Review: Blade Runner 2049 3D
Colour me impressed!That old saying, “Film is a visual medium” slams home in what is quite simply one of the greatest sequels of all time. Yup, it’s up there with the second instalments of ‘The Godfather’, ‘Alien’ and ‘Terminator.’
That’s largely due to the stunning visuals of cinematographer Roger Deakins, who quite literally paints with light, creating a multi-coloured canvas. Deakins has been nominated 13 times for an Academy Award and incredibly never won, but that has to change with ‘Blade Runner 2049’, which surpasses even his masterful work on the likes of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘No Country for Old Men’, ‘Skyfall’ and director Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Sicario.’
Villeneuve (director of ‘Arrival’ and ‘Prisoners’) takes Ridley Scott’s vision of ‘Blade Runner’ from 1982 and runs with it, expanding and refreshing that dystopian future vision, till it seems as vast as Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ and unrelenting as Coppola’s acid-trip nightmare hallucination of Vietnam in ‘Apocalypse Now.’
With Villeneuve’s vision and Deakins’ eye, ‘2049’ delivers some of the most haunting, beautiful, epic and jaw-dropping vistas ever splashed on the silver screen.
The plot, like Scott’s first film, is a tightly-wound detective thriller. Neo-noir in look and pretty straightforward in terms of narrative structure, but like its predecessor, it’s in the telling that ‘2049’ really earns its place amongst the greats.
The old themes are all here, joined by new ideas, new nightmares and new conundrums for sci-fi fans to discuss, argue and dissect. At what point is Artificial Intelligence considered life? Can a machine possess feelings, emotions, a soul? Yup even asking, as Philip K Dick’s story on which this is based has it: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’
The soundtrack, by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch may not be as iconic as Vangelis’ original, but it pulses, pounds and pulsates with enough power and subtlety that it blends into the world on screen, wrapping you up in a visual and auditory dreamscape of a dystopian future.
The script, by Michael Green, and ‘Blade Runner’ scribe Hampton Fancher, is sleek and simple, yet densely packed. Better yet, it’s slow. Deliciously so. Like a true, old school film noir, the story takes its time, and the result is a long, satisfying 163-minute submersion into the world of ‘2049.’
Sure, there are action-packed sci-fi blockbuster scenes worthy of the best of the big Summer movies, but an all-in action film ‘2049’ ain’t. Instead it’s a cerebral journey into an adult sci-fi literary world of philosophical thought experiments and evocative sensory delights.
The cast are uniformly superb, although don’t let those trailers fool you into thinking Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard will be around for too much of the time. But when he’s on-screen, Ford’s grizzled ex-Blade Runner is as moody and charismatic as ever.
Ryan Gosling brings his A-game to the character of K, giving him the resolute toughness of his ‘Drive’ lead, coupled with the sparks of humanity and warmth he brought to his ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Nice Guys’ roles.
The supporting cast are impressive, with Robin Wright formidable, Dave Bautista getting better by the movie, a stand out performance by Ana de Armas, and a role for Jared Leto that reminds you he’s actually way better than ‘Suicide Squad’ gave him credit.
You know, it’s rare we get to see a bonafide cinematic masterpiece these days, but technically, artistically and in terms of ambition realised and world building, ‘2049’ both honours the first ‘Blade Runner’ and lives up to its promise.
Oh, and in Imax 3D? “Wow” – my jaw’s still on the floor.
Colour me impressed. Heck, colour me blown away, mesmerised and delighted. Now excuse me, while I buy another ticket and go see it again.