Blade Runner 2049 – inside Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction future classic

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Blade Runner 2049 promotional pictures (taken from films official facebook)

Blade Runner 2049

Thirty five years after the original Blade Runner, the sequel is here and Getintothis’ Michael Fowler dives head first into the universe of Blade Runner.

It’s been thirty five years since Ridley Scott reluctantly delivered the original Blade Runner, which after a few revised incarnations has since become the greatest sci-fi film ever made.

Now Blade Runner 2049, a sequel set thirty years after its predecessor arrives in cinemas this October.

Naturally, upon hearing the news of a Blade Runner follow on, a universal sigh was heard worldwide scoring slightly higher on the Richter scale than the last North Korean nuclear test. Remakes, long past their sell by date sequels and the besmirching of our cult favourite films has gone on for far too long and we’re wise to it. This Summer, Hollywood has been punished for repetitively reproducing old ideas after Baywatch, The Mummy and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword all failed to sell tickets. In fact, some of the biggest successes have been original films like Baby Driver, Dunkirk and Get Out. So why now are we more excited about Blade Runner 2049 than ever before?

One name. Denis Villeneuve. The director behind some of the most head-turning films of the last five years was placed at Blade Runner 2049’s helm. Taking on the most heavily scrutinised job in cinema sounds like a pretty thankless task but Villeneuve’s past record has probably soothed the haters for the time being.

There was superb vigilante thriller, Prisoners, which saw Hugh Jackman abduct and torture Paul Dano’s suspected child killer, the three-time academy award nominated Sicario; Emily Blunt as a green FBI agent tasked with taking down a Mexican Drug Cartel, and most recently, Arrival, the spectacular sci-fi feature that made alien contact feel like it might just happen tomorrow and garnered eight Oscar nominations. In Villeneuve we trust.

The French-Canadian director has put together an astonishing cast and crew, with Mr Grumble-Pants himself, Harrison Ford, returning as Rick Deckard, Ryan Gosling is running blades for Robin Wright’s Lieutenant Joshi, and a fully method Jared Leto appears to be the film’s vision impaired, Christ-like antagonist. Original Blade Runner screenwriter, Hampton Fancher comes back to pen the latest film alongside Michael Green, the writer of the critically acclaimed Wolverine film, Logan. Finally, pulling out all the stops, Villeneuve has acquired the best cinematographer money can buy, Roger Deakins. Known for Skyfall and his numerous collaborations with the Coen brothers, Deakins was hired to make the film look stunning, and the available trailers already suggest that it does.

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To the best of our knowledge, the sequel will not feature the once sculpted body of Rutger Hauer, the actor who came up with his replicant character, Roy Batty’s, most timeless line:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

If anyone is suggesting a sequel of Blade Runner could surpass the poetry or existential questioning of the first film then they’ve seen something we haven’t, but hopefully the ideas and forward thinking behind the latest film will resonate with modern audiences. Villeneuve spoke to Entertainment Weekly to talk about what has happened since the original film.

The climate has gone berserk and the ecosystem has collapsed and the ocean has risen… There are a lot of refugees trying to survive on the West Coast.”

Could there be some political messaging going on? It’d be refreshing to see a blockbuster brave these issues as we’ll never be seeing the likes of Marvel doing it. Regardless, it’s interesting that Blade Runner 2049 is ready to go to a new time and address how the world might have changed.

If it has any hope of being successful, it needs to be its own film and not rely on the past. See T2: Trainspotting from earlier this year, a sequel template for what works and what doesn’t, the best moments of this film were when we saw how the characters had grown, developed and changed, the worst were moments rehashing scenes from the original such as the modernised ‘Choose Life’ speech, which was just jarring and unnecessary.

With all this potential, Blade Runner 2049 is surely too well equipped to fail us… but if it does happen to fail us, or even if you totally disapprove of the sequel regardless its quality, it’s arrival brings with it some very good news.

One week before Blade Runner 2049, Picturehouse at FACT will have a week long release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut to satisfy all of your replicant hunting needs. Now that’s brooding synthesised music to our ears.

Blade Runner will open on Friday September 29.
Blade Runner 2049 will open Friday October 6.

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