I've never done a film review here on the blog before, but to hell with it!
There's a first time for everything and upon thinking about what I REALLY wanted to write about this week, Blade Runner 2049 came very high up on my list.
Because tl;dr - I think you should go and watch it, whatever genre/s you're into.
This is why...
Remakes and sequels are big business in Hollywood at the moment, with the results ranging from the good (Logan), to the reasonable (Alien Covenant) and the awful (Godzilla, holy hell that film sucked).
One could argue that from the outside, it looks like Tinseltown has run out of original ideas. In fact, when I think about the trailers we watched before the move, not one was based upon new intellectual property.
In a world which is facing turbulent and unknown times, perhaps nostalgia is a valid and desperately sought escape. We all can retreat back into our childhoods and immerse ourselves in cultural artefacts associated with memories from a better time.
(This may explain my constant replaying of Usher's "Yeah", or maybe that's just my poor music taste.)
It comes as no surprise that one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s, Blade Runner, has been subjected to the sequel treatment, resulting in Blade Runner 2049.
As someone who loves Sci-Fi, futurism in fiction and the novels of Phillip K. Dick (Blade Runner is a loose adaptation of his novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?") Blade Runner and its sequel are undoubtedly right up my street.
(Very minor spoiler alerts from here)
To surmise: Blade Runner 2049 is set thirty years after the events of the original film, in a world still wrestling with the presence of replicants (bio-engineered androids to you and me). It will be no surprise to learn that Harrison Ford returns once again as Rick Deckard, the "Blade Runner" who hunted down replicants in the original film.
To be honest that's as much of a plot overview as I'm really going to give you. The only thing I will say is that the narrative arc is satisfactory (on the whole) and well paced; with moments of extreme tension and dread.
The thing I really want to talk about is the visual and oral landscapes depicted in the film. I bet that isn't a phrase you expected to read on a Lifestyle Blog!
But bear with me, because I really do believe that a film is more than the story - it is about full composition of the world in which, you, the viewer, are invited to enter.
I seriously enjoyed the soundtrack from the start, especially as it heavily riffs off the original (think 80's synths), yet also has a distinct individuality, complimenting the visuals of the film perfectly. They have also managed to make that 80's synth vibe sound modern and fresh, a technical feat which is pretty damn impressive.
Visually the film is also a triumph.
Not once do you see the the orb of the sun.
For this is a world which has undergone an extreme ecological catastrophe, resulting in a carpet of fog, rain and pollution that seems to cover the entire West Coast of America. I found this quite oppressive, as the murkiness coupled with the depictions of the cramped urban sprawl of a future LA combined to depict a plausible apocalyptic vision of the future. All life, apart from that of humanity, has been scraped off the earth.
These imagined landscapes are portrayed beautifully throughout the film. It would be gripping even without the audio. There's one scene shot in an office with a moving light-source which is just out of this world - I've never seen anything like it.
The film also makes amazing use of the new face-mapping technologies in a way which far surpasses last year's Rogue One. It's worth watching for this alone in my opinion.
Ryan Gosling's performance is solid. To be honest I've never really rated him as an actor, but he has the charisma to carry off the ambiguous emotional landscape of his character in this film. Plus he has an amazing jacket, even better than in Drive, which I'm sure which inspire many high-street versions.
As a social critique the film lives up to its predecessor's promise, exploring ideas of humanity, environmental catastrophie and the nth stage of neoliberal capitalism. A world in which people can be owned at the genetic level. A world in which the rich are literally on another planet.
Basically what I'm trying to say here is go and see this film. You will not be disappointed by the narrative or visual impression.
It is an ambitious vision for a society which may come to suffer under its ambition.