Thrilling sci-fi classic lives up to expectations
October 12, 2017
Men. Machines. Mayhem.
Nearly three decades after Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic “Blade Runner,” Denis Villenueve’s “Blade Runner 2049” extends Scott’s vision with fresh graphics and just as much dysphoria as the original film. The sequel is a feat that seemed nearly impossible to pull off, considering that most movie fans hail the original as the pinnacle of sci-fi cinema. However, I’m happy to say Villenueve and Co. pull it off.
The film answers many questions from the prequel about Replicants (androids) who are seemingly more human than we are. Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” is an exceptional achievement, a film that is distinctly auteurist, yet cut from the same cloth as Scott’s film.
The ambitious riff on the themes, characters and style of “Blade Runner” expands the scope of this world in 2049. Written by the 1982 film’s original screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, “Blade Runner 2049” is a meditative and touching film, sumptuously captured by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins.
He paints the screen with contrasting colors (i.e., the black and blue city theme versus the warm, orange desert setting) that depict light and shadow. The aesthetics in the film are subdued yet pleasing, creating a beautifully tactile sense of space and texture.
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer composed the score in tandem, allowing the booming and immersive sound design to take centerstage over the light background music.
The style of the film is rich and the themes are intellectually probing, but the plot is a simple, classically cinematic tale. Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as LAPD Offcier K, a successor to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) who searches for illegal replicants.
Officer K is faced with an existential predicament as he reckons with his soul in the face of incredible dehumanization. His nonchalant personality reflects the disconcerting, distrustful daily existence in this isolated dystopian future.
Gosling is compelling to watch as his character tries to break through this placid surface. Sylvia Hoeks stuns as Luv, a character who seems to be a crazier mirror of Rachael (Sean Young) from the original.
This film is a depiction of a dark future that feels all too believable. Nothing is sleek and shiny as one would expect in a glimpse of the future. K wears comfortable knitted shirts under his avant-garde top coat.
Throughout the film, he conducts his detective work the old-fashioned way, through microfilm and card catalogs (a blackout wiped out their digital records, so their modern world has become analog again). It is different enough but the drone warfare, child labor and sex robots are all extensions of issues that already exist.
“Blade Runner 2049” is a brilliant spectacle imbued with chilling questions about humanity. The epic has a slight flaw: the run time is 2 hours and 43 minutes. The film loses grip, inevitably, on its tight control of the storytelling and flails before finding an appropriate ending.
That being said, the film is definitely worth a movie theater experience because of the aesthetically pleasing cinematography.
The film’s depiction of a bleak and desolate future exposes the soul of machines and the coldness of a humanity that forces marginalized beings into slavery for the sake of capitalism.
But is a machine able to feel things? What indicates bodily autonomy for beings? What can be found in the liminal space between humans and machines? Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” poses these questions, first raised thirty-five years ago by the original, with an urgent sense of thought and understanding.
Contact Zohal Karimy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.