Arts and Culture

Blade Runner 2049 – Review

“Blade Runner 2049” is a film spectacle I have yearned for, for so very long, as very few films in theaters today are able to pull off what this movie has accomplished. This is especially true for science fiction films of the modern era, which usually feature an hour-and-a-half-long onslaught of CGI action with little to no emphasis on truly remarkable visuals, cinematography, character development, dialogue or thematic development. Director Denis Villeneuve understands what made Ridley Scott’s original “Blade Runner” so beautiful as a science fiction/neo-noir masterpiece such that the new version is not only impressive as a sequel but as a stand-alone film.

    “Blade Runner” (1982) is one of my most cherished films and contains my favorite examples of cinematography, visual presentation, soundtracks, costume designs and more. Because of this, I had very high expectations going into the film’s sequel.

“Blade Runner 2049” is a sequel which takes place 30 years after the original and stars Ryan Gosling as a cop named K. Just like Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, K is a Blade Runner, or a specialized detective tasked in hunting down and eliminating escaped and potentially dangerous androids known as replicants.

Gosling has done an excellent job in the past of playing relatively silent, neo-noir protagonists in films such as “Drive” and “Only God Forgives.” Both “Blade Runner” films tackle issues as to what makes a person truly human, and “Blade Runner 2049” blurs the line between man and machine even more.

One of my personal favorite aspects of the original 1982 film is its magnificent synth-based soundtrack that accompanies angsty Harrison Ford across the neon-soaked urban sprawl of futuristic Los Angeles. The composer, Vaneglis, significantly contributed to the overall aesthetic of its lo-fi city nightscape. The original soundtrack has been lauded as one of the best film soundtracks of its era and has inspired countless composers and musicians since its time. I could write an entire separate review as to why the soundtrack is such a well-crafted ambient, electronic score and how it is so immensely influential.

Much to my disappointment, Villeneuve chose not to bring back Vangelis to write the score but instead eventually chose Hans Zimmer to compose the film. Zimmer is most known for his scores for the “Dark Knight” films, “Interstellar,” “Inception” and “The Lion King.” Although Zimmer is a fantastic composer who I admire very much, I feel it is a great loss to not include such a monumentally influential composer that did the original soundtrack so perfectly the first time. Nonetheless, Zimmer does a decent job of recreating a similar soundtrack with a somewhat familiar ambient and electronic tone.

This film is also very reminiscent of a previous Ridley Scott film, “Alien,” which was essentially more of an artistic science fiction film rather than a straight-up horror/action film.

One of my favorite scenes is the ending of the original “Blade Runner,” in which right before the replicant antagonist Roy (Rutger Hauer) dies, he delivers an emotionally wrought speech. Hauer’s monologue shows the humanity in these supposedly soulless androids and makes the viewer feel guilty for seeing them as heartless machines. This scene also shows how these demonized androids have just as much humanity as anyone else.

Harrison Ford reprises his role as Deckard but performs as a much older and quieter version changed by events between the films. His appearance in the film is well-executed and a significant reward to the viewers and fans.

“Blade Runner 2049” contains many surprising plot twists and unexpected truths that diehard “Blade Runner” fans may find particularly shocking. Villeneuve was so concerned about spoilers that he told many critics of the film to not reveal these truths. However, this story with its twists and turns is one well worth the emotional investment.

Most Importantly, “Blade Runner 2049” is not some reboot or a hollow attempt at recreating the original film; instead, it takes what makes the original so perfect and continues it in a new direction that is familiar yet new. This is something that many sequels of old movie franchises fail to do time and time again. This film will probably be one of my most favorite films of 2017 and potentially one of my all-time favorite films. I highly recommend that you see it.