This week, we review the visual stunner that is Blade Runner 2049. It’s the sequel to the original film this time directed by Denis Villeneuve. It stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and Ana De Armas. But, does it make our canon list??
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Anthony’s Written Review
A sequel worth saving.
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel no one asked for, but it’s one that is undeniable in its precision of cinema. A glorious, beautiful expansion of the world that we all fell in love with.
The basic premise of 2049 is this, K a replicant blade runner is tasked to unravel a mystery that affects the world as we know it. Vague enough? Good. If you haven’t seen this movie then don’t dig any further. The first viewing of this film is fantastic with the less you know.
So, we must begin with the elephant in the room that is the mesmerizing visuals by the legend, Roger Deakins. The cinematography on display here is peak cinema and its stunning. The use of neon colors. The use of shadows. The staggering use of lighting in unique and unexpected ways. The compositions and framing. The staging. It is a master of his craft flexing so damn hard that is undoubtedly a showpiece of the medium as a whole. There are so many moments of this film that will forever be remembered because of the precision of the camera. I could spend all day talking about this one aspect of this film, Deakins and Director Denis Villeneuve truly created a masterwork of visual art.
Coming off the visuals we must acknowledge the set designs as they are also perfect in grounding this world in believability and it all feels so worn and real. Whether it’s the cityscape or the police headquarters or the lair of the evil corporate tyrant or my personal favorite the future ruins of Las Vegas. It is all a feast for the eyes. It’s such a unique and interesting peak into this damaged and ruined future. And its all done with such care and attention to detail. In cinema we rarely get such gorgeous and creative environments at this scale and with this level of production. Truly a feat.
The costumes as well fit the film in grounding many characters. And the sound design really sets an atmosphere of mystery. And finally, the score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is at times great especially in one moment when they do a reinterpretation of the “tears in the rain” but I will say for the most part I found the score feeling obvious and cliché. Its hard to out do the original score by Vangelis and this one doesn’t even come close. Though there are two original tracks here that I do adore.
So, I think the best and worst parts of this film come from the narrative that 2049 tackles and the themes. I’m gonna try my best to dance around any obvious spoilers here. But I think this film has a beautiful theme that is at both times a reflection of the original blade runner and a refraction of it. The entire idea of what it means to be human is investigated here. And I loved every single second of it. The central flaw for me is purely a screenplay and editing one. I think the pace of this film is at odds with the emotional core. The film should entirely be focused with our protagonist K, but instead the movie begins to detour with other characters at the most impactful and emotional moments of his arc. One moment specifically destroys something for him and within 5 seconds we are cut into an exposition dump that has nothing to do with K’s emotional journey. Now it has been noted that this film had a 4hr cut and maybe that’s part of the problem is that this film may have been cut to close to the bone to where it only covers the major plot points and then the emotional highlights, but the growth and building elements are lost.
The other few negatives for me are Jared Leto’s performance and his entire character as all the scenes with him or regarding him just suck the life out of the movie for me. He plays it so hammy and cheesy and the dialogue is just so pointless. I even turned on the captions to read them and by the time he finished talking I had forgotten everything he just said. Just completely ripped me out of the experience.
So, in ending
8/10 – Great
Despite being a sequel, this film does what few sequels manage to do. Build and grow the world 2-fold. It keeps the same thematic resonance, builds upon it, and even add emotional weight. It does this with the jaw-dropping visuals from Roger Deakins. It does falter after the midpoint where it begins to lose focus and jump form major moment to major moment and distracting itself from the central character K played brilliantly by Ryan Gosling. Even with its pacing problem, it is a worthy watch and a brilliant entry and follow up to the blade runner world.