Sunday, January 14, 2018
Video review: "Blade Runner 2049"
“Blade Runner 2049” was my favorite film of 2014, mostly because “Blade Runner” is one of my most cherished movies ever, and I did not expect any sequel to do it justice. So I was gobsmacked to encounter a film that is a completely seamless revisit to the dystopian future envisioned by author Philip K. Dick, now 30 years further down a dark road.
Two things usually doom sequels: being too bold, or not bold enough. Most go the latter way, simply trying to reboot all the elements that made the first movie a success, without really moving the ball downfield from a storytelling example. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a good recent example, as it’s basically a remake of “A New Hope.”
When other filmmakers take over a franchise, they often want to put their own stamp on it, coming up with crazy concoctions that don’t mesh with the original material. This was the danger with “Blade Runner 2049,” with Denis Villeneuve taking over the director’s chair from Ridley Scott.
And yet the new movie looks, feels and sounds very much like the child of “Blade Runner.” Once again, it’s set in a world where bioengineered “replicants” serve as the virtual slaves of an uncaring human populous. Ryan Gosling plays K, a replicant Los Angeles police detective who’s really little more than a paid assassin of other “skin jobs” like himself who have wandered off the plantation.
He uncovers a plot that takes him right up to the very top of the corridors of power, where mega-tycoon Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) wants to launch the replicant trade to off-world markets. His very able assistant, Luv (an arresting Sylvia Hoeks), is put onto the case.
Harrison Ford returns as Deckard, the iconic blade runner from the first film, whom K encounters about halfway through in a clash of generations that’s every bit as electric as we’d hoped.
Ana de Armas plays Joi, K’s holographic “wife.” Manufactured by Niander’s omnipresent corporation, we suspect that Joi is merely another construct designed to keep the replicant workforce docile. But their love seems very real, indeed.
Beautifully shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins – his long-delayed Academy Award seems finally assured – “Blade Runner 2049” is a beautiful, disturbing look into a future that at times seems all too plausible.
Video bonus features are quite expansive, with a decent amount of goodies on the DVD version and even more for the Blu-ray combo pack.
The DVD includes six making-of mini-documentaries that combine together to form “Blade Runner 101.” These include “Blade Runners,” “The Replicant Evolution,” “The Rise of Wallace Corp,” “Welcome to 2049,” “Joi” and “Within the Skies.”
Upgrade to the Blu-ray, and you add another special feature, “Designing the World of Blade Runner 2049.”
Most intriguing are three prologue pieces that explore the world between 2019, when the original “Blade Runner” was set, and the new one we see. They are “2022: Black Out,” “2036: Nexus Dawn” and “2048: Nowhere to Run.”