a tough one. I think for all the story twists and turns, you need about 2 hr, but I think it might have been possible to chop off about 30 minutes from the film. It felt like a new film stretched to 1970s guidelines of slow plot build. I still like the film, but there are better uses of film that just simple beautiful scenery. Ask Quentin Tarantino on long shots that don't feel long, because the dialogue kicks ass. For comparison, the first film comes under 2 hours, so this is about 45 minutes or 20% longer.
Were there clever references to the last film?
One of the fun elements to see images from the first Blade Runner recycled in this film. We briefly run into the old boss of Dekker with the origami figures, Atari is still huge in 2049, Pan Am is still around and some of the Asian signs are abundant in the film. The nice thing this film does is flesh out how people eat. There are still farms, but also contaminated cities like San Diego or Atlantic City from the last war between 1980s and 2049. They assume that there was some type of nuclear war, which makes sense with the North Korea new Cold War playing off the original 1980s Cold War feel as well.
Have you any art related to Blade Runner?
I think my Architectural Abstraction style really resonates with the future style and complexity of the Blade Runner world. The works usually have tears in the background, which is similar to the endless rain in the Blade Runner films as well as complex layering related to the dense cityscapes of LA in the film. Below is one of my most recent works.
Origami of the Blade Runner - 45 x 67 inches
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