Thursday, November 9, 2017

Film Review--Blade Runner 2049

starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, and Rutger Hauer as The Beav.

Thirty years have elapsed since the previous film. A new Blade Runner with the LAPD (Gosling) discovers a secret that has managed to stay hidden for many years. This secret could unravel all of society. As he delves into this scandalous discovery, the trail leads him to Deckard (Ford), the former Blade Runner who has been missing all these years.

Here's the trailer:

There was no reason to make this film.

I adore the original Blade Runner. It is one of my all-time favorite films. It is nearly perfect in every way. It is groundbreaking, looking and sounding different from most any other film preceding it. It is full of angst and existential dread, asking heavy, metaphysical questions, not the least of them being the nature of identity and "What is a human?" More than that, it does not spoon-feed you the answers to those questions nor is it obvious at first as to what is going on (e.g. What's with all the origami?) No, the viewer is required to provide a bit of skullsweat in order to truly get anything out of it. There are very human moments that are quite touching and full of valor and compassion. The ending of the film, just like the rest of it, turns convention on its head and defies typical audience expectations. Shake all of that in an urban industrial hellscape, serve, and you have a triumph.

There's not much of any of that in this sequel.

True, there are stunning visuals and an ominous soundtrack. There are a few moments that are moving and there are wonderful ideas, ideas that beg an exploration of memory and equality and human nature. But the original asked all of the same questions and did it better. This sequel adds nothing to the original and does not manage to extend the story in any meaningful way. Plus, in a true sign of the times, this movie hands everything to you, no interpretation required. That is except of course for just what purpose Jared Leto's character serves (full disclosure: I'm not the biggest Leto fan.) It drags on a good hour longer than it needs to and yet it seems to fill that time with...nothing.

That is why I say there was no reason to make this film. As if to add evidence to that assertion, I realize as I write this that several weeks have gone by and I have seldom stopped to think about the film. I remember only a handful of the scenes and I really have no desire to see it again. By way of contrast, the original still fascinates me to this day.

The original Blade Runner feels like a thinking, soulful art house film that somehow managed to emerge and (albeit much later) thrive at the dawn of an age where science fiction turned into shoot 'em up, bang bang confections in space.

This one feels like a pale imitation with a $100 million budget.

Really. They should never have bothered if they couldn't top this scene:

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