Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

After 35 years, the classic Science Fiction film ‘Blade Runner’ gets a sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on a screenplay by Hampton Fancher, amongst others. The story concerns a search for the author of the false memories implanted in replicants.

The film is a long 163 minutes starting at a contemplative, not to say ‘snail’s’ pace, yet is a little overstuffed with action later in the second half. It is richer in ideas than is the original film, though it lacks the iconic visuals of that first film did so well.

Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10.

Full disclosure: I am not a big fan of the original ‘Blade Runner’. I see it as mostly an action film with a lot of unpleasant visual imagery. I think it is given credit for more intelligence than actually gets to the screen.

When one thinks of ‘The Godfather’ one thinks of ‘The Godfather II’ which completes the story and compliments the film. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is not a sequel in the ‘The Godfather’-‘The Godfather_II’ sense but more in the ‘Westworld’-‘Futureworld’ sense. Dennis Gassner as production designer really creates the look and feel of the world of the film. But he creates a different world than that of the original film.

The new ‘Blade Runner’ world uses its own color palette. While the first film had a gloriously detailed setting with a lot to please and intrigue the eye, Villeneuve saves a lot of effort by hiding minute details behind smog, smoke or mist. This may imply that the environment has deteriorated in the years between the two stories. Some of the models that did stick out of the fog looked to be exactly what they were, models.

One odd touch in a world where most animals are extinct (and why is this not killing the humans off?) the lead Blade Runner uses ‘Peter And The Wolf’ as an alarm tone that advocates killing or confining an animal that is free.

One stylistic touch of the original ‘Blade Runner’ was its images of the neon-drenched streets of Los Angeles. There are one or two tracking shots on the street in the sequel, but much of the richness of detail is lost with much less of the street culture appearing in the new ‘Blade Runner’ world.

In the original film, the Vangelis score helped to create an auditory image of the future world. Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer’s score is sound devoid of melody projecting a feeling only of unease and discomfort.

The film stars Ryan Gosling, reasonably fresh from his success in ‘La La Land’ playing the character whose name may or may not be Joe. In James Bond fashion, he is referred to by the letter K or perhaps it is a reference to Kafka? In the latter part of the film, K gets to know the Deckard of the original story. Also returning is Rachael, played by Sean Young as wooden as she was in the first film.

Director Denis Villeneuve who last year navigated around the mysterious and enigmatic, directing ‘The Arrival’ does it again directing ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Other familiar faces include Robin Wright, Jared Leto and, of course, Harrison Ford.

Much like the first ‘Blade Runner’ film, I can respect ‘Blade Runner 2049’ more than I like it. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

Mark R. Leeper

© Mark R. Leeper 2017.

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