Hey, it’’s October, where’s Horror Month? Doesn’t it start now? And yes, imaginary person in my head who is asking this question. Horror Month starts right after this review. It kind of interferes with my plans, but a film this good couldn’t be passed over, even with my strict only horror movies for a month rule. So next week Horror Month starts. I’’ll be spotlighting 4 horror films. What those films will be I have no clue.
In my last review I talked about how a sequel never lives up to the first. Nowadays they seem like throw away cash ins trying to bank on the name recognition. Blade Runner 2049 however is the exception. Not only is it just a great film, it also finds a way to surpass its predecessor.
Blade Runner 2049 is a cinematic masterpiece, yes, I’’m back using that word again “masterpiece”. But here it isn’t’ just conjecture. This film is a marvel of brilliance that you might never see again on the big screen. I don’’t feel like I’’m overhyping this, every inch of this film is brilliant and masterful. I can tell you right now this film gets a SEE IT rating. A film like this NEEDS to be seen at the theater. That means no excuses like you’’ll catch it later on HBO or rent it at a Redbox. If you actually call yourself a movie fan, or aspiring filmmaking or even a sci-fi buff, stop making excuses for yourself and see this at the theater. Yes, maybe it might be a bit of a commitment to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes of your day at a theater seeing a movie, but for a film like this, you make the time.
As perfect as I think this film might be, the problem is it’’s a sequel to a film with a heartbreaking amount of flaws. The original Blade Runner film, I don’’t care which of the seven different cuts of the film you watch, none of them are perfect.
The theatrical cut had the piss poor voice over by Harrison Ford. He didn’’t want to do it, but the studio made him, thinking they wouldn’t use it if he half-assed it. The joke however was on him and they added it anyway.
You can almost look past the shitty narration, seeing as this is a noir detective story and the only time voice over is really justified is if it’’s a noir detective story.
The other issue with the original film was how thin the plot was. When people think about Blade Runner, they think about the visuals, and rightly so. Especially in the final cut version where the cleaned up visuals really pop out at you. The story however, still as thin as ever. But now with the added bonus of stock footage left over from Legend. Ridley Scott had some unused footage of a unicorn, there’’s a unicorn origami in the film, let’’s add that! Now giving the film this implication that Deckard is a replicant. Which he isn’’t. He was never meant to be one but Scott got it in his head afterwards that he was, even though it makes no goddamn sense.
I was dreading how the sequel would address this issue, and basically in a throwaway line while Deckard is being interrogated they give a scenario where maybe it would work. That is if you don’’t think about it too hard.
Where do I even start with Blade Runner 2049?
I guess let’’s start with the music. I know, strange thing to start off with, but the music in this is fantastic. Just hand Hans Zimmer the Oscar now. The bass at my showing must have been turned up a bit too loud because when those synth bass drops hit, you could feel it in your chest. It was like getting punched each time one of Hans Zimmer’s songs came on. I loved the soundtrack so much I’’m actually listening to it right now as a write this review. The last soundtrack for a film I got was either for Scott Pilgrim or Drive, that’’s how long it has been since I’’ve bothered with a movie soundtrack.
Each song has this droning synthetic wailing, it fits this dystopian world the film has set up perfectly. And oh boy has this world in the Blade Runner universe really turned to shit. The US seems to be ravaged by poverty and war, in some cases chemical and nuclear. Some of the best moments in the film are just aerial shots over the remnants of cities.
In the original we were stuck mostly in LA, but in 2049, we are given the chance to fly around the whole west coast. I wasn’’t sure but I think the city we find Deckard in was Las Vegas, but has since been abandoned after a dirty bomb made the city unlivable.
I kept wondering why you don’’t see many flying cars zipping around over LA, and then it hit me. Oh yeah, because everyone is poor as shit. The only people with vehicles seem to be law enforcement or employees of the Tyrell Corporation.
The year now is 2049, replicants are no longer illegal. They’’re heavily micromanaged, even brought in as law enforcement. That brings us to K, played by Ryan Gosling. There’’s no mystery at all if he is a replicant or not like with Deckard, he is one. He’’s a replicant and a Blade Runner. New model replicants are legal but the older Nexus models are still out there, needing to be “retired”. Which kind of confuses me. I thought the older Nexus models had a lifespan of 4 years, right? Originally I thought they had 4 years to live then a Blade Runner would have to “retire” them. But that made no sense, seeing as the replicants from the first film’’s whole goal was to find a way to live longer. But in 2049 we run into the replicant Sapper who has been around for at least 30 years.
So here is something this film does that the Matrix sequels did. To get the full story before going into Reloaded, there was the Matrix videogame, the short CGI film and the Animatrix. To get exactly what was going on, you needed to watch the shorts and play the game.
Kind of the same story with Blade Runner 2049. There are three short films that really stand as background for events either talked about in the film or set up by the film. I highly recommend watching them before seeing the movie as you might get lost whenever someone mentions “”the black out””. A while back, a few replicant rebels took out a center that held everyone’’s information, including the names and identities of older model replicants. The event is mentioned several times in the film and without the knowledge from the anime short film, you’’d be a bit lost with what exactly it is they are talking about.
The other short Nowhere to Run, acts as a prequel to the film, it helps set up how Bautista’’s character got on the Blade Runner’’s radar. A little bit unnecessary, but helps to have that gap filled in. Same goes for the other short Nexus Dawn where Jared Leto’’s character convinces the board to legalize his version of replicants.
What I liked about the shorts was that they didn’’t feel like cut scenes from the film like with Alien Covenant. Knowing Ridley Scott that’’s exactly what those Prologue shorts most likely were, just cut scenes. He’’s infamous for cutting for time, story or plotting be damned. Just one of many reasons why Prometheus was such a hot mess.
K is sent to retire Bautista’’s character Sapper. The one I mentioned before that’’s been around for 30 years. Sapper lives an isolated life out in the middle of nowhere farming mealworms or something gross and worm shaped.
Once K retires Sapper, he notices something. A dead tree. Something is buried there. Come to find out it’s’ the bones of Rachael from the first film, played by Sean Young.
What ever happened to her by the way, didn’’t she go crazy or something?
Anyway, after examining the remains of the body, they discover not only was she an older model replicant but one that was pregnant. A replicant that can reproduce? We can’’t have something like that out in the world. So K’’s mission is to track down this child and kill them. Though this was like 30 years ago, the child isn’’t a child anymore.
What I really liked about the story here is that it is an actual detective story. K does actual detective work, unlike Deckard.
K is also in a relationship with an AI hologram. Still a more convincing romance than what Harrison Ford had with Sean Young in the first film. I guess them hating each other in real life didn’’t help matters either.
What I also really loved about K’’s relationship and just K himself is how introverted he is, so much so in fact that he is only able to make an intimate connection with a computer AI.
It’’s not like the ladies aren’t interested, his boss, played by Frank Underwood’’s wife Robin Wright has the hots for him, and sort of kind of the Tyrell Corp replicant assistant to Jared Leto’’s character. But K only has eyes for Joi, his stay at home AI hologram.
Obviously the first step in finding this missing half human half replicant hybrid is to visit the company that helped to make it in the first place. The Tyrell Company. After Tyrell himself got murdered by his own creation in the first film, the company went bankrupt, allowing Wallace, Jared Leto’’s character, to step in and acquire the company.
And wow is Wallace a weirdo. I might have to see the film again to fully understand his goal. I know he wants this replicant human hybrid but I don’’t know the reasons why. I think because making them the old fashioned way takes too long. We do get to finally see the process of how a replicant is made. They kind of plop out of a ziplock bag covered in marinade like a chicken breast.
If they are all made like that, it seems very time consuming. But then again, wouldn’’t breeding them be even more inefficient?
When K goes to visit Tyrell to run Rachel’’s ID, he sets off an alert to Luv, Wallace’’s assistant. She might have ulterior motive in helping K with his investigation, but regardless she does lead him to start looking into Deckard. But no one has seen him in like 30 plus years. That’’s another thing I didn’’t care much for with the first film, how it just ends. In the theatrical cut I think it’’s a shot of them driving away. In the final cut it just abruptly ends.
Thankfully 2049 has a much more enjoyable ending. Which I will not go into. Just that it still has some unanswered plot threads still lingering in the background, but ends in a way that you leave feeling satisfied. Maybe even hopeful for another sequel. Maybe just don’’t wait 30 years to do it, guys.
As the investigation goes along, K starts to suspect just maybe he’’s special, maybe he’’s the hybrid he has been looking for all along. He has memories from a childhood that can’’t possibly exist since he never had a childhood. He was never a kid. These memories can’’t be real, right? Except while on the investigation, he discovers proof that the memories are real. So maybe that means he is too. Aside from the visuals, this film also has a really intriguing story, that I found myself completely enthralled with. I wanted to know the outcome no matter what. This movie has twists, ones I won’’t be spoiling.
This film is atmospheric and moody, sure it’’s 2 hours and 45 minutes, but for me it really didn’’t feel it. The last film I watched with that runtime was that godawful Transformers The Last Knight movie and believe me, I felt every minute of it.
I was with my parents the other day because my brother had a birthday and they asked if I saw Blade Runner 2049 yet and if I liked it, was it exciting. And how do you respond to that? No, the film isn’’t exciting. It’’s like I mentioned before, it’’s atmospherically moody and methodical. It does have moments of action in it, it isn’’t all shots of Ryan Gosling walking around an old casino, shit does go boom and guns do go blam. But it isn’’t Transformers. It isn’’t even Ghost in the Shell. This isn’’t really a kind of sci-fi film teens nowadays have ever seen. And that might explain why the film isn’’t doing well at the box-office. But then again, either did the first film. You don’’t make a sequel 30 years later to a movie that bombed at the box-office thinking this is going to be a giant money maker. You should know what you’’re getting into. I think it was Aaron Spelling who once said, I could produce something that would win me awards or win me ratings, but I can’’t do both.
Unfortunately, this might also lead to less sci-fi films like this and more hot garbage like the last Transformers movie. In so many ways I can’’t help but compare this film to Fury Road, a movie that never made the #1 spot because of fucking Pitch Perfect 2. Fury Road, a masterpiece in filmmaking that didn’’t do well at the box-office but raked in 6 Oscar wins and even more nominations. I expect Blade Runner 2049 to mirror that success and then some.
So stop reading this already and go out and see what will most likely be the most awarded film of the year. It gets a giant SEE IT.
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