Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-5830 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
Blade Runner 2049
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).
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.
Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language
• 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
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 Blu-ray is an amazing package, with picture perfect video and sound, as well as a healthy array of extras to enjoy. Definitely a must buy for sci-fi fans everywhere.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DVS, French, Spanish DD 5.1
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