Blade Runner 2049 – Does it live up to legacy of the original?

Shrouded in mystery the sequel to the enigmatic and influential Blade Runner has finally opened in cinemas. Does it live up to legacy of the original? Does it live up to the hype?

Your first thought is why? Why after 35 years do we need or even want a sequel to the immense masterpiece Blade Runner. Sure, in this culture of remix, reboot and revamp almost every 80’s franchise has been trotted back out.. with often middling results.

Blade Runner wasn’t a franchise. It was one film, more than three decades ago that wasn’t even a hit. The audience didn’t love it, heck, neither did the critics. What it did have was influence. Ridley Scott’s neo-noir science fiction cyberpunk dystopia set the tone and aesthetic for all futurist and thought-provoking media that followed it. As for that aesthetic? The stuff of legends that helped define modern anime and a subculture.

Make no mistake, Blade Runner is an important film and we’re all more than rightly justified in being dubious and cautious. I know I was.

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I’m very happy to say Blade Runner 2049 isn’t just good. Not only is it a worthy successor I could daresay it’s better than its predecessor. Denis Villeneuve has crafted a piece of brilliance that builds upon, expands and fully realises the world created in 1982. 2049 wont have the cultural influence, that’s already built, but it pushes it further both narratively and aesthetically in the most satisfying of ways. I’m already swooning reminiscing about it. I need to see this thing again as soon as possible.

I’m not going to talk much of the plot. This is a film that lends itself to not knowing a thing going on. (Not to mention those of us at the preview were asked, very nicely, by Villeneuve himself to keep things on the down low)

Every twist and turn will slowly unfold, breathe and keep you guessing. You know the basics. It hasn’t changed since ’82. A bounty hunter, the titular Blade Runner, hunts illegal replicants: artificially created humans in a cyberpunk dystopic future. We trade in Harrison Ford for Ryan Gosling (don’t worry, their paths inevitably cross) and continue to muse on playing god, what constitutes life, human rights and our relationship with technology. The subtext even more relevant all these years later.

2049 looks gorgeous. Emphatically so. Cinematographic god Roger Deakins cements his status as the all time great. I want every frame of this film on my walls forever. Gosh. The cyberpunk aesthetic is fully realised with modern technology. It feels so authentic and lived in that one could also imagine it being our lives in a few decades.

I could probably yammer on about this film all day. It’s incredible. Go see it. Bring your attention span. 2049 is long and moves at a wonderfully slow noir pace. Dont mistake it as an action film (the trailers kinda paint a picture). Go find the biggest screen and the best sound you can find. Take it all in and spend some time pondering it afterwards

** Oh and to the many who have asked. You’re fine not watching the original beforehand, as long as you remember the broad strokes. If you do have the time? Watch the Final Cut. Also check out the three shorts released that help bridge the 32 year gap. You can find them here