Blade Runner 2049: The Sequel To End All Sequels?
Review by Aaron Haughton
Creating another Blade Runner film has got to be a daunting task, but Denis Villeneuve rose to the occasion and absolutely knocked it out of the park with Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve not only succeeded in making one of the best sequels of all time, but also his own masterpiece, a film that manages to stand on its own as much as it expounds upon the world and mythos of the of the Ridley Scott film that started it all. Accompanied by Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography, it's a film you can easily get lost in with regard to the visuals, and, like its predecessor, 2049 offers a fair amount of intellectual fat to chew on, so much so you'll likely leave the theater with a little fat between your teeth; though, admittedly, not as much as the 1982 masterpiece.
The film follows LAPD Blade Runner, K (played by Ryan "The Gos" Gosling), as he investigates and attempts to retire rogue replicants, which eventually leads him to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Over the course of a slow burning 160 minutes, K's blade running leads him to an interesting discovery, one which has him at the center of a larger scheme.
The Blade Runner world is one of the most visually iconic and stimulating worlds ever committed to celluloid, and its look forever changed the sci-fi films to follow. Villeneuve's film falls right in line, but shows us variations of the Blade Runner world we saw previously; foggy farmlands, desolate Las Vegas, and metal heaped junk lands, in addition to the rainy Asian-influenced metropolis. It's a cool world to be immersed in, and I appreciate Villeneuve's dedication to giving us some of the same, but being visionary enough to take us on a journey out of the familiar and nostalgic.
It goes without saying that 2049 is gorgeous -- it was never not going to be anything less than gorgeous. With the preexisting Blade Runner world and DP Richard Deakins, it couldn't visually fail. It doesn't narratively disappoint either. Story-wise, there's a lot more going on than in the original. Officer K is actually doing some detective work and solving a mystery. There are some genuine winds and twists alone the way, but it kinda loses steam toward the end and doesn't land a haymaker blow as much as the first film.
When I walked out of the theater, I was pleased but not necessarily blown away. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I enjoyed the fact that Villeneuve took his time in telling the story and was able to keep the pacing at an even keel despite its near 3 hour runtime, but I didn't feel like the story was as rich as the Scott film.
I think 2049 will be one of those films that will become enriched with each subsequent viewing, but will probably always live in the shadow of the original simply because it came first, and while Villeneuve's effort is still incredible and worthy of praise, it's not doing anything new really. For a film with a long runtime, you don't feel the minutes drip by as if they were grains of sand in an hourglass, but I did feel a little bored at times and felt like there were a few opportunities to speed things along. But, in the film's defense, all of the scenes were pretty necessary to further the plot, and Villeneuve's slow burn pacing allows the scene to breathe and open up organically.
Rating: 4.5 skinjobs outta 5.
What did you think? Did you love the film? Which film do you like more? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!