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Cinema Recall Podcast Reviews Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about a young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret that leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villenuve and stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto and Ana De Amars. It is the follow up to the original that came out in 1982, but of course this sequel has more in common with the 2007 Final Cut than the version with the bad narration and tacked on happy ending. This review will not contain spoilers but it will try it’s best to appeal to both fans of the original and those that have never seen the first one or don’t much care for it either.

I will start off by saying that despite a few call backs to the first movie, Blade Runner 2049 is its own movie. Sort of like how James Cameron‘s Aliens was its own beast compared with Ridley Scott‘s Alien. The same thing could be said for Mr. Villenuve’s version too. In this story we have a man named K-34765. I’m sure that is not the correct name but it doesn’t matter. Gosling is a Blade Runner who has to hunt down and retire a certain replicant because if their secret did come out it would be the end of everything. At least that’s what Wright’s character tell us. When K starts to investigate, certain things are revealed and that is all I am going to say. 

So for those of you that have never seen Blade Runner or you have but you didn’t much care for it, I can safely say that the story in this does move at a little quicker pace than the first one. At over two and a half hours long, the movie never once drags and it kind of reminded me a little bit of Minority Report in terms of tone and a few visuals. It also in ways reminded me of Her (2013), with a certain scene but that one was a lot more creative with its use of artificial intelligence than this movie. For a movie that is suppose to have synthetic beings, I never felt this one explored them as much as the first one did.

Which leads me to my review for those that have seen and love the original Blade Runner.  First off the visuals are amazing.  You know how impressed you were when you saw the spinners fly through the city. You will get the same feeling here. I saw this at a Dolby Cinema and it was really impressive and I can’t wait to check it out on IMAX. If Roger Deakins gets no award love for cinematography, award shows can go eff-off. Hampton Fancher (who was the original writer of the first one) and Michael Green write a story that in many ways feels like this was the story of Blade Runner that he wanted to tell before David Peoples was brought on board to spruce it up. The very first scene of 2049 is the one Fancher wanted to use as the opening for the first movie. The only issues I have with the story is that there is really nothing to explore or discuss like the original.

In the original you can get into a conversation about what it means to be human. Is it right to make beings appear to be human but then make them do tasks we don’t want to do. There was a message in there about slavery. Can you love something that is not programmed for love, and can they love you in return. Yeah a whole works of philosophy was put into Blade Runner (and yes, I am mainly referring to the Final or Director’s cut) that was never really explored in Blade Runner 2049 that I wanted. But to be fair, we have seen a lot of those story elements used in other movies. Everything from the Steven Spielberg / Stanley Kubrick AI: Artificial Intelligence to Alex Garland‘s Ex Machina. It’s kind of difficult to wow us with stories of cyborgs anymore.

Blade Runner 2049 is still a really good movie with amazing visuals and strong performances all around. Some stand out ones for me where De Armas as K’s girlfriend and Sylvia Hoeks as the main henchwoman to Leto’s character of Nilander Wallace.  Now that is a character I wish was established a little bit more than what is shown. He has created Replicants who are the perfect slave because they have no way of identifying their value or have any knowledge of life. There could have been some really interesting things to explore with his character, but it never does.

As for Gosling and Ford, I think they both do a decent enough job in their roles. I think K is a way better Blade Runner than Deckard because he doesn’t get his ass kicked enough. If you remember every time the D Man got around a replicant it was game over and the dude got lucky. K on the other hand can hold his own in a fight. But to be fair, Deckard did get a little better.  I thought their chemistry for the most part was good but it didn’t really stand out.

I really liked Blade Runner 2049 and will rewatch it again, but I’m not so sure if people will be talking about it years down the road. Unless for some reason Denis Villenuve releases his director’s cut.

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