15 October 2017

Is The Blade Runner Sequel A Benefit Or A Hazard?

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Like the sky being blue, two and two equalling four, and Piers Morgan being a rancid cock of a man, there are some things in life that simply can not be argued with. The status of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner as a masterpiece is also one of these things. Few works of art have gone on to influence so much in their wake, with Blade Runner being directly responsible for everything from the design of almost every sci-fi film since its release to the simple fact that even my fucking phone is now 'more human than human'. When asked if he was nervous about entering Ridley Scott's world with his sequel Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve responded, “of course. I had to find a way of not being like a vandal in a church”. Well, it turns out that the talented prick need not have worried because in the way that his film focuses on the mystery of a miracle, it seems that he has delivered one of his own. Not only is he not a vandal at the church but he's taken a sledge hammer to its back wall and discovered a secret cathedral hidden behind. If Blade Runner is sci-fi's holy grail then in the way that this sequel maintains its core themes and mysteries whilst also expanding on them and exploring its own agendas, Blade Runner 2049 is the holy grail but with added bells and tits on it.

The film begins thirty years after the original in which new Blade Runner 'K', played by Ryan Gosling, uncovers a mystery after an encounter with a replicant. And that's all you need to know because one of the many joys of the film is in how it never gives you quite what you'd expect from a sci-fi blockbuster that cost more than $150 million to make. I also say 'one of the many joys' because like both its predecessor and the dick that every guy claims to have, Blade Runner 2049 is both a grower and a shower. A grower because the movie is so ram-packed with ideas that you won't really be able to take them all in until you leave the movie and start to digest them. As with the first film, this one deals with what it means to be human, the importance of memories, and that small matter of the meaning of life. Although unlike the original film's antagonist Roy Batty, K isn't so much after more life as he is a simple purpose in one. On top of all of this, Blade Runner 2049 also touches upon racism, with the replicants being treated as second class citizens because fuck it.. people, like some prick of a seagull at the beach, can only feel good about themselves when they're finding new ways to shit on top of somebody else's head.

The aspect that I found most poignant however was the idea that rather than being the centre of the universe, we're all just cogs in a machine. And it's not even that good of a machine. Being a cog in one of those giant Pacific Rim robot things might at least give you some bragging rights but really we're all just batteries being used to power the dildo of existence as it fucks us into the grave. Without going into Tyler Durden's 'slaves in white collars' speech, Blade Runner 2049 explores the realisation that we're not the main character in the story of life but rather we're just an extra that's finally realising that the best it can ever hope for is a line of dialogue. The source novel asks, 'do androids dream of electric sheep?' with this film proposing that on top of our own despair we also inherit the dreams and anxieties of our creators. Or as Philip Larkin once wrote, “Man hands on misery to man, it deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself”. So essentially yes. Androids probably do dream of electric sheep.. but only if they were created in a factory in Wales in which that is pretty much every working man's greatest sexual fantasy. Although I should say that the film is better than I've just made it sound. It's like all of that that but without my 'pretentious sixth former' musings on existentialism and my unhealthy obsession with dick references.

And speaking of dicks to go back to my original point of growing and showing... the film is therefore also a shower because on top of the exploration of character, their missions, and their need for a philosophy, Blade Runner 2049 looks fucking amazing. A big deal is being made about the work of cinematographer Roger Deakins here and rightly so because if you paused the movie at any point then you'd be presented with a frame of such beauty that my own bio-pic could start with a close-up of my eye as I stare in awe of it. If you're still yet to watch this film then trust me, “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe”. This is clearly set in the same world as the first film however rather than simply replicating it and becoming a pale imitation like the live action Ghost In The Shell, Villeneuve has imagined how things may have evolved over the last thirty years. In some cases this even includes seeing snow which is presumably a hint towards his own Canadian heritage. I didn't spot it but there must be a semi-destroyed and neon sign for a Tim fucking Hortons in there somewhere. As much as this is a sequel to Blade Runner it also feels like a natural continuation of the work Villeneuve was doing on Incendies, Enemy, and Arrival. To say that Villeneuve is one of the most exciting directors of our time would be pure hyperbole. But this is a blog and hyperbole is our main source of currency.. so fuck it... There is nobody better than Villeneuve right now with his cinematic streak currently being hotter than the devils arse-hole after shitting out a curry that he ate on the fucking Sun.

Of course Blade Runner 2049 isn't entirely perfect but what the fuck is? There's a scene in which K briefly chats to the original films Gaff which is the only minute of the film that goes nowhere and feels like it exists only for fan service. When Gaff says, “you could see it in his eyes”, he may as well turn to camera and give a big smile and a thumbs up. Also despite the way everything else is suggested with subtlety and nuance our introduction to Jared Leto's character is a scene in which he monologues his motives like a cross between a Bond villain and Basil Exposition. In any other film this would not only be fine but it'd be the norm. In a film as extraordinary as this one though it literally stands out like a fart in an elevator. And speaking of Leto, his character was originally envisioned as being a part for David Bowie to play which makes sense considering how androgynous this film depicts the future as being. Robin Wright's character literally looks like a slimmer Dolph Lundgren with most children having had their heads shaved and wearing clothes that literally make them indistinguishable from one another. However even despite this the film seems a little obsessed with the idea of woman as sexual objects. Yes it has some really strong female characters such as Robin Wrights or Sylvia Hoeks's however that doesn't distract from the fact that all the prostitutes and adverts for porn seem to feature exclusively women. Which makes this one of the few films in which I guess my main criticism is in a world of androgyny... where are all the naked men?

There is actually an interesting gender thing going on in the background of this movie too which I can't go into because of spoilers. But the film seems to be entering a scenario in which women are being written out of humanity which would explain why in this world we only ever see that gender as the one to be objectified. Regardless of this though it's not actually something that the film really deals with, with its focus being more on the existence of a soul in favour of the role of women within society. For example if you look at K's hologram girlfriend Joi as played brilliantly by Ana De Armas then she really does only seem to exist to serve the emotions of K within both the workings of the film and the world of the story. She's his unquestioning Pinocchio-like girlfriend whose only goal in life is to be real for him whilst in terms of narrative she only really exists to show the emotional roller-coaster that he's going on. Of course their entire relationship also works towards the films questions of what it is that makes us real however the existentialism of the scenario is what takes priority over the role of gender. Perhaps this could be a natural area to explore further if somebody ever attempts a third Blade Runner film? Although I have no idea which filmmaker would have the balls to follow these two movies with another one considering quite how breathtaking they are. In fact I'd worry that they're so good  that it'd actually have to be a very stupid director that would think they could. Somebody distract Brett fucking Ratner right fucking now.

When it was announced that they were making a sequel to Blade Runner the world didn't ask, “why?” It just said, “no”. But Blade Runner 2049 is a monumental achievement. It's a sequel that not only retains the ambiguity of the first film but actually poses a few more mysteries for it too. On top of this it also works brilliantly as a stand alone movie with questions of its own that I suspect we'll all be debating for years to come. As I write this now it's been twenty-four hours since I saw Blade Runner 2049 and I don't remember it as being a film I watched but rather a world I visited. Although this could be because I'd only gotten off a plane from Italy a few hours earlier, I'd been awake about twenty-eight hours when it began, and I was starting to lose track of reality by about the half way point. It's not a convenient way to see a film but it sure as fuck makes for an immersive experience if you watch something whilst losing track of your own sanity. Blade Runner 2049 has been met with absolute adoration from the critics and so expect a backlash any day now in which the dumb members of the general public who didn't quite understand it attempt to belittle the film in order to make themselves seem smarter than it. But if the backlash happens then I suspect it won't take long to wash away their bullshit like tears in the rain as this film stands strong as the future classic that it clearly is. I can't say that this new film is better than the original but in its perfect expansion of the world, more Blade Runner than Blade Runner really should be its motto. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.