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10 Reasons Why “Blade Runner 2049” Is Better Than The Original

14 October 2017 | Features, Other Lists | by Tom Lorenzo

Sequels are a hard nut to crack. Hollywood’s insistence on utilizing any name brand they can get their hands on doesn’t always work. It rarely does. Just because something had a name that was worthwhile at some point, or worthwhile to a niche audience, doesn’t mean it’s going to make money, and money is what these suits want.

It’s even more bizarre when they decide to make a sequel decades after the fact to a long forgotten box office bomb. So while a certain audience may love it, it’s weird that Disney would expect that a big budget sequel to “Tron” would make enough money to justify a nine-figure budget. Or that Warner Bros. would expect a “Blade Runner” sequel to do so as well.

But there’s one thing that isn’t always a guarantee with these, and that is whether they will be good or not. Cause for every “Mad Max: Fury Road”, there’s a “Tron: Legacy”. And thankfully, “Blade Runner 2049” managed to overcome its inherent probability of being a “Tron” and fell more in line with “Fury Road”.

That this team was able to crack the code on a movie that is so iconic and singular is a miracle and one that needs to be looked at a little more clearly. So without further ado, let’s get to it. Spoilers are quite freely abound in this piece. Be warned.

 

10. The Return of Hampton Fancher

When tackling these kinds of movies so far after the original’s release, it’s hard to capture that feeling. Movies are a special kind of magic and to try to replicate it at any point is hard, but to do it so many years later is even harder. So to get at least one of the original creatives involved in the sequel is key. This time out they made a smart move by keeping on the writer of the original movie.

Hampton Fancher is a key ingredient to the success of the original movie, that much is clear now. His script on that movie helped to craft the world within and all the philosophical questions at the heart of it, really capturing the feel of Philip K. Dick in the process. His writing was not mainstream in any way, so to bring him back was a good signifier that this movie was going to do its best to stay true to the original and not play it safe.

“2049” really does not play it safe at all, feeling in no way like a typical blockbuster. It’s long and ponderous and filled with natural progressions on the themes laid out in the original, filled with subtle callbacks to the original and interesting 180s on elements laid out in the original. Fancher’s return helped cement this movie as one to not be scoffed at on its face.

 

9. No Ridley Scott

Alien Covenant (Ridley Scott)

Ridley Scott helped to make the original as iconic as it is. He has always been a visual filmmaker and the work he did on the production design side of that movie reverberated throughout cinema ever since. You can see every sci-fi movie released in its wake in that first movie, and it’s thanks to Scott.

But as time has gone on to prove many a time, Scott is a man who rarely understands the stories he’s telling and he’ll muddle the hell out of the themes of a script if it isn’t airtight or he isn’t in complete narrative control.

Just look at his return to the Alien franchise with “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant” to see a man who fundamentally doesn’t understand why that series succeeded. Add in the nonstop misunderstanding of the original “Blade Runner” and his nonstop recutting of the movie to show a man who doesn’t get it. That and his insistence that Deckard is a replicant shows he doesn’t understand the actual narrative he was telling and that he fell ass-backwards into a classic.

So it was a godsend to us all that he decided to not return for this movie and stay dedicated to screwing up Alien movies, handing it off to Denis Villeneuve in his nonstop quest dominate Hollywood. Instead of getting a glorified production designer, we got a real director who fundamentally understands the movies he’s telling and makes choices to heighten the movie.

 

8. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling is usually not very good at the stoic leading man thing. He lacks the gravitas to make it work and he comes off more like a whiny baby when he tries to be a tough guy. So his casting was not necessarily the most welcoming decision with this movie. But thinking about it helped make sense out of it. This isn’t like he was going to try to be a copy of Han Solo or Indiana Jones or another heroic Harrison Ford role.

Deckard is not a typical hero. For the vast majority of the original’s run time, he gets his ass kicked by the replicants he’s hunting. He’s a more cerebral character, a weaker character than we were used to by Ford. So to have Gosling step in to fill that role was smart. But what was even smarter was that he is playing a flipside to Ford. Gosling is a replicant questioning his existence and whether or not he is human. Ford was a man waking up to remember his humanity, questioning the inhuman practices he was taking part in.

Gosling has a tricky role to play as we have to believe that he isn’t completely human but slightly yearns for it, and then believe the revelation that he may be more than human, and then buy his crushing disappointment at his truth, and then buy his sacrifice to overcome what everyone says he has to be. It’s a layered performance and one that helps us journey down this long and ponderous epic, as the whole movie is anchored by him. Miscasting this would have sunk the entire process and they hit gold with it.

 

7. Roger Deakins

In terms of what “Blade Runner” gave the world of cinema, visuals are the biggest element. The look of that movie influenced so many works in its wake that it’s harder to find a sci-fi movie that isn’t influenced by it than is. So when making a sequel, you have to wonder if they’ll be able to keep it feeling like “Blade Runner” while feeling like that world 30 years later.

Getting Roger Deakins to film your movie is a pretty good way to settle any worries about that regard, since Deakins may be the best cinematographer in the game. His work is always lush and rich. He’s the best guy you were gonna get here and he does not disappoint. The movie is maybe the most gorgeous movie in years; sci-fi certainly hasn’t looked this good in quite some time.

The man’s style isn’t exactly the same as original movie’s director of photography Jordan Cronenweth. But he was able to capture the rain-soaked neon feel of that original movie and push it forward into the digital age. The blues and the oranges in this movie are overwhelming.

This truly feels like a cyberpunk noir the way the original did. The city feels like it has moved forward in many ways but also like it hasn’t. Like the world is falling apart and this city is the last bastion of humanity, so tech is moving forward but also left in the past. Deakins came in and killed it here.

 

6. The World Building

Any sci-fi series is dependent upon its world building. The audience needs to understand the fake world they are being thrust into, so it has to make sense. There has to be rules and they have to make sense and the movie has to follow those rules in order for us to suspend our disbelief. The original movie did that very well. It wouldn’t be a classic if it didn’t do so, no matter how nice it looked.

So for the sequel to come out after 30 years, it would need to feel like it’s in the same world we know but things have to have changed. We need to see what has changed. How is the world different after this long? And the movie does that very well. We get the sense of the change in replicant’s technology, how rebellion isn’t too much of a concern. How the world has sort of settled into a groove and is just coasting. How Jared Leto is a new type of capitalist fat cat, taking advantage of the world’s ills.

Thirty years ago wouldn’t have allowed Ryan Gosling in it. But as the world has kept falling apart, it needed him. It’s a canny way of building upon the bones of the past.

 

 

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  • Bergkamp

    As much as I loved 2049, I couldn’t disagree more with this, in no way 2049 is better than the first one. For starters, it’s not as revolutionary and original as the first one, which made a lot of impact by being so influential in the following years. Yes, blade Runner 2049 looks pretty, but there’s not that many original tricks and signature, some of the things you see in 2049, appeared already in movies like GITS (the one with Scarlett Johansson) yes, that movie that everyone hated it!

    And while I generally liked the new OST, by any means I would considered it better and again, more unique and original than the one from Vangelis.

    Just no, and no.

    • Mortimer

      I know. Told you already my opinion about ‘2049’ in one of previous articles here. I like the movie and it has many good things in it which Villeneuve handled very well; it’s obvious he respects Ridley’s film. But when you think about it – this movie brings nothing original on the table ( lone depressed hero searching for his identity, ruthless evil corporation, high-tech sex-surrogate scene, unstoppable female icy-bitch villain, robots/androids rebel against their human masters etc). And what’s that idea about replicants having children ? That makes same sense as ageing terminators.

      Very good movie, intelligent, with interesting ideas and expanded universe but also not very original, unnecessary overlong, with not especially charismatic characters, no memorable scenes or quotes. The sequel to iconic, cult Sci-fi masterpiece nobody asked for.

      • Fabien Oman

        They did subvert the ‘chosen one’ trope creatively, and personally I found the ending genuinely moving.

        • Mortimer

          I agree that ending is genuinely moving (Joi’s “death” too), but not on the poetic, simple “Tears in Rain” level. A lot of other scenes in the movie weren’t original at all (that fight with Luv at the end ? Yawn). It seems Villeneuve played too much safe, ticking all Blade Runner boxes.
          I don’t like how it’s open for franchise now. Will the 3rd part be about replicant’s rebel against Wallace (and other humans) ? That would be lame if you ask me and it has “I’ve been there already” written all over it.

          • UberboreanFaustoAryanSupaPowa

            “I don’t like how it’s open for franchise now. Will the 3rd part be about replicant’s rebel against Wallace (and other humans) ? That would be lame if you ask me and it has “I’ve been there already” written all over it.”

            I agree. The original Blade Runner was a futuristic noir story that was small in scope that touched on religious and metaphysical themes. It was personal. Spiritual. Haunting. Beautiful. The scope didn’t involve some grand, quasi-Marxist uprising or conflict in order to make the world “right.” Nor did it it have a Dr. Evil-esque villain like 2049 had in the form of Leto (whose motives make no sense).

        • Vincenzo Politi

          “They did subvert the ‘chosen one’ trope creatively”: yeah, that was as creative as a Latin American telenovelas. The secret son, the secret daughter, the revolution… I mean, really??

        • UberboreanFaustoAryanSupaPowa

          “They did subvert the ‘chosen one’ trope creatively, and personally I found the ending genuinely moving.”

          Not really. They just re-oriented it. There’s still a ‘chosen one’. Clearly. It’s still a biblical cliche MacGuffin type of plot line that just ended up pointing toward Deckard’s daughter instead of K.

          To find the ending genuinely moving, I’d actually have to care about Gosling or old man Deckard or his daughter in the first place. Which I didn’t. I don’t even know how what’s her face is going to react to Deckard there at the end. There’s little character development to hint at what that encounter will be for either of them. It’s all so vague and confused. Gosling is not a bad actor. This isn’t on him. I don’t even blame the director. The script was a convoluted mess that made little sense and doomed the effort from the start.

  • Mortimer

    Oh boy…here we go. I was wondering when article like this will appear on ToC. And here it is, written by the worst writer on this site – the self-proclaimed “most preeminent pop-culture fanatic”.

    “The Most Original Love Scene in Recent Memory” ? This idiot obviously never saw Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’. The scene is 99% the same.
    Dude, your lists on this site are embarrassment. Do readers here a favor and stop making movie lists, please. Go back to watching superhero crap.

    • Bergkamp

      The worst part is, a lot of sites are starring to pick up on this nonsense, and whoever doesn’t share their opinion, they called them: nostalgia fags or shit like that.
      Like… really? if something came first, and made more original things, and then the latest iteration came and didn’t bring anything new to the table, then that shouldn’t be considered as a case where the first material was more iconic and different than its sequel? It’s just facts!. and not a case of nostalgia.

    • I know. We’re kind of going into Ben Lyons territory at this point.

  • Zwei

    hahahahahaha

  • Mortimer

    “The original movie is one built upon a love story between a human (yeah, I said it) and a replicant. But it is a movie that is really cold and inhuman. It’s hard to really care about their love story on an emotional level.”

    See, I cared very much about Deckard’s and Rachael’s story in the 1st film. Not to mention Roy-Pris-Sebastian poignant love triangle. Does that makes me some inhuman weirdo or what ?

    Go fck yourself.

    • Lars Franssen

      Also, if it had been so hard to care about their love, how could the film have been so powerful? If the audience hadn’t invested in the characters emotionally, it would just have been a guy shooting up some machines. Personally, I care MORE in a “cold and really inhuman” setting.

      • Michael Kobe Junior

        @Lars I’m glad you said “Personally”… You go on being cold and really inhuman!!

        • Lars Franssen

          Thanks for your endorsement. Otherwise I would have felt really terrible for being so cold. You’ve really taken a load off my back.

  • colonelkurtz

    Wait, what about Jared Leto’s (usual) overacting? Doesn’t that bother anyone else. It’s the same he did for the Joker in Suicide Squad—wasn’t bad by itself, but every line and emotion just bled with “I’m trying so hard to be so cool/perfect.” Or I just can’t stand his ego anymore.

    • I don’t like Leto in particular, and he’s the character in the film I found the least interesting. However, I think the “overacting” was part of the character, who is an egocentric figure who wants to be like God, and those kind of people are usually not realist(ic) and conventional anymore… Also, I subtract from the film that Villeneuve actually had David Bowie in mind for this character – which would’ve been perfect, considering the description and characterization of that Wallace guy.

  • Lucas Corsi

    Ok.That is the list that proves ToC ‘gone to far’.
    I agree to when we talk about Blade Runner 2049,the movie is perfect,have the most stunning cinematograph in the year,but,say the movie is better than the original.You know what,maybe,but say this now is impossible,i believe,like the original Blade Runner,the movie will grow with the people by times and times,maybe in 3 or 5 years,we can talk about this,but for now,lets ‘apreciatte the art’
    Sorry about the bad english,im brazillian.

  • I would like to leave comment saying I think this is not such a bad article as most commentators are trying to make us believe.
    While “Blade Runner” has always been one of my favourite films, I always felt Ridley Scott was totally overrated as one of the “greatest directors” there are. So I fully agree with the points no. 9, 8, 7, 2 and 1 in this article. Also, I feel the ending of “Blade Runner 2049”, while not “better” than the first film’s ending, is brilliant.

    • Mortimer

      The ending is very good I agree (despite “I’ve been there many times before” fight with Luv). I loved the entire Las Vegas segment too.

  • grootrm

    Blade Runner 2049 does indeed exceed the original.

    It is actually more groundbreaking. The atmosphere and visuals in 2049 have set a new standard in cinema, and given the saturation of movies in 2017 as compared to 1982, that is a more impressive feat.

    • Mortimer

      lol

    • Sopa de Gato

      the visual are copys “from a movie made 30 years ago” hello??????? there is 0% new
      the origial one alredy settled a new type of cinema,

      • grootrm

        you are entitled to an opinion, but you are not entitled to an agreement when making such brazenly misinformed statements.

        • Mortimer

          The only one here who is making misinformed statements is you.

          “The atmosphere and visuals in 2049 have set a new standard in cinema. It is actually more groundbreaking than the original.”

          Are you for real ? Please, tell me – why would anyone take you seriously after you said such stupid thing ?

          Unless you made an unintentional mistake and wanted to say: ” “The atmosphere and visuals in Blade Runner (1982) have set a new standard in cinema” ? I understand that, it could happen to anyone.

          • grootrm

            You’re the second misinformed person now.

            Go learn from the experts and find out what it takes to accomplish what Blade Runner 2049 accomplished. Then come back here.

            Fan boy prattling? I ignore and move on

          • Mortimer

            Ah, I see…you’re one of those who advise
            skeptic “naysayers” to check out on “experts” opinion. Ok.
            2049 is a good enough movie yeah, but nothing “groundbreaking” or original about it.

  • Jules Maregiano

    Do you have to watch the movies before writing articles in here?

  • JimmyMecks

    Tron: Legacy rules tho

  • sudoshutdown

    is not better than blade runner

  • oscarseason

    behold, the single dumbest post ever. flimsy reasoning

  • UberboreanFaustoAryanSupaPowa

    The plot in the new film makes little to no sense. And the inspired imagery was actually done better in the first film and was more original in 1982. The soundtrack in the first film was also vastly superior to the garbage 2049 soundtrack.

    I honestly don’t understand how someone can claim 2049 is good with a straight face. While it had some interesting things going on, it wasn’t even really a good movie. The mess of a script doomed the actors and director right from the start.