Ridley Scott returns to yet another of his masterpieces but this time as executive producer, handing over directorial duties on one of the most loved films of a generation.
It will come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of the original Blade Runner movie. I have countless versions of it, a script (despite there apparently never being a ‘final’ script), models and a poster and have seen it at the cinema more times than I can remember, even seeing it IMAX.
When Ridley Scott decided to return to his previous visions I was excited to see what he could do, yet worried as to why someone would decide to do such a thing.
After seeing Prometheus, I was devastated when he announced his intention to return to Blade Runner. I feared another ‘rolling doughnut’ incident.
Here’s the thing though. Besides Prisoners, which I enjoyed, I (and I realize I’m mostly alone on this) didn’t enjoy Sicario or Arrival.
Sicario was made watchable by the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins and Arrival just felt slow with sub-plots galore that took you down too many dead-ends. It’s fair to say, despite my love of Blade Runner, expectations for 2049 were not high.
Skins, as they are also known, are in short supply after the Tyrell corporation…oh wait, you have seen the original, right? It helps if you have.
Anyway, Skins are in short supply after Tyrell went bankrupt and so up steps Niander Wallace, Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Suicide Squad), who starts creating them again but making them nice, not evil. Almost.
Gosling is taking orders from the Lieutenant, Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Wonder Woman), and when he’s sent to track down an old replicant model, Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2, Spectre) he ends up getting more then he’s bargained for.
What they discover is that replicant Bautista had a replicant wife and she had a baby. Queue all hell breaking loose as everyman and his replicant dog want to track down this ‘miracle’ child.
Leto wants it and sends his closest confident-replicant-assistant Luv, Sylvia Hoeks (Deception, All The Devil’s Men) to follow Gosling to get it.
It’s whilst looking for this baby that Gosling and his holographic girlfriend, Ana de Armas (Hands Of Stone, War Dogs), stumble upon Ford and when they are also found by Freysa, Hiam Abbas (Munich, Exodus: Gods And Kings), who wants to start a replicant revolution.
All this takes place whilst Villeneuve furnishes us with his, now seemingly trademark, big, booming, OTT sound-track. It’s so loud and sometimes so out of place that it covers some dialogue, which isn’t handy in the slightest.
Whilst fans of the original Blade Runner will recognise much of the landscape, large monolithic black structures, transparent umbrellas, large holograms and, yes, even an Atari logo and some familiar faces, not just Ford returns, Villeneuve does bring some of his own touches to things. Mostly in the form of long, lingering shots.
Speaking of logos, it’s fair to say there are some less-than-obvious product placement shots going on. Sony in particular, though they did make the movie, and a certain French car maker dominate.
Those of you looking to catch trains after seeing 2049 should be made aware that it comes in at a whopping two-hours and 49 minutes! It feels like it’s that long too, some further editing would not have gone amiss.
Is Blade Runner 2049 better than the original? No, not by a long-shot. Is it a worthy follow-up? Well, if you go off looks alone and the Vangelis-esq soundtrack (Hans Zimmer on the keyboards this time) then you’d have to say yes.
However, digging deeper we lack any ‘tears in the rain’ moments, perhaps a good thing (though everyone does seem to cry a lot, and it’s always raining). The final fight scene, whilst short, did bring tension to proceedings but I can’t claim to have been on the edge of my seat throughout, other than trying to un-numb my arse.
Gosling, Wright, de Armas and Hoeks all perform their roles admirably. Ford and Bautista are also good though get little screen time in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t feel as bad as I did after seeing Prometheus, but I don’t see the need for 2049. I’m unsure what it brings to the party and I don’t believe it can stand alone. I don’t think we’ll be talking about this 35-years from now, as we are Blade Runner. I think it might fade away, like t…no I can’t do it.