As time ticks on, I become less and less of a fan of Ridley Scott. The older he has become, the more of a whiney piss baby he appears to be. How Scott handled the Neill Blomkamp situation a few years ago was appalling, he didn’t like the fact that someone else came up with a good idea for an Alien film and essentially cock blocked Blomkamp from making an awesome movie. To stop anyone else from stealing his thunder Scott made ‘Alien: Covenant’ which, in all honesty, is a pile of wank. So when news first started to spread that Scott wanted to make a sequel to ‘Blade Runner’ – a film that lives in the category “Back when Ridley Scott made good films” – I was worried.
(Seriously, aside from ‘The Martian’ he hasn’t made a great film since the early 2000’s – or since ‘Thelma and Louise’ in 1991 if you’re not a fan of ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Hannibal’.)
However, there was light at the end of the neon tunnel when news was released that Scott would take a back seat and allow Dennis Villeneuve to direct. Villeneu… Villen… Dennis is one of the most exciting directors working today – as anyone who has seen ‘Arrival’ will agree – so his appointment to the mammoth task of creating a sequel to arguably the best science fiction film of all time allowed me to sleep easier at night.
Like many who belong in the filmic ilk I also find myself a part of, ‘Blade Runner’ appears in my Top 10 list of all time favourite films – I grew up with the 1992 Directors Cut and still to this day can’t bring myself to watch ‘The Final Cut’ – so even with this wonderful director at the helm I was still slightly worried. After the first ten minutes of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ all of my worries had melted away as I was seamlessly transported back into the world created by the original film.
To talk about the plot in any way or to even discuss the synopsis would be to spoil a major part of the film, which I don’t want to do. Not including either of these is also going to make this plea about why you should see this film rather difficult. Outside of me saying “This is by far one of the best, if not THE best, films of the year that perfectly recreates the tone, feel, and characters of the original whilst updating it for the new audience.” I have little idea about what else to write.
Dennis, along with cinematographer Roger Deakins, have managed to make this film feel as if it was created at the same time as the original. Throughout we are once again given the horribly beautiful dystopian vistas that backdropped B/R, whether the characters are flying through the buildings, or visiting the outer reaches of downtown Chicago, this film has the unmistakable feel of the futuristic vision that made the first one so great. I know I’ve said this a lot recently but I urge everyone to see this in IMAX if they can, despite this film being set in the greying dystopia that is increasingly becoming what our future will most likely turn into, the colour pallet of this film is breathtaking. Each frame could be taken and presented in a gallery. If you ever needed an example of a film that can be classed as art, then Blade Runner 2049 is the perfect choice.
This is also not to say that this film is all style and no substance. 2049 manages to update the replicant argument that formed the basis of the original whilst not re-treading any of the points already discussed. It updates the thoughts and the fears, once again managing to be a mirror to the fears that many people have when it comes to the future of artificial intelligence. 2049 also adds an extra layer to the ‘Is Deckard a Replicant?’ argument that has plagued fans ever since the first closing credits of the original. Those of us who thought that their mind had been made will find them once again questioning Deckard’s origins as Harrison Ford once again returns to one of his iconic characters of the last 30 years.
Ford is understandably brilliant, as is everyone else. Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, even Jared Leto give wonderful performances. Aside from Edward James Olmos’ far too brief cameo (So say we all) my favourite character in 2049 is played by Ana de Armas who, whilst being included mainly for exposition sake in certain scenes, creates a heartbreaking character who manages to add yet another layer to the argument of AI, individuality, and mass production.
With all of this I would love to grant this film the status of ‘Masterpiece’ but I just can’t bring myself to do so. Whilst almost every part of this film is near perfect there are certain things that stop it from reaching the highest of heights. Namely a certain fight that occurs in the final act, plus the fact that there are several questions / plot holes that go unanswered. The fight in question felt rather out of place when linked with the rest of the film. Its inclusion was obviously made to draw parallels to Deckard’s fight with replicant Roy Batty in the original, yet it just felt rather ridiculous, especially with Deckard’s involvement (or lack of) in it. I won’t go into the questions as, once again, they tread upon spoiler territory, but they are there, which is such a shame.
That being said, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a breathtakingly wonderful film that manages to live up, and in places even surpass, the original. It might not be a masterpiece, but it is as close as any film will probably ever get.
Watch again? – Yes! I’m itching to get back to the cinema.
Buy on Dvd/Blu Ray – Yes.