RATING: 4 out of 5
A movie that I consider to be one of the greatest of all-time is Blade Runner, the 1982 futuristic thriller from director Ridley Scott. Walang judgment if you haven’t seen it yet but if you consider yourself a film fan, it’s one of those films that you should definitely see. I’ve always wanted to see it but I only came around to doing so last year. Naisip ko, “1980s sci-fi movie, there’s no way that this has aged well today.” Boy was I wrong.
Much-maligned during its release, Blade Runner is now considered to be a classic and has inspired a generation of filmmakers since. Movies like “Ghost in the Shell”, “The Matrix”, and “The Fifth Element” have all been inspired in one way or another by the concepts and aesthetics found in Blade Runner. As a fan of the film, I’m happy to say that the sequel that comes 35 years later is more than just a decent follow-up. It expands on the themes of the original “Blade Runner”.
“Blade Runner 2049” is set in a dystopian Los Angeles 30 years after the events of the first movie. It stars Ryan Gosling as LAPD Officer K whose task, like that of Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard in the original, is to hunt down renegade replicants and put them to justice. Replicants are androids who serve as modern society’s slaves. After a replicant uprising left many people dead, they were put out of commission until the Wallace Corporation headed by the enigmatic Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) decides to bring them back. In one of his investigations, Officer K encounters a mystery that will destroy the very fabric of whatever’s left of society and plunge it further into chaos. How and why his path crosses with Rick Deckard is something that you’ll have to discover for yourself.
One of the hallmarks of a great sci-fi movie in my opinion is when it introduces viewers to concepts and technologies that they’ve never seen before. That’s exactly what made the original Blade Runner so great because it presents us with a whole new reality. That’s why even though there are a lot of great sci-fi films, not all of them can be considered as revolutionary like “Blade Runner”. “Blade Runner 2049” like it’s predecessor does the same but rather than rehashing some of the technologies from the original, it introduces a lot of new things. It retains that same unique aesthetic that the original has na for some reason kahit alam mong dystopian siya at punong puno na ng basura at pagkabulok, parang ang sarap pa rin mabuhay sa mundong yun. That’s the appeal of Blade Runner that I’ve always found fascinating. It makes ugliness look so damn beautiful.
One thing you’ll probably notice when you see “Blade Runner 2049” is how slowly Ryan Gosling navigates the landscape. My estimation is that out of the 2 hours and 43 minute run-time of the movie, about 30 minutes was spent looking at Ryan Gosling walking ever so slowly looking at strange things like 35-foot statues having sex. That’s why audiences looking for intense action sequences might be a bit disappointed because the movie takes its precious time to build up to the climax. “Blade Runner 2049” is not your conventional action film and a few minutes after I came out of the cinema, I felt that it was about 35-minutes too long. In hindsight, I actually appreciate the decision to focus on the landscape because it gives the audience the chance to really immerse themselves in the world that producer Ridley Scott and director Denis Villanueve has made.
Props should be given to Denis Villanueve for taking on a project as gargantuan as this one. Making a sequel for a movie that’s as highly regarded as “Blade Runner” was a daunting task but he was up to the challenge. He had a vision for the movie that he was able to translate onto the big screen with the help of veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins. The film breathes like a homage of the original but it still has a life of its own.
Ryan Gosling was good and I particularly like how gives life to the character of Officer K. Gosling is at his best when he’s introspective and he can convey emotion even without saying so much kaya bagay siya sa role niya as a replicant trying to find out who he really is. Although it was fun to see Harrison Ford once again as Rick Deckard, he plays the role the same way he does all his recent “grizzled old man” roles so I can’t say that there was anything particularly special about his portrayal. But my favorites in “Blade Runner 2049” has got to be Jared Leto as the blind Niander Wallace and Sylvia Hoeks as his replicant assistant “Luv”. Leto’s last role as The Joker in Suicide Squad left a bad taste in the mouth but he makes up for it as the mysterious villain in this film. He’s great when he plays dark characters with subtle nuances. Hoeks on the other hand can switch from sweet to murderous in a millisecond.
You don’t need to have seen the original in order to enjoy “Blade Runner 2049” but seeing it definitely adds to your enjoyment of the movie. Fans of the original will find a lot to love in this movie because it expands on the Blade Runner universe not only in terms of how everything looks, but on the themes that were at the center of the movie.
“What defines a human being?” Like it’s predecessor, that’s the question that “Blade Runner 2049” tries to answer. It adds new dimensions to the discussion but I think the original explored this thought much better than the sequel. One of the most iconic scenes in movie history is Roy Batty’s death in Blade Runner and it gave us arguably the greatest pre-death monologue in film. In only 3-minutes, the scene captures the essence of what the movie is trying to say. It’s such a great scene and every time I see it, I notice something that I didn’t catch the first time. Ang daming layers nung “Blade Runner” na makikita lang nung iba after repeated viewings.
“Blade Runner 2049” can’t boast of anything as iconic as this one and siguro yun yung disadvantage niya as a sequel that prevents it from being a truly great film. Bago sa paningin natin yung original e and it can boast of being revolutionary. Before it came out, we’ve never seen anything quite like it in movies. Isipin niyo nung time na lumabas siya, ganun na katindi yung special effects na ginamit nila samantalang sa Pilipinas nakakatawang nakakainis ang special effects natin:
Although “Blade Runner 2049” doesn’t quite reach the same level greatness, it’s most definitely one of the best blockbusters this year. It’s that rare movie that is shot as beautifully as an art film, not dumbed-down for wider consumption, but won’t alienate casual moviegoers. Hopefully it won’t take us another 35 years to get a sequel because “Blade Runner” is a world that’s worth revisiting time and time again.
Blade Runner 2049 is now out in cinemas everywhere.
Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures