Some Notes On “Blade Runner 2049”

(This was written because Paul asked nicely and written before I read his article in The Iris.)

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Do not read further if you have not seen the movie.

Before I begin with a few criticisms let me say this is a superb film, as a sequel it has done incredibly well. In both style and substance it felt like the original had finished and this started screening.

First note, Kay’s ring tone. The moment it rang I flashed back to my early childhood listening to an LP which had Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals on one side and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf on the other. Peter’s theme was immediately recognisable to me. I see the symbology, Peter, the young, innocent hunter. I even liked Kay throwing away the phone playing it late in the movie as a sign of his loss of innocence. The problem is that it was so obvious that from the moment I first heard it part of my brain was looking for other references, perhaps a random piece of music or a poster. Something. Not a skerrick did I see. That part of my brain turned on again every time I heard the ring tone. Distracting.

Next, there were a few places that I thought it neglected the film noir of the original in favour of Hollywood style or melodrama. Wallis’s “office” (perhaps home) was too far over the top, too much like something designed as a set and without the benefit of having a noir feel. It was a great set, had some nice touches but it seemed unnecessary. The scene in the water was also, I felt, over long and overly dramatic, the shots a bit too long and too much action. Sure, you want a nice climax but don’t waste ten minutes on a fight where you can guess the ending, and much of the action, two minutes in.

My final complaint, the sound and music was sometimes a little too much. Excellent, don’t get me wrong, Zimmer has done his usual brilliant job, but it occasionally hid dialogue. For example, I still don’t know what Joy’s last two lines were, one to Kay and one to Decker, both were inaudible under the sound and music. As her last two lines I assume they had some importance or impact, I’ll never know.

All that said, this film was almost perfect cinema. The dark, post-apocalyptic world was incredibly well drawn. The plot and script strong and compelling. The performances by all were good, Gosling gave such a good performance I’ve forgiven him for La-La Land.

The original film, while it hasn’t dated and I enjoyed immensely seeing it on the large screen last weekend, was a movie of it’s time. This film also feels somehow to be a movie of this time while at the same time strongly connected to the first.

This may actually be the movie of 2017. I expect, unlike the original, it will be a huge hit out of the gate. The best compliment I can give it is that it is a movie that deserves viewing more than once on the big screen. If it wasn’t for the Antenna Film Festival I might well line up again next weekend.


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