Blade Runner 2049: Do Androids Dream of Good Sequels?
Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival,Sicario) has created a true modern day dystopian sci-fi classic, and if Roger Deakins doesn’t win the Oscar for best cinematography, I think I might scream. It’s that good. Blade Runner 2049 is an excellent sequel to the original, and in many ways, outdoes the first. The cast is perfect from top to bottom.
There’s a lot I could compliment about Blade Runner 2049, but I’ll just start with the obvious. There’s not a single actor who seems wasted, and even the characters with just one scene serve their purpose. It was hard for me to pick a favorite in the cast. Ryan Gosling (La La Land, The Big Short) is perfectly cast as a future Blade Runner replicant named K or Joe. While some people accuse Gosling of being bland or monotone, here he plays a human cyborg well. I especially like it when his character has moments of quiet reflection. You can actually see the sadness in his face, and due to the near perfect direction, is quite evident. He conveys so much, with so little.
Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) also returns as Rick Deckard, the original Blade Runner, from the first movie, whose character has gone into hiding. Of the three recent Ford role reprisals, this is by far my favorite, though I did quite love The Force Awakens (2015). Ford seems to come alive in this film, and it’s good to see him in top-form. I especially like it when he and Gosling chat about the past, and we see all the mistakes that Deckard has made.
The rest of the cast is just as great, too. You’ve got Cuban actress, Ana de Arnas, (War Dogs) as Joi, K’s holographic girlfriend, whose role is much larger in this film than you might expect, and manages to rescue K at various points. Robin Wright (House of Cards, Princess Bride, Forrest Gump) plays Joshi, K’s no nonsense boss. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club) plays Niander Wallace, the villain, a blind Replicant manufacturer who wants machines to rule. Leto is actually really good in this role, too, and not as crazy as he was in his last few roles. Additionally, there’s Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, Niander’s replicant assistant, who proves to be the primary “fighting antagonist”, and Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Stand and Deliver, Selena) looking ancient, reprises his role as Gaff, another Blade Runner, in only one scene, who helps Gosling in his quest to find out about Deckard’s whereabouts.
Another outstanding feature is the amazing production design. While it doesn’t have the same “wow” factor of the original, which was at that time built on set but now is CGI (Computer Generated Imaging) driven, the effects are impressive, nonetheless. They’ve done a great job of recreating the classic Blade Runner look, right down to having scenes of Gosling walking down the same streets. The film definitely feels like the world has gotten much bleaker and darker looking, which makes sense story-wise. It’s a remarkable achievement.
Thirteen times nominated Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ (who worked on Villenueve’s previous films), work is absolutely stunning, and was one of the biggest selling points of the movie for me. It’s not only gorgeous and wonderfully lit, it’s also downright mesmerizing. The scene in the desert has an orange tinge to it, and it’s amazing to see. It really pops to life. I can’t compliment his work enough.
Every dystopian movie has been compared to the original Bladerunner, but one of the biggest complaints about the first movie was the lack of a great story. Despite being about a detective, there wasn’t much of a mystery to it. This sequel, however, corrects that complaint, because there is actually a well-flowing narrative mystery throughout the film. It’s really well-done and engaging, and I have to give Villenueve and the writers, Michael Green and Hampton Fletcher (Fletcher wrote the original Blade Runner script), props for that as it’s very engaging.
Despite a run time of around two and a half hours, Blade Runner 2049 is an engaging affair with a great story and interesting characters. Not a moment of it really feels wasted, and it absolutely seems like a film that’s destined to become another sci-fi classic. Much like the original Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 may be classified as a flop, but that should not deter you from seeing it. If you weren’t a fan of the original, then I can’t really recommend it, but to me, it’s a great slick thirty five year follow-up, that respects the original, while doing its own thing. In short, it’s excellent, and one of the year’s best.
Now playing in Hanover at the Nugget - Monday through Thursday, 6:00 PM, Friday and Saturday, 8:15 PM, Saturday and Sunday Matinee, 1:45 PM; in Claremont at Cinema 6 - Monday through Thursday, 3:35 PM (in 3D), and 6:50 PM, Friday and Saturday, 6:50 PM and 10:05 PM (in 3D), Saturday and Sunday Matinee 3:35 PM (in 3D).