I just came out of the cinema after seeing Blade Runner 2049 and I just wanted to get some thoughts out of my head. First of all, I’ve always hugely respected the original Blade Runner but it’s never been a film I’ve ‘loved’ until recently. When I originally saw it, it wasn’t quite what I expected. The soundtrack and voiceover combination in the original version came across as extremely melancholic and it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I think many people had that experience first time round. I’ve since seen it a few times though, including the Director’s Cut and just recently The Final Cut, and every time I’ve seen it I’ve enjoyed it much more. This last week, in preparation for seeing the sequel, I have watched The Final Cut version, rewatched it with the Ridley Scott commentary and also watched the documentary Dangerous Days. I can safely say that I love Blade Runner now, a very different reaction from the first time I saw it many years ago. This was the perfect preparation for watching the sequel tonight.

As usual I’m just going to do a brain dump in the form of bullet points, listing all the things I liked and any things I didn’t like as much. THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW!!

  • Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Blade Runner 2049 and thought it was extremely well done. I was very impressed. So many good things about it. It wasn’t perfect though, and it was kind of missing a few things for me. But that’s just me. And it was just a few things.
  • I’m not against the slow pace at all. I like it. But I wonder if some parts might be slightly boring on subsequent walkthroughs. We shall see when I watch it again. In the first Blade Runner all the slow bits are still very beautifully shot and with dark contrast etc to make them visually interesting. In this film however a lot of the slow bits were very brightly and uniformly lit. On the farm in the daytime and in his apartment for instance. I felt that was quite a tonal shift from the first film. But, I’m sure people would criticise it if it just looked like a carbon copy of the first film, so I’m happy for it to find its own visual tone. And there were several ‘rainy neon’ scenes to keep fans of the original happy.
  • Also the plot did raise some interesting questions about life and soul etc, just as the first one did, but I still felt it wasn’t quite as pinned down this time. It didn’t quite have the focus of the first film perhaps, or didn’t quite find it’s feet in that sense throughout the film. I almost found the fact that a replicant had an AI girlfriend the most interesting part of the plot.
  • In terms of general story though I was pretty happy. I thought it touched upon some extremely interesting aspects of AI, souls, what is life etc. And it was good to hear what happened to Deckard and Rachael. I thought it was quite bold, and clever, that it just came out and said that Gosling was a replicant right at the start of the movie. There would be no confusion or second guessing about what he was. But then they kind of twist that by making it mysterious just WHO he is later on. Quite clever.
  • I thought the whole twist about who K was, was cleverly done. I didn’t find it obvious at all.
  • And, as mentioned above, I thought that it was interesting that Gosling had an AI girlfriend. That was just a great idea in general (much like an advanced version of the film ‘Her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix) but particularly poignant as he is a replicant himself. I did wonder why he kept having the ringtone on loud though, especially if it’s a standard ringtone that everyone knows means ‘you’ve got an AI girlfriend’. I’d at least put mine on vibrate.
  • After one viewing I felt that it didn’t quite have all the wow vistas that the original had. The original had the scenes of flying over industrial LA, flying past the Tyrell building, aerial shots of the streets etc. I just felt that most of the large vista shots in this one were just a bit too foggy. I was just hoping for a couple of more wow landscapes to have that visual impact and for me it wasn’t quite there. Don’t get me wrong though, there were some incredibly beautiful shots, particularly later on, particularly the whole orange scheme in the last third of the film, and Roger Deakins should definitely get an Oscar. It was a visually stunning movie, but again when comparing it to the first, although this one was perhaps more visually attractive throughout I felt it might be missing the individual wow moments. But my thoughts may change on this on second viewing
  • There were two fun bits I really, really loved. One was where you saw the holograms on stage of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe etc. I really want to drink at that bar and watch that hologram show. Somebody in an entertainment park please recreate that. Please. And also the hologram juke box of Frank Sinatra. Again, someone please get to work on the Kickstarter for that. Take my money. I’ll wait. I thought both of these things were done in a really cool way. Not too gimmicky.
  • I liked the concept of baselining too. Checking that the replicants were still true to their original ‘programming’. Just a really nice quirky way they did that.
  • I really enjoyed the soundtrack. I thought it was incredibly atmospheric and very unique. I was just surprised, however, that they didn’t try to evoke Vangelis’s original score elements more. It was such a big part of the Blade Runner universe and I was only partially aware of it once. Again perhaps I’ll notice it more on second viewing. There were a couple of moments where the score evoked 2001: A Space Odyssey which was cool, although at one point it went too far I thought, when he finds the wooden horse. It seemed to hold too long on that shot and go too cosmic with the score. Pulled me out a bit. And also there were times where there seemed to be no score at all and I felt it could have done with something. But hey I’m probably just nit-picking, like I do. The score was incredible and unique and I’ll be listening to it on Spotify.
  • Great to see whisky making a big appearance again. I don’t actually remember Gosling having too much whisky, but his police boss certainly has a lot of something, but is it maybe vodka? But I loved how Deckard had ‘millions of bottles of whisky’ where he lived. And we see him pour some of the new Blade Runner Johnnie Walker Black Label that is available to buy just now.
  • I also loved that the first product placement sign that you see is Diageo, the company which owns Johnnie Walker whisky. Very fitting. And I would love to know how much Peugeot paid to be the make of the spinner. The Atari logo was also very subtle. Loved it.
  • The three way sex scene was a great idea. Very nicely done too. It was just very interesting to see a replicant fall in love with a virtual AI ‘bot’. Futurism at full blast there.
  • I wonder how well the movie will go down in San Diego, when they see the bit when San Diego is shown to be the dumping ground of ‘Greater Los Angeles’.
  • Part of me felt that they were perhaps signposting things a bit too much when they replayed the audio of Dave Bautista saying “You haven’t seen a miracle” etc. I think perhaps you hear it again once and then see it as a flashback later too? I wonder if that was perhaps that was the studio insisting on that, similar to the voiceovers in the original film.
  • I was slightly concerned when it looked like they were bringing out a ‘replicated’ version of Rachael. I had visions of Grand Moff Tarkin, or a young princess Leia, or perhaps it would be de-aging the original actress like how they have done that with Robert Downey Jr or Jeff Bridges. In the end I think it was a combination of a lookalike and CGI. It did look 99% real to me (which is a good thing, well done CGI folk) but to me it didn’t quite 100% look totally like Sean Young. But that’s ok, because of how Deckard reacts. Saying the eyes were wrong kind of made it ok that she didn’t look 100% like her. But it certainly didn’t look like bad CGI or anything. I thought it was extremely well done.
  • I thought Ryan Gosling was great. He can be quite emotionless sometimes, such as in Driver, but that was perfect for this role as well. And I really thought Harrison Ford was fantastic. Sometimes I think these days Harrison Ford just appears as Harrison Ford, but here I thought his acting really came across extremely well. And fair play to him if that was him doing a lot of the punching and also doing the filming in the water, at 75 years of age.
  • All the rest of the cast were great too. There was no-one I didn’t like.
  • Jared Leto was very good but I almost thought his character was underused. The bit where he witnesses the birth of a new woman replicant is great but a lot of the other bits are just long, slow speeches by him. I loved the scene in the prequel short film that was released before the film where he shows some officials his new replicant that would obey him and kill themselves on command. I felt that that sort of scene should have been inserted into the movie somehow to really explain more about him and his new line of replicants.
  • Does the film confirm that Deckard is a replicant? First of all, Ridley Scott is on record several times saying that Deckard is a replicant in the first movie (without question in The Final Cut), but Harrison Ford and Denis Villeneuve both insist that it’s still up in the air and for the audience to decide. Throughout this film though I felt that it was confirming that Deckard was a replicant. I’m sure there is a reference to Deckard being programmed by Tyrell to fall in love with Rachael. And also how could he live in that radiation filled place at the end of the movie if he was human. And also how could he hold his own in a fight against Ryan Gosling if he was human. But apparently Denis Villeneuve is still saying that it’s up in the air? I’ll have to investigate more.

I’ve heard so many people give this movie 10/10 but then it didn’t do as well as expected on opening weekend at the box office. I’m sure part of the reason for the high scores is that all the people who have scored it highly are big Blade Runner fans already. They are attuned to the tone and expecting a certain style. The fact that most of them are over the moon is testament to what a sterling job Villeneuve and the writers have done. But because it’s not an ‘easy blockbuster’ movie that absolutely anyone can enjoy means it was never going to get quite the box office success that the studios might have been hoping for. But that’s ok. It’s a Blade Runner movie. I’m sure it will give the studio suits continued success and royalties for the next 30 years.

In summary, I really enjoyed this film, and I will definitely watch it again. I want to give it the full Blade Runner experience, so I will watch it with the commentary on and watch all the making of documentaries too. Perhaps, like the first Blade Runner, my love for it will increase with every viewing.