Just been watching…(56)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

***No plot spoilers***

As some of you may recall, I wasn’t going to watch this film. The original ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) has been my favourite film since I saw it at the age of 30, and it is still number one in my current top ten of all time. When I heard that there was to be a sequel, I groaned at the thought, quite frankly. I set in my mind that I was going to be an ‘original version snob’, and just refuse to watch it. I read many reviews, and all but one were glowingly positive. I had nothing against Denis Villeneuve or Ryan Gosling, you understand; but come on, this was ‘Blade Runner’ they were taking on.

But then my stepson came to stay with us for a while, and he bought the film on DVD. He has never seen the original, and despite my almost hysterical appeal for him to watch that one first, he asked me to watch the sequel with him on Sunday. As the opening credits rolled, I confess I felt uneasy…

I am not going into much detail about the plot, as it would be hard to avoid spoilers by doing so. The story takes up thirty years after the end of the first film. Gosling is a Blade Runner, doing the same thing as his predecessors, retiring renegade ‘Replicants’ (humanoid artificial beings) by tracking them down and killing them. He is also a replicant, and is called K, to denote his non-human status. The powerful Tyrell corporation that made these replicants has been replaced by the even more powerful (and suitably futuristic) Wallace Corporation, headed up by the mysterious blind genius, Wallace, played by Jared Leto.

K is given the task of killing someone, and in doing so uncovers a secret that has been closely guarded for thirty years. (Or since the end of the first film) Wallace also wants to find the evidence K is searching for, and as he gets ever closer to the truth, K is pressured by Wallace’s replicant aides, as well as his employer, the Los Angeles Police Department, with his situation rapidly becoming perilous.

So, being fair, non-judgmental, and trying to forget that the original is my number one film, here is what I think about the sequel.

1) Remember, this is a sequel. And it does follow on from events. Unlike some reviewers, I DO NOT agree that this should be viewed as a stand-alone film. WATCH THE 1982 FILM FIRST. You will be glad you did.
2) That original is referenced. The origami animals, the flying cars, the South Asian culture, they are all there. Harrison Ford appears in this film playing the same character, Deckard, thirty years older. They show small clips from the original, and some sound recordings too. Still want to see this first? Why?
3) In this new film, some of the special effects are simply outstanding, reflecting the advances in technology during thirty years. There are sequences where K’s holographic virtual girlfriend interacts with him, and a prostitute. They are just tremendous, like watching the best-ever magic trick.
4) Even on my rather tired six-year old TV, with no extra speakers, the soundtrack is actually thrilling to listen to.
5) Gosling is solid in the lead, but plays being a replicant no differently to his role in ‘Drive’. So similar in fact, I kept expecting a car chase.
6) The best bits are when the older film is referenced, though Harrison Ford still just looks tired and fed up during his sequence, much as he played it in 1982. Maybe he thought Deckard would still feel like that, I don’t know.
7) Futuristic Los Angeles looks much the same as it did in the 1982 film; but believe me, the original caught that mood so well, this one feels like it’s just a pale imitation. However, the dystopian vision of a deserted Las Vegas and its dilapidated casinos is beautifully done.
8) This film completely lost (presumably deliberately) that ‘film noir’ essence of Scott’s vision, and replaced it with the feel of a science-fiction epic. By doing so it lost the heart, and feels cold and calculated to watch.
9) It is far too slow. I am all for a deliberate and skillful ‘slow burn’ but this even slows down at the end. Come on, Denis, I could feel my eyelids drooping, and it was only late afternoon. And it is far too long. It could have lost a full thirty minutes, and we would have been none the wiser.
10) It isn’t exciting, and it isn’t witty. The original film had plenty of both, but this one tries for a sombre and serious look at the ethics of using replicants, and ends up a lot like ‘I Robot’, but with no robots. And no wisecracks from Will Smith.

It’s a good film. But not a very good film. And definitely not a great film, oh no. It has some good parts, that’s undeniable, but they do not add up to anything close to the stellar ‘Blade Runner’. Before you rush to tell me I am wrong, watch the original first. And if you have done that, and still think this one is better, then be warned that we are obviously not on the same wavelength and are never going to agree. Not about this film anyway.
Here’s a trailer.

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37 thoughts on “Just been watching…(56)

  1. Hope you have recovered from me having the Titanic as my number 1 alltime movie, because I am going to throw another bombshell at you: ” This was my number one movie from last year” . I absolutely loved it from start to finish. I do admit the film could definitely have lost a bit of it’s length. But the story really got to me. It was so very sad and beautiful at the same time (please don’t hate me….looks away in fear 😅😅😅😱😱😱🙈🙈🙈).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s OK, Michel, but you don’t say if you have ever seen the original.
      I can only hope that you haven’t…
      🙂
      By the way, sad? What was sad? Maybe my old heart is hardening…
      (And I can NEVER recover from anyone having ‘Titanic’ as their best film. I am too old for the years that would require.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha…I have seen the original. It was awesome. I saw it just before this one and wrote a review for it. I was really surprised at how well that film withstood the test of time. It’s still every bit as amazing as when it was first released.
        The relationship that K had with Joi, and him realising in the end that it was never a relationship in the first place but a pipe dream, that for me was very sad. I loved their romance…and at the same time it was so incredibly disheartening. I don’t know…it just comes down to me being that hopeless romantic again 🙈🙈

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete, I watched this two weeks ago, and I know that some have called it a masterpiece but I completely agree with you….way too long for NO reason.

    Not wanting to share any spoilers at all, I will only say that I didn’t feel there was enough weight to this plot to justify the length – not nearly as intricate as the first one…I am surprised just how lauded this was – it seems when a Director decides to make his “epic”, it means long, ponderous and pretentious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well being a fan of the original (I have 3 different versions on dvd!) I am going to have to see it of course, but 3 hours sounds too long, will do it over 2 sittings I expect. Maybe this time instead of doing an ‘extended’ version they could do an ‘abridged’ version 🙂 Your review doesn’t surprise me and I wont be surprised if I feel the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was shocked to read that “the dystopian vision of a deserted Las Vegas and its dilapidated casinos is beautifully done.” Since I live in Las Vegas, I’m going to stick around long enough to verify how beautiful the dilapidation actually is! The film’s vision may be as delusional as that of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which probably should have been entitled, “2101: A Space Odyssey.”

    But, seriously, I do plan to eventually see this film. Like you, I have great admiration for the original film (I own the director’s cut with the unicorn origami finale, though I’ve seen other versions). I’ve read many reviews of the sequel, and so my expectations will be lower going in, although I do expect great visuals. In all likelihood, my opinion of the sequel relative to the original will dovetail perfectly with yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “…lost (presumably deliberately) that ‘film noir’ essence of Scott’s vision, and replaced it with the feel of a science-fiction epic. By doing so it lost the heart, and feels cold and calculated to watch.
    9) It is far too slow…
    10) It isn’t exciting, and it isn’t witty.”
    I totally agree. I was depressed by my indifference to Arrival, too – Villeneuve is just too sickly, plaintive, and, above all, slow for me.
    I also thought the female actors in Blade Runner 2049 were woefully under-powered and irresponsibly cast.
    I’m more indulgent of Harrison and Ryan than you are, and think they did the most they could with flimsy material, and that ridiculous wet dream finale.

    Betrayed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you agree, Pippa. I might have been kinder to Gosling and Ford, had it not been ‘Blade Runner’. I didn’t mind ‘Arrival’. It was slow and deliberate too, but the alien beings saved the film for me, with the ingenuity of how they were portrayed, and their ‘ink language’. I also reviewed that film. You may well have missed that post.
      https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/just-been-watching-22/
      Thanks again, and best wishes to you both of course.
      Pete. xx

      Like

    1. Oh, I would, Peter. At 75, you will appreciate the film-noir roots, the femme fatale, and the unusual characters, I’m sure. The futuristic setting is also a 1980s vision, not the 2017 one. Not sure about You Tube, but it is very cheap on DVD.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  6. I am watching Altered Carbon. I have to admit it is one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched in a long time. It is very male in orientation (testerone bound – the women as well) and vision. The violence is unending because bodies are a disposable commodity – referred to as skins. People are computer disks reinserted over and over again into newly cloned bodies. The rich are disgusting and live forever of course. The main characters are hard to identify with. I am fascinated by the writer. Being one myself I am unable to understand how one can stomach this level of violence and sexual perversion just to tell a story or make a point. I do interview science fiction writers but this one’s mind is something I want to steer clear of I think! He got one million dollars for the book so perhaps it was worth this bleak, violent vision of what humanity becomes. Anyway Blade Runner sounds tame in comparison and I will gladly watch it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We don’t always have to agree Pete. I enjoyed your review and your points. As in my review I noted the sequel lacks a Roy Batty and therefore a big alive personality. That wasn’t a problem for me but understand your mention of a lack of a wit. For me I found wit and endless musings about what it means to be human. It felt like a true expansion and revision of the themes of the original. I’ll admit I saw it late the first time and felt the length and the slow pacing. On the second go around I sunk into its depths and enjoyed it more. I’ll always have a soft spot for the original because I’ll always have a soft spot for the 80s look. But to me this is a great film. I’m glad you saw it and glad it wasn’t terrible for you but I take your points and enjoyed reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Lloyd. It didn’t only not have Roy Batty, it lacked characters. Wallace is not Tyrell, and J.F. Sebastian was a joy in the original, as was Hannibal Chew, and Pris of course. Sean Young was amazing to look at, and the small things, like the replicant owl, just added to the wonder.
      I don’t really want to watch a film for over two and a half hours that is examining those endless musings about what it is to be human. Sometimes, I want to be entertained in between too. Because of my love for the 1982 film, I reckon I am going to be a little ‘spiky’ this time! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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