We’ll get to those flying cars eventually. If we haven’t killed each other by then.
Denis Villeneuve may just be another man with a difficult to spell surname, but this French-Canadian director has quickly risen to be one of the most competent ones in these times. His body of work is diverse, his style – subtle and engaging. And Roger Deakins, who is the authority on wild west landscapes. Pair the two of them three times and you have a pattern of stylised flicks with more than enough substance. Prisoners, Sicario and now Blade Runner 2049.
You’re transfixed. Hooked and drawn to the slow revealing drama, unfolding on-screen from the opening text panel. If you have seen the original (any cut), you feel yourself settling into those familiar elements – the long pauses, the dark dystopian backdrop, overindulgence of the Atari corporation (no Pan Am this time). Essentially, the mood is set. This is the same world – just 30 years ahead. This time, there’s a new Blade Runner. With a whole new set of problems.
The soundtrack… its haunting. The jazz, the ominous blaring – it has all the tellings of impending doom. Also, all too familiar. The movie nails the environment of the original down to a T. But that’s where the magic stops. Here’s where you notice, the movie’s one flaw is not overcome. Surprisingly, the old one had nailed it.
Now, I’m not a fond fan of the saying “Old is Gold”. I don’t believe the classics are classics just because they did it first. They are classics because they did it good. Aside from the fantastic production design and the overall ambience, Blade Runner (1982) integrated the questioning of ideals such as “what it is to be human” into its narrative flawlessly. They weren’t just wrapped up as part of a package deal, they were the life of the film. They guided events, they made people stick around despite the sluggish pace of the film. And later, bestow upon it a reputation as one of the best science-fiction films ever made.
Sadly enough, I don’t see that happening here. What is it about blockbusters spending too much on visual effects but not living up to their potential in the creativity department?
Mind you, 2049 is still an excellent film. There are a couple of instances where experimentation does occur. But its adds up to nothing for now. I’d give full-marks for the execution and the performances (maybe just Gosling, because he’s the only one who’s being focused on) but that’s where the merits end. A well-made movie. Not daring enough.
Rating : 3/5