In which Jules briefly talks about Blade Runner 2049


I adore Blade Runner for its groundbreaking production and audio design as well as the themes it tries to cover. It, however, is certainly not perfect – and the seven different versions that got released over time are a testament to the struggle with the movie’s structure. Blade Runner 2049 manages to stand on the shoulders of an iconic cult classic while delivering a more coherent and even experience at a better pace. It’s also braver than another recent sequel to an influential sci-fi pop culture piece, Star Wars: Episode VII.

When it was originally announced that Ridley Scott is developing a sequel to Blade Runner, I frankly did not care a lot. Scott’s output over the past 15 years has been mostly underwhelming, and Prometheus and Alien: Covenant were evidence of him not having a grasp of another classic he himself had crafted and trying to answer questions that better had been left untouched. It wasn’t until Denis Villeneuve signed on to helm the Blade Runner sequel that my interest in got piqued, and quite instantly so. And to seal the deal, he roped in his regular partner in crime, Roger Deakins, who just happens to be one of the great cinematographers of our time. Villeneuve clearly is one of the most interesting contemporary directors; while I like some of his movies more than others, all of them are worth watching. Like a less convoluted spirit brother of Christopher Nolan, he has a penchant for challenging themes and topics without designing his work for the lowest common denominator.

Given Deakins’s involvement, Blade Runner 2049 was destined to look amazing – and despite that level of expectation, I sat there in cinematic awe throughout runtime of the movie. The framing, colour/light composition and contrast in every scene are downright immaculate; pretty much every shot makes for a great wallpaper. Supported by the bassy and booming audio design, it is something that <review cliché>has to be seen on the big screen</review cliché>.

That’s not to say that the production design is all the movie has going for it. We most certainly see Harrison Ford’s most engaged performance in ages, while Ryan Gosling’s whiff of detachment and monotony suit the K character rather well. The smaller roles were nicely cast, too, leaving you wishing that the likes of Dave Bautista (who makes everyone minute count) or Mackenzie Davis had gotten more screen time. The plot itself is straightforward, resisting the temptation to unnecessarily overcomplicate things and yet having a trick or two up its sleeve. The one nitpick I have is that I would have liked to see the two antagonist characters somewhat more fleshed out.

Its biggest strength is that Blade Runner 2049 is telling a story hooked into the universe and themes established by its predecessor without constantly repeating plot beats from and references to the source material – unlike Star Wars: Episode 7, which, at times, was riding the waves of the original trilogy a bit too often. It was an entertaining experience, but also a very familiar one, playing it safe intentionally. Blade Runner 2049, on the other hand, carves its own path quite comfortably. It’s a movie that takes its time and lets you marvel at its sights; in spite of a runtime of over 2 hours and 40 minutes, it does not feel long at all. It’s terrific piece of sci-fi cinema that, like Her and Villeneuve’s own Arrival, offers plenty of smart bits of world building and does not rely on action set-pieces. Sadly, just like the original Blade Runner, it also seems to be a box office disappointment. Go watch it.

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