Blade Runner 2049 [Movie Review]
Blade Runner 2049 is the long anticipated sequel to one of the founding stories of the cyberpunk setting. There is enough written about this movie already that there is nothing I can say that would change a person’s thoughts on whether they should see this film or not.
First guideline: If you saw the first Blade Runner from 1982 and liked it, you will like this. And, the opposite applies.
I am a longtime fan of the story. Instead of going into the movie which has had thousands of reviews written about by now I am going to go more into the storyline and what I think this does for the entirety of what we have.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is where this story starts. I recommend that if you are a fan of the movies that you get the book and read it. (It has been retitled Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) The introduction of Deckard, and the futuristic world he lives in is presented there and so many of the so much backstory is given that is used as a backdrop to both movies.
The first movie did a great job of taking the story and presenting it in such a way as to enhance the universe the story is set in. There is a lot of thematic elements in the book that are touched on in the movies. So many of the ideas I have heard people discuss about the original movie and now in the second. What I found interesting about so many of the people I have listened in on is how many of them haven’t read the book.
I don’t want to go in and rehash the arguments. Just let me say, the book is worth reading and it doesn’t take away from the movies. It also applies the other way around, the movies don’t take away from the book.
The original Blade Runner takes the basis of the story and gives it a great application to the new media. I know there is never going to be a perfect adaptation between a movie and the written word, no matter which came first. Where the book delves into the thoughts feelings and other aspects that books are good at, the movie dove into the visual media that they are good at.
Now we come to the latest installment of the story. Thirty five years have passed since the first movie. And I give the production kudos for not remaking the original story, or deciding on doing a prequel. Instead they decided to move the story forward.
There is a thirty-five year gap that events have occurred in that are hinted at in the movie (there are some shorts done to tell about that time which fans will want to see, if they haven’t already). The story picks up there. The world has changed (just like ours have changed over the last thirty five years), and the lack of stagnation felt good. I have seen other stories where they present a break in the timeline with updating the storyline and it doesn’t feel right. This passage of time felt right.
Blade Runner 2049 keeps the feel and the look of the original Blade Runner. The times are dark, society is struggling, and we are still in the greater Los Angeles area. There is information given about what is happening out in space and we get a look at Las Vegas. But, the story stays focused in location.
A long with location, they keep the story focused on the same major themes being played out in the original Blade Runner. We are still trying to determine what it means to be alive, and in love. Is it something that we can create and control, or is it something that is greater and beyond us as a race. These themes about life are carried beyond the human race, as was done in the book and the first movie.
I have always felt the book and first movie were full of philosophy. And, the latest installment carries that discussion forward.
There is also the underlying theme of power, and the controlling of another person’s life. The theme is played out, but it is the characterizations in the latest movie that cause me to not give Blade Runner 2049 the full on top score a movie can get. I felt our villain, Niander Wallace, was presented as a two-dimensional character.
Every character needs to have depth and give a why as to them taking the actions they take. Niander tells us he wants power to control a slave race so he, and thus humans, can expand through the stars. Okay. But, I might have missed something, but I was left asking, “why?” He is given to show acts of evil by killing a newborn replicant and a minion, along with having a minion kill police officers because they could. This came across as being a shallow portrayal. Even the K’s boss, Joshi, showed more depth as an antagonist to the story than Niander.
This leads me to question what is in store for future films. There have been statements of interest in doing another movie. It is unclear of which direction the movie would go in, but I would like to think that it will be handled in a similar fashion as the three books that were written by K.W. Jeter after the first movie to work on reconciling the differences between the Dick’s book and the original movie. For those interested the books are titled Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human, Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night, and Blade Runner 3: Eye and Talon.
Blade Runner 2049 is a three hour epic that continues a story into the future first presented by Philip K. Dick. It is a dark portrayal into a possible future where humans, as a race, have decimated ourselves and trying to deal with the problems we have created. The acting, directing, writing, cinematography, soundtrack, etc. all work to keep the storyline going.
I give Blade Runner 2049 (4.5 / 5)