Friday 6 October 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to the 1992 sci-fi classic is here. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 88%. Robbie Collin of The Telegraph labels it “the most spectacular, profound blockbuster of our time”. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian qualifies the film as “a gigantic spectacle of pure hallucinatory craziness”. And so it goes, one gushing review after another, a rarity: a sequel which matches the original, if not surpasses it.

However, a few days ago, Rotten Tomatoes showed a rating of 92% and as more reviews have come in, now that the film has been released, that score has dropped to 88%. Telling?

The film didn’t do it for me. Everything was there: follow-up to a well-known story, nostalgia-factor with Harrison Ford reprising his role (and briefly Sean Young), great cinematography, etc., etc. So, what happened? You have to accept the premise. Superman has super powers. Ironman has a special body armor suit. Star Wars has light sabers. If you can’t accept the premise, the rest of the story makes no sense.

So, what happened? I was 30-years-old when I saw the original Blade Runner in 1982. Today, I’m 65. I’ve changed. My tastes have changed. My expectations have changed. A few years ago, I saw one of the Transformers movies and hated it. Nevertheless, I recognised that if I had been 15-years-old or if I had been a 40-year-old having grown up with the toys, I would have probably been enamoured by the movie. Even though I don’t like something, I can see how somebody else could like it. E. L. James has sold over 70 million copies of her 50 Shades trilogy, and yet, I couldn’t get past a hundred pages of the first novel. I nearly walked out of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I plan on never again seeing one of the Fast and the Furious movies or another John Wick film. I know they’re popular, but it’s just not doing it for me.

Fans are delving into all aspects of the sequel and the original, discussing philosophy, racism against replicants, sexism and the objectification of women, slavery, the future, dystopian societies, ad infinitum— or should I say ad nauseam? It’s entertaining if you’ve bought into the premise and want to explore all aspects of this cinematic world. I know it can be fun, but I’m writing this the day after having seen the film and I’m getting on with the rest of my life. I’m not thinking about the film and I found nothing in its themes inspired me to research them.

That wasn’t true before the film. I did research, reading various Wikipedia articles on Blade Runner 2049, on the 1982 original, and on Philip K. Dick, the author of the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” upon which the movie is based. While Philip K. Dick is now lauded as a great science fiction author—a partial list of movie adaptations: Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau—he seems to have a troubled life: drug use, mental health issues, and financial problems. My pre-film reading turned out to be more interesting than the film.

Final Word
If you haven't seen the original, you'll probably like this. It's a well-crafted movie and it can stand on its own. If you saw the original, and I mean you saw the original when it came out in 1982, you may be like me: you might not buy into the premise. The dramatic, loud synthesizer music, the brooding Ryan Gosling, the prolonged shots as we waited for something mysterious to unfold, were all designed to enhance the profundity of the story. Sorry, no go. I'm not saying it was a total waste of time and I now want two hours and forty-four minutes of my life back, but I won't be clamoring anytime soon to see it again. For me, it was a curiosity.


Rotten Tomatoes: Blade Runner 2049: 88%
Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right.

Wikipedia: Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. A sequel to Blade Runner (1982), the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, who reprises his role as Rick Deckard, with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto in supporting roles.

Rotten Tomatoes: Blade Runner (1982): 90%
Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott's mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.

Wikipedia: Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and is a loose adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.


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