Blade Runner 2049: We kissed, I Yawned, You Yelled in My Ear

So lets talk Blade Runner 2049; BD2049 is a quasi-sequel to the original Blade Runner that opened in 1942. The movie is a mass of stunning visuals and often superb sound but all the buzz words that I could muster does not ultimately prevent the movie being overall… boring.

Now let’s start with this disclaimer, I did not see the original Blade Runner. I actually had the option to but I decided to rather see if the new movie could stand on its own. To it’s credit, it does explain everything in the previous movie that you need to know in order to not get lost but I continued to feel like the movie was truly only here for the fans of the original.

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This is my happy face

From beginning to end, the movie has a aura of shabbiness, with the aesthetic of the city and of the people in general. We follow Replicant Officer K played by Ryan Goslig, as he’s tasked with hunting down the last remaining of Replicants that went rogue in the last movie. Replicants are genetic clones tasked to do labor and be obedient. As you would expect from any capitalistic world, they decided to make newer, less volatile Replicants – and this generation wont definitely catch on to their unfair treatment…. I promise. However the minute you see the movie play out for a while you get the gist of where this is going especially when you take a look at Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto because “obvious bad guy is an obvious bad guy”. This movie is a wonder to witness, I say that because my first reaction to the trailer is this is an action movie. However when I get in there, the movie takes a sweet time with so many establishing shots and letting the world just happen before the plot continues. The team definitely loves this world to put so much detail in it and it shows. The most fascinating aspect about the movie surprisingly came from K and his hologram companion Joi played by Ana de Armas. It was an odd and often intriguing set of scenes with just them. I try to trace for particular nuances that would show Joi’s true nature. She was created like K, so the emotions that these two share, are they real? Naturally a movie can cheat a bit since she is being played by a human but her passion for K never breaks and I couldn’t help but wonder how much of it is real! K himself was only interesting when he interacted with Joi or when he has a rare emotional outburst. For most of the movie he plays a mostly expressionless Replicant. My hats to Goslig for bringing out as much as he could to such a character.

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Leto as Niander Wallace

I guess I should mention the nude elephant in the room, there’s quite a bit of naked women in the movie, like a distractedly large amount. Normally it wouldn’t bother me if it all resided in a certain location but  it’s everywhere. There’s breasts here in one scene, then here in a totally different location, now here’s a gang of them here, how about some while walking down a street but super-sized! I begun to joke to myself that it was like playing “Where’s Waldo: Nipple Edition”. I don’t mean to be crass but it was getting that apparent. I can only assume that this was a testament to how pornography is such a high commodity now and this is ever increasing future of it. Porn and prostitution are no longer done in the shadows but sold next to your big mac and happy meals. It didn’t bother me terribly but I imagine it’s gonna get some people riled up, in fact there is a moment that Joi and K share with a third party that I thought was actually beautiful, and tragically expressed the desire that Joi wants to be a real person on such a saddening and palpable level

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K (Goslig) and Joi (Armas)

I assume it was meant to be sexy but I just felt sad that she could never get what she wanted. Actually very few got what they wanted in the end. Without spoiling anything I felt the pandering of the last movie ruined the ending for me. It felt out of place and tacked on almost like there was another ending and the Execs exclaimed, “Hey we have Harrison Ford on set for a couple of hours, we got to make it count!” He barely has any of the screen time that the trailer suggests and yet when he does arrive and takes over the movie almost akin to snatching a wooden toy from a baby. Lastly the music was easily the most annoying aspect of this movie for me. It relied so heavily on overbearing horns and ear-drum beating “Bwam”s often during scenes where nothing is happening. It would choose almost horror-movie like scores at times for no reason and I was just baffled by these choices. More so than the convoluted rat race, more so than the overabundance of nudity, and more so than the movie feeling like a prologue to an upcoming sequel, I found the sound choices to be the most distracting thing about this movie.

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“Sorry kid, this is my movie now!” photo by Stephen Vaughan

That summed with the ending that left me wanting and the overall weak impact I received from the end of it, I vacated the theater thinking, “So that happened.” Some may consider this an art film, but to me it was beautiful, drawn out, boring film with some interesting ideas in it. That will be my takeaway from this movie now and in the upcoming days.

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