Review: Blade Runner 2049 – The future returns to what it used to be

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Blade Runner 2049The summer of 1982 was one of the most insanely awesome times ever to be in a nice air-conditioned movie theater. I was home on leave from the Navy after doing a year of isolated duty on the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and I was eating up movies like E.T., Poltergeist, The Thing and, most of all, Blade Runner. I can’t remember how many times I saw the film that summer, but it was a lot.

What a crazy-ass future we had to look forward to in 2019 (just two years from now – if we live that long), at least as envisioned by director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Hampton Fancher, and author Philip K. Dick from his story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Blade Runner became part of the American lexicon and many of its lines became a part of our everyday language, with memorable dialogue like, “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.”

With Blade Runner you were plopped down right in the middle of an incredible story in a terrifically original and noir-ish setting with quirky characters and thought-provoking concepts that left unanswered questions of which people are still debating thirty-five years later. In short, it’s one of the best science-fiction films ever created. A movie that set the standard for countless sci-fi films to come.

One of the many debates surrounding Blade Runner has been whether a sequel could or should ever be made. It’s a movie that is nearly impossible to top and it was doubtful that those ambiguous open-ended story threads could ever be tied-up to any fan’s satisfaction.

Blade Runner 2049Blade Runner 2049 takes us back to the future that used to be. It is set thirty-years after the original film’s story, but it is still the same gritty and nasty world. The only thing that seems to have gotten any better at all is the artificial intelligence technology – and that’s not better for humanity – believe me.

The Blade Runners are still trying to keep tabs on the rogue android (replicant) army that has infiltrated society, but there are new twists that make the task even more difficult than when we first saw Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) chasing down skinjobs in the original movie.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) and the movie studios involved don’t want you to know anything about this new film, and I think that’s a good thing (no spoilers here.) What I will tell you is that, for me, its only fault is that it’s a tad long and could have been tighter with some disciplined editing – a minor complaint. Is it satisfying? Absolutely!

Blade Runner 2049On the plus side, Blade Runner 2049 has some fantastic performances, by the people you know from the movie poster (i.e. Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas and Jared Leto), as well as those aforementioned unmentionables and known unknowns.

The standout performances in this film are by cinematographer Roger Deakins and the countless special effects artists who bring this past future to life once again. It is truly amazing; and coupled with the haunting musical score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, the new Blade Runner is, again, a dystopian world you could happily lose yourself in over and over.

Ridley Scott is just a producer this time around, but Denis Villeneuve does a masterful job of picking up where the former director left off. I think fans are going to be very happy with this sequel, I know I was. Grade: 9/10

Photos Copyright © 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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