Films that define a genre are the most precious of films, because of this, to have a go at bringing its reputation back up to date is like stepping of hallowed ground. Ridley Scott considers Blade Runner his crowing jewel that had film students everywhere insist it was a masterpiece but it has garnered the labelling of a flawed masterpiece with Roger Ebert arguing if the film is perfect why make so many cuts? Despite this, Blade Runner 2049 has very big shoes to fill given the 1982 Blade Runner inspired a generation of filmmakers and painted the look of many sci-fi films today. In said department, the film does come close but this time, we might be able to scrub away the “flawed” in flawed masterpiece.
Blade Runner 2049 has managed to keep the same visual awe as the original, the technology that surrounds this would is update and progressed given truth to what we see which is a world that is littered with ideas of futuristic technology has evolved and grown, it’s very exciting to witness the possibilities that this world presents yet again. What’s more impressive is that we also get the leave future Los Angeles and travel to other places within this industrial overgrowth world giving it a wider perspective and in doing so sucks the audience into the story even more.
In continuation, the story of Blade Runner 2049 (which will be unspoiled) is far easier to follow that the 1982 film. hardcore fans of Ridley Scott’s baby can argue that this is so the film can achieve a wider following, but it is simply not the case. The simplest narrative devices and the simplest questions are often the most effective, Denis Villeneuve realises this and stick to the question that Blade Runner has always asked, what does it mean to be human, whilst also throwing importance into the question of what it means to belong into the mix.
In terms of performance and characters, Ryan Gosling as Officer K is fantastic. Screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have done a terrific job of making an easily identifiable character who must answer his own question of belonging and to find out about his past. Considering who Gosling’s character is, his performance seems very curious, he always seems to have a curious face in every scene which fits into the fulfilment he must make. Harrison Ford returns as Deckard but isn’t in the film for a long amount of time, which I feel is a good thing, it gives the impression the film doesn’t need to rely on its past achievements. A very surprising performance came from Ana de Armas as Officer K’s hologram love interest Joi. Her character highlights the loneliness of Officer K very cleverly, in one scene her appearance
When I heard that Roger Deakins was the films cinematographer, I already knew that we already had a certificate of quality to the film. The possibilities of presentation that I had in my head were completely blitzed by the presentation I was witnessing. This is one of the most beautifully shot film this year, the intricacy that went into stylising the films shots to the tiniest of details were breathtaking, the most of which were the way Deakins lights a scene. The manipulation of lighting through the ripples of the water is a film-making joy adding finesse and a little hint of je ne sais quoi.
The strength of the narrative means that Blade Runner 2049 can easily be a standalone film. although there are some story continuations from the original, it doesn’t feel like a continuation of that film. Anyone can walk into the film understanding the world being presented without any prior knowledge of the original.
As previously mentioned, Deckard isn’t in the film for much long and quite honestly neither are many of the big names in the film apart from Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas. Jared Leto as Niander Wallace rarely makes an appearance which is a shame because in that short time I found Leto’s performance to be pretty good, but because of this, his overall dominating presence as an antagonist with a god complex is near non-existent, despite his effect on the Blade Runner world scattered around the film.
Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi & Lennie James are all actors who have had incredible performance that have propelled them to the centre of the spotlight but I felt that their characters could have done with something more screen time to showcase their talents, especially in the case of Lennie James. There will be points where is seems that events may lead to one place but doesn’t or at most take to the end of the films run-time of almost three hours to get there.
Nevertheless, Blade Runner 2049 is still a majesty to watch, especially if you’re one who loves visuals. It easy to go into this film with the expectations of it being a masterpiece, however, films don’t become masterpieces instantaneously, they must stand the test of time and who knows, after a decade or so, people may look back and name this on par with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Here and now, we should be glad that the money we spent was well worth it and I’m sure we’ll still be prepared to buy and watch all the different cuts that come once released on Blu-ray (I sure hope so).