Subject: Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
BLADE RUNNER 2049
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: After 35 years the classic science fiction film
BLADE RUNNER gets a sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve
and based on a screenplay by Hampton Fancher among others.
The story concerns a search for the author of the false
memories implanted in replicants. The film is a long
163 minutes starting at a contemplative (not to say
"snail's") pace, yet is a little overstuffed with action
later in the second half. It is richer in ideas than is
the original film, though it lacks the iconic visuals of
that first film did so well. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4)
[Full disclosure: I am not a big fan of the original BLADE RUNNER.
I see it as mostly an action film with a lot of unpleasant visual
imagery. I think it is given credit for more intelligence than
actually gets to the screen.]
When one thinks of THE GODFATHER one thinks of THE GODFATHER_II
which completes the story and compliments the film. BLADE RUNNER
2049 is not a sequel in the GODFATHER-GODFATHER_II sense but more
in the WESTWORLD-FUTUREWORLD sense. Dennis Gassner as production
designer really creates the look and feel of the world of the film.
But he creates a different world than that of the original film.
The new "Blade Runner" world uses its own color palette. While the
first film had a gloriously detailed setting with a lot to please
and intrigue the eye, Villeneuve saves a lot of effort by hiding
minute details behind smog, smoke, or mist. This may imply that
the environment has deteriorated in the years between the two
stories. Some of the models that did stick out of the fog looked
to be exactly what they were, models. One odd touch in a world
where most animals are extinct (and why is this not killing the
humans off?) the lead blade runner uses Peter and the Wolf as an
alarm tone that advocates killing or confining an animal that is
One stylistic touch of the original BLADE RUNNER was its images of
the neon-drenched streets of Los Angeles. There are one or two
tracking shots on the street in the sequel, but much of the
richness of detail is lost with much less of the street culture
appearing in the new Blade runner world.
In the original film the Vangelis score helped to create an
auditory image of the future world. Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans
Zimmer's score is sound devoid of melody projecting a feeling only
of unease and discomfort.
The film stars Ryan Gosling, reasonably fresh from his success in
LA LA LAND playing the character whose name may or may not be Joe.
In James Bond fashion he is referred to by the letter K. (Or
perhaps it is a reference to Kafka?) In the latter part of the
film K gets to know the Deckard of the original story. Also
returning is Rachael, played by Sean Young as wooden as she was in
the first film. Director Denis Villeneuve who last year navigated
around the mysterious and enigmatic, directing THE ARRIVAL does it
again directing BLADE RUNNER 2049. Other familiar faces include
Robin Wright, Jared Leto, and, of course, Harrison Ford. Much like
the first "Blade Runner" film, I can respect BLADE RUNNER 2049 more
than I like it. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.
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Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper