Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049 by Brian Wallinger

35 years ago, director Ridley Scott released Blade Runner, a philosophical sci-fi noir story about humans and replicants. In its initial release, the film was met with a mixed reception, though now, it is looked at as one of the greatest films of all time. When they announced the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, I was immensely excited at the idea of a follow-up.

Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling, follows up on a lead that takes him down the cold trail to Deckard.  Harrison Ford reprises his iconic role from 35 years ago. The Tyrell Corporate has been taken over by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto).  Leto’s performance here feels phoned in and rather bland. He is given minimal screen time and not given much to do other than to be a simple plot device.

Hampton Fancher returns to co-write the screenplay with Michael Green.  At times, it feels a bit thin with moments that serve no real purpose and become unnecessary. The first act is very strong and well-paced, while the second act becomes somewhat derailed.  This all culminates with an open-ended third act. The film has a lot of allegory tones with mythology and philosophy, staying faithful to the original film while finding its own identity. Gosling and Ford give very grounded performances. I wish we could have gotten more out of them other than a straight-forward run-through story.

There’s a fantastic scene with Gosling involving a computer hologram played by Ana de Armas that really puts the film into perspective thematically and becomes a very intimate and provoking sequence.

The cinematography by Roger Deakins enhances the perception of the film, becoming the biggest highlight of the production.  It is very precise and euphoric. The color compositions and saturation, along with the use of practical special effects truly captured the spirit of the first film, and is Oscar-worthy to say the least. The film’s musical score, originally intended to be scored by Johann Johannsson, ended up being scored by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.  Though it works through most of the film, it is inconsistent and loud. The overall tones feel generic and lackluster.

Director Denis Villeneuve proves once again why he is currently one of the greatest filmmakers working today. His ability to take a super hero-esque film budget and produce a mega sci fi drama is second to none.  Despite its flaws, Blade Runner 2049 is a stellar film that was worth the 35-year wait.

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