BY RYAN MACKETT
WHEN I had first heard about the plans to make a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, I admit that I was very skeptical. Why bother trying to make a sequel to one of the greatest science fiction films of all time? When it was announced that Scott would only be a producer on the film and that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners) would be directing, my skepticism waned. The trailers for the film also helped.
After having seen the film for myself, I can safely say that not only did Blade Runner 2049 pay respectful homage to the classic original, it stands as a masterpiece in its own right. For me, Blade Runner 2049 is film of the year, by far.
Everything about the film exemplifies an extreme proficiency in the craft of filmmaking and the art of storytelling. Villeneuve was the perfect choice of director for the film, and the script from original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher (with help from Michael Green) was thoughtful and nuanced.
The cast was terrific. Ryan Gosling shines as K, a Blade Runner tasked with exterminating rogue replicants (much like Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard in the original). Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks all perform greatly in this film as well. Of course, it should be noted that Harrison Ford returns to his iconic role with the same perfection he did with Han Solo in The Force Awakens.
On a technical level, Blade Runner 2049 was simply astounding. The cinematography from filmmaking legend Roger Deakins was some of the most beautiful work I have seen, and captured the “neon-noir” aesthetic of the original film perfectly. He deserves an Oscar more than ever.
I was a bit disappointed that Vangelis did not return to score the film, but composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch created an aural soundscape that worked so well, with hints of Vangelis’ original work shining through at just the right moments. The film’s sound design is deserving of recognition as well; this is a movie you literally feel, and deserves to be experienced on the big screen.
The plot of the film is not something I dare explore in this review, so as not to spoil anything. But be prepared for a cerebral, thoughtful and slower-paced film. It has a runtime of 2 hours and 44 minutes, but it definitely does not feel like a “long movie” though.
The original Blade Runner is not a film that needed a sequel. It was already a near-perfect film-noir science fiction work of art. In spite of that, the filmmakers went ahead and made this movie. Please set aside any biases you may have for or against science fiction, and set aside any preconceived notions about this film being a “crapy sequel” or “unnecessary remake.” Blade Runner 2049 is essentially a masterclass in filmmaking. Highly recommended.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.