Blade Runner 2049 is a Sequel So Good it Makes The Original Better (Review)

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This was in my top 5 most anticipated movies of 2017.   I could not wait to see it.  I discovered the original Blade Runner in my teens and loved it with that special love that hipsters have for their underappreciated favorites.  There was a lot riding on this sequel.  The trailers looked mouthwatering and I was all in for the crazy hype.  It isn’t easy to write a sequel, particularly for an older film whose fans loved it as much as I did.  Would Denis Villeneuve deliver like he did on Sicario and Arrival?  Or would this be another over-hyped cash grab?

 

A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.


 

My god I loved Blade Runner 2049.  If you don’t want to hear me gush over this film, you can stop reading right here – everything is going to be variations of the previous sentence.  What made the first first film good was here in spades in the second.  The atmosphere was perfect, the soundtrack sounded like it could have been made by Vangelis himself and the plot fit perfectly (and logically) into that world. And all the little details were there too, acknowledged and added upon.  For example, the new Voight-Kampff test (recognizable to the fans of the original) was upgraded and improved upon.  

 

The casting and acting was ideal.  Ryan Gosling is the perfect Replicant Blade Runner, his demeanor absolutely bland and submissive yet kick-ass and subliminally tormented.  I found myself wondering why I haven’t actually seen any other Ryan Gosling films.  He’s amazing and I need to see more of him.  Sylvia Hoeks was also amazing as a replicant, chilly and terrifying but still sympathetic.  Jared Leto was wonderfully creepy as the head of  new replicant factory.  I also really liked Dave Bautista in this film.

Visually, Blade Runner 2049 was impressive.  It was gorgeous, stunning from beginning to end, which is no mean trick when the Blade Runner world is so run down and made of garbage.  It didn’t have the crazy rich colors of Valerian, or the wild special effects of Transformers or the great visual gags of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II, but still Blade Runner 2049 was hypnotic to watch, I just drank it in for almost three hours.  I cannot tell you why, I don’t understand it.  This film was made by people who understand things like color and composition and whatever else, WAY more than I do.  The only thing I didn’t like about this film was visual – there were many many pairs of bare breasts and barely any shirtless Gosling at all.

 

Normally I would complain about any movie that’s 2 hours and 43 minutes, because that’s a ridiculous length, especially when it moves as slowly as Blade Runner 2049.  And it did move slowly, lingering over establishing shots and small character moments so we could take it all in.  But the pacing was exact, key moments happening at the correct times to keep our interest.  Most importantly this film is ‘about’ something – it asks the question ‘what does it mean to be real’?  Then it answers it, again and again in different ways.  

 

So is Blade Runner 2049 worth watching?  Yes.  I’m going to see this one again.   A lot.  Mostly because not all the questions were answered.  A lot was implied, not much was confirmed and that was a good thing.  You should see it but watch the original first, if you haven’t.   The more you invest in what made the first Blade Runner good, the more you will enjoy the second.  But even if you don’t, 2049 is absolutely worth it.   I learned something from this film.  A good sequel doesn’t only continue the story; it isn’t just about taking you to the same place again.  It isn’t even about making a more epic story with the same building blocks.   A truly good sequel changes the original. It adds a context and an interest that makes us want to watch the source material again with new eyes. 

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