Film review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)


I recently watched this sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner and enjoyed it. It continues the theme of what happens when, in a dystopian future society, technology enables the creation of ‘replicants’, human-like synthetic creatures that are almost impossible to distinguish from human beings. In this film, it explores the possibility that they might become able to reproduce.

Although the film has plenty of CGI effects, these did not dominate the story and were subdued, used to drive the story along rather than dazzle the viewer. I also liked the fact that the director eschewed action and quick cuts and instead was willing to have long scenes that developed slowly. The focus was on the characters and story and ideas. In that respect, it reminded me of 2001: A Spece Odyssey. I was a little apprehensive of watching Blade Runner 2049 at first because of its long run time of 2 hours 40 minutes but like the equally long 2001: A Spece Odyssey but despite being slow-moving, I did not find it dragging at all.

The DVD had the usual trailers for films and some of them were for action-packed ones like Justice League. Watching the trailer, I realized that I quickly get bored with fight and chase sequences, even the short clips in trailers, which is largely why I dislike so-called action films. These fights are supposed to liven up films but they have the opposite effect on me and I am impatient for them to end so that the story moves along. It seems like once one has seen one fight or chase scene, one has seen them all. This film had few fights and only one extended fight scene, which was tolerable.

Here’s the trailer.

Comments

  1. says

    A lot of what may be interpreted as CG effects were actually practical effects – there were a lot of old-school models used, like in the original Blade Runner. They worked very hard to try to make it have a lot of the same look and feel as the original.

    I think it’s not a bad movie, but they deliberately placed themselves up against the legendary legacy of the original, which was a strategic blunder. That’s not a comparison one ought to invite.

    Also, there were a lot of bits that appeared to be there “just because we could” and parts that were left out, which would have been more interesting to dwell upon. There was a bit much fan-service in the form of the endless (and not very believable) fight scene, mirroring Batty and Deckard’s fight in the original. It felt like it was straining. But, ultimately, when I start getting into that kind of analysis I’m basically saying “if it was a whole different movie, I’d be really different.”

  2. Holms says

    Movies that revolve around fight scenes can be enjoyable, when the fight scenes themselves have artistry; talented martial arts professionals well choreographed can look amazing. Hollywood fights scenes on the other hand are a fantastic example of fight scenes done wrong: little to no martial arts skill and no interesting choreography, with suspense and ‘action’ supplied mainly by rapid cuts and shaky cam.

    Or you could go the other direction and deliberately show how pathetic the fighters are, as in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

  3. antaresrichard says

    While viewing ‘Blade Runner 2049″ (2017) I couldn’t help have the passing thought I was watching, on a grander budget, “The Creation of the Humanoids” (1962).

    😉

  4. says

    Holms@#2:
    Hollywood fights scenes on the other hand are a fantastic example of fight scenes done wrong: little to no martial arts skill and no interesting choreography, with suspense and ‘action’ supplied mainly by rapid cuts and shaky cam.

    Yes!

    It does seem rather odd that a couple of geneengineered sci fi ninjas thrash around like drunk brawlers at a hurling match. I always imagined such fights would resemble the fight scenes in Ame Agaru or Hero (the scene against Sky) where the fight happens entirely in the combatant’s imagination. I figured that sci fi ninjas would also have enough strategic sense not to get in a fight in a great big wave-tank.

  5. EigenSprocketUK says

    Much was made of Roger Deakins being the DoP for this one. I felt that too much of Deakins’ creativity and artistry was squandered by the director or designer through the unfortunate skew towards a mono-palette and massive overuse of haze. I hope they at least paid Deakins well for that one.
    Robin Wright was brilliant. Gosling was… well… doing the taciturn Gosling that Gosling does well.
    I enjoyed it for the bleakness of the story which felt like it owed its origins more to the original P K Dick story and the world going to rack and ruin, and for the existential questions raised. Yes, there was waaay too much Bladerunner fan service, but I guess that’s an important commercial angle. Overall, I enjoyed seeing it, but wouldn’t bother to buy the DVD etc.
    My partner, on the other hand, thought that it was a massive let-down and a bitter disappointment which did not live up to the hype. Character development was awfully thin for such a long film. The stylish misogyny of the original Bladerunner was replaced by, oh dear, just careless misogyny which the even the final reveal didn’t bother to justify.
    In summary it could have been a decent standalone film, but it ended up being a sequel.

  6. says

    I figured that sci fi ninjas would also have enough strategic sense not to get in a fight in a great big wave-tank.

    Yeah, rookie mistake. Always read the script ahead of time.

  7. fentex says

    I was glad it was entertaining and not an embarrassment to the original.
    But the more I think about it the less I like it.
    The opposite effect Bladerunner has.

    A real problem it had was – no reason to exist, nothing new to say.
    It seems to think it had some thing to say about Replicants – they’re just like us!
    We can even inter-breed!

    But apart from the breeding thing, which frankly isn’t that interesting, the fact Replicants are like us was the WHOLE POINT OF BLADERUNNER!

    It is not saying something new.

    Roy’s soliloquy at his death was all about expressing the same emotions, hopes and fears as people have. Establishing he had the same internal life and desires. The Replicants Deckard had been killing were slaves trying to live free.

    The sequel not only spent a lot of time re-hashing the point, it didn’t advance it any. If it had perhaps been a story about the Replicant uprising, their revolution for freedom, it would have been advancing a story.

    But that also is no reason to make it. No one is interested in the world of Bladerunner. It’s a terrible place. Though thinking that, writing a story about how Replicant’s rebel and fix the world, and pondering the fate of humans left behind (who could not flee off world) might be a story worth telling.

  8. fentex says

    Or even better – a century in the future as Earth recovers and the colonies fail, what will ‘Replicants’ (really just people who are comfortable with genegeneering themselves) do about the refugees?

    Now you’ve got a story that’s advanced the world of Bladerunner AND is telling a topical story.

  9. Mano Singham says

    feintex,

    Didn’t you get the sense that this film was setting up a third film that would be about a replicant uprising?

  10. grahamjones says

    I thought Blade Runner 2049 was poor. “only one extended fight scene”? There was a long long stupid stupid fight between two stupid goodies somewhere in the middle, and the Great Big Stupid Fight Scene that happens at the end of every stupid scifi film, where the big goodie and the big baddie determine the fate of the universe with a hand-to-hand fight, both having somehow lost all their high tech weaponry.

    Like fentex says, it had nothing to say about what it means to be human. All the characters were cardboard, and the distinction between real cardboard, replicant cardboard, and holographic cardboard is not interesting.

    I was amazed at the glowing reviews it received: “smart and cerebral” said one. I think “smart” means “contains depictions of futuristic technology” which mostly means holograms, which mostly means naked women. I think “cerebral” means “plenty of time to think about something more interesting while watching”.

    > While viewing ‘Blade Runner 2049? (2017) I couldn’t help have the passing thought I was watching, on a grander budget, “The Creation of the Humanoids” (1962).

    I was thinking Pinocchio (1883).

    > Roy’s soliloquy at his death …

    I am very much afraid he is not dead.

    > Didn’t you get the sense that this film was setting up a third film…

    I did. It was the final, bitter blow.

  11. fentex says

    Mano: Didn’t you get the sense that this film was setting up a third film that would be about a replicant uprising?

    Yes, it did seem like (in the hope of a further sequel) they had set that up.

    It doesn’t interest me because I don’t much care about the world it’s set in. The thing Bladerunner did well, and that many P.K.Dick adaptions don’t, is evoke the ideas of his story, making them the focus of attention.

    Not the world or the characters (though to engage our interest in the ideas through characters that were interesting and interested by being effected was well done). They’re the least interesting thing in any P.K.Dick written story, he wasn’t very good at that, but he did include more ideas in some pages than many authors could in a novel.

    To honour Bladerunner and follow in it’s steps you have to speak to an idea worth contemplating.

    It would make more sense, if you were to extend the Bladerunner universe, to counter the opinion Replicants are humane and worthy. Challenge the idea – not just naysay it lazily, but if there’s evidence that Replicants are perfectly predictable, therefore determinatively programmed (a story wherein their revolution is brutally put down by information from a computer that knows Replicants minds might establish that).

    Then the data / program the computer works from is lost and the ability to predict Replicants is lost – so humans lose the ability by losing their technology.

    That raises the question – are we like Replicants? Is the thought they were not real people because they were predictable (if you had the data to work from) equally true of us? Maybe there was a Replicant character in the story who seems to know too much…

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