For many (probably younger) cinema-goers, Blade Runner 2049 (or Bladder Runner 2049, as we attempted to get it renamed a few months ago – the bitter taste of failure) is just another big blockbuster movie in the build up to that Star Wars thing in December. For many others, though, it’s the much anticipated, not-entirely-sure-if-it-should-have-been-made sequel to the legendary Blade Runner. No pressure there, then.
The first is an established masterpiece from Ridley Scott. Released in 1982, it was adapted from sci-fi genius novelist Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and has become rather revered over the years – if you’re going to watch it, pick up the Final Cut edition from 2007. It’s recommended before taking on the weighty sequel, too, as here we go, it’s another review.
Blade Runner 2049
Normally we don’t bother with movie reviews. We’ve done a few recently, such as classics and bad classics like Samurai Cop (you’re not going to find another Blade Runner 2049 review with those two in the same post), but movie reviews are so well covered across the internet, adding our stupid opinion to it all isn’t going to change anything. As we love Blade Runner, though, we wanted to jot down our opinions on this near three hour epic sequel which is visually stunning, daring, and intelligent.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Scott did oversee parts, we believe), it’s certainly a film which will require a second viewing to get more out of but, for us, that’s where the repeat viewings will likely end. We found it disappointingly mediocre – plodding, boring, and frittering around pretension. Ryan Gosling has made a name for himself as a beefcake actor who’s perfected existential staring into the middle-distance and, yes, he looks pretty in this film as he does so. Nice stubble, Gosling. His performance is good, to be fair, and we think he is a talented guy, but the script is always too weighted down in enforced grandeur for him to produce anything special.
Harrison Ford reprises his role as Deckard, don’t forget, and puts in a strong effort, as does Jared Leto, and it is, as you’d expect, a quite stunning visual feat, even if it doesn’t match the memorability of everything about Blade Runner. Therein lies the main problem – other than the fantastic ending set-piece and a few scenic shots, there’s little memorable at play here. Instead, we have a heck of a lot of standing around brooding, walking slowly through dimly lit sets, and grumbling.
It’s not a bad film at all but, in the light of its famous first outing, we found it nothing special. Worse still, the ending hints a colossal replicant war is on the horizon in a potential threequel – we can’t help but churn inside at the thought of what should have been a standalone masterpiece being turned into a Hollywood franchise.
Still, Blade Runner 2049 does provide high points – new star Sylvia Hoeks is the best thing in the film. She’s terrific as the psychotic robot Luv, a genuinely unnerving creation who lights up the screen whenever she’s on. She’s in the fantastic ending set-piece, too, where the leads truly excel to deliver a gripping few minutes… it’s just a shame the other 120 minutes or so play out like Deckard’s pet dog (who you’ll get to meet, briefly) taking a nap whilst dribbling.
Whilst online articles have a habit of indulging in “This is my article therefore it is correct and my opinion is fact”, this is simply our take of our first viewing of the film. You might love it! We might after another viewing. We can’t ignore how reviews have been divisive, but largely glowing, for Villeneuve’s sequel. It’s met with critical acclaim, mainly, but online fan reaction has veered all over the place. We’re sure someone out there has summed up this highly complex film with a succinct “itz crap lol”.
American film critic Chris Stuckmann, whose views we respect a great deal, also thinks the sequel is a sweeping masterpiece. We don’t agree, but we encourage you out there to go and watch it to decide for yourselves. Why? As it’s a film which does deserve to be watched due to the obvious love that’s gone into creating it – even if you end up hating it, you can at least proclaim to the world you’ve seen it, you’ve indulged in a cultural moment, and that, my dears, ensures you’re not philistines. Enjoy (or don’t)!