Members Only | Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 | From Alcon Entertainment and Sony; Ryan Gosling stars Officer K. as LAPD Replicant investigator in Los Angeles 2049, on a trail of evidence that leads him to previous player on the force who disappeared mysteriously after the Tyrell Corporation, a leading supplier of synthetic human slave labor experiences a major failure and buyout.  Based on the classic science fiction novel from Philip K. Dick "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and co-starring the stunning visual effects of the original Blade Runner that made it a generational classic along with Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, Ana de Armas, Jared Letto, Robin Wright and Silvia Hoecks.  A music editorial treatment and film review presented by West Coast Midnight Run with the music influence of M83, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Gwen Stefani, and leading music notables.

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I wont lie to you I have always admired the incredible cinematography, as brief and scant as it was in Blade Runner (1982) along with the ambient ethereal music of Vangelis that elevated the entire principal shoot of an otherwise B science fiction movie.  Those few scenes over the Megapolis Pyramids and the spinners flying around over eternally dark skies with fire surging from refinery stacks made the movie into legend and its depiction of futuristic mega monster cities (thanks to Douglas Trumbull EEG Studios) became the template for the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

For a slight and worthwhile detour, because today in the press everyone is talking about cinematographer Roger Deakins (who has yet to be awarded an Oscar) and Deakins is involved in shooting PRINCIPAL photography (no special effects) on this Blade Runner 2049 and the previous one in 1982, Blade Runner 2019.  The thing is the entire look and feel of the film hinged on the efforts of another pair of wizards, the visual designer of the production (the team that illustrates the look of the movie before any filming and SFX is created) and the SFX team.  In our case Blade Runner 2019, the original, was able to snag Trumbull who, prior to Star Wars (1977) mesmerizing the world with Industrial Light and Magic, had blown away audiences with 2001 A Space Odyssey (1969).   In other words, not only did Trumbull beat George Lucas to mind blowing SFX with Space Odyssey he again crafted incredible indelible imagery with Blade Runner in 1982.

Then it’s a little odd and a lot of funny when the press today is buzzing mad over Roger Deakins.

Back to our review, I think it’s safe to tell you that Blade Runner easily packs some of the most stunning visual imagery in a long while, building on its predecessor’s achievements and creating an aesthetic atmosphere that is absolutely riveting.  The project is a collaboration of former director Ridley Scott and new hands on deck Denis Villeneuve along with Roger Deakins and Dennis Gassner (Production Design Lead).  Together they manage to create a new feel that reverberates with the touchstones of high art, from monochromatic Romanesque statues and vintage buildings to updated Art Noir replacing the original’s Art Deco Film Noir signature.  Curiously the new movie’s spinners look more retro and a throwback than the sleek 1982 flying machines.

It seems that while technology has lurched forward with artificial intelligence and biosynthetic cloning the look of the world this time around is more vintage and less futuristically sleek glass and steel.

Blade Runner 2049’s principal photography was filmed primarily in Budapest, Hungary.  The story picks up a couple of decades after Deckard (Harrison Ford) runs away with Replicant Rachel hoping Tyrell did not include in her design a shutdown/termination date.  The world has experienced significant damage since then, the least of which are off-world Nexus 6 replicants, who are a continual threat to our society (being conceived with little emotional anchors and with superior physical and mental abilities).  

The Tyrell Corporation was sold over, following the death of its founder at the hands of Roy Batty and at present is producing replicants as slave labor, a new generation of artificial life, Nexus 8, that is far more docile and designed for domestic consumption.  Markedly missing from the entire picture is the status of off-world development and colonization as the movie tugs at audiences with the urgency of dire planetary catastrophes on the horizon.  As a futuristic world with flying machines that defy gravity without conventional propulsion systems and with interplanetary development within the framework of the story, it is also interesting the producers and writers did not include in any significant dose the backdrop of Artificial Intelligence with machines.  

And that is fine and dandy with me, as we have already overdosed from A.I. film treatments, be it The Terminator, The Avengers and Ultron, Bicentennial Man, Ex-Machina to Tron and I, Robot.

Like its predecessor, the film drives forward, focusing on biomedical genetics and cloning and the moral as well as logistical dilemmas it represents in the mass production and commercial exploitation of flesh and bone, people, as commodities replacing machine, a theme that was explored in similar style with the very first science fiction movie ever, 1927’s Metropolis.

In this adventure, Ryan Gosling leads a cast supported by performances from a strong team of veteran performers and new faces, including Dave Bautista (007 Specter and Guardians of The Galaxy), Robin Wright (too many movies to enumerate), and new kids Silvia Hoecks as Luv, a replicant working as the right-hand woman of the new Tyrell megalomaniac, portrayed very briefly by Jared Leto (Suicide Squad and The Dallas Buyers Club).  Hoecks does a super cool job as the central villain of this movie, an evil Rachel who actually steps in and becomes a more dangerous Tyrell, with all the advantages that the corporation gives her.

Both Leto and Harrison Ford (returning as Deckard) have very short “cameo” performances yet add heft and much needed extra dimension to the film.

Blade Runner 2049 spins its events around a mysterious discovery that officer K (Gosling) uncovers that of made public could result in a critical meltdown in the new society of humans and Nexus 6/8 Replicants.

The new movie, more so than the original Blade Runner, relies more on the visual strength of the medium is placing the viewer in this nightmarish world that is soon to be upon us, than it does on dialogue and well-crafted storyline.  The feel of a detective story, of pulp science fiction and noir crime drama are barely perceptible in this film, although they were far more pronounced in the 1982 film.

What made the original Blade Runner so stunning and a cult classic is that it did not aspire to be a great science fiction movie that tells us the future and did not pretend to hold all the answers.  Blade Runner was a small crime thriller movie in the genre of LA Confidential set against a breathtaking panorama in the future, the personal story of a detective who was treading life without much zest for it when things begin to take a wrong, or right turn, for him.

In a sense Blade Runner 2049 continues this thread but the emphasis on the overall landscape and environment ties into modern filmmaking trends and the personal story is less polished than the incredible slow ride into the new world we are invited to explore, after some fashion this movie has much fewer action and more cerebral 2001 A Space Odyssey texture to it.

If you are seeking a more adult and just incredibly powerful expression and exposition of cinematic prowess and technical wizardry woven in the form of a science fiction mystery adventure, Blade Runner 2049 is definitely your bet for a great treat at the movies.

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