Man at His Best

Blade Runner 2049 Is The Triumphant Sequel Fans Deserve

A spoiler-free review.

BY matt miller | Oct 9, 2017 | Film & TV

Warner Bros.

Between its premiere in 1982 and the final cut in 2007, eight different versions of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner have been released—which perfectly illustrates the embattled existence of what is otherwise one of the greatest sci-fi films ever. It was originally shown in theaters with a studio-imposed voiceover (to Bladesplain the whole thing) and a “happy ending,” which saw its heroes Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young) riding off into a beautiful forest landscape—changes that execs believed would make the movie more accessible to the average dummy moviegoer.

And they weren’t entirely wrong! Because no one really got Blade Runner upon its initial release; unfortunately, these changes didn’t help, either. The ending didn’t fit the tone of the film, and the clunky voiceover was more of a distraction than a help. With that, Blade Runner was a box office flop. No one saw this weirdo sci-fi noir film based on a 1968 Philip K. Dick novel that was hardly a bestseller on its own. It’s amazing, then, that 35 years later we even remember Blade Runner, let alone regard it as such an influential piece of American cinema. And that’s because Blade Runner is fucking incredible, which fans and critics realized after the fact, thanks in-part to re-releases of the film that gave Scott full artistic control over his vision (specifically the 2007 Final Cut).

Blade Runner’s long, unwieldy history and various cuts makes it pretty difficult to make a sequel 35 years later. It’s beloved by critics and fans, and it’s a movie that has inspired filmmakers (and plenty of copycats) for decades. Fans have spent the same amount of time rewatching and analyzing every nuance, theme, and clue. Blade Runner has—thanks to the support of its audience—risen to the top of the sci-fi pedestal. In sci-fi terms, making a sequel is like making The Godfather Part 4 or Raging Bull: Raging Even Harder.

One could only imagine the pressure put upon Denis Villeneuve (even fresh off Arrival's Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture) to direct Blade Runner 2049. And I’m going to be very clear in saying it: Villeneuve absolutely pulled it off.

I could have sat through three hours of this thing with the sound off, just staring at the works of art on the screen. Nearly every frame looks like some sort of dystopian masterwork painting—a credit to cinematographer Roger Deakins, who should finally get his goddamn Oscar for this. Villeneuve has at once captured Scott’s style and expanded on it. Thirty-five years ago, Scott created an iconic and very ‘80s idea of the future. It’s a daunting task to recreate that in 2017 without it looking cheesy as hell. Yet—and this is thanks in large part to the parallel timeline jump in the film and the cyclical return of ‘80s trends—Villeneuve’s L.A. in the year 2049 is equally shocking and evocative.

Warner Bros.

From: Esquire US