Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #135 - Review: Blade Runner 2049

Thirty-five years is a long time to wait for a sequel. Some would say that Blade Runner didn't need a sequel at all. That it was a perfectly fine film that didn't need a Hollywood ending that tied every loose end into a bow. I was one of that group. I like the original, I have no problem with the questions left unanswered. I'd have been far more indignant if not for another beloved cyberpunk film that got a sequel that added to the original: Ghost in the Shell. Ghost in the Shell: Innocence was somehow equal to the original. It answered some questions and raised others. It worked.

Granted, GitS:I wasn't a thirty five year wait, and it came out of Japan, out from the thumb of the Hollywood machine that churns out bad sequels to bad movies in the name of making a buck. The Hollywood system is why I (we?) groan when people mention Pirates of the Caribbean instead of remembering fondly how fun the first one was. It's why I (we?) cringe when yet another Transformers movie comes out. Somehow Blade Runner 2049 avoided the fate of some many sequels and reboots. It honors the original without diminishing it in our memories, and it adds to the legacy and world in positive ways.

It's not perfect. A friend rated it an 8.5/10 and I'd agree. I'm a little tired of the "bwaa" soundtrack, and this movie leaned on that dissonance as auditory clue in certain ways that had me wondering at times why it was a thing in the first place. The pacing is a bit  uneven, with a few moments around half way through that made me contemplate a trip to the restroom. That said, for a movie with a ~2:45 running time it goes by amazingly well for much of that time. The cold open is pretty great, and dovetails into a blooming flower of plot that proves really well constructed. There's stuff early on that you don't realize facilitates plot points until well later in the film.

It's also really pretty. Even the dingy parts are really well shot and blocked. It's dark in places, but well lit in others, and where the original delved deep into the darkness of the setting this film seems set on showing that there is brightness in the world still.

I agree with the 8.5/10 or maybe a 4.5/5. It's good. It's damn good. It's not perfect, but then again, what movie is?