Blade Runner 2049

February 10, 2018

So I just saw Blade Runner 2049 and it was phenomenal. For those of you not aware, Denis Villeneuve is proving himself to be one of the more talented directors working today. He’s somehow released one film every year for the past five years and they’ve all been great. Now, I’ve been excited for this film for a long time because of the director and also because of the cinematographer, Roger Deakins. To prepare for watching this film I revisited the original Blade Runner from 1982 which is something I haven’t seen since I was probably 16 years old and I couldn’t even tell you which version I watched.

So yesterday I watched the Final Cut version which is supposedly the best one. As for the original film, its best selling point is the production design. The overall look and style of the film was not only unique for its time but incredibly influential. It’s one of those films that wound up heavily inspiring so many others down the line. There are a lot of futuristic science-fiction movies that are incredibly goofy in their predictions, but the original Blade Runner feels so incredibly realistic. I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna have flying cars in two years or anything. But it’s futuristic dystopian universe somehow feels pretty grounded. Either way, it’s a fun and interesting universe for a film to take place in and I’m really glad that Denis Villeneuve was given the opportunity to expand on it. And in my opinion, this newest film is in almost every way a huge improvement. Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that is completely faithful to the original and somehow brings a lot more to the table.

Which is refreshing after seeing so many like Episode Seven, Finding Dory and Jurassic World. Films that copy and paste the exact same plot and do nothing but reference the original in kind of a, “Hey, remember we made this?” way. Not saying I didn’t enjoy Episode Seven, but I’m just being honest about what it is. Instead, Blade Runner 2049 marks itself as one of the best sequels ever made. Although there were references to the original Blade Runner, it was almost always in the interest of adding to the story in a necessary way. It is very much a continuation of the events in the first film. Not a reset button that happens to take place years later. The opening scene and the climax of the film have very similar feels to the original, but the entire plot and experience of the film is very much its own thing.

The original Blade Runner created a fascinating universe, but left so much unexplored and whereas some filmmakers might see that as an excuse to not leave any stone unturned. Instead, Blade Runner 2049 uses this as an excuse to explore entirely new concepts, characters and themes within the same story. It feels like Blade Runner and yet it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s a film that feels as though it somehow doesn’t belong in this decade or the 1980s at the same time. It’s an anomaly of an entrancing universe and masterful filmmaking. Now, as I mentioned I consider the original Blade Runner’s biggest selling point to be its production design. And for those of you who are curious, I’d give the original film an 8 out of 10 overall. And although the production design for this film is likely better than anything you’ll see all year, the biggest selling point for Blade Runner 2049 is the cinematography combined with visual effects. This is such an incredibly visceral experience to the senses, almost every single frame of this entire film could be used as a beautiful desktop background. There is such a huge colorful variety of different settings and locations in this film.

And the way that each of those is presented visually is just so breathtaking. When you have a science-fiction universe at your disposal you have so much creative freedom to decide where things will take place and how. And it’s clear that they put a lot of effort into this, because there are so many incredibly ambitious scene concepts. Ambitious because they don’t work unless they’re pulled off flawlessly. And somehow they manage to do just that.

This film adds so much in a way that it’s legitimately improving upon the original. The original film setting and lighting often felt repetitive and claustrophobic. But this new film has a healthy variety that still feels as though it’s legitimately in the same universe and doesn’t feel like it’s overkill. The original Blade Runner’s story and pacing often feels slow and stagnant. And what’s crazy about this newest film is that it is infinitely more interesting and entertaining and yet somehow didn’t sacrifice the pacing of the original. It is in no way an action-packed, ADHD bastardization, but there is so much to soak in about the story concepts and the visuals especially, that time just flies by. I’ve seen this movie in theaters twice now and the second time I saw it it felt like an hour had passed.

It’s a two hour and forty three minute long film which I was not expecting after watching the final cut of the original and it being under two hours. But nothing in the film ever felt boring or unnecessary. Each scene had a purpose in the film and there was always impressive filmmaking behind it. All of the performances were fantastic. Ryan Gosling was amazing as usual. Robin Wright was awesome. This is also a very redeeming performance for Jared Leto especially after Suicide Squad. The character he plays in this film feels like the actual character and not just Jared Leto. And this is Harrison Ford’s best performance that I can remember.

Which says a lot considering how “Eh” his Star Wars Episode Seven performance was. Denis Villeneuve is a man who clearly cares about the universe the original film created. And I hope that Hollywood decides to give him more projects like this because these are often left in the wrong hands. Apparently, he’s interested in making his own version of Dune. So tell your friends to check out Blade Runner 2049 in theaters.

But otherwise this film is essentially a masterpiece. And this incredibly ambitious storytelling and filmmaking will be remembered in years to come. And I’m giving this one a 9, but might change it to a 10 later, I don’t know out of 10.

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