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AdrianK

(No Spoiler) Blade Runner 2049 Review

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I saw it last night and feel compelled to write a review.  The original is somewhat hallowed ground, and given we've all be burnt by poorly done re-boots and sequels, I thought you might want some idea of how BR2049 stacks-up.

I haven't read anyone else's reviews and for the most part avoided all of that as I wanted to see it for myself with an open mind.

 

TLDR - It's a worthy successor.  The plot and story telling are good (i.e. not a lot of spoon-feeding), and the acting and characters serve the film well. It's a little art-house at times (which personally I really like) but only in small doses.  The visuals and art direction are superb.  It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's definitely not a bad film.

 

Plot & Story Telling

I found it the plot quite good - it's not overly formulaic.  The pace is good, a few slow moments but it never lags; a nice film to get absorbed into.  

I inwardly chuckled when the guy next to me reacted to something I had guessed at 10 minutes earlier (always a nice feeling).  But even this morning I'm still reflecting on what certain bits of the story-telling meant - which is a good thing, there's a degree of complexity and subtlety which makes it all the more richer.  I get so fed-up with films that spoon-feed the audience.

 

Characters & Actors

I have to confess, I'm not a massive fan of Ryan Gosling (I don't dislike him)... but on reflection I think he was very well cast.  It took me a little bit to fully appreciate the character and how Ryan was playing him - and I think he does it really well.

Harrison Ford, I'm relieved to say, was excellent - this is definitely not an comeback in the style of Indiana Jones.  Ford's doesn't overplay the character at all, for me he struck just the right balance.

The rest of the cast felt really strong too - a range of characters with different qualities. Sylvia Hoeks character is superb; I'm not sure how to describe it (without giving too much away) - let's just say her character has some really nice subtle complexity going on; and she morphs really well between calculating corporate executive and something more sinister, static scenes and more physical ones.

My only mild relative disappointment was Jared Leto - he's not "bad" but his character has these eye enhancements - which are technically well done - but a little distracting.  Perhaps there's something in a character's performance that requires you to see their eyes?  Also, the character's name, "Wallace", seems very bland.  

 

Visualsm, Sound & Art Direction

Does not disappoint - seeing it on the big screen is worth every cent.  The production standards are very high, and the design follow-on from the original in a really tasteful way. 

So many gorgeous shots. Some are those big sweeping frames that are like works of art in their own right, whilst many others simply tell the story - but within a certain style that really captures the mood.  For example, after the first major scene Ryan's character is flying back to the city in a spinner: the time of day around twilight, the weather is grey with rain droplets running down the windows, Vangelis-sque soundtrack - combine all this with the camera work and it really sets the mood.

Some really chic futuristic interiors - really blew my hair back a couple of times (loved the... "reflections").

Good sound-track too; as with everything else in the film, it pays homage to the original whilst forging its own path.  Suitably Vangelis-sque and moody.

 

Overall

I think the film is a very worthy follow-on from the original - which is a massive relief.  The ending is a little open-ended, which I quite liked in terms of this specific film as it helps it avoid that trap of being too predictable. 

Will they make another?  The story definitely leaves room for that, so I'm kind of torn between wanting more and wanting it to be left just slightly enigmatic as it is.

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Thanks, this a really good review, and explains why its doing poorly in theaters to some extent, seems to story is too complex for some or maybe those who are not as familiar with the original. Still got to go watch it myself.

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4 minutes ago, RealBattousai said:

Thanks, this a really good review, and explains why its doing poorly in theaters to some extent,

(Thanks!) 

Yeah, I was discussing this point with a work colleague yesterday before I saw it - in his opinion the fact that it's doing poorly in theatres is possibly a good sign.  Perhaps the poorer mass-appeal implies a product that is more true to the things which make it (and the original) unique.

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Really hoping word of mouth gets people out to see this.  Between Ghost in the Shell not being very good and getting poor returns, and this being very good, but still not getting great returns, my hope for a wave of great cyberpunk movies is looking much less likely.  Not really looking forward to pinning my hopes for the future of cyberpunk on Ready Player One

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1 minute ago, Kramburglar said:

...my hope for a wave of great cyberpunk movies is looking much less likely.  

Indeed - I have absolutely NFI why no one has made Gibson's Neuromancer yet.A

And although not cyberpunk, you'd think someone would capitalize on the wealth of Iain M Bank and Peter F Hamilton material.

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3 minutes ago, AdrianK said:

Indeed - I have absolutely NFI why no one has made Gibson's Neuromancer yet.A

And although not cyberpunk, you'd think someone would capitalize on the wealth of Iain M Bank and Peter F Hamilton material.

There are next to no mid-budget movies anymore.  All you get are no budget festival bait and direct to netflix/dvd trash, and huge budget "epics".  Science fiction tends to be expensive to start with which leaves huge bloated budget as the main option, and studios won't shell out for anything that doesn't have and established fan base. 

The ones that do have an established brand needed to do really well to get the Hollywood bandwagon in action with everyone chasing the latest moneymaker, but these aren't making money so it doesn't look good :/

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Nice review Adrian. 

I'm off to see it tonight.

im pretty sure Neuromancers been optioned, just stuck in development hell - just like Dan Simmons Hyperion.

i think the problem with Banks is that the books are too complex to translate to a film, with all the plot intricacies.  Maybe work better as a mini series maybe?  Although a movie adaption of Excession would be awesome.

 

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1 minute ago, Hellvn said:

i think the problem with Banks is that the books are too complex to translate to a film, with all the plot intricacies.  

Indeed.  It reminds me of history: after reading decent history books, TV doco's seem so light-weight. And the complex plots are one of the draws of a good Banks story.

Perhaps I just need to become independently wealthy so I can finance a new genre of SciFi films, where box-office success is redundant.

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6 minutes ago, AdrianK said:

Perhaps I just need to become independently wealthy so I can finance a new genre of SciFi films

Don't forgot to put me on a retainer as a "creative advisor" if this happens.

 

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I don't think people had realistic expectations if they expected it to do really well. It's an expensive sequel to a niche sci-fi film that most people haven't heard of.But I think anyone who found the original even somewhat interesting would enjoy it, as I did. The soundtrack was fitting and the visuals were euphoric. 

@AdrianK I think Leto might have gotten Suicide Squad levels of screen time here. Keep in mind Tyrell wore very thick glasses in the original, it's fitting to make Wallace blind in this one. 

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2 minutes ago, _Dia said:

 

@AdrianK I think Leto might have gotten Suicide Squad levels of screen time here. Keep in mind Tyrell wore very thick glasses in the original, it's fitting to make Wallace blind in this one. 

Oh yeah! good point, I hadn't quite cottoned on to that.  (hurrdurr).

I'm not sure how to define it - I guess the character just didn't resonate with me.  I'm interested to hear what other people make of him - each to their own, and all that.  With Tyrell I feel it's easy to see the intellect that helped make him successful, whereas Wallace has a much different vibe.  Is it fair to ask if they were deliberately casting against-type?

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I am honestly surprised this movie even got made.  Dick's work is on a little bit of a wave right now, but its such a niche audience that I wonder if they are hoping the just having Harrison Ford would be enough pull to break even.  I was honestly not going to watch 2049 until I read this - I'd rather dream the lie than live the reality if it sucked, so kudo's to you for getting me off the fence.  This and The Foreigner are on my short list this fall (watching a tired older darker Jackie Chan try to out Liam Neeson Liam Neeson, yes please).

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12 hours ago, AdrianK said:

Oh yeah! good point, I hadn't quite cottoned on to that.  (hurrdurr).

I'm not sure how to define it - I guess the character just didn't resonate with me.  I'm interested to hear what other people make of him - each to their own, and all that.  With Tyrell I feel it's easy to see the intellect that helped make him successful, whereas Wallace has a much different vibe.  Is it fair to ask if they were deliberately casting against-type?

This may not be correct, but I got the impression that Wallace, while intelligent, was more of a vulture than an inventor.  In the short movie he very clearly states that his "patents" are preventing hunger, he doesn't say his invention.  I may be reading too much into it, but it's a very specific wording.  There's also no mention (that I can remember) of him having any success with replicants before buying out Tyrell.  Then there's his difficulties in reproducing Rachel's abilities (will leave vague to avoid spoilers) 30 years after Tyrell first created her.

He's an underachiever with a God complex, standing on the shoulders of giants trying to feel tall.

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2 hours ago, Kramburglar said:

This may not be correct, but I got the impression that Wallace, while intelligent, was more of a vulture than an inventor.  In the short movie he very clearly states that his "patents" are preventing hunger, he doesn't say his invention.  I may be reading too much into it, but it's a very specific wording.  There's also no mention (that I can remember) of him having any success with replicants before buying out Tyrell.  Then there's his difficulties in reproducing Rachel's abilities (will leave vague to avoid spoilers) 30 years after Tyrell first created her.

He's an underachiever with a God complex, standing on the shoulders of giants trying to feel tall.

One of the three shorts (I think 2022) that they released in a lead up to the film premier shows Wallace talking to a group of people. He states "My Replicants will never rebel, they will never run, they will simply obey". He's found a way to make them completely subservient as opposed to Tyrell's Nexus 4's, which went rogue in the first movie. Still more of an iterator but impressive regardless. 

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1 hour ago, _Dia said:

One of the three shorts (I think 2022) that they released in a lead up to the film premier shows Wallace talking to a group of people. He states "My Replicants will never rebel, they will never run, they will simply obey". He's found a way to make them completely subservient as opposed to Tyrell's Nexus 4's, which went rogue in the first movie. Still more of an iterator but impressive regardless. 

Without getting into spoiler talk, Wallace's improvements are not as solid as he would like to think.

Replicants as a creation have a common issue where their life experience ultimately gives them awareness and agency, regardless of how great their initial programming is.  This was the original reason why the Nexus 6 models were given a 4 year lifespan, to avoid them developing their own ideals over time.  The problem of course being that once they became aware of their accelerated mortality it made things even worse, which is why later Nexus models were reverted to having a full life span (though ultimately those didn't pan out either, since they caused the great blackout in the anime short)

 

Wallace has certainly made changes, but they are changes based on the Tyrell framework.

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On 10/11/2017 at 2:56 AM, Archaic_One said:

I was honestly not going to watch 2049 until I read this - I'd rather dream the lie than live the reality if it sucked, so kudo's to you for getting me off the fence.

Cool!  I hope you enjoy / enjoyed the film.

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