Movie Review – Blade Runner 2049

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Thoughts and impressions. Spoilers may ensue as I write, and I intend no editing. Readers beware.

Overall impression; wow.

Detailed impression; wow, but…

Slightly more detailed impression; I like the following things, in no particular order. The visuals. The pace. The sound. The music (with some reservations). The characters. OK, so that’s everything except story. Let me try to be more specific.

Visuals- Visuals were grand. This is to be expected in a Blade Runner movie. I couldn’t help comparing it to the Ghost in the Shell movie, which I didn’t review but did not enjoy. Ghost tried to do what BR49 did, successfully. That is to say, implement grand 3D holographic adverts that added to the story. One character was virtual, but seemed real. She seemed to truly love, despite her virtual nature.  Her grand visual revealed her hidden nature, which called into question her humanity, which is kind of the whole story, no?

Character- Since I’m already there. Gosling’s acting was occasionally wooden. Unfortunately, this was in character. He is supposed to be in control of his emotional responses. I kind of wanted to see something more than stoic, with occasional quivering on the edge of breakdown. The baddie (not Roy Baddie, but the arch bad guy) was pretty one dimensional, too. He gave a reason for the pursuit of the mystery. Otherwise, he was pretty boring. The tough guy baddie (kicking ass and taking names bad gal) was convincing as a behind-the-scenes manipulator cum baddass. The Harrison Ford character was convincing. The police chief was typical. Cameos were fun (Edward James Olmos, particularly).

Pace- I felt like this film was hearkening back to an earlier age of film-making, when they took their time. The director lingered. Yes, that’s the word. Villeneuve lingered on facial expressions, grand vistas, giant sets, colors, concepts. I actually think it might have been better as a Netflix series, where they could have lingered even more. There was one scene that was set in an abandoned Las Vegas hotel with holographic dancers and, of course, Elvis. The scene could easily have become simply a strobe-lighted jumble of frantic energy. Instead, it was a very different scene, not without energy, but the energy was  disjointed and confused, and kind of fun. This changed the scene, and the relationship of the characters in the scene, because of the musical and visual punctuation.

Sound- Like the pace, the sound was not what you see in a modern scifi film. There were scenes when you could hear a strong background noise, like humming of great machines, the droning of institutional air circulation, the blowing of wind and rain.

Music- I was hoping to get Vangelis, and I wasn’t disappointed. The director seemed to realize that the score was integral to the original. He steeped himself in the aesthetic, with a small twist. There were definitely more heavy drums in this film compared to the synthesizer score of the original. For the most part, it was successful. But not completely. Perhaps it was because of the length of the movie, but I felt like the music reached a climax, almost frenzied, too many times. The drums were clearly used to raise tension level, but 15 minutes later we had the same drums.

Random Thoughts- The driving motivation for the antagonist didn’t really work for me. Back in the first Blade Runner, you had essentially engineered humans. It was clear that they were “more human than human,” and that meant they were meat and bones. Thirty years later, the new bad guy has still never figured out how to breed replicants, only manufacture them. Sorry, but the science should work the other way around. Start with genetics and biology. Then figuring out mass production of engineered humans should be much much harder.

But the Rachel character from the first movie was supposed to have been the rare exception, able to bear children. She and the Harrison Ford character, Deckard, produced a child. There was even an intimation that Deckard was a replicant, too, only didn’t know it (not at all canon, since the message of the first movie made it clear he was human). And it’s been thirty years. In genetic years that’s like a millennium. I was able to let it go because I wanted to like the movie, but it was still non-sciency.


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