Blade Runner 2049 Review

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Aaron Coopersmith | mcoopersmith@radford.edu

Blade Runner 2049 goes against the current trend of “soft remakes” taking place with “nostalgic” properties. A “soft remake” is usually considered a remake of the original iteration except it is disguised as a continuation. Recently, I have noticed that many movie sequels, to individual properties, are taking this lazy route by changing the names of the main characters, yet disguise the major plot points of the first movie. Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to mind with its copying and pasting the plot outline of Star Wars A New Hope. Being a loyal fan to Blade Runner, the fear of Blade Runner 2049 turning out to be a “soft remake” remained present in my mind from the time I saw the trailer to the first, fifteen minutes of the film.

Detective K, our main character played by Ryan Gosling is a replicant working as a Blade Runner. Yet, this information is not a twist, right after Detective K retires (kills) Dave Batista’s character he takes a replicant loyalty test for the LA Police Force. I felt that this was quite odd since at the end of Blade Runner (1982) the audience is left with the question of if Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, was a replicant all along and if all Blade Runners were replicants. Just fifteen minutes in and the question that sparked a variety of debate is answered in such an anticlimactic way. Yet, this choice has a more positive impact than you might think. Since the last movie ended with this question, the squeal took on the duty to answer this question.

Instead of just replacing the main character with another cardboard cut-out of Rick Deckard’s character, we get to see a new perspective and especially that of a replicant. Right off the bat, the sequel is doing something different; It changed the perspective of the audience. 2049 doesn’t stray too far away from its predecessor.

It still keeps to the Neo-noir style that the first film had; scenes of the massive dystopia city landscape and the musical score blending in so well together. Denis Villeneuve, the director of Blade Runner 2049, just knew how to emanate Ridley Scotts epic scenes that allow the audience just to take a breath of this vast city. There were times where I felt captivated by these short transitions.

Even from when K is just driving around in his hovercar, you can tell that a lot of money and effort went into the digitally producing grand landscapes. With our advances in CGI editing, Blade Runner 2049 was able to add something that the first movie did not have; more than one setting.

Throughout Blade Runner (1982), the audience is only allowed to see one setting. They do not get to see the massive wastes around the Pacific coast or the deserts that stretches across the former US. What I have noticed from “soft remakes” is that they do not take any risks with what they show. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they practically use the same plants from A New Hope; Jaku a desert planet looks a whole lot like Tatooine and D’Qar, the planet in which the resistance has their base has an uncanny resemblance to Yavin-5. Blade Runner 2049 expanded the setting, and we got spectacular visuals from it.

At first, I thought Ryan Gosling’s performance as a replicant, who cannot show any emotion unless he gets “Retired,” was cheap since he did not really need to emote. Overall, it did make it easier to show character development of our lifeless android accepting humanity. Ryan Gosling gave an excellent performance when he was allowed to show emotion. However, I still felt cheated, since it seems unnecessary to have a prominent actor doing nothing for half the movie.

Harrison Ford returned as a much older Rick Deckard. Ford might be critiqued for reprising old roles and not moving onto newer things. Yet, Ford has experience with this character, and without him, I would still feel that the movie was still missing something. Jared Leto played the blind CEO, Niander Wallace. Jared partially blinded himself during the shooting, in which to transform himself into the character. This is not surprising since he is a method actor. However, I do not think he would do it if he did not see the movie was something special.

Sadly, this movie is a beautiful songbird that nobody paid that much attention too. I say this because when Blade Runner 2049 came out with a worldwide box office return of $252.63 million with a budget of $150.2 million. Most people would see a gain of $102.43 million to be profitable. If one was to dive into the numbers, Blade Runner 2049 only made $89.46 million at the Domestic box office and $163.17 million at the foreign box office. Also, just earning $32.7 million during its opening weekend which is barely one/third of what it would make at the domestic box office.

In my personal opinion, Hollywood saw this as not very profitable; Which means that we will not be seeing another Blade Runner movie. Yet, this does not surprise me. When Blade Runner came out, it only made 33 million (accounting for inflation: 83,559,867.19) during its time in theatres. Blade Runner became a cult classic with sci-fi nerds to dedicated Harrison Ford fans. I can only hope that Blade Runner 2049 can follow in his father’s footsteps or else be lost like tears, in the rain.

Dylan Lepore

Dylan is a writer, gamer, avid movie lover, and PlayStation extraordinaire. Currently, he attends Radford University in pursuit of a BS in Media Studies with a concentration in Journalism. If I played the game, I like it; if I haven't played it, just remember that I'm in college. ($ = tuition)