Re-watched Blade Runner after seeing the sequel, only to be reminded of my mixed feelings towards it. It’s in the “it’s OK, but I don’t quite like it” category. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner plays like a noir set in a futuristic wet market. It’s always raining, there are lots of people, hot noodles, and plastics. Where’s the dust? The production design reminds one of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, but with modern Ziggurats and burning flares. Vangelis’ synth soundtrack already sounded dated when I first saw the movie. And so was Rachel’s hair. Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard looked like he’s either pissed, drunk, would rather be somewhere else, or all of the above. That he’s an android-like bounty hunter who’d later develop empathy for andys, I’m not quite really sure.
Blade Runner 2049, I liked better for a few things. There’s an air of mystery to it and we got K (Ryan Gosling), a real android and bounty hunter, instead of Ford’s android-like human, (or isn’t he an android?) who’s tasked to go after his own kind and to solve said mystery. There’s rain, but there’s also dust as it was in the novel. There’s K’s holographic companion Joi (Anna de Armas) who wanted to become real for K. So one time she invited a female andy and we got a threesome between two andys and a hologram.
Blade Runner inspired the look of Ghost In The Shell, which seems to be the inspiration for 2049 instead of the former. Greenscreen and CGI gives 2049 the advantage of space and scope, whereas Scott had to make do with models and practical effects. Dennis Villeneuve used lots of wide screen shots, lots of empty desserts or crowded but depopulated cities. In Scott’s vision of the future, the streets are always crowded and the takes are mostly medium shots.
Blade Runner 2049 is quite long, but the original actually felt longer. And as someone pointed out, there’s a little more Dick in 2049 than in the original. I also like K’s journey a lot more than Deckard’s. K starts just like Deckard, “retiring” one of his own because it was his job, goes about trying to solve the “miracle”, at one point thought of himself as “special”, and becomes more selfless as the story progresses. And yes, this movie made me feel and care for a flash drive, that’s something.
The plot of 2049 reminds me of another film based on a science fiction novel, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, arguably better than both Blade Runner films. Cuaron said that his film was supposed to be the anti-Blade Runner, in that there are no flying cars, no androids, just humans unable to reproduce and the world crumbling under authoritarian rule and chaos. When a miracle happens, a young woman gets pregnant, every side of the political divide wants to get their hands on the mother and her baby. There’s the guy played by Clive Owen who plays the role of K in the film, the tragic hero who ended up bleeding lying and nearly unconscious by the film’s end.
Haven’t seen these films yet? Sorry, I just kind of spoiled the ending for you.