Reel Opinions


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is visually masterful, and intelligent in a lot of ways that most Hollywood Sci-Fi epics are not.  It's pretty much the movie that the failed live action adaptation of Ghost In the Shell from earlier this year desperately wanted to be.  It's an engaging film through and through, despite a few drawbacks, which include a nearly three hour running time, a few plodding scenes, and the occasional off performance.  These criticisms, though severe, are not enough to bring down what does work here.

1982's Blade Runner basically set the standard for any and all dark and gritty Sci-Fi that came after it.  To this day, filmmakers are still inspired and lifting ideas and images from it.  Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) and famed cinematographer Roger Deakins expand upon the world that Ridley Scott created, and manage to make it their own, so it doesn't feel like a dated throwback.  That this movie manages to be just as visually stunning as the first did when it came out is no small feat.  Do the visuals warrant the extreme length?  No, not really.  But they do help make it more tolerable.  To be honest, the movie moves quite well, and feels closer to two hours than three.  There is so much to take in, it simply can be exciting to watch at times.

Outside of the visuals, 2049 is a dark, brooding film that offers little moments of levity.  But the amazing thing is that unlike other like-minded movies, it actually is as tough and as challenging as it thinks it is.  It tackles such heady questions such as what is humanity, or even reality itself, and does so in a way that it never seems overly pretentious or long-winded.  It doesn't get bogged down in an air of self-importance, and never once feels self-indulgent.  This is a tough act to pull off, but Villeneuve manages to keep his balance for a good part of the film.  Yes, certain scenes do go on a little long, but it doesn't happen as much as you might expect.  When doing a sequel to a classic film from over 30 years ago, there's always the temptation to stick too close to the original template, or perhaps play on nostalgia too much.  This film strikes the right balance of respecting the past, while at the same time expanding upon the world and the characters within it.

This time around, our eyes into the world are represented by K (Ryan Gosling), a Blade Runner for the LAPD whose job is to hunt down the outdated old-style Nexus 8 replicants, which have been replaced by the more controllable Nexus 9 series.  He lives a completely solitary life, with his only companion being a holographic woman who is programmed to look after him named Joi (Ana de Armas).  While investigating a case, he finds evidence that a replicant has somehow given birth, which could lead to some world-shattering repercussions if the incident is not covered up and solved.  K is a replicant himself, but as he digs deeper into the case, he begins to question his own existence and nature in the world, and even begins to wonder if the memories he had programmed into him might actually be real.  This is a clever flip on the first film, where its hero Deckard (Harrison Ford) questioned his own humanity.

It's not a spoiler to reveal that K and Deckard do eventually find each other, and wind up helping each other out.  After all, Ford's face has been all over the trailers and marketing posters.  It seems as if Ford has become the king of reviving his own long-dormant franchises, so there's no chance he would have skipped out on appearing in this.  The scenes that Gosling and Ford share together are some of the best in the film, and it's almost a shame that the movie takes almost two hours before it brings Deckard into the story.  You kind of wish you could have seen more interactions between them when the whole thing is over.  The introduction of Deckard also brings about some of the film's most exciting visuals, where we're introduced to a post apocalyptic Las Vegas that looks about as barren and as alien as Mars.

The plot of 2049 basically revolves around people searching for evidence of this child born of a replicant for different personal reasons.  On the side of the antagonists, we have Jared Leto as Wallace, the leading manufacturer of replicants, or "angels" as he calls them.  Leto's performance is the one drawback here, as his somewhat stilted line delivery can draw an occasional unintentional chuckle from the audience, but he's not in the movie very much, so he doesn't drag things down.  It's up to Gosling to carry the movie almost entirely on his own, and as you might expect, he's more than capable of the challenge.  He has an appropriately detached and robotic air to his performance that never once feels dull or uninterested.  As he is drawn deeper into the mystery and begins to question his own history and himself, he feels conflicted, and we can feel every struggle he's going through.  The real find of the cast, however, is Ana de Armas as the lovely holographic Joi.  She brings such warmth to her role that this movie is certain to launch a major career.

With all of its technical wizardry and the labyrinth plot that accompanies it, the movie can seem to be a bit much at times.  Accompanying all of this is an overpowering and sometimes bombastic music score by Hans Zimmer that at times seems to be overstating the action.  But, this is still a movie worth sticking with all the way through to the end, as the film does have some wonderful pay offs that are not only emotional but also through provoking.  This is also a movie that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen imaginable.  Try to track it down in a large screen format if you can.  I can already tell you that waiting to watch this on DVD or (heaven forbid) a tiny smartphone screen will lessen a lot of this movie's impact. 

Much like Mad Max: Fury Road, Blade Runner 2049 successfully builds upon the themes and ideas set forth by the earlier film, and manages to go off in its own unique direction.  Some have declared the movie to be a masterpiece, and even one of the greatest sequels ever made.  I don't know if I would quite go that far, as there are more than a few imperfections if you look closely.  But, the fact that you have to look closely to find them should tell you that there's little reason to skip this one.  If you're a fan of intelligent and adult Science Fiction, it's almost your duty to watch this at the theater.  And if you're someone who adores the original, you're likely to find just as much to love here.

0 comments

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012
11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012
12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013
01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013
06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014
05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014
06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014
09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014
10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014
11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014
12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015
01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015
02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015
03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015
04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015
05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015
06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015
07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015
08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015
09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015
10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015
11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015
12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016
01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016
02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016
03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016
04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016
05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016
06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016
07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016
08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016
09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016
10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016
11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016
12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017
01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017
02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017
03/01/2017 - 04/01/2017
04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017
05/01/2017 - 06/01/2017
06/01/2017 - 07/01/2017
07/01/2017 - 08/01/2017
08/01/2017 - 09/01/2017
09/01/2017 - 10/01/2017
10/01/2017 - 11/01/2017

Powered by Blogger