Blade Runner 2049 [TRAILER REACTIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!
I eventually saw Blade Runner 2049, and subsequently wrote about it here.

I am absolutely the right person at Secret Cave to write this.  That’s something I believe both Bens would yield to, well aware of my lifelong love for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  It’s been my favourite film since I was around sixteen years old.  Even before that it was ever-present in my upbringing.  A favourite of both my Dad and Brother, I knew its opening crawl well from a young age.  The very idea of a sequel to that masterpiece was frightening, but it’s now something I can’t deny or avoid.  The truth is, Blade Runner 2049 is very much happening.  It’s difficult to try to detach myself from years of fawning adoration, but we strive for good journalism at Secret Cave so let’s see what I can do…

While there are a handful of different things my instincts would prefer me to dissect, let’s start with a couple of positives.  This teaser is, at least, extremely intriguing.  Slow and contemplative in tone, it matches the pace of its progenitor admirably.  That, if nothing else, bodes well.  It clearly respects the material too.  For example, it’s obviously aware of the visual legacy that director Scott left behind.  To go hand-in-hand with that, tinges of Vangelis’ score pepper the piece as a clear statement.  It seems, at least on some surface level, that the creatives involved have no interest in complete reinvention.  Blade Runner deserves far more than a fresh slate.

Therein, however, lies the problem.  Starting all over again with reboot tenacity would be insulting and surely unsuccessful.  That said, i’m not entirely certain that even a faithful sequel would be positive for canon.  It would always be sure to undermine something; alienating some and embracing others en masse.  As such, what really is the point?  I can’t answer this question with any other conclusion than bandwagon jumping and money.  While an enormously expensive film, that took some time to recoup its costs, Blade Runner never had these influences driving creativity.  That is, in fact, why it went over budget – the creativity was more important than the funding.

Idle contemplation aside, there are a couple of definite negatives that quickly ring alarm bells.  Let’s start with the music, since that was the first thing to disappoint me.  Most of the ambience allotted for the teaser can be attributed to Vangelis, composer to the original Blade Runner.  His iconic sounds tinkle away, setting the store wonderfully.  What ruins it are the vacuous synth stabs of his modern equivalent.  It may seem a finicky thing to get critical about, but just these short inklings of sound design are vastly inferior to their influences.  Music is important to most movies, but Blade Runner 2049 has some enormous Greek boots to fill.  If the composer in charge this time thinks he can get away with such commonplace sounds then perhaps he should give Vangelis’ score another listen.

This bleeds over into the visual style on show.  Sure, it’s absolutely in key with what we know and love.  It’s beautifully shot and meticulously designed.  So too is every Netflix original and heavily subscribed YouTube channel worldwide.  While beautiful and impressive, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.  I was hoping that a sequel would innovate and push the boundaries as the first did, displaying a drastically new vision of science fiction.  The look of the teaser is essentially good, but I would expect nothing short of excellent considering the legacy it follows.  Unfortunately, it’s not excellent.  It’s just quite nice.

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These are, relatively, minor crimes.  What should be glaring to any fan are the two bigger ones it commits.  The most active hot potato thrown around the writers’ room was probably the status of main character, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).  Anyone who’s ever read a word about Blade Runner knows the contention, and it’s a great debate that continues to add depth to work.  Was Deckard himself a replicant?  However Blade Runner 2049 answers this question, it’s certain to draw widespread ire.  Whether it’s revealed he was human all along or confirmed as a replicant, swathes will be disappointed.  It will twist and warp the original’s ending, something even Hampton Fancher (one of the writers on both projects) shouldn’t be allowed to do.

The thing that’s really got me outraged is the only spoken line by Ryan Gosling.  Speaking to Deckard, he asserts that things were “simpler” in his time.  If only that were true.  I’m certain that Blade Runner 2049 will turn out vastly simpler than the film that inspired it, and that line serves as nothing but confirmation of that.  The original movie was far from simple.  Conversely, it was a dense and detailed work of intense depth.  Even within the fourth wall, there were no black and whites in Blade Runner.  A film that fed off grey area, the very idea of labelling Los Angeles, 2019 as “simple” is hilarious to me.  Either Ryan Gosling’s character doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or the filmmakers themselves don’t.  Either way, I think i’ll save my adoration for someone who cares.

Let’s not forget that Harrison Ford himself doesn’t really care.  He has a long history of distancing himself from Blade Runner, so why is he suddenly back?  Is his long-standing distaste really that easy to buy off?  It could be very revealing of the eventual product.  What I see in this trailer is actually quite half-hearted.  While there’s a definite respect throughout, there’s also a certain laziness.  I can’t help but feel like it’s rehashing and rebooting anyway, which is something totally unfitting for the material.  My hopes are still strong that it will surprise me.  After all, I want to like it.  Blade Runner 2049 has an almost impossible task ahead of it.  With this as a barely promising beginning, i’m left feeling as I was when it was first announced.  Why is this being made?

British fellow consumes media and regurgitates back what you should think about it.