Thirty five years after Ridley Scott’s original, Harrison Ford returns as retired police officer Rick Deckard in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 alongside Lost River‘s Ryan Gosling, The Congress‘ Robin Wright, Riddick‘s Dave Bautista, Suicide Squad‘s Jared Leto, Knock Knock‘s Ana de Armas, The Martian‘s Mackenzie Davis, The Walking Dead‘s Lennie James, Carla Juri and Sylvia Hoeks.
The original an iconic work of science fiction cinema, influential and endlessly examined, this sequel cannot avoid addressing the ambiguity of the central character, assigned to hunt down and “retire” rogue replicants while strongly hinted to be a replicant himself, though possibly of a different order, without a pre-programmed “expiry date.”
Scheduled for worldwide release in October, the first full trailer has excited the team, though they are all aware that set so high the burden of expectation can most likely not be attained regardless of how good this unexpected sequel is.
Michael Flett – Ridley Scott made two monumental classics of science fiction, Alien and Blade Runner; he tried and utterly failed to recapture the fire of the gods of Alien with Prometheus, and perhaps we are fortunate that the sequel to Blade Runner has been handed on to somebody else.
Like Scott, Denis Villeneuve flits between genres and he has done science fiction before with Arrival which, good as it was, could easily have been a lot better, so I’m not inclined to instantly fall over myself with enthusiasm as a default position, and the original is such a unique, influential and examined work that it would be folly to even hope that anything can approach the impact which that had in all circles but the box office where it died a grim death on original release.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the questions raised by the original of the rights of artificial lifeforms, the responsibilities of those who created them and the consequences of bad decisions on both sides have been examined at length in the interim since Blade Runner came out, intellectually, legally and emotionally in Star Trek The Next Generation, particularly the episodes The Measure of a Man and The Offspring, and of course in Battlestar Galactica, with Admiral Adama himself, Edward James Olmos, commenting that show could almost be a companion piece to Blade Runner, and one of the first lines in this trailer, about how every civilisation has been built on a disposable workforce, was one of the central themes of Caprica.
The script is by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green; on IMDB Fancher has more listings as an actor than a writer, fifty one of them starting from a zombie in 1958’s The Brain Eaters, and of his six credits as a writer four are related to Blade Runner. I wonder how much he actually wrote of the script and how much is credit for creating the situations and primary characters, as the film Blade Runner is radically different from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? although it does specify “story by Fancher, screenplay by Fancher and Green.”
Green I can’t really comment on; Logan was good, certainly, but it was frustratingly linear, devoid of twists and inspired by an existing work, and Alien Covenant for which he is credited with the story I won’t be able to judge for another two nights. He also co-wrote Green Lantern, for which there is no excuse. He has done nothing to establish himself as a person of note.
The trailer is light on plot, big on appearance, and since the original film had a complex plot which was lost on the wider audience of the time perhaps that’s understandable, but from what we can glean it appears to be a fairly standard double cross thriller, using Officer K to locate Deckard while an assassin tracks K to eliminate Deckard for what he knows and K because he’s a witness. I certainly hope there is more to it than that, because otherwise, what is even the point?
Undeniably it looks amazing and Villeneuve has recreated the smoky, perpetually rainy mess of Los Angeles but we look to be taking it out of the city to wherever Deckard has been in retreat for thirty years. One thing that strikes me is that it’s obvious they have a lot more money – 2019 was overcrowded, but those showgirls look like they’re dancing in the biggest Vegas lounge, and losing the claustrophobia, the desperation, the run down feel of the original will undermine the honesty of it, the mash of cultures at street level.
I also don’t like the “more real than real” holograms; while it’s understandable that technology will have advanced, it looks too pretty, it looks like Ghost in the Machine, not Blade Runner. Opening with visuals familiar, spinners, the Tyrell building and enormous neon adverts, the difference is that everything in the original was created and lit physically, it was real, it was astonishing; here, in an age where anything which can be imagined can be rendered on computer there will have to be something truly visionary and audacious to match what Ridley Scott and his craftsmen gave us three and a half decades back.
As our cinematographer we have Roger Deakins who has worked with Villeneuve twice before and on Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, True Grit, Skyfall and Hail, Caesar! We don’t have Vangelis but I am reliably informed that Jóhann Jóhannsson is good; I know I’ll have heard him on Arrival but in all honesty I can’t even remember the soundtrack at all. This trailer is using the original Vangelis cues; hopefully will Jóhannsson be working them into his own score.
Harrison looks fantastic for his age and can still do the action scenes, Ryan is always dependable, and apparently Edward James Olmos is returning as Gaff which is wonderful. Eddie can do no wrong and I’ve been following Ryan’s career since The Believer, and we are in good hands, although I’m not sure about Ryan’s character being called “Officer K,” which is a bit too Men in Black for me. I also feel that it will need a character as bold as Roy Batty; Jared Leto is no Rutger Hauer.
It’s going to be very strange to go back to this world. Originally almost dismissed at the time of release, even though I was just a kid I knew of Blade Runner from the start as my mother saw it at the cinema on original release and purchased the movie tie in edition of the paperback immediately after. I’ve always found it fascinating how many people now proclaim what she knew all along.
Kevin Gilmartin – I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, despite myself. I’m a little worried that they seem to have ditched the existentialist, thought-provoking, slow-burn of the original and turned it into a CGI-laden action movie.
For me, Blade Runner still works because it was made in a time before anyone with a £600 computer and an Adobe subscription could generate convincing explosions and drop them into a video. Not that Blade Runner was low-budget, they just spent it on other things like gorgeous sets and the creation of the cityscape – it perfectly suited the tone of the source material, PKD’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
That being said, Blade Runner was only based on the novel and not a direct adaptation, as different to it as it could be whilst maintaining the ambience of Dick’s technological slum world.
This teaser trailer for 2049 was quite low-key and made me think we might have something similar to the first movie again, but this had raised my doubts. It looks beautiful, but it doesn’t feel like Blade Runner. It’s not giving much away, concentrating on explosions and short, moody, teasers, but it seems like maybe Gosling’s character has uncovered some (presumably replicant-related) conspiracy, gone looking for Deckard, in self-imposed exile in the dessert, for answers and the conspirators are after him.
Despite my misgivings I’ll go see it; as I said I’m still looking forwards to it. Ford is reliable and I’m told Ryan Gosling has acting chops although this will be the first thing he’s been in that I’ve been remotely interested in. The supporting cast is encouraging too, boasting the talents of Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista among others, and Eddie James Olmos reprises his role as Gaff.
Hopefully, by the time the end credits roll, my worries will be lost. Like tears in the rain.
Dario Persechino – Damn that looks pretty! The visuals combined with the music were enough to transport me back to that world, and it is a world I adore. The advertising boards seem to have evolved just enough, from large 2D screens to holograms that make it seems like a natural evolution from the last time we saw it.
I’m looking forward to learning more about the Tyrell Corporation who seem to still be doing good business, and find out about the hints of the past that seem to be referenced through the trailer. Maybe we will finally find out about the Tannhauser gate.
I am cautious however; revisiting the worlds of classics is fraught with danger, but as this is a new creative team though and not Ridley Scott again revisiting his past I am also hopeful. I will of course be seeing it on the big screen and at the very least, it should make a great Vangelis music video.
Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled for release on 6th October