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

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
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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.

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featured image credit: warner bros.

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

Arrival (2016) Movie Review

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Based on the Ted Chiang short story “Story Of Your Life”, Arrival tells the story of twelve mysterious alien “Shells” landing across the Earth, with linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leading a team of elite U.S. military investigators to understand why they are here. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) and also stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

The film places emphasis on Adams’ character and how she attempts to understand these extraterrestrial beings. Adams owns the role entirely, she had chemistry with virtually everyone. Her character arc is one of my favourite aspects to the film because it is explored immensely and as each scene progresses, you want to learn more about this woman and the way her mind works. The revelations she makes throughout the film are brought on logically and although there are certain instances where the jargon used would be exclusive to those groups, the film works it in in a way that doesn’t fly past one’s realm of comprehension.

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Forest Whitaker’s character works as a somewhat surrogate for the audience by asking the pertinent questions to move the story along and his insistence to move things along in order to appease the higher ups, I thought stayed incredibly true to a person in his position. Jeremy Renner was arguably the weakest part of the film. I really felt no connection to him and his comic reliefness plus the few quips he said here and there made me roll my eyes.

The secondary characters were all serviceable but there was one moment with a couple characters I just couldn’t believe occurred… I don’t wish to get spoilery with this review so I will just say, a major event unfolds that I wish was explored a bit more following it and/or some type of consequence for such a decision made.

The unfolding of events is one of my favourite aspects of the film. Every bit of progress made to communicate with these beings had me on the edge of my seat because I wanted to know what the hell they were trying to say! The final act does feature some quick conclusive moments because it felt like they needed to wrap everything up in a more rushed way than the first two acts were, however I was ultimately intrigued to the very end and forgive that wrap up since the overall picture was immensely enjoyable.

Every moment they were in the Shell dripped of suspense, I could feel my neck tense up during certain instances. This film is best to watch in a theatre because it is an immersive experience. (My Humble Opinion Alert) You really won’t feel the same awe and wonderment of it watching it on your couch on Netflix scrolling through reddit on your phone.

How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘Arrival’?

This movie is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. Denis Villeneuve is a fucking mastermind behind the camera, as indicated by his entire filmography thus far, Prisoners being my personal favourite. If I had a dollar for every time I thought “wow… That is a gorgeous shot” or “wait, how did he film this?” I’d have like, a lot of money.

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The direction by Villeneuve is easily my favourite aspect of the film. There really are no issues with the directing as I found it essentially flawless. It is a slow-burning piece with an emphasis on its characters rather than the bombastic action-alien-killing-spree similar sci-fi films have, and with his direction & the focus on deliberately slow yet intriguing sequences shot really work to grip the audience.

The music is composed by Villeneuve regular Jóhann Jóhannsson, who also composed the aforementioned Prisoners and Sicario plus the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, and the score is incredible in Arrival. It is so atmospheric and the sounds coming off the screen is simply brilliant. Max Richter, the composer for the ridiculously spectacular HBO series The Leftovers, also has a contribution to the soundtrack with “On The Nature Of Daylight“, that man can genuinely do no wrong in my eyes.

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If you’re looking for a gorgeous-looking, slow burn of a sci-fi picture, check out Arrival.

Hungry For More Reviews? Check Out The Following:

Arrival receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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sources used: [1], [2]

What Is Your Favourite Film Directed By Denis Villeneuve?