I just saw Bladerunner 2049
One thing I didn’t do was to rewatch Bladerunner (1982) in preparation for this. It was an impulsive thing.
One thing this movie has is lush scenery. It really paints a visual impression.
In this day and age of rampaging CGI, that is not that hard to do. Making a story worth slathering with CGI is the trick.
For me, Bladerunner 2049 doesn’t live up to this. it takes a 1-hour plot and just stretches it to fit.
There are edges where something weird is happening, and the movie asks interesting questions. But the main spine of the story is actually sort of pedestrian doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
Spoiler free review: This is a picturesque and stately Film that takes too long to get to its point. The story is much weaker than the rest of the production. I give it a B- because it’s very pretty, a return to the game world of Bladerunner and has some interesting roles for some of the actors.
I will not go out of my way to watch it again. I recommend waiting for video.
I saw this in flat IMAX. I did enjoy the bigger screen but not enough to justify the extra expense.
The sound was cranked up to the point where I was uncomfortable with it. I am hard of hearing, so what does that tell ya?
I saw this with Kat and Tom. The consensus was that normal screens with the new reclining seats are a better value for this sort of thing.
Okay, In this movie we pick up in the world of Blade Runner 30 years later. It’s more dystopian and more ecologically damaged. The tools and tech are basically similar.
We meet “K”, a Blade Runner He is a replicant. His job is to run down escaped replicants and either take them in, or kill them.
We see K has what I’d describe as “reduced affect” He meets “Sapper Morton” A grub farmer, tending an expanse of greenhouses. Dave Bautista really works hard to be a character actor here, and find the human side of a character who has a few minutes of screen time.
K doesn’t care. He says “Please don’t make this difficult” but Morton fights for his life and K kills him.
But then K discovers something mysterious.
K returns to Greater LA, there’s a CGI scene of miles and miles of tenaments.
Back at at the futuristic LAPD HQ, K is put through a test which assess his stability. He aces it. Then there’s a scene where the Lt commanding him put him up on blocks and makes sure he’s properly subservient.
K is meek and submissive.
This brings up something which is a driver for this movie. K knows he’s a replicant. He has, in the Feminist jargon “Internalized his oppression” Some human LAPD officers hurl abuse at him as he walks through the HQ. K stays meek.
K goes back to his apartment. The movie sets up that things are crowded and poor. Almost veers into “Soylent Green” territory. Residents of K’s apartment block know he’s a replicant and verbally abuse him for it. K stays meek. There is graffitti on his door, calling him a skin job. He ignores it and goes inside.
K cannot stand up for himself. If he does, he’ll be a “Rogue Replicant” and get retired by another Bladerunner.
So we see a very depressed person who’s life is pretty much hell.
Then we see the bright part of his life.
He has a hologram named Joi. She is played by the deleriously pretty Ana de Armas. As he gets home from this particular rough day at the office, and Joi plays 1950s housewife for him, he shows her a present he has bought her. But is it a present for her or for him?
He has bought a mobile emitter. Now he can carry her arround with him. She can leave his apartment. The first place she wants to go is the roof to see the rain. There’s an interesting thing where the rain falls through the hologram and then it flickers and adds raindrops to her skin.
To me, this is one of the most interesting questions in the movie, and the movie does nothing to resolve it. It just shows us the question. I like this. This holo-girl is named Joi. Is Joi a person, or a carefully programmed ‘bot? She displays strong feelings for K. Are they real feelings or is she just a real good chat program?
K has feelings for her, and this comes off as pathetic. To be honest I could see myself having this very same reaction.
Joi crosses some lines in an attempt to show her affection for K. Disturbing, but inventive.
Now Kat and Tom said they could see the twist in the plot coming five miles away.
I didn’t until they put all the pieces on the mantle piece, but I can be oblivious that way.
The story is, very broadly about racism. It’s about how the game world views K and how this spins how K sees himself.
Jared Leto plays “Niander Wallace” The mad techno genius who took over for Tyrell after he was murdered.
The Game world asserts that, in the 2020s there was some sort of event that shut down all technology and wiped out a lot of pre-event records, leaving records of the 2019 time period spotty.
So Wallace talks about all great civiliations being based on cheap, disposable labor. Slaves. Wallace’s motivation is that he cannot crank up the facotories to produce replicants at the rate he feels are needed to take civilization to the next level.
Wallace acts like a rambly, speech making luncatic who can do amazing feats of techno magic, but can’t really parse basic ethics or the negative effects of racism. So he stands there talking like a techno-wizard KKK leader and seems to have no self awareness about it at all.
Although really, I suppose you’d have to.
Wallace has his own henchwoman, a replicant named Luv. Luv is plainly a psychopath. Her relationship to her own Replicant-ness is complicated by being a nut job and hero worship of Wallace.
Robin Wright is back as a genially despicable LAPD Lt who acts as K’s commanding officer. She has aged into a middle aged tough lady face that works really well. I hope she keeps on going.
The McGuffin of the piece….. Well, I am not sure I even want to describe it.
I suppose I have to. K discovers, on Sapper Morton’s farm, the bones of a woman. These bones have serial numbers on them. Further investigation shows she died in child birth. Something Replicants are not supposed to be able to do.
Lt Joshi (Wright) feels that this will break the difference between humans and replicants. Once replicants feel like they are not just meat machines but might actually be people, they’ll rise up. Her worry is the disorder and chaos this will cause. She doesn’t care about anything else but keeping order. So she orders K to kill the case and destroy all evidence.
But K pokes into it because it’s weird. He brings the thing to the attention of Wallace Corp.
Wallace sees replicants who can give birth as the solution to his supply problems, so he sicks his hench woman Luv on the case.
What with one thing and another, K begins to feel like he, himself might be the child of this dead replicant. So he begins to investigate.
As he uncovers more and more of this long hidden mystery, he begins to deviate.
While he felt he was a replicant and subhuman, he was considered “Stable and reliable” according to psychological testing. As he begins to feel he may be a real boy, his test result go out of line. He leaves the realm of a dependable replicant. A clock begins ticking.
What with one thing and another, K finds Deckard, who resides in the ruins of Las Vegas.
The film is pretty and distopic. The ground seems dead. The weather seems weird and hostile (Snow in Los Angeles?)
But there are moments when it seems nature is trying to reassert itself. K is lead to Rachel’s bones by a rogue dandelion. He is led to Decker by a beehive.
But these are just images. They don’t play much of a narrative role, they lead K to some of the pieces of the puzzle he’s working on.
In the ruins of Las Vegas, K finds these hugs statues of women in sexualized poses. As if Medusa had tried to watch Giant Porn. But it dozent really say it’s in Vegas until some time later. As K wanders into it, it just seems to be “I am Ozymandias, Look upon my porn ye mighty, and despair.”
The Director occasionally takes moments in the film to really highlight occasional boobs.
Tom said the statues really damaged his suspension of disbelief.
I found them to be a bit off puttingly tawdry myself. I was strongly reminded of “Rouge City” from AI, the Kubrik/Spielberg film.
But I wonder if he’s not trying to use the imagery to draw a distinction between procreation, which is the MacGuffin of the movie and the sorts of not-terribly-life-affirming sex in the porn statues and elsewhere. Sort of saying that corrupt fornication style sex is emblematic of the sort of problem that led the world to the state it is in for this movie.
Or maybe he’s a creep with a fixation on boobs. Denis Villeneuve is the director BTW. Okay, looking at his IMBd page, I have seen one other movie he directed “The Arrival”, which I really liked.
I strongly suspect there’s more to the imagery than I am getting or am privy to.
The movie kind of rolls downhill from there. It has it’s set up and it’s momentum and this drives the movie towards where it winds up.
The ending is sort of satisfying, but sort of not. It leaves stuff up in the air and the Game world might be entering a time of wrenching change.
Will Humans a Replicants get their shit together? I hope so. This game world hints at things going on at the edges which would be nice to explore.
But the main spine of this movie was too weak to support the weight. The world building had some really odd points.
I give it a B- for the film and for Ana de Armas being very pretty. But it’s not worth going out of the way for.
This film was one of many big budget failures this season. Very odd that 2017 has bombed so hard. OTOH, Spider-Man and Wonderwoman did okay.
One thing I was sort of waiting for was the idea that the 2019 of the Original Blade Runner was actually much further in the past, and that the twist was going to wind up being that everyone was a replicant, survivors of a human race that wiped itself out long ago.
Maybe I am too much of a hack.