"Pain reminds you the joy you felt was real."
Let's face it. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) was going to be tough act to follow. Coming up with a worthy sequel to one of the science fiction masterpieces of our time would be a tall order. So to see Blade Runner 2049 (2017) land somewhere squarely within the same ballpark is nothing short of a small miracle.
Director Denis Villeneuve takes the reins for a return to that world some 35 years later. I'm not going to spend a great deal of time on writing about its story here. You can see the film. So much has already been said too. Not to mention this film will need some time for me to digest for me to assess if it comes close to the original for me.
I will say Villenueve was a great choice to revisit the world of Blade Runner. He has a sure-handed visual style and he's a thinker. The world needs a few more thinkers in film like everywhere else.
And of course this film left me thinking a lot like the original. That's always a good sign. The spirit of the world from Scott's film is developed nicely with just the right touches and time allotted to a variety of sequences.
I would only say the police cars as digital creations, particularly when flying, weren't nearly as interesting as the original police Spinners. The visual man that I am takes note of these things. I certainly tend to lean old school on these matters so I can be hard. It's a minor quibble of a film that is expansive and interesting visually on the whole overall too.
Many have said you don't need to see the original film to appreciate this one. Having seen the original many times how could I say, but undeniably Blade Runner 2049 is a more impactful film with the original in your data banks. Characters, plot points, mythology. All of it will serve a viewer more substantively than not seeing it.
Villeneuve's Arrival (2016) still leaves me puzzled. I'm still uncertain what to make of that film and again like this one will require another viewing perhaps even more. Prisoners (2013) was an incredible, powerful human film that while not as intellectually challenging still required of us to contemplate human behavior. This is indeed one of director Villeneuve's gifts. He leaves us considering the scenario or even his Sicario (2015). He never wastes our time on a film instead giving us a period of necessary self-reflection. See his Incendies (2010).
Expectations for Blade Runner 2049 were high for me. Blade Runner is on such a pedestal. I have about twenty posts written on the subject of that film for Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic and yet I am paralyzed to post about it as it's so precious to me. Not a good thing I know.
Blade Runner 2049 is yet is another strong piece of filmmaking. For a film that is required to build upon a complete original, and lacking that element of surprise, it's impressive and challenging in much the same way James Cameron had to build upon Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and did so successfully with Aliens (1986).
Coming at this film as a fan of Blade Runner I can only say this is an absolutely gorgeous piece of science fiction filmmaking that builds upon the legacy of the original. That's high praise. For deeper purposes of subtext outside of the obvious, I'll be enjoying this one again. Whether it takes hold of me like the original is to be determined.
Writer: Hampton Fancher/ Michael Green.
Director: Denis Villeneuve.