Saw Blade Runner 2049 yesterday evening. I had to. Don’t you?
I saw the original when it came out and have watched some DVD version many times. I know, because I’ve seen it on the screen, how Ridley Scott’s original influenced a whole world of films, near future noir, if you will.
Visually, thematically, temperamentally, the new film is true to the original. It’s a long film, 2h 43m, and feels a bit slow, as the original did from time to time. But there’s nothing quite like Pris (Daryl Hannah) and Roy (Rutger Hower) in it–I’m talking energy, impact (for some characters did have a Pris look about them).
Not only is it visually true to the original – and spectacular – but it has picked up motifs, images, aura from films influenced by the first. Thus I saw Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (did I ever see this one!), The Fifth Element, the Matrix films, and Spielberg’s A.I. up on the screen. But also, and oddly enough, Kubrick’s 2001, which is much earlier (1969) that Ridley Scott’s (1982).
On the whole, I agree with A. O. Scott, The New York Times:
As such, “Blade Runner 2049” stands in relation to “Blade Runner” almost exactly as K stands in relation to Deckard before the two meet: as a more docile, less rebellious “improvement,” tweaked and retrofitted to meet consumer demand. And the customers are likely to be satisfied. But now and then — when K and Deckard are knocking around the old gambling palace; when K visits an enigmatic mind-technician played by Carla Juri — you get an inkling that something else might have been possible. Something freer, more romantic, more heroic, less determined by the corporate program.
As for the underlying philosophical issues, in the end, I must confess, I don’t quite get it, not with this film, not with its predecessor. It was only in reading Scott’s review just now that I remembered, oh that’s what it’s about: “How do we know what is real, ourselves included?” Well, yes, how DO we know? The film attempts to convert that question into a puzzle, a matter of dogged and clever detective work, when perhaps it should be working harder to reveal it as an unending mystery.
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Villeneuve’s picked up a trick from the Wachowskis, who released The Animatrix, a collection of nine animated shorts situated in the Matrix universe. Villeneuv’s commissioned three shorts, though only one of them is animated. That one, Black Out 2022, is by Shinichirō Watanabe, who directed Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, two of my favorite anime series. You can see these three films on YouTube, both separately and combined. Here’s the three of them together: