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7 Reasons Why “Blade Runner 2049” Is The Pinnacle of Blockbuster Cinema

24 October 2017 | Features, Other Lists | by Jethro Colmer

4. The Philosophy of the Blockbuster

Action sequences are pleasingly few and far between in Blade Runner 2049 to such an extent that they almost feel as if Villeneuve had to fill a certain percentage of the film with “stuff happening on screen”. The small number of set pieces that are displayed however is truly exhilarating yet one of the more bizarre compliments that can be paid to Blade Runner 2049 is that it does not need any action sequences. Villeneuve and Deakins have proven that set pieces are a strong part of their repertoire (the traffic jam sequence in Sicario in particular is extraordinary) and, when needed, they work their magic again.

But without those small chases and fight sequences (and ignoring the enormous budget) defining Blade Runner 2049 as a blockbuster becomes problematic, simply because there is nothing quite like this in cinema anywhere. Blade Runner was never about fight sequences and awe-inducing stunt-work but about ideas, attempting to explore the nature of humanity, and meeting our makers.

The high critical praise the film has received is absolutely justified, although perhaps a portion of that is relief that Villeneuve has created a film that could be described as an arthouse blockbuster. It is with great optimism that the film will still be held in its current regard in ten or twenty years, as the questions and ideas that are posed are not concurrent with blockbuster cinema.


5. The Quality of Immersion into 2049

Repeat viewings of Blade Runner 2049 should be mandatory, quite simply because on the first watch there is far too much to take in at once. On a visual level, the film is unparalleled: the level of detail in the world of the film is exquisite to the point where you want to pause every shot to examine the minutiae of each frame, from the vast cityscapes to the small cameras that hover around Wallace, examining his newly created replicants.

The film never forgets it’s heritage; there is certainly a knowing respect from Villeneuve to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (Scott worked as an executive producer), and the predecessor lays such solid foundations for the latest film to expand and explore not only further afield, but also the changes in the world thirty years later.

The score has a great part to play in the immersion in Blade Runner 2049. As Deakin’s camera hovers over extraordinary scenery, the work of Zimmer and Wallfisch comes into its full power, overwhelming the sense with an extraordinary blend of intimacy and synths that demonstrate the phenomenal size and scale of the Los Angeles.


6. Ideas over Narrative

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner had such a troubled production that it took over twenty years for his version to see the light of day, with all the problematic elements of the original cut taken out. Deckard’s voice-overs and the “happy ending” were replaced and this resulted in a narrative as simplistic as possible, giving Scott the time to explore the philosophy of the world he had created.

While Harrison Ford was the star of the film, it was Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty that carried the emotional weight of the film, an antagonist desperately searching for his maker, trying to find out his purpose in life. Blade Runner has the question of “is Deckard a replicant?” hanging over its head, and Blade Runner 2049 embraces this question and teases out possibilities where Deckard is both human and android. It would be fair to say that Wallace (Jared Leto) has the definitive answer that fans seek, yet he delights in teasing both Deckard and all those in the cinema without giving confirmation to anyone.

The philosophy of Blade Runner 2049 is rooted into every one of its characters, most prominently K’s attempt to uncover the mystery of a child born of a replicant. Throughout the first two acts of the film, there is almost an expectation that the child will be K himself, before that prediction is wisely and intelligently dismissed.

Introducing a new line of replicants that are programmed to obey means that they are presented more in the context of slaves than the off-world workers of Blade Runner, who were never seen in any other light than as fugitives hiding on Earth. In this regard, K’s relationship with Joi, his “pleasure-bot” requires deep examination.

If all new replicants are slaves, then female replicants are simply at the beck and call of their male masters, regardless of whether they are human or android. Certainly Blade Runner 2049 solves some gender representation issues from Blade Runner (the perceived romance of Deckard and Rachel is chillingly forced and uncomfortable), but Villeneuve sticks with Scott’s idea that the bleak future presented is no place for women to feel at home.


7. Inspiring a new generation of filmmakers

Walking out of Blade Runner 2049, it is difficult not to feel an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism for the future of cinema. It is undoubtedly true that cinema often produces films that make you want to tear your hair out and scream at the nearest person, and we hear about those sorts of films all the time. Bad films get more attention because we enjoy hearing people rant and grumble about why they disliked a film so much, and yet to rarely does a film get raved about on such a great level.

Because Blade Runner 2049 can be watched and appreciated by both arthouse and multiplex audiences, it carries with it the idea that perhaps the two forms of cinema can merge together, and inspire more potential filmmakers that they do not have to follow standard conventions and rules to make the film that they want to make.

Blade Runner 2049 demonstrates the sheer power of cinema, not only to awe people, but also to make them think, and consider, and spark conversation. Not everyone will agree that Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece, but it is undeniable that in modern cinema, it is truly something different and that in itself is to be championed.



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  • Mortimer

    Jesus f****** Christ…

    • ArmitageX

      I second that.

    • grootrm

      Haha, the salty tears from the amateur fan boys who HATE CHANGE


      • Mortimer

        Change ? Where ? Lol. You lost all credibility when you called this replicant of a movie “groundbreaking” (lol).
        “Groundbreaking” in what ? Stealing scenes from other, better films ? This feels less like a sequel to ‘Blade Runner’ than like an adaptation of collected critical essays about Blade Runner; everything intriguing has been dragged to the surface and rendered inert.

        Please go back watching ‘Rocky 4’ for the 1534. time. That’s real movie territory for right-wing morons like you.

        • grootrm

          Haha, no all that happened was that you revealed your lack of understanding the movie making process.

          You have credibility with neither myself nor many others who you have made it known to be more informed.

          What you said in how the movie made you feel is obviously not being investigated at all because you’re clearly just communicating your beliefs prior to watching it.

          Everything intriguing dragged to the surface? Tell me, did you not even notice the new set of “intrigues” in 2049? Clearly not! For you were too busy jealously protecting in your own mind all the prior “Mortimer backstories” that by the nature of all such cases will necessarily be met with differences due to creative chaos that arises from many individual minds coming up with many new individual ideas. 2049 is loaded with subtle themes and potential story lines that we anti-fanboy movie lovers look for and notice.

          We appreciate it when those intruiging stories are brought to bear, to the surface, where we can experience a version of possible stories unfolding that you need to be of the movie type to know how to appreciate and to pause in one’s own priors and ask and compare and analyze and then just accept the entertainment. You just copy hollow catch phrases from B list movie critics.

          • Mortimer

            Haha…you are flattering to yourself way too much. This is actually the same response I’m getting from your group of so-called “anti-fanboy movie lovers” (I presume – your typical virgin Sci-fi fanboys who judge movies depending how much “complex” plots are) on YouTube. Stuff like: “Oh you don’t understand the genius of Denis Villeneuve ! Oh there are so many incredible, subtle themes you didn’t get ! ” When you confront them with obvious flaws of this movie their response is something like: “There is so much I disagree with your comment” and “I strongly disagree on a ton of what you said , I can have a field day refuting all of these”. But they never come back to provide any reasonable evidence for their claims. Because, there isn’t much to tell, I guess ?

            Also, your comprehension sucks. You say: “you need to be of the movie type to know how to appreciate and to pause in one’s own priors and ask and compare and analyze and then just accept the entertainment.” Like… seriously ? Let me guess… plot is exciting, full of mystery, with mind-blowing twists that leave you disturbed, the most fascinating movie experience of the year ? No, it’s flat and monotonous. The new, existentialist, sad and helpless persecutor of replicants, his already very tired victims, the perverse continuum of genetic engineering, sinister industrialist villain and his implacable lakey, all the characters seemed devoided of nerve and aura, computer-made. I didn’t care in the least what they do or what they say.

            I’m still waiting for you to tell what exactly is “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary” in 2049 ?
            You said that the “atmosphere and visuals in 2049 have set a new standard in cinema”. How ? By copy and paste the atmosphere and visuals of the movie from 1982 ? Ah yeah, I forgot…because “given the saturation of movies in 2017 as compared to 1982, that is a more impressive feat.” (???)

            Do you really believe in this nonsense or you are just naturally arrogant and shallow ? I understand if you are virgin teen but if you’re grown-up person that’s big problem. The original, by far, is amazing because it proposes a very particular futuristic universe that had not been seen before that year in the cinema: uncontainable chaos, cultural diversity, stifling technology, existentialism in the midst of it. That mixture made sense of that movie at one point – the early 1980s – when the planet was still living in the Cold War, a context where two great ideologies of humanity were still being debated and confronted without knowing which one was to be imposed. Scott came to the referents of the film noir: his story is that of a detective with the air of Sam Spide or Phillip Marlow, a rude representative of the law that runs into a woman in trouble and a much more complex plot behind of it that involves it (it was like futuristic version of ‘Chinatown’). In Villeneuve sequel (reboot) there is not a vision of the future, but it follows the mold traced by the genre from the Hollywood desks in recent years. Repeat what has already been said a million times before, reconstruction of the rainy streets of Los Angeles) and get, if anything, small contributions (the fight with holograms in an old casino, which is worth it). And worse, it rescues without sense situations and characters of the original film, like the one of Gaff (Edward James Olmos) in a completely pointless, de-mystifying cameo, or that of Rachael, two characters who should have been allowed to die in peace. The same thing happens with Deckard who at least makes the film interesting, because all in the previous 100 minutes is flat and boring.

            “For you were too busy jealously protecting in your own mind all the prior “Mortimer backstories” that by the nature of all such cases will necessarily be met with differences due to creative chaos that arises from many individual minds coming up with many new individual ideas.”
            You’re talking about ‘2010’ from 1984, right ?

            What an unrelenting and unfortunate mania to seek business at the cost of desecrating the classics.

  • Bruhhh Runner, dudes, you literally JUST dropped the “….Why It’s A Masterpiece” piece

    • colonelkurtz

      Wait, it’s the same author? Damn, he needs to just go watch it again with some real-life friends and talk about it for an hour afterward to get it out of his system.

  • AmazingAmy

    Dennis whateverneuve in the way to become one of most overrated director….
    I don’t think this film deserved to be called as pinnacle. Ryan Hosling tryhard to be cool, Jared Leto tryhard method and only saving grace of this film is cinematography

  • colonelkurtz

    I know folks disagree (see comments), but I enjoyed the film. I’m a fan of the original, and I didn’t expect this to top it or be profound, but I expected a good, if not interesting film, which is what I got. It wasn’t a pure fanboy homage or a money-grab (after 35 years, most people weren’t lining up for the next BR to be released), but was made with respect to the original while still giving us some interesting aspects of the “what makes us humans” philosophical question (mostly achieved through Joi).

    That said, it’s not perfect:
    -The music was more atmospheric than the original’s melodic entries, and I really wanted this one to end with the resonating Vangelis theme, but no, Hans Zimmer had to synth/atmosphere it up. (It was a good soundtrack for a movie, but could have added more melody and nostalgia.)
    -Dialogue was hit and miss. Some parts were fine, other parts were dumb (“this will break the world”), and Jared Leto was just annoying (yes, we get it, he thinks he’s god and therefor must speak in obviously-planned poetic monologues). This stupidity with dialogue is a horrid trend I’ve seen in just about every Hollywood film of late, and I’m seriously crossing my fingers that PT Anderson will not fall in that trap with his upcoming film.
    -The religious themes were a bit overbearing. Yes, Luv is your angel, and you’re god, and we get it. That said, the references to The Trial and Pale Fire (beyond obviously waving the book around) were fun to decipher.

    I’ve heard plenty of complaints about the casting of certain male leads in this film, but Ryan pulled it off well. I may be biased (I like him), but he achieves a strange expressionless face that’s full of expression. The dullest characters were his police boss (archetype hard-line female boss) and Luv (basic bad-guy). And it’s not like the original didn’t have issues . . . like six versions of issues. (And, personally, things added in the Final Cut make parts of the original painfully boring. I don’t need another two minutes of establishing shots here and there. Takes away from the experience more than the pigeon’s bright sky does.)

  • grootrm

    Blade Runner 2049 is attacked because of the scared fan boys who can only hang on to the original as a means to be relevant in their own minds

    2049 is not just a masterpiece, not just the pinnacle of blockbuster cinema thus far, but it is going to influence generations of movie makers.

    • Mortimer

      “2049 is not just a masterpiece, not just the pinnacle of blockbuster cinema thus far, but it is going to influence generations of movie makers.”

      Man, its been quite a while since I last laughed so hard. Thanks for this (un)intentional comedy ! Please more.

      • grootrm

        Tell me when I am supposed to be concerned about the laughter of the cinematically challenged.

        Laughter, if it is a derision to you, well, you’re again only communicating your prior beliefs here.

        • Mortimer

          My prior beliefs aren’t important in the context. It’s a rightful, fun mockery of your unbelievably pretentious sentence above.

    • Vincenzo Politi

      Well, I am not a scared fan boys but I think that this movie is a huge overrated bore with a plot which seems to be out of a Latin-American telenovelas: the secret son, the secret daughter, the lover who was not there, the revolution. Honestly! The plot makes no sense at all, and you don’t need to be a “scared fan boy” to point the finger to boring and sloppy writing and pretentious direction.

      • grootrm

        “pretentious directing”

        Well if you’ll excuse me and if you’ll pardon me, I must say THAT is a pretentious comment.

        I know I could not do what Villeneuve did.

        • Vincenzo Politi

          What kind of reasoning is this? I know I could not cook like a great chef, but if I great chef prepares a bad dish I am allowed to say that I didn’t like that dish, am I not? Beside, I wasn’t only talking about Villeneuve. My comment was mainly concerned with the ridiculous script. If you are a desperate fanboy of Villeneuve, you will never allow yourself to see all the flaws of this movie. And please: don’t tell me that when they resuscitated Rachel and Deckard said “her eyes were green” — don’t tell me that that wasn’t pure soap-operatic trash!

  • Tyo

    //Enjoy easy in the movies, with varying subtitles