When I first heard they were doing a new Blade Runner I rolled my eyes. When I heard Harrison Ford was in it I audibly groaned with ‘not again’. Cinema in recent years has gotten scared of doing new things, instead, it seems to have obsessed with dragging past their prime actors back into roles they should have left alone resulting in a character being cheapened. I don’t think I was foolish to assume this would be the fate of Blade Runner 2049. A quick cash grab where they would flash around an old name to bring in the cult of followers the original had and hope to bring in some new viewers off the back of some flashy trailers and a promise of an action-packed Fast and Furious in Sci-Fi Future Land.
I was wrong.
I should state before I go any further, I am not a fan of the original Blade Runner. I don’t think it’s a bad movie, but I do feel it was made before my time, and it’s pacing and presentation, although amazing for the time, has suffered over the decades. I’ve watched the Final Cut 3 times in as many decades and each time it has bored me silly. Why did I go see this new movie then? I clearly had a negative view of the original and an even more negative opinion of how the new one would be handled. In truth, I was offered a free ticket by a friend who wanted to see it and I can’t say no to a free movie!
I’m glad that friend dragged me to see it. I had heard that it was amazing, the best sequel in decades, better than the original but I’d heard similar things about movies in the past, and once the dust settled each time, the people who’d sung the movies praises would take off their rose tinted glasses and start to admit…maybe the movie was flawed…not the best thing ever…and even kinda crap. I was expecting that to happen this time.
So, that’s enough of me babbling about my own head going into this movie! What did I truly think?
This movie is a flawed masterpiece.
The cinematography was nothing short of beautiful, I could go through a copy of this movie and make a thousand wallpapers I’d happily have on my computer for the rest of my life. The colour pallets used through the film actually captured the sense of being in a different place more so than the sets did, not to put down the sets at all, which did an outstanding job of selling me on this being the same world from Blade Runner, but 30 years later where technology has slowly moved forward, but society has crumbled even further.
Then there’s the acting. Across the board this is top notch with some amazing performances and good chemistry especially between Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas, which is impressive considering that, by his nature, Ryan’s character “K” is very unemotional, being a replicant.
The world building was done nicely too, with people referencing major events in an organic way where it felt less like exposition and more like how we may refer to something like 9/11 or World War II. Visually we’re told a lot too, and this is something the movie revels in, ‘show don’t tell’. A number of scenes play out with large amounts of silence but it never feels awkward, unless that seems to be the director’s intention.
And what about the story? Well, I could happily babble for a while about it, how it made me feel, how it tricked me or shocked me, but in truth, I feel this is a story better experienced blind.
I’m clearly not a reviewer. It isn’t often a movie has an impact on me enough that I feel the need to type out a review of it, so I’m gonna just sum up my feelings and wrap this up;
Blade Runner 2049 is an outstanding piece of cinema. It suffers from some weird issues like a big bad guy who feels mostly pointless in place of a more interesting and fleshed out smaller villain. Harrison Ford is a minor part of a bigger movie but the advertising really doesn’t want you to know that, and the plot felt like it was written with ‘and then we make the next one’ in mind at all times which shows towards the end with how many loose threads were left. None of these issues weaken the amazing experience of this movie though and I’d say if you can watch it in a cinema, the amazing soundtrack demands you do!
Is it a movie I can recommend to everyone? God no. This movie will kick you in the heart and then stamp on your soul. You will feel bleak by the end of it just like any GOOD dystopian future movie should make you feel. You’ll find yourself confused at times, not due to the movie being poorly written, but because it doesn’t explain everything, respecting you enough to figure it out yourself. It’s long, and it has no issue with making you know it’s long with some very slow pacing at times (this resulted in some kids leaving the movie halfway through when I watched it). This film knows you are a grown up and expects you to act like one and be treated like one. I loved it for all these reasons but can respect how this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for a fun sci-fi romp, St Wars VIII is out in a few months, wait for that, but to anyone else, you owe it to yourself to experience this movie.
Now I’m gonna go listen to the soundtrack and sob a little…