Blade Runner 2049 (2017): A Masterfully Executed Sequel To One Of The All-Time Greats (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Blade Runner 2049 is the highly anticipated sequel set 30 years following its predecessor, Blade Runner. The film follows Officer K (Ryan Gosling) as he uncovers a hidden away secret related to the Replicants and that’s all I have to say about that. The film also stars Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis and Jared Leto and is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners.)

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

As someone who adores Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner (final cut), I was obviously ecstatic to learn about the development of this sequel. As more and more information came out as to who will star (“fellow Canadian Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford’s back, that’s cool”), who will work behind-the-scenes/Roger Deakins‘ involvement and the all-to-important question of who will direct (“another fellow Canadian and incredible filmmaker Denis Villeneuve?! Okay now this has my attention”), my intrigue levels shot through the roof and I needed to watch this film immediately. For any fellow original BR fans wondering how this stacks up, 2049 is a remarkably fitting inclusion into the world and I loved virtually every aspect of it. 

The narrative progressed beautifully and I personally had no issues with the pacing as I felt each scene flowed well with one another. The various twists and turns taken definitely kept me intrigued as there were a few moments when I thought I knew where it was headed and.. I was wrong. The film keeps you on your toes and because I was so invested with everything occurring on screen, the run time simply flew by.

“Blade Runner 2049 is the slowest kind of burn you can contain in a movie”

I acknowledge there are going to be many who don’t feel the same way, however that’s simply the beauty of film: shit is all subjective. Blade Runner 2049 is the slowest kind of burn you can contain in a movie and I admire everyone involved who chose to focus more on the slower, investigative-aspect to it rather than molding it to be a bombastic-ridden world with explosions going off every few minutes because certain studio execs believe that’s what the kids want. 

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Thankfully, 2049 Is Not ‘Member Berries’ Incarnate 

For those unfamiliar with the concept of Member Berries, they are basically a type of fruit whose sole purpose is to bring up idealized nostalgic feelings from your past (they also hold some sinister views as well but for the sake of this review, we’ll focus on the former.)

Words cannot describe how happy I am that 2049 is not a 3 hour long epic of an older Rick Deckard (and let’s throw in Gaff too!) searching for a new Blade Running partner or anything whose purpose is to sit back and gobble up the Member Berries from Scott’s classic. Without delving too much into spoiler territory, there are definitely callbacks incorporated into 2049 however it’s not a constant reminder every few minutes of “hey… ‘Member the Coca-Cola ad ooooh I member. ‘Member the snake Zhora had from the first one ooooh I member I loved the snake.” It was such an unbelievably enjoyable sequel because it effectively utilized certain aspects of the first one without becoming another version of the first Blade Runner. It is its own movie.

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Harrison Ford as Deckard and Ryan Gosling as K | Warner Bros.

Ryan Gosling portrays a stoic Officer K wonderfully. He portrays an emotionally detached being brilliantly yet as the film progresses, when there are hints of humanity peering out of him or when he must utilize the subtle components of his acting, he manages to execute them effectively. Harrison Ford actually looked like he wanted to be there which was nice. K’s interactions with Robin Wright‘s Lt. Joshi were incredibly entertaining to watch, you could tell whatever you needed to know about their professional relationship simply by paying attention to their glances. 

The one gripe I have is with the antagonistic element of the film. I always strive to set aside preconceived feelings I have about any previous installments of a franchise but hey, I’m only human. While I obviously didn’t expect anything on the level of Rutger Hauer’s phenomenal portrayal of Roy Batty or the complexities surround Eldon Tyrell’s beliefs, I felt that Jared Leto‘s Niander Wallace ultimately fell kind of flat. While I understood his motivations, there wasn’t anything particularly compelling about him and I felt more annoyed when he appeared on screen than anything else. I also really did not like Leto’s take on him, the… slow…. talking in hopes of… seeming menacing… definitely added to the annoyance I felt with him. I did enjoy Sylvia Hoesks’ portrayal of the Replicant With A Name and loved watching her interactions with various characters.

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The one line he had that I loved | Warner Bros.

How Were The Other Aspects Of Blade Runner 2049?

Alright the rest of this review is gushing about the eyegasmic components of everything 🙂

With how divisive Blade Runner is, one thing that is universally agreed upon is that it looks absolutely phenomenal… If it was somehow possible to heighten the appreciation for the aesthetics of the BR universe, Blade Runner 2049 accomplishes it. It truly can’t go unsaid just how incredible every single frame looked, the focus on even the most minute of details is thought of and it is simply marveling to look at. It’s worth checking out for the appreciation of Roger Deakins’ cinematography itself. Deakins is essentially the Amy Adams of the Academy Award Cinematography World only instead of five nominations the Arrival actress has under her belt, the man boasts an impressive 13 nominations for his work and hasn’t won one. 

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Known for being the Master of Naturalism, Villeneuve apparently stressed a vital component needed from him and it’s an understatement to say he delivered:

“Right from the get-go, Denis said, ‘I want it cold, wet, and snowing. I want it to really feel atrocious.'”

The film also has an interesting use of effects particularly one involving SPOILERS laying a computer generated effect on a live being END SPOILERS. I didn’t agree with the specific use of CGI during one instance, I thought it would’ve been much more effective had we never seen it and probably added way more money to the budget when it could’ve been avoided. 

The score certainly had some fantastic moments with some subtle hints of the work done by the great Vangelis from the original. Of course it wasn’t on the level of the Vangelis score, however there is no way I will hold that against them since his BR score is simply untouchable. I just wanted to express my love for that original score and how great this new one manages to pay homage yet also create something unique to 2049.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re a fan of the original Blade Runner or if you’re interested in slow burning, amazingly gorgeous sci-fi flick, check out Blade Runner 2049.

Blade Runner 2049 receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.


featured image credit: warner bros.

Were you a fan of Blade Runner 2049? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Nostalgia’d Review: Blade Runner (1982)

In honour of this week’s release of the highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049, we take a look back at crying in the rain with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner!

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Tyrell: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long… And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.”

Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric SheepRidley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in the near dystopian future of 2019 where ex-Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is reluctantly tasked with hunting down a fugitive group of bio-engineered androids called Replicants, led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who strives to increase their expected lifespan. Deckard meets and falls for advanced Replicant Rachael (Sean Young) and we’re ultimately left pondering the question, “what does it mean to be human?” The film also stars Darryl Hannah and Brion James as the Replicants who work with Batty in order to secure more life and is directed by one of my favorite directors of all time, Ridley Scott (Alien, Thelma & Louise, Matchstick Men). 

“I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe”: Let’s Discuss Roy Batty’s Exemplary Monologue 

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

… Time to die.”

The cat-and-mouse chase between Batty and Deckard toward the end of Blade Runner is a strange sequence featuring a powerful Replicant wearing bike shorts seemingly toying with a broken-fingered ex-Blade Runner who has spent virtually every other scene downing whatever form of alcohol was around that he could find.

Their struggle comes to a startling halt when Batty saves Deckard from his imminent death and proceeds to recite one of the greatest speeches to ever appear in any entertainment medium, his “Tears In Rain” monologue:

“It’s with the frailty of existence that ultimately makes it worth experiencing.”

It’s a short monologue, lasting only a few sentences. These few sentences stimulate the discussion of what the end of a life means – whether all the emotions felt and experiences endured throughout our lives have any kind of meaning to them since they essentially perish in the end. As Sidney Perkowitz’s Hollywood Science describes, these sentences highlight “the replicant’s humanlike characteristics mixed with its artificial capabilities.” This moment is not only the death of the Replicant, it’s the death of any new moments he could potentially experience… And so, what separates the human from the Replicant in this case? When humans cease to exist, there are no longer any new moments to experience. The amalgamation of all these moments are left behind when one’s inevitable incept date approaches. In my view, it’s with the frailty of existence that ultimately makes it worth experiencing.

In choosing to share these particular moments with Deckard, Batty understands that his mortality is near and there is no possible way to extend the existence he was given. Spending his fleeting moments with Deckard, saving him from falling, is what he wanted to spend his final moments doing. Hauer stated in an interview with Dan Jolin that these final lines showed that Batty wanted to:

“[Make] his mark on existence … [The] replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.” 

When I first watched Blade Runner and this scene came up, tears streamed down my face while I sat in my dry environment. The fleetingness of life, how it can be taken away in an instant and everything you’ve experienced from childhood to the end will all wither away… Like tears… in rain… damn.

Let me take a moment to gush about the aesthetics of this scene because surely there can never be enough jerking going on about the disgustingly gorgeous visuals seen in Blade Runner. The blood strewn across Batty’s face, Hauer’s mesmerizing performance, a beaten up Deckard reflecting on Batty’s words, the pounding of the rain becoming a character itself during the scene, the blue hue featured heavily and the score… that Vangelis score manages to heighten all the emotions felt in an already perfect scene.

For those lucky enough to have never seen the theatrical version, Frank Darabont’s feelings on the clunky voice over added over this scene accurately describes my thoughts on the matter… Hey, speaking of the theatrical version!

Theatrical? International? Final?! The Multiple Versions Of Blade Runner

Answer: The Final Cut (2007)

There have been eight total recut/re-edited versions of Blade Runner throughout the years because nobody had any idea what the fuck was going on. Seven of them include the Workprint prototype version (1982), San Diego Sneak Preview version (1982), US theatrical release (1982), International theatrical release (1982), US broadcast version (1986), The Director’s Cut (1992) and The Final Cut (2007). Director Scott once showed a nearly four-hour-long “early cut” that was shown only to studio personnel so they were certainly a lucky bunch.

The five versions everyone refers to are also included in the 2007 Ultimate Collector’s Edition of the film and these are:

  • Workprint.
  • U.S. Theatrical Cut.
  • International Cut.
  • Director’s Cut.
  • Final Cut.

… And the three most commonly debated ones are the U.S. Theatrical ReleaseDirector’s Cut and Final Cut

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Spaceballs | MGM

While the theatrical version isn’t the worst thing in the world, the inclusion of the drab, over-expository voice over kind of takes me out of the film. I love VO, when it’s executed efficiently. Taking inspiration from other noir classics like Double Indemnity, whose protagonist (Fred MacMurray) is quite literally explaining the events of the murder to Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), provides vital insight into what was occurring in his mind at that moment (“Walk Of A Deadman”) as well as the required exposition for the audience. The VO in the theatrical Blade Runner just explains what you’re literally watching on screen, providing no insight into Deckard except maybe that his ex thought of him as “sushi… cold fish.”

… Not to mention the not so great “happy ending” sequence you’re probably familiar with. With certain shots taken directly from the cutting room floor of Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining: 

I, like many others, live and die by the Final Cut version of the film and so does Scott, as it is the cut he had complete artistic control over and was the closest to his original vision for the film before all of the butchering perpetrated by the studio execs and confused individuals. Ironically, he had full creative control on the Final Cut and not the Director’s Cut which is just silly when you think about it.

So if you’d like to check out a version of the film prior to 2049, The Final Cut is the way to go. Afterwards, watch the theatrical version and enjoy the riveting experience you can only feel by watching Blade Runner

You may feel confused at times, you may feel conflicted and angry with certain decisions made by Deckard, you may question beliefs about artificial intelligence and what it means to be human, you may remain in a drunk haze of awe for every frame, however there is no doubt that you will feel. Whether you love every single aspect of it or despise it with a brutal passion, this influential tour de force of a picture is a must watch for any film fan. 

Blade Runner receives my favourite Matt Damon gif of all time.

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71st Golden Globe Awards | NBC

Click Here For More Nostalgia’d Reviews!

featured image credit: warner bros.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Rick Deckard: You’re a cop. I had your job once. I was good at.
K: I know.
Deckard: What do you want?
K: I want to ask you some questions.

Starring: Ryan Gosling as K, Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, Ana de Armas as Joi and Jared Leto as Neander Wallace, dir. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival).

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Cinematographer: Roger “You Gon’ Come At The King, You Best Not Miss” Deakins
cinemagraph source: orbo

Click Here For My Review Of Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner (1982)

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Batty: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

Starring: Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, Sean Young as Rachael, Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty and Daryl Hannah as Pris, dir. Ridley Scott (The Martian, Matchstick Men, Thelma & Louise)

cinemagraph source: iwdrm
‘Blade Runner’ distribution: The Ladd Company
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Cinematographer: Jordan Cronenweth (Peggy Sue Got Married, Altered States)

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