The notion of creating a sequel to a classic film is often seen as an unnecessary risk. Many sequels have fallen into the trap of failing to create the same magic or appeal as the original film and usually end up being critically panned and disliked by the public. The best sequels, to me at least, are not ones which look back and emulate the formula of their predecessor, rather look forward and treat the project like a standalone piece of cinema, whilst continuing the story in an organic and natural way.
I invited my friend Josh Gibson to ask him his thoughts about the new sequel to Blade Runner (1982), Blade Runner 2049, which came to cinemas on the 6th of October 2017.
Martin: So Josh, what were your initial thoughts on the film?
Josh: I loved it. Visually it was absolutely breathtaking. I really liked the fact that the landscapes expanded beyond the original Blade Runner film into the Nevada desert and the waste-filled San Diego. Though I do feel like the original film explored the dystopian urban landscapes better, it being predominantly set in downtown Los Angeles, the expansion within that universe was an exciting step forward. The use of colour was sublime as well, especially after Replicant K (played by Ryan Gosling) met with Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) in a Las Vegas dominated by a sandstorm. The story itself was also well developed. To me, the story was straight-forward but I know people will have conflicting interpretations of the nature of Ryan’s character.
M: Yeah, about that – it’s funny we have two interpretations of Ryan’s character. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the actual plot, but I believe he might be related to Rick Deckard. I might have to watch it again. What did you think of the cast?
J: I thought the cast was terrific. Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista in particular. It’s crazy how he used to be a professional wrestler, and be this good in a film! I’m not sure too much about Jared Leto’s character – I mean he’s a great actor but his role was a bit limited to the story.
M: I partly agree about Jared. Did you hear that Denis Villeneuve was dreaming of getting David Bowie for the role? How crazy would that have been?
J: Oh really?! Yeah that would have been crazy. In the scenes Jared was in, he was fantastic but I think he was greatly underused, and his character being as mentioned, quite limiting to the story. Also, for me personally, nothing beats Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of antagonist replicant Roy Batty in the original film. His ‘Tears in the Rain’ monologue is still one of the best scenes I’ve seen in film.
M: I get what you’re saying, but for me Blade Runner 2049 didn’t need that much of an antagonist because there was so much more mystery within the story that needed uncovering. It didn’t bother me too much.
J: I guess so yeah. But yeah, overall the film was an incredible experience, and it didn’t feel that long either. It was nearly 3 hours long wasn’t it?
M: Nearly, yeah. For me, I was fixated on my screen the whole time. Visually in my top 3 best films of all time. Even the little intricacies, like Joi, Officer-K’s artificial girlfriend (played by Ana de Armas), are so great to see. The narrative of the story felt natural, and I think they did well to link both films so well, 30 years apart. I know we have differences in opinion on the story itself and the possible interpretations you could find out of it, but other than that we’re in agreement. Also, some of the performances are phenomenal – Robin Wright as Lieutenant Joshi was the most powerful to me, maybe because I felt her inner Claire Underwood (her character from House of Cards) came out brilliantly. I wanted to ask you, on the topic of female characters, I know there is controversy about the film being incredibly misogynistic and sexist – do you agree?
J: That’s an interesting question. In short, yes, it is sexist. But that’s the point of the film isn’t it? It is meant to portray the dystopia of the urban lifestyle by presenting this exaggerated reality that caters to our need for instant gratification and fulfilling our basal instincts. Villeneuve is presenting this sexism to the audience, he isn’t necessarily endorsing it.
M: I concur. Last question – because I know we’re both big Denis Villeneuve fans (he directed films like Incendies (2010), Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016)), where would you rank Blade Runner 2049 amongst his filmography?
J: Oh definitely in my top 3. He’s one of the best, if not the best director working at the moment. I love the fact that despite this film being a sequel, it feels like an original, standalone film, which is what makes this sequel work. It doesn’t try and emulate the first film.
M: Once again I agree with you. I’d put Blade Runner 2049 in my top 3 easily, but the question is, is it his best? I might have to watch it again, but it’s definitely up there.
Anyway, thanks a lot for coming through and dropping some knowledge and opinions on the film man, we should do this again.
J: No worries man, anytime.
So that was it. Both of us thought the film was sublime and definitely recommend you watch it on the big screen while it’s still showing.
Watch the trailer below: