Saturday, March 10, 2018

Blade Runner 2049: As Dark, Dank, and Mystical as the Original

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Version: Library borrow

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 scifi hit, Blade Runner, and takes place thirty years later. It is as dark, dank, and mystical as the original, but it is as equally imaginative and amazing to watch.

In today's version, original protagonist Rick Deckard (played once again by Harrison Ford) has gone missing for thirty years. Our new protagonist "K" (played by Ryan Gosling), is an enigmatic LAPD officer and blade runner with no human name gunning for rogue replicants with little apparent regard for life. He does, however, have a soft spot for a holographic heart throb named Joi (played by Ana de Armas), whom he upgrades from apartment mate to case partner in a heart beat. She helps K seek out Deckard, whom K finds is tied into a mysterious case involving an old corpse with indications of a replicant childbirth, which is both unheard of and troublesome for human-replicant relations. He finds himself opposed by a stealthy and dangerous replicant named Luv (played by Sylvia Hoeks), who is also in search of Deckard and the child they both find out still exists. Both think Deckard is the key to finding the child -- Luv for using the child to further research into replicant birthing, and K for killing. Deckard, hiding in deserted Las Vegas, hid the child thirty years ago and has no idea where it is, yet K and Luv battle it out for control of existing clues.

What is intriguing about Blade Runner 2049 is its breadth of vision and attention to detail. The director, set designer, and cinematographer went into great depth to tell this story. The constant fog and drip of water, the great wall protecting the city from the ocean and the powerful ocean waves on its opposing side, the gritty urban facade and the sleazy sexual debauchery of urban decay, the dank loneliness of the countryside. Every imaginative detail is there, lending authenticity to the story. The characters are made powerfully real by great acting performances. Yet true to the original Blade Runner, not much of that universe seems to have changed, visually.

What is mystical is the story line. But then, this is science fiction, a story of a future world in which we aren't totally familiar. The idea of replicants, the people who hunt them down if they get out of line, and a dystopian future existence unrelatable to us naturally makes this all confusing to us. Even though stories of dystopian futures is a popular genre today. That's really what made the original Blade Runner interesting before and now Blade Runner 2049 interesting now. They explore ideas that make us uncomfortable and themes that seem unfathomable yet potentially unavoidable.

Walking out of the theater, or if you're watching it on DVD walking away from the TV screen, and back into reality, you can feel a sense of relief in today's world, even as crazy at it sometimes seems. You can tell yourself, "Thank God this make-believe world is a long time away, and maybe there's still time to avoid it." But then, as of this writing, 2049 is only 31 years in the future. Can we see the Earth getting to this place by then? It is, after all, just science fiction -- right?

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