Blade Runner 2049 - 4K Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Blade Runner 2049

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    Movie: :4.5stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :5stars:
    Extras: :3.5stars:
    Final Score: :4.5stars:



    [​IMG] Movie
    It’s always a tricky thing making a sequel. You have to live up to what came before it, get the right cast, and try not to alienate your fan base. It’s a tricky enough endeavor for a film that’s a few years old, but trying to do so for an iconic Sci-fi masterpiece that has shaped countless films over the course of 35+ years? Now that’s a HUGE and risky gamble to make. I will point blank tell you that I think Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is probably the definition of a perfect science fiction film. It created a world that transcends decades, allowing new viewers to enjoy it even though it was created almost 4 of those decades in the past. The characters are intoxicating, and completely relatable, and yet so distinct and larger than life. There’s action, there’s drama, there is deep introspection into what makes us human. And at the end of the day it makes you want to watch it again and again in an effort to glean more from film, being that Ridley Scott reveals just enough to make the story complete, while keeping certain parts shrouded in mystery to allow our imaginations to fill in all of the details. Thus, when Blade Runner 2049 was announced I visibly winced. Lightning can only be caught in a bottle by pure luke (and some skill), and Blade Runner was so iconic that it’s like make a sequel to Citizen Kane right now.

    Despite my trepidation and fear, I began to get interested in the project when I saw Denis Villeneuve attached to the project as director. Now, Denis doesn’t have dozens of films under his belt in Hollywood, but the 5 or 6 that he HAS created have all been absolutely amazing (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners, Enemy), and actually feel tonally similar to Blade Runner in many ways (especially Enemy). As the production came to an end I really REALLY wanted to see the final product in theaters, especially with Harrison Ford returning to his famous role of Deckard the Bladerunner, but I unfortunately had too many responsibilities to see it in the theatrical run. So you can bet your little behind that I was first in line to check out the home video release the minute I got it in my grubby little mitts.

    I’m honestly shocked (even though I was getting more excited as reviews began coming in since October of 2017), but Blade Runner 2049 is actually a worthy sequel to the legendary film that is (in my opinion) the magnum opus of Ridley Scott’s Sci-fi career. No, it is not as PERFECT, at least upon first viewing, as Blade Runner, but all those involved have put their heart and soul into this creation. Rendering a magnificently entertaining 2 hour and 43 minute film that races by in what seems like half that time span. This is where it’s difficult for a reviewer. The easy part is watching the film, and an even easier part of the job is write down all of our thoughts for the readers. The hardest part is actually choosing WHAT to leave out, and what it include in said writings so as not to spoil the film for viewers, but still give enough to elaborate on. This is the conundrum I had when I first sat down to this review. HOW do I capture the scope and magnitude of what just went on without giving away key plot points. Well, it’s a delicate dance, but here goes.

    It’s now the year 2049 and the world of replicants and humans is so much different, but still eerily similar. Back in 2019 when Deckard (Harrison Ford) was hunting rogue replicants, most beings were human and it was tough to weed out the artificial life forms. Now it’s the opposite. Replicants became more and more common over the years, with each generation becoming more and more humanlike in the process. However, things did not go as planned. Back in 2020, a scant year after Deckard and Rachel dropped off the face of the earth, the Tyrell corporation collapsed as their products were seen as too dangerous. Years later, the Wallace corporation headed by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) picks up again where the Tyrell corporation left off. This time creating generation 8 and generation 9 replicants without any disobedience problems. Well, at least with the Gen 9s. Generation 8 models could live much much longer than the 4 years of the old ones, but also shared some of the “freedom” issues that plagued older models. Many of them escaped and ran off to hide, leaving the Bladerunner section of the police force up and running (now made up of all generation 9s).
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    The agent that we’re going to become familiar with is Agent K (Ryan Gosling), who is the 2049 equivalent of Deckard. The best of the best, with the highest capture/kill rate of the entire department. When K goes out to a farm to track down a rogue generation 8 model named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) he discovers something akin to their version of a Pandora's box. A discovery so huge that if it ever got out, could very well destroy the fabric of their society and tip the balance of power in favor of the slave force that humans used to build their dominance among the stars. Coming back to his station chief (played by Princess Buttercup herself, aka Robin Wright), Agent K is ordered to destroy all evidence and go on like nothing has happened. However, Niander Wallace himself has a desire for this powerful secret, and he uses his powerful influence to steal the information for himself. Information that could lead directly back to the missing Deckard himself.

    Blade Runner 2049 feels so very much like its predecessor, but so starkly different at the same time. Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins crafted the movie so meticulously, and used Hans Zimmer’s score so effectively (who was able to mimic Vangler’s 1982 score amazingly well) that you feel like you’re back IN the Bladerunner universe once more. The start of the film is very much like the start of the 1982 film. A crack Bladerunner finds out something of grave importance, and has to go on a quest to discover what he can about himself, the replicants he’s hunting, and what it means to be human. However the movie deviates in scope and direction quite quickly. We always GUESSED Deckard was a replicant from hints Ridley Scott dropped in the 4 different cuts of the movie that were released, but nothing was ever SAID in the film (although Rildey himself has said several times in interviews that he always meant it to be obvious that Deckard was the same thing as what he was hunting). 2049 is much more upfront about it. The entire Bladerunner department of the LAPD is staffed by replicants, as they are the most efficient at hunting down their own kind. So with that knowledge firmly in the forefront of our minds we get to delve into what it means to be human, and what it means to be artificial at the same time. Look at K’s interactions with his artificial intelligence “girlfriend” Joi (played by Ana de Armas). Both of them KNOW that they’re not human, and they KNOW they aren’t the same thing, but there is a deep and intimate exploration of what they define as feelings and emotions between them. One that starts off kind of creepy and odd, but slowly becomes normalized to the point where they seem more human than the ones in charge of hunting them down.

    The same thing goes for the second half of the film. We know that Agent K is searching for this missing information (as is Wallace), but the movie is less introspective than Blade Runner, instead shooting ahead for the more obvious goals of revolution and advancement. The previous film dealt with coming to grips with the ideas of humanity and what it means, this one goes deeper and looks at different angles, while tackling the one thing that always felt painful (in a good way) about the 1982 film. The fact that these sentient creatures are living slaves for a race who wants to feel like they’re not doing something wrong. At the same time also paving the way for ANOTHER sequel if the powers that be so decide.

    Gosling is an actor that I feel is a bit underrated in Hollywood, and seems to still be typecast as “the pretty boy”. Agent K is powerful and cold, with elements of robotic simplicity, but deep emotions at the same time. Watching his face when he so desperately wants to feel something for Joi, and the moment when he comes to realize that his memories about the horse are real. The icy cold veneer fades away and all that is left is raw emotion of the eyes. Harrison Ford is the one thing that I felt we could have done with a little less of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s FANTASTIC to see Deckard come back to life, but the third act feels a bit too long at times, with Ford taking center stage for reasons unknown. Gosling still is the main character, but it almost seemed like they wanted Ford to make a big splash regardless. The one I was initially hesitant on was Ana de Armas, as she’s not exactly an established actress (and the movies I’ve seen her in she wasn’t always top notch). However, she really shocked me as Joi. The coquettish charms of the hologram intermingled with child like wonder and desire at becoming something MORE than she is really sold the character to me. Leto was simply not used as much as I was expecting, but the man can’t turn in a bad performance, so every time Wallace appeared on screen you were simply mesmerized.




    Rating:

    Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language




    Video: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG]Shot with Arri Alexa cameras and finished at a 4K digital intermediate master,
    Blade Runner 2049 looks absolutely amazing. The already stunning Blu-ray looks even better in 2160p, and for good reason. The highly stylized film revels in deep blues and strong ruddy colors for a majority of the time, and the extra boost from the HDR is absolutely jaw dropping (supposedly the European release has dolby vision, but the U.S. release is HDR 10 only). Color such as the flash of flame out of an engine, or the greens of Dr. Stelline’s imaginary holodeck are brilliantly saturated, and the greyish look of other shots only contrasts these highlights even more. Fine detail is jaw dropping, showing off every line and crease in Deckard’s face, and in Agent K’s immaculate clothing. You can notice little nuances and textures that isn’t available in the Blu-ray and the blacks show no signs of artifacting at all. Just pure, inky, silky, darkness with fantastic shadow detail. The film was also printed for a 1.90:1 IMAX run for the theaters, but the Blu-ray and the 4K UHD disc alike remain the same 2.39:1 framing for the entirety of the movie. An all around amazing looking transfer.





    Audio: :5stars:
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    Like usual, Warner has put the advanced generation Atmos track on both the 4K UHD disc AND the 2D Blu-ray (while leaving it off the 3D disc), but have also included a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track to listen to as well. Unlike IT, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t default to the 5.1 track, but rather the superior Atmos mix, which makes it easier to just put the disc in and hit play instead of adjusting audio settings. I really, REALLY like the Atmos for IT from this week, but this mix may actually eclipse it. Right off the bat you get introduced to bass, bass, and MORE unending bass as the heavy beats of the Hans Zimmer and Ben Wallfisch electronic score pulsate through the sound stage. Despite being VERY heavy in the LFE department, the film manages to keep a good sense of balance, with quiet moments between Joi and Agent K being appropriately soft, and the sound of gunshots ringing with authority without feeling bloated and full of clipping. Surrounds are used incredibly well throughout the film, as K slips in and out of the busy L.A. area, with the overheads getting quite a workout as rain falls overhead, or the sounds of their vehicles rumble down onto the pavement. This almost reminds me of Pacific Rim, as its a very well done mix, but one that is just INTENSE, acting as a sonic assault rather than a gentle mix. Bassheads, action junkies, and sci-fi aficionados are going to LOVE this mix, as it is easily one of the best Atmos mixes of the year.





    Extras: :3.5stars:
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    • Designing The World of Blade Runner 2049
    • To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049
    • Prologues: 2036: Nexus Dawn
    • Prologues: 2048: Nowhere to Run
    • Prologues: 2022: Black Out
    • Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners
    • Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution
    • Blade Runner 101: The Rise of Wallace Corp
    • Blade Runner 101: Welcome to 2049
    • Blade Runner 101: Joi
    • Blade Runner 101: Within the Skies







    Final Score: :4.5stars:



    Blade Runner 2049 is an incredible achievement as a film, but also as a sequel. I am hesitant to rate it the 4.5/5 that I did due to the fact that I don’t want to jump the gun and rave out how close it came to the original’s perfection, but at the same time I really found the movie an amazing watch. I guess time will tell if the sequel becomes as revered and dissected as the original, but after this first viewing I am HUGELY impressed. My only fear is that the film does leave it OPEN for a sequel and in this day and age I worry that Warner or some other studio head decides to milk the franchise and let the quality slip. The 4K UHD is a fantastic looking and sounding disc, and the video is a very solid step up over the demo worthy Blu-ray disc. Once again, I have to give the nod to the next gen format as it shows improvements enough to warrant the price differential. Definitely a must buy for sci-fi fans everywhere.




    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista
    Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
    Written by: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
    Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DVS, French, Spanish DD 5.1
    Studio: Warner
    Rated: PG-13
    Runtime: 163 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: Own Blade Runner 2049 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, 3D combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD on January 16th, or Own It Now on Digital HD!








    Recommendation: Must Buy

     
    #1 Michael Scott, Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    Jon Liu and tripplej like this.
  2. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Great review Mike. I can't wait to get this in the mail next week! :T
     
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  3. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. I will get this one as well. :)
     
  4. JBrax

    JBrax AV Addict
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    Yep, what they said. A must own and I’ll be adding this to the collection.
     
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  5. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    and as a heads up, we are giving away my review copy of the Blu-ray for a lucky winner (details HERE) .... all you have to do is comment in either this thread or the Blu-ray thread to be entered as per the requirements in the link
     
    #5 Michael Scott, Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  6. Sonnie

    Sonnie Senior Admin
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    Okay... so this was just not good for me... way too slow. It was about the slowest developing movie I've ever seen. And how many times did they take a totally mind boggling BORING scene and try to make something out of it with climatic music?

    I dunno... I think you might need to be smokin' something to watch this one, then you could trip thru it. :justdontknow:

    My 4K version is for sale if anyone wants it... make me an offer!
     
  7. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    there's always gotta be that ONE troublemaker in the bunch ;)...we'll forgive you Sonnie :greengrin:
     
  8. Sonnie

    Sonnie Senior Admin
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    I was hoping you would. :bigsmile:
     

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