»13th December 2017
I was going to do a full review of Blade Runner: 2049. I started with a kind of grim determination that was quickly derailed by having to go out to Sainsbury's or something. I wrote down these terse comments with the intention to flesh them out into many, many paragraphs like my usual film 'reviews'. There's a floor level of 'just about cogent, if you squint' when it comes to blog updates so now I have the unenviable task of knocking this into some kind of shape. (I'm sure you've noticed my commitment to high quality, timely writing about hot topics.) (Is this film out on DVD yet?) This is what I have to work with:
Not a reboot, tells a different story.
Doesn't shit on the original
Jared Leto's character
Blade Runner Baggage
Too Much Story
"I can only cook with what I’ve been given, you know, it’s like ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’, you give me Hugh Abbot I’ll give you bangers and mash... But if you give me Gerry from the Home Office, well, then I can raise it to a fucking risotto and scallops."
When prompted to give this a star rating to someone on Instagram, I went with 'a solid 4 [out of 5]'. Yet there are more downs than ups. Oh look, I'm ripping off WhatCulture now, whatever next? Here's why.
This film wasn't a reboot, but was more of a traditional sequel. An old-fashioned sequel. Remember when they didn't just make sequels that were rehashes of the first film that could lazily be described as 'the 'Empire' of the series', because it was suddenly brooding and downbeat?
This film is brooding and downbeat.
Yes, it tells a different story. They could (and should) have not bothered at all with Deckard, and kept the story focused on Ryan Gosling. I am a master of writing screenplays for big budget Hollywood sci-fi films that remain true to the spirit of the beloved eighties sci-fi behemoth original. I know what I am talking about.
The film doesn't shit on the original. I can't even remember if it was brought up whether Deckard was a replicant or not. He is not a replicant if for some reason we are not clear on this. The film did creak under the weight of the original, and spent far too much time recycling visuals from the original, but it did enough new things to balance this out. I had a sense that everyone involved with the film cared deeply about the film they were making as well as the original. It did not feel like a cash grab.
Ryan Gosling. Yeah, whatever, he was good. I was expecting him to be terrible. I don't think I've seen him in anything else before this.
Harrison Ford. This is his best performance in
years decades. He actually gave a shit. Admittedly, he was tasked with playing a grumpy old man version of a character who barely emoted above a sulk in the original. But still, when was the last time you thought 'wow, Harrison Ford really gave that a go'?
The World. The world was greatly expanded upon. Nothing felt like a betrayal. The opening, cloudy misty scene with Batista's hut was a really cool shift in tone from the oppressive cityscape of the first film. Everything felt realistic, believable, and sad.
Jared Leto's character. First impressions: oh look, it's the Architect from Matrix Reloaded. Second impressions: oh, he's some moustache twirling villain. Third impressions: nothing he is saying or doing makes any sense. Fourth impressions: why does this film need a bad guy? Fifth impressions: fuck this guy.
Action scenes. There were too many of them, they were too overblown. I never thought that what Blade Runner needed was a really tightly choreographed fight between Deckard and Roy Batty. They were actually pretty good action scenes. I just don't think they helped at all.
Running time. It was about twenty minutes too long.
Blade Runner baggage. [?????] Not entirely sure what I meant by this one. I think the idea was that too much of the film was bogged down by the mythos of the original. The same problem as with the Robocop remake: if this was just a standalone film not tied in with the original, it would have been better. Only this was way better than Robocop. I'm not sure I even entirely agree with this any more. Maybe I was going to make a different point.
Hans Zimmer. Yes, he's pretty much the only big film composer of this generation who is a name. But this just felt really phoned in. Vangelis casts a huge, long, looming, Greek shadow and this score is well and truly under it. There were the standard 'blaring massed trombones', and the standard 'weird super-distorted bass synths', and that was about it. The Vangelis score is a huge part about why I liked the original. Vast tracts of Blade Runner work pretty much as a visual essay or a really downbeat music video. There were quite a few musical cues lifted directly from the original score which only served to underline how little was being saiBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Too Much Story. It felt like we were watching a bloated director's cut. Seriously, just trim some of those sub-plots. Make it about Ryan Gosling finding out about his past. Get rid of the stuff with Deckard (visually, the faded 1940's glam of his casino hideout didn't feel like it was part of a Bladerunner film.) I'm sure there is a more pithy way of handling the weird girl in the holodeck dome or all those fucking Jared Leto scenes.
So there you have it. I managed to muddle my way through my 'review' of the film without checking the plot summary on Wikipedia to remind myself what I liked/disliked (or what I meant by the cryptic Blade Runner baggage) or bothering to find out what Ryan Gosling's character was called! Hooray for diligence!
A solid 4