Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

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By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)

Blade Runner 2049 is going to be one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever had to write. I’m still trying to process exactly what I saw, and put it into words with the backdrop of this being a sequel to a celebrated classic. But here it goes.

The original Blade Runner is not a film that needed a sequel. It was a unique film of its time (released in 1982), which influenced many movies that followed, and touched on some interesting questions about life. When a sequel was announced several years ago, it was with Sir Ridley Scott in mind before he became distracted with his Alien prequels. Then a new director was announced who I wasn’t sure about.

That is, until director Denis Villeneuve stunned the hell out of me with his film Arrival. Both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant were less than stellar, so in a lot of ways not having Scott direct it feels like an unintended bonus.

With all that riding on Blade Runner 2049, the big question is whether this movie was life changing or not. And the answer is — no, not really. And that’s the best part about this film.

Despite all the history and hype that the original film lays at this movie’s feet, Villeneuve expertly delivers a sequel that doesn’t revere the first film, but makes a believable and worthy continuation. Most people tend to forget that when you boil it down, the original Blade Runner was just a film noir with a very unique and futuristic setting that also asked questions about what it means to be human. Blade Runner 2049 is, when you boil it down, a film noir with a very unique and futuristic setting that also asked questions about what it means to be human. Like its predecessor, it asks more than it answers.

Roger Deakins is possibly one of the best cinematographers of our time, and he elevates the art form yet again, and absolutely paints this film with light and color. He took what Jordan Cronenweth did in the original and just cranked it to eleven. The entire cast delivers extraordinary and nuanced performances, with Harrison Ford turning in one of the most fantastic performances of his career. Villeneuve expertly draws on what Scott originally created, and delivers a more polished version of the universe he envisioned. If Blade Runner showed a dying world, Blade Runner 2049 shows a dead one with humanity clinging to it, as best as they can.

But there is a catch: You will have to be a fan of the original movie, or at least enjoy long, drawn out scenes. I watched this with my significant other who has never seen the original, and described this movie in one sarcastic sentence: “I liked the part where the movie was really long.” At 165 minutes with a pace that is about as glacial as the original — people who like fast, action packed modern films will not enjoy this movie.

Villeneuve delivered yet another thought provoking, smart science-fiction movie that only appeals to a certain type of person. I just hope there are still enough of those kinds of fans who watch this movie to warrant a third film. While this movie told a complete story and filled in some of the gaps left by the original, there is still a lot that can be explored.

And yet, just like Blade Runner, this movie is not a film that needs a sequel. But if this movie proves one thing it’s that Villeneuve knows how to make movies in this universe that are worthy.

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About Danny Santos

Freelance writer, filmmaker, actor, musician, and visual artist. Writing online professionally for 4-plus years and has produced and performed in over a dozen films and webseries. He has also been everything from a social media consultant to managing a JUNO award winning musician.