The Clarion

‘Blade Runner’ Impressive effort creates sequel the franchise deserves

Warner Bros

Warner Bros

Matt Withers, Arts Editor

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Creating a sequel that is on par with the its original is difficult, creating a sequel when the original is a pillar of sci-fi like “Blade Runner” is even harder. That’s why it’s so impressive that “Blade Runner 2049” not only matches the first quality, but in many ways surpasses it.

The first “Blade Runner” took place in 2019 in a dystopian future. Earth is miserable, and out of resources, so humans created life like androids called Replicants. These androids have been outlawed on Earth and those who are assigned to hunt them down are called Blade Runners.

“Blade Runner 2049” takes place 30 years after the original, and stars Ryan Gosling as the Blade Runner K. Gosling is a new breed of Replicant, one that is totally compliant unlike earlier models.

The bulk of the story takes place as K is tasked with finding an Replicant baby, something that should be impossible.

From there the story is really about K’s detective work, and I don’t want to spoil any of that, since it’s a wild ride. The plot feels like a very small slice of a much bigger world, and that really helps the main focus of the story, the characters. This doesn’t mean that plot is perfect by a long shot. At times the plot gets extremely disjointed and some threads go nowhere. Not all questions need to be answered in a film like this but I do feel like some of this extraneous plot could have been shaved off the films nearly three hour run time.

Gosling’s performance is something to be applauded. When I first saw the casting list Gosling as the main character, I was skeptical. How could Ryan Gosling possibly match the charisma of Harrison Ford?

Like much of 2049, Gosling not only matches Ford’s original performance but outshines him. Gosling has so much range as K, from quietly enjoying dinner with his virtual wife, to having his whole life unravel without any dialogue whatsoever.

Ford is also in the movie reprising his role as Deckard. Ford delivers a strong performance, it really does feel like the character has aged, not just because of his face but his actions as well. Deckard is a broken man and sees the worst in humanity, and trying to see the best in Replicants.

K’s and Deckard’s interactions are a highlight of the film, they brought a smile to my face even throughout the dark and depressing atmosphere of the movie. The weakest performance was Jared Leto’s character, Wallace. Leto’s performance was by no means bad, he just got the least to work with as far as the script. He just ended up feeling like a generic villain next to outstanding performances of the films other stars.

The direction of the film should not be discounted. Even when the story started to drag a little the beauty of the movie kept my eyes glued to the screen. Denis Villeneuve has the ability to make every frame of this film a painting. The color contrast from the dark and blue lights of the city compared to the harsh oranges of the wastelands immediately sets the tone for both locales, and helps the audience understand the world that much more.

It is clear that Villeneuve has a love, and respect for the world that “Blade Runner” presented in the 80’s. The world feels like it has aged 30 years, which is a feat in of itself. The technology is more advanced but many old world items (like the iconic coke ad) are still around making the this feel less like a modern reboot, and more of the late sequel it intends to be.

“Blade Runner 2049” is spectacular in nearly every way. The dialogue is sharp and interesting, the performances are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the direction is some of the most visually stunning work in a main stream movie this year. In the latter half of the film you start to feel the three-hour run time, but the movie is still engaging enough to keep you hooked.

The film isn’t for everyone, if you’re looking for a popcorn action flick, you might be disappointed. If you know that you’re going in to a noir detective story, “2049” is one of the best cinematic experiences of the year. One that improves on the highly influential cult classic in many ways. If you’re a fan of sci-fi you should rush out to see it as fast as you can.

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‘Blade Runner’ Impressive effort creates sequel the franchise deserves