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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Blade Runner 2049 movie review: a rickety retro replicant

Blade Runner 2049 yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Visually, this dying future world is immersively hellish. Intellectually, though, its ideas haven’t kept up with the rapidly evolving science-fictional conversation.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love the original film; big science fiction fan
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

You may have heard something about the instructions to critics from director Denis Villeneuve that were passed along at some press screenings of Blade Runner 2049. One critic shared a redacted version:

(Click here for a screengrab if the tweet has been deleted.)

This is bizarre for many reasons; for one, filmmakers should not be dictating how critics frame their reviews or structure their sentences. (I attended a public multiplex screening, by the way, and am not beholden to those instructions. But don’t worry: I am not going to ruin the experience of the film for you.) Mostly it’s bizarre, though, because there’s almost no aspect of the film that could be spoiled that isn’t either fairly predictable or an extremely modest extrapolation of the story that was presented in Blade Runner in 1982. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, not in the context of the world of Blade Runner and not in the context of science fiction storytelling. There’s nothing mind-blowing like there was in 1982.tweet

Driverless cars? Nope. Instead, your AI will call shotgun...

Driverless cars? Nope. Instead, your AI will call shotgun…tweet

And this is my very big disappointment with 2049: there’s almost nothing surprising in it. Ryan Gosling turns in a terrifically subtle performance, and the film looks fantastic; legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins confirms his legend once more. But anything I could say about this sequel — 30 years on in its internal world, 35 years on for us — even if I spoiled almost everything about the plot and the characters, could just as easily be said about the original film. How do memories create identity? What does it mean to be human? From the broad scope of how both films deal with such matters to the nitty-grittiest of detail, they cover much the same territory, and from the exact same narrow perspective. (Is this yet another story about oppression that centers white men? Yup.tweet) But our cultural conversation about such questions has evolved significantly in the last 35 years, primarily but not solely through science fiction, and yet 2049 acts like that is not the case. Just a few years after Blade Runner we met Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data, and followed his years-long exploration of his identity, his quest to experience emotion, and his longing to understand humanity. The 2000s introduced us to the “skin jobs” of Battlestar Galactica, which borrowed that term from the 1982 film and ran with it in ways that 2049 seems like it might be contemplating taking on two or three Blade Runner sequels down the line. A subplot with a holographic AI/companion (Ana de Armas: Overdrive, War Dogs) plays like a straight-up rerun of 2014’s Her (only it embraces the associated clichés instead of upending them). No genre storytelling exists in a vacuum: it responds to and expands upon what has come before… or at least it does if it wants to be seen as serious and significant and adding to that ongoing conversation. Blade Runner helped start this conversation, and this new film — written by 1982 original screenwriter Hampton Fancher with Michael Green (Alien: Covenant, Logan) — pretends as if the conversation doesn’t even exist.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, not for Blade Runner and not for science fiction storytelling.
tweet

So here were have another “blade runner,” K (Gosling: La La Land, The Nice Guys), a cop whose job it is to hunt down rogue replicants, enslaved artificial humans genetically modified for strength. That the replicants — such as Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Boss), whom K seeks out in the opening sequence — consider themselves beings worthy of dignity and self-determination is something we already knew from the 1982 film. The world K and Sapper exist in seems static with regard to the status of the replicants: there was no hint in the original film of the larger societal context in which humans coexist with replicants, and there is none here, either. What does anybody whose job isn’t about either creating replicants or hunting them down when they go rogue think about replicants? In a world in which human life is so cheap — we get a squence here featuring child laborers toiling at nasty, dangerous jobs — why are the replicants even necessary? Humanity itself seems perfectly capable of providing the “disposable workforce” civilization requires. When K’s LAPD boss, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright: Wonder Woman, House of Cards), worries that something unexpected that K stumbles over in his Sapper Morton case “breaks the world,” it’s that paradigm-shifting, we kinda don’t know what she means. We know what she thinks she’s saying, but it also seems like the sort of brokenness she is worried about is something that we already understood was broken back in the original film. She’s worried that replicants will think they are people, but it’s pretty plain that was already the case when Rick Deckard was hunting replicants in the year 2019. They wouldn’t need to be hunted otherwise! They’d be the compliant, obedients slaves they are meant to be.

Never fear, sci-fi antiheroes! The future will still feature hookers with hearts of gold.

Never fear, sci-fi antiheroes! The future will still feature hookers with hearts of gold.tweet

The world of 2049 does seem to have moved on by 30 years or so. The planet is dirtier, grimier, hazier, deader. (The film has a bleak beauty, especially in 3D IMAX; it is foully immersive.tweet) Los Angeles looks like it’s covered in neonoir cyberpunk favelas. There’s a massive seawall holding back the Pacific. The whitish stuff that falls from the sky: sometimes it looks like snow, but more often it looks like dust or ash drifting in from who knows what distant hellscape. San Diego is LA’s garbage dump. (It could be Wall-E’s home town.) The 2019 world of the 1982 film might have been our future, but now the 2049 world is clearly alt: we see an ad that references “CCCP” and “Soviet,” so they’re still around. The only food available seems to be fake Soylent Green-type stuff. (Not made from people. Or even replicants. At least not that we see. But who knows.)

But 2049 is unpleasantly retro in its depiction of women, too many of whom are literally slavishly devoted to mentweet: the AI companion, whose name is Joi, who adores K, and a replicant named Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), who is programmed so that she cannot disobey her creator, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto: Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club), the new replicant slavemaster, replacing Tyrell of the original film. (Really? Joi and Luv? Come on. Oh, and there’s also a female prostitute character, hooker with a heart of gold Mariette [Mackenzie Davis: The Martian, Smashed], because of course there is. If there are any male sex workers or male devoted-AI-companions in 2049 Los Angeles, we never meet them.) Pretty trite, too, is the backstory we get when K roots out a retired and in-hiding Deckard (Harrison Ford: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Age of Adaline), and learns what the old blade runner has been up to for the past 35 years. The key elements of it are meant to be part of that “it breaks the world” thing, but mostly it sounds like a bad fan-fiction continuation of Deckard’s story.tweet

Blade Runner 2049 is an emotionally cold movie, as the first Blade Runner was, but the original film did engage on an intellectual level. I expected at least that much again from its sequel, and I don’t think that it would have been too much to hope that Denis Villeneuve might have managed emotion and intellect, as he did with his previous film, the marvelous and moving Arrival. But pretty much all I’ve been turning over in my mind since I saw 2049 is this conundrum: If the people of this world don’t want replicants to be able to do the certain macguffin thing that drives the mystery here, how the hell do these constructed beings have the capability to do just that?


yellow light 2.5 stars

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Blade Runner 2049 (2017) | directed by Denis Villeneuve
US/Can release: Oct 06 2017
UK/Ire release: Oct 05 2017

MPAA: rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong violence, language, sexualised nudity)

viewed in 3D IMAX
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Janice Ian

    Totally agree with everything in this review. I was so disappointed by this film.

  • Patrick D

    THANK YOU. It’s like I’m living in a parallel universe where critics are having a collective orgasm to a film that is pretty uninspired. In fact, if the title and principals weren’t attached to this film it would be easily overlooked by the everyone. Nothing in this world offers anything new that I haven’t see in other movies. Spielberg’s “A.I.–Artificial Intelligence” is an emotionally deeper film involving the same themes. And the original “Blade Runner” is in danger of being usurped in the realm of SF masterpiece in comparison to this current offering at the multiplex.

  • Danielm80

    The box office suggests that audiences are not having a collective orgasm. Women, in particular, seem to be avoiding the film.

  • Beowulf

    It seems from your review (I haven’t seen the movie or read any spoilers) that the big secret plot twist is….

    …Replicants reproducing. Guess I’ll see later. As for Harrison Ford and his now difficult to hide aging, does this put to rest the theory that he was/is a replicant? I mean a robot doesn’t age, does it?
    The wolf, man.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Replicants aren’t robots. They’ve always been genetically engineered biological organisms. So, yeah, they do age. Dave Bautista is shown as being middle aged.

    As for Deckard:
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Not only is the “twist” about replicants reproducing, but its specifically the offspring of Deckard and Rachel. But only Rachel is referred to as a replicant. The question of Deckard’s humanity is never explicitly addressed, but nor is it ever suggested that he’s anything other than human.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I suspect the October release and nearly 3-hour running time are contributing significantly to this.

  • Dent

    I like how not only does the soundtrack grab bites from the original, it also lifts themes from Ghost in the Shell and Akira. This feels more like a supercut of cyberpunk past than a glimpse of cyberpunk future.

  • Bluejay

    Thanks for saving me two hours and forty-three minutes.

  • Ralph

    Spoilers spoilers everywhere
    .
    .
    .
    The Wallace monologue with Deckard very deliberately leaves the question of his humanity/replicacity open – talking about how Rachel was perfectly set up to attract Deckard – that Deckard was programmed to fall for her. Or perhaps…not programmed.

  • Matt Clayton

    I thought the director advanced some of the themes presented in the original, like actual memories v. planted ones. Or at least looked at them differently.

    I didn’t even know K was a replicant until I read some fan reviews, which puzzled me. That doesn’t ruin the whole movie, and I find that the studios and producers go overboard now in telling critics to avoid “spoilers.”

    You need some plot details to draw people in, rather than just banking on it being a sequel to a beloved cult classic.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yeah, about that…
    That line was a bullshit cop-out. But, the Deckard is a replicant theory was always extra-textual, so… *shrug*.

  • FargoUT

    Very much in agreement with your review. Had high expectations for Villeneuve after “Arrival”, but this was just a plodding if visually arresting failure. I’m glad I saw it on the big screen though. It was a beautiful movie to watch, just didn’t have much to say. I think they could have shaved off about 45 minutes just from tightening up the editing. Walking slowly through a frame doesn’t always make for tension, especially when there’s no threat present.

    Sylvia Hoeks was the best part of the movie. Every time she was on screen, I was glued.

  • amanohyo

    GitS and GitS2 addressed the theme of implanted memories over 20 years ago. Hell, I’d argue that Total Recall delved just as deeply into the concept as this film (not a coincidence of course).

    I’m so happy to see other people here seeing this movie for what it is. It’s pretty, and the sound design and cinematography are top notch. The original leaned heavily on its visuals too, but there was something genuinely mysterious and new going on under the hood.

    The major twist in the film is just a combination of the twist at the end of The Dark Knight Rises and the plot of GitS2.

    Yeah, they establish that K is a newer model replicant at the beginning of the movie, but other than taking a large amount of punishment in brawls with other replicants, Gosling’s acting doesn’t convey that he’s anything other than a taciturn human with really slow reactions. He might as well be Willis’s character in Unbreakable.

  • Diaz’s packed bowl

    Looks like none of you are fans of art, just fans of action movies or star wars type imperialist fantasies, or spielburns junk. This was a piece of art and an immersive experience from start to reductionist finish. It was without a doubt the most fantastically realized futurescape since blade runner.

    And you didn’t even get the plot twists. And yes Deckard is a skin job, that was clearly established in the first film.

  • amanohyo

    In addition to the hooker with a heart of gold, I’ll also add that we have a dead mother/wife, four female characters who are tortured, then murdered slowly, cruelly, and graphically (compare this with the noble and/or quick deaths of the male characters). One of the most potentially interesting female characters is literally trapped in a bubble for the entire film, and five female characters make romantic/sexual advances toward the male protagonist. It’s all narratively justified, but none of it adds any substance to the themes of the film (I suppose all the stomach stabbing could be considered a form of uterus envy?).

    The camera frequently lingers on images of nude female bodies and suffering/dying women in a textbook example of the male gaze. There are four women in positions of power in the film, the aforementioned bubble girl, a mysterious rebel leader that’s in this very long movie for about twenty seconds, a stereotypically evil fembot, and a woman who makes a drunken pass at the protagonist, and is then tortured and murdered. This script treats its women abominably. When its not ignoring their agency, its ogling them, when its not ogling them, its killing them for sport, often as a lazy replacement for genuine character development.

  • amanohyo

    *it’s x 4

  • RogerBW

    I’m mildly amazed that this got even a yellow light here, never mind the highly positive reviews it’s getting in other places. It’s just another sequel that nobody was asking for… it could be the best story in the world and it would still be struggling under that load.

  • CB

    Yeah all us fans of Blade Runner don’t like artistic movies, like Blade Runner. *big-ol’ eyeroll*

  • Okay, I need to get this off my chest. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the original Blade Runner, but here’s what I remember about it:

    Future Los Angeles is an extrapolation of current (1980’s) Los Angeles. Current Los Angeles is starting to get overcrowded. It is heavily polluted. Also, a bunch of people from East Asia are immigrating. Also, by the way, just like how the Cold War was extrapolated into an existential threat in 1960’s science fiction, 1980’s science fiction is all about the universal, philosophical conundrums posed by Japan making better cars than us. So In the horrible, dystopian future, the JAPANESE run the world instead of America! OH NO!!!! You can tell this future city is horrible because it physically resembles Tokyo and has Japanese-looking ads. And Deckard is just an ordinary working class real American (cough cough), but he doesn’t know what’s happened to the neighborhood anymore. I mean, he went to this one neighborhood restaurant and it’s full of all these foreigners who speak their own foreign gobbledygook instead of English! Can a man get some English around here? THIS IS AMURRCA. DON’T TREAD ON ME.

    So I guess my question is, is this in the new movie?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Mostly, I like good movies, whose plots and themes work together into coherent whole. But I’ll confess to a soft spot for pretty movies. This movie is the latter.

    that was clearly established in the first film.

    No, it wasn’t. It was an extra-textual attempt to bolt additional meaning on to Deckard’s rote noir story arc. And the fact that Fancher and Green wrote that horrible line for Jared Leto is the final nail. They just didn’t want to deal with the nerd rage from saying it outright. Consider: if Deckard is a replicant, and given that it takes two to tango, then he’s just as good to Wallace’s aims as the MacGuffin.

  • amanohyo

    There’s some random Korean signage in the ruins of Las Vegas along with various vaguely asian decor in LA, but there’s no Japan (or China) vs. USA subtext going on in this one as far as I can tell (maybe someone who actually enjoyed this will correct me). There’s a wide range of races when it comes to nameless extras, but everyone in the film with more than a couple lines is white except for an African American child trafficker/slave trader. There are a lot of wide shots of the cities from high angles, but the film never establishes any sense of place as far as futuristic individual neighborhoods – K’s apartment complex is more or less the stereotypical housing project in a rough neighborhood that you’d find in a standard police procedural.

  • “an African American….slave trader”

    oh lordy lou. I bet they thought they were blowing our minds with that one.

  • amanohyo

    Yeah, maybe it was clever and ironic in the writers’ heads when they wrote it, but all I could think was, “So you’ve got one nonwhite person with any lines in this three-hour behemoth, and you made him an abusive, unrepentant seller of child sex slaves whose only function is the story is to walk to a file cabinet, pull out a record book, and say ‘the pages are gone!'” Yay ironic representation!

  • Joacchim

    A couple of minor quibbles with your review:

    “What does anybody whose job isn’t about either creating replicants or hunting them down when they go rogue think about replicants?” I think there was some indication from the people in K’s apartment stairwell, who obviously scorned him. The coroner also let a derogatory comment slip out (“skinjob – sorry”).

    “How the hell do these constructed beings have the capability to do just that?” Tyrrell built them to do that. In 2049 they’ve apparently lost the secret.

    I liked the film. Made me think.

  • amanohyo

    It’s childish to wrap your opinion in an insecurity blanket proclamation that everyone with different taste than you is a Philistine. Like every human being on the planet, I love (some) art – I hated this movie. The character arc for every single female is a flat, truncated line. Come to think of it, what’s K’s arc? How do the events of the film fundamentally change who he is and how he sees the world? What are the themes of the film and how are they developed?

    I’m not saying you’re wrong for liking this – I’m saying the writing sucks electric lamb fries (the writing in the original wasn’t fantastic, but 35 years is a long time). I agree that the lighting and color palette are atmospheric, the cinematography often breathtaking, the attention to detail in the Vegas set admirable, but were you surprised by the story? Did you care about the characters? Did the film make you think? Convince me this is more than a generic wisp of escapist scifi fluff with an hour of superfluous walking.

  • amanohyo

    Please share. What novel lines of thought did the film inspire?

  • ketac6

    I think you’ve very neatly summed up many of the issues that I had with the film, particularly with the female characters. I did read someone claiming that it was a feminist film BECAUSE the women were so passive and man-pleasing and it was a dystopia but that seemed like a bit of a stretch. (Although if we believe it then almost all films become feminist films, hurrah!)

    For me, the whole thing felt overstretched and flabby and there was too much exposition and not enough attention paid to the dialogue, which was also often clunky. This was particularly highlighted in comparison to the original which I saw again the previous week and which is so lean and spare Chandleresque noir in comparison.

    The landscapes and detail are stunning though. i just wish they were supporting something more interesting.

  • ketac6

    And yet again I am an atypical woman… I’ve been waiting for this for months!

  • Danielm80

    I like almost none of the things men are supposed to like. I hate sports, beer, and barbecues, and I refuse to buy Playboy magazine. I’m pretty proud of all that. I guess that makes me the perfect reader for this website.

    I was actually kind of looking forward to the movie, until I started hearing descriptions from people who’d actually seen it. But I didn’t like the first one—which, I suppose, makes me even more atypical.

  • Dent

    Deckard doesn’t behave like a replicant though. If anything he’s just a guy whose memories have been messed with.

  • Dent

    Well, the first film at least left things open ended.

  • RogerBW

    Eh. I like good beer (real ale, generally) and well-organised barbecues. On the other hand, whatever mental switch it is that triggers sports appreciation seems to be absent in me: I don’t hate ’em, they just leave me cold.

  • butting

    It could have been so much more, and I’m saying this as someone who mostly liked it.

    The lack of surprises feels like a narrative/thematic mismatch, which felt like a problem in all but the first scene (which after viewing I learn was borrowed from a BR concept). BR encapsulated its themes perfectly in its climax, BR49… had a fight, and then a badly-motivated resolution.

    I get the sense that Hampton Fancher has come a long way from his Dangerous Days draft, but this would’ve been so much more if someone with David Peoples’ instincts had turned Fancher’s treatment into a screenplay instead of Michael Green.

  • Harold L. Garroz

    I believe the first film clearly establishes that Deckard is a replicant. Actually, if you watch the first film closely it looks like the REAL blade runner was Glass (Edward James Olmos), he was injured (probably fighting a replicant) and they programmed Deckard with his memories so they would have the best blade runner’s mind in a replicant body.

    That would explain why Glass was so angry at Deckard all the time. Also, why Deckard thinks of unicorns (an origami the Glass makes in the first film).

    Even in 2049 Glass makes a horse Origami and horses are exactly the wooden figures that Deckard is doing. Coincidence? Olmos has a great line in 2049 that points in that direction, when K ask him about Deckard and he answers: “He liked to work alone, and so did I… So we worked together to keep it that way”. I think it’s all there!

  • Beowulf

    But…but…
    Leon put his hand into liquid nitrogen, didn’t he?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yes, replicants are physically superior to humans. Still not robots.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Only if you squint, really hard. And these are weak even in this field.
    Like, maybe Gaff doesn’t like Deckard because both Deckard and Gaff are unpleasant assholes. Maybe Deckard burned a lot of bridges leaving the force. Besides, if Gaff hates Deckard so much, why let him live, let alone Rachel.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I dunno. I gotta believe there’s a difference between “leaving things open ended” and “not getting around to tying up your excessive number of loose plot threads”.

  • amanohyo

    Wait, technically there’s one more nonwhite person, the Cuban virtual wife whose supreme goal is to be promoted to virtual fuck doll, and is subsequently tortured and murdered to motivate the protagonist and establish the fembot as cartoonishly evil. Again, yay representation! Ugh… watching this was like discovering one of my closest childhood friends had grown up to be the president of a major Men’s Rights organization.

  • Dent

    I like beer, but I don’t understand the appeal of IPAs. Would you like some bitter on your bitter with a side of bitter? No thanks.
    I will play basketball or soccer or something with friends but I’ve never watched sports.

  • Dent

    super meat

  • Dent

    It’s too bad we’ll never know, but then again who does.

  • ketac6

    Hurrah for atypicals!

    I also like IPA but have never understood sports appreciation either and hated A.I..

  • ketac6

    Or maybe we’re all programmed?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    And that’s what makes that line so stupid. Wallace is saying, almost literally, “You’re a replicant. Or, maybe you’re not. Who knows!? Not me. But doesn’t sound like an interesting idea?”

  • Dent

    I feel the same way, the first film gave us a better look into the minds of replicants by having them as antagonists.

  • Michiel Deinema

    Men are supposed to like hunting? What is this, the middle ages?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yeah, but it made it really REALLY hard to sympathize with them, even from the perspective of film noir.

  • Ooo, sorry! I didn’t mean to spoil that. I would have loved to invoke *Jurassic Park* (“Life finds a way”) but that REALLY would have given it away. :-)

  • I didn’t even know K was a replicant until I read some fan reviews, which puzzled me. That doesn’t ruin the whole movie, and I find that the studios and producers go overboard now in telling critics to avoid “spoilers.”

    This is literally stated explicitly — that K is a replicant — in the opening sequence of the film. It is never a matter of mystery or suspense, and this is what I meant about an obvious extrapolation from the original film, particularly from the debate over whether Deckard is a replicant or not. It seems like a no-brainer: The blade runner this time *is* explicitly a replicant.

  • Looks like none of you are fans of art

    Yup. Just a phillistine, me. Gonna go watch some Adam Sandler flicks.

  • Gosling’s performance truly is mesmerizing, in a way that *almost* saves the movie. He really does make you see that, behind his passive facade, there’s a *lot* roiling. I know many jokes are lobbed at him because of his dreamboat reputation, but he is terrific actor who, poor thing, isn’t always taken seriously because he’s so pretty.

    And visually, the movie is worth seeing on the biggest screen you can see it on. That, perhaps even more than Gosling, just barely lets it squeak by. If you are in the least bit inclined to see this, it’s probably worth paying multiplex prices for, even if you do end up disappointed by it.

  • There’s also the stereotypical noir “I can get you anything you need” guy played by Barkhad Abdi (the amazing pirate from *Captain Phillips*), but he’s only in that one scene.

  • It’s stated that the replicants are not supposed to be able to reproduce, which suggests that Tyrell did not build them with that capability. But if he did, why did he keep it secret? HOW did he keep it secret? Why didn’t Jared Leto *know* that the replicants his company is manufacturing could reproduce on their own? (They can *see the replicants’ genes*! They should already know this! How is it possible that the company is making human-ish creatures that produce eggs and sperm and don’t already know it?) Why would it be a problem if they *were* able to reproduce? If you don’t want them to be able to reproduce but do want them to be able to perform sexually, that’s still not a problem: you just delete their genes for ovaries/testes. You can still have a fuckable slave, if that’s what you want.

    None of this stuff makes the slightest bit of sense.

    the people in K’s apartment stairwell, who obviously scorned him

    Yeah, we get that some people don’t like replicants. But surely there must be some humans who are all for replicant rights? That’s what I was trying to get at (and did so poorly). Surely the replicants would not be alone in fighting for their rights. In this world there would probably be an equivalent of a “white savior,” a “human savior,” or whatever derogatory term the replicants use to refer to such a non-replicant person. The movie hints at a replicant subculture, but only just hints. Telling a story from the perspective of someone who wasn’t the replicant equivalent of an Uncle Tom would have been one fresh angle to take.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    There’s funny, and then there’s taking the joke too far. ;-)

  • Beowulf

    No problem. Thanks for a great review.
    The wolf, man.

  • Matt Clayton

    Okay. I wasn’t paying much attention during the first 10 minutes (the dialogue was mixed low) because I was straining to hear what the characters were saying.

  • Joacchim

    I didn’t get the impression that Leto/Wallace’s replicants were capable of reproduction. That’s why he was so adamant about finding Rachel/Deckard’s child. At one point he says they can’t manufacture enough replicants, they need the reproductive capability to meet the demand(?). I took Rachel to be a one-off product, she was the only one with this capability. No evidence to support this, though…

    Okay, they could have given more perspective on the human/replicant relationship, but that wasn’t what the filmmaker was interested in.

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    I only walked out of the theatre an hour ago and and am already straining to remember details about this very boring film. I’ve accounted for most of the characters you mentioned, but who was the woman described in the information shrouded above? I seem to have completely missed that scene.

  • IntrepidNormal

    I on the other hand, am a basic bitch, and I was still very much looking forward to this. It was… fine. A little long with not enough happening, but some stuff to like too.

  • IntrepidNormal

    I’ve never been into the “not like other girls” classification, because it implies that there’s something wrong with other girls. I love dresses and pumpkin spice lattes. I watch Outlander, read Jennifer Weiner, and WROTE a YA romance book. Yeah, I like beer, comics and the occasional action movie, but a lot of girls like those things. I’m the epitome of like other girls, and I’m damn proud of it.

  • IntrepidNormal

    Yeah, IPA is gross, give me a blue moon or a shock top any day. It’s like I said, I’m a basic bitch.

  • IntrepidNormal

    Never been hunting, never saw the appeal, although I do enjoy camping. And by camping I mean pitching a tent in a designated site no more than 15 miles from civilization.

  • Bluejay

    I, too, am not like other guys. :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA&t=114s

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    There’s some debate about Robin Wright’s “What happens if I finish that [bottle of booze]?” line, as to whether that constitutes a pass at K or not. It’s a dumb debate, because yes she’s making a pass at him, but it’s out there.

  • Tyler

    Gaff made an origami sheep, not a horse. It was reference to the original book’s title “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep”.

  • Tyler

    Given the scope and complexity of Blade Runner, I thought the sequel was competent in style and story, but not brilliant. I doubt it would have been possible to exceed the first one in any regard.

    Trivia: The opening scene with Sapper Morton was originally scripted for Blade Runner but never filmed.
    In a sly dig/riff on the 1982 future vision depicted in Blade Runner, BR 2049 also has Atari and Pan Am prominently featured, both companies long since defunct. So having CCCP signs goes along with that alternate universe.

    Mackenzie Davis must have cast for her more than passing resemblance to Daryl Hannah .

  • Tyler

    The first movie was never a hit with women either. It took almost a decade for the movie to become a must-see SF classic. I thought the Final Cut version was the best version of the story as envisioned by Ridley Scott.

  • amnohyo

    Yup, as Dr. Rocketscience notes, I was talking about K’s immediate supervisor. Her drunken pass makes sense in the context of the story (Although personally, I would have liked to see her order K to kiss her, then disgustedly send him away when she felt no spark on the other end – it would have been a nice continuation of their previous scene, a way to demonstrate K’s lack of emotion, and a nice sexual harassment gender swap). I actually liked her character. I didn’t mind any of the female characters taken on their own (well, the one that gets shot about five seconds after she’s introduced is kind of inexcusable), but taken as a whole, the women of the cast are treated like garbage.

    Any one of the characters I referenced would have provided windows to explore the themes of the film in new and interesting ways if they’d been developed and given a significant role to play. Think about how potentially interesting the perspective of the character that gets immediately shot could have been if she had survived. Think about how interesting the bubble girl’s abilities and technology could have made fights/negotiations with replicants if she had been allowed to leave the bubble. Think about what a nuanced foil the fembot could have been if she wasn’t cartoonishly evil. At every corner the writers intentionally dropped the ball so they could play in the dirt. It’s infuriating to anyone who enjoys intelligent, well-written scifi.

  • future_owl

    I’m also confused as to why critics are largely (89%) approving of this sequel. I am a diehard fan of the original. It had subtlety, vision,and a tone of dark sardonic timelessness that this movie plainly did not achieve. I was impressed by its capacity to mimic the original film-noir style. Though it looked like and at times felt like the Blade Runner universe, I think the whole concept of “expanding” a universe is flawed. I basically expected this to be a hollow, explorative jaunt through something I love – God, I hate franchises.

  • future_owl

    Why isn’t there a sequel to “The Persistence of Memory”? Heck, I liked it so much, someone should do a remake. … said no serious critic of art EVER. It’s just so lame that people feel the need to reframe a wonderfully crafted piece of film, and that critics can’t even call out the studio for being motivated by money.

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    Ah, I missed the ‘drunken pass’. That’s what was confusing me.

    No doubt lovers of this film are going to counter charges of its poor treatment of women with cries of, “What do you expect? It’s a bleak, violent, hopeless dystopia! Of course they’re treated like garbage.” (I’ve already heard versions of this) After some eye-rolling, I can only say, have you seen Mad Max Fury Road? I know it’s a very different film, but there are ways to address enslavement, oppression and objectification without the film itself degrading or betraying its female characters.

    But maybe that is the point: women’s bodies are more objectified now than ever in media and marketing, so in this miserable future of course it’ll be worse.

    I liked Kim Newman’s summation of the way the film treats replicants:

    “To recap, male robots yearn to be human/humane, die beautifully and for noble causes, and are worth an audience’s emotional investment – female robots are hookers, eye candy, support staff or wicked widgets and repeatedly shown to be disposable as they pour naked covered in goo from plastic bags or get decommissioned with quick headshots.”

  • shalako7

    Yes, thanks. The gratuitous violence against the females was outrageously repellent and why? Just for porn? So sick of this crap, this devaluation and fear of women as fully developed humans.

  • shalako7

    Yeah, he can’t make them fast enough but then gratuitously offs the new model –a naked female of course!–for some inexplicable reason.

  • shalako7

    A guy behind me fell asleep and snored periodically. Other people also said they had the same experience with snorers in the theater. Movie is boring!! Zero character development and way too many extraneous secondary characters.

  • amanohyo

    In most sequel cases, the primary motivation is money. Here there’s evidence that at least a few of the powerful people involved (Kosove and Johnson, Deakins, Villeneuve the writers etc.) were partially motivated by a desire to make a good sequel to a movie they admired. Yorkins probbaly wanted to bask in his past glory, and his wife hopped on the bandwagon. Most of the the actors and artists are trying their best. Hollywood is always half art, half business – the people who made Blade Runner in 1982 weren’t trying to make a box office flop – they wanted to make money too. They failed miserably, but they also happened to make a good movie.

    Fancher and Green probably could have cobbled together something original in the 90’s when the idea for a sequel was first being kicked around, but they don’t appear to have anything interesting or novel left to say (to me at least). Green’s Logan script was a gritty, fatalistic throwback in a genre that has become infected with light-hearted, sanitized spectacle, but the standards for fresh ideas are a lot higher in scifi. Everything feels stale here – the rising water threatening to drown the dude in distress, the flat good/evil character design, the Sinatra (thanks, Kosove and Johnson) and Elvis references, the lack of development for any female characters, the running away from explosions, the breaking through walls, the Neverending story statuary. It feels like the work of a bunch of old men trying to prove that things were better in the good old days without realizing that the good old days aren’t that good anymore.

  • Dent

    Well, there is the fact that they’re fated to either slowly rot to death or be gunned down. They aren’t good people but what they do makes sense. I watched the Final Cut though, I don’t know what changes from version to version.

  • amanohyo

    It’s partially pornographic, partially because female nudity = mature film for a lot of people (similar to how blood = mature video game for many), partially because the producers are trying to appeal to foreign markets with antiquated ideas about gender roles, and primarily because the writers wanted to show that Wallace and Luv were evil as quickly and lazily as possible (God forbid we cut one second of those thrilling walking shots).

    The filmmakers could argue that by showing violence against women perpetrated by “the bad guys” they are being critical of mistreating women. They could argue that violence and female nudity are essential elements of the cyberpunk noir atmosphere they were trying to recapture. They could argue that all of the character arcs are flat on purpose because the film is about events,plot, and ideas rather than characters.

    All those arguments are bullshit. mother! had a similar problem. Simply depicting violence against women robbed of their agency from a male perspective and saying, “look how bad it is!” is not enough anymore. Artists who truly want to be critical of dehumanization should treat women like human beings with stories to tell and deconstruct any apparent lack of agency by revealing and exploring the perspectives of their female characters, including the ways they are changed by and they themselves change the flow of the story… kinda hard to do when they have almost no lines and are dead. I’m making it sound really complicated, but it’s not. Just be a halfway decent writer and do that thing you’ve been doing for decades with the male characters except for everyone.

  • Jordan

    You give feminism a bad name. Your complaints about the treatment of female characters are absurd. The only female in the film that isn’t genetically engineered by a psychotic man with a severe god complex is Madam… and she is a strong willed leader. You tend toward this high minded straining to see misogynism in a lot of your reviews. Pick your battles better. This isn’t the film to be mad at.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The only female in the film that isn’t genetically engineered by a psychotic man with a severe god complex is Madam

    I like how you think this constitutes a defense of the film.

  • amanohyo

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jordan accidentally composed a perfect feminist critique of the film. I’m kind of jealous to be honest.

  • At one point he says they can’t manufacture enough replicants, they need the reproductive capability to meet the demand(?).

    It’s clearly NOT taking them 9 months + 18 years to manufacture adult replicants, so it seems hugely unlikely that getting them to reproduce in the old-fashioned way is going to help.

    And anyway, as I said, the replicants’ genetic makeup is entirely under the control of the manufacturer. It makes zero sense that biological reproduction is a mystery.

  • I doubt that even in bleak, violent, hopeless dystopias, women will simply give up wanting a better life. If the men are allowed that, even in stories of dystopias, why aren’t the women? The problem, of course, isn’t the dystopias, it’s the men telling the stories who do not see women as people.

  • Mackenzie Davis must have cast for her more than passing resemblance to Daryl Hannah .

    Must she?

  • critics can’t even call out the studio for being motivated by money.

    Critics do that all the time.

  • straining to see misogynism

    “Straining to see misogynism”! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Joacchim

    Factories (replicant and others) produce linearly: 1,2,3, …
    Humans reproduce geometrically: 2,4,8,16,32,…

    As far as the manufacturer not knowing, remembering or rediscovering the secret to human reproduction, I guess some willing suspension of disbelief would come in handy here (assuming you’re willing to give this, or any other movie for that matter) a chance to entertain you. I know that you are, I’ve read your positive reviews as well.

  • amanohyo

    Wouldn’t Wallace potentially be driving down his own profit margins? Also, When he walks past his fishtanks, we see the Nexus 8 Protoype Alpha 1 is clearly another Dave Bautista. I assume almost all the replicant demand is for occupations only they can perform – extraplanetary exploration, colonization, combat, maybe working in toxic environments, so there would be no need to make a huge range of models with different facial features except perhaps in the limited case of special orders for wealthy clients. Humans would be much cheaper and better suited for the vast majority of jobs.

    So, in this world large corporations are able to target ads at specific people, perhaps via facial recognition software or some other tracking mechanism. Rogue replicants are on the loose – all of them of a certain model have identical facial features, and the corporation looking for them has records of the models they produce. How are they not instantly recognized wherever they go, and how is it not vastly cheaper for the police to hire a couple humans on Earth to find them or just offer a reward for information about their location? How is being a Blade Runner a job and how is it a job that the police would assign another replicant to do on Earth (off Earth maybe)? If facial reconstruction surgery is possible for replicants, why isn’t more widespread for runaways and/or mentioned in the films?

    Also, once Wallace has Rachael’s skeleton, he can extract her DNA and presumably reverse engineer a female replicant capable of reproduction. If a reproductive male replicant is not required, mission accomplished. If male replicant DNA from Deckard’s model is necessary, wouldn’t Luv have been given instructions to procure a sample at all costs?

    The first movie (and Dick’s story) left a lot of information about the production of replicants to the imagination, but the eye candy in this one undermines any residual suspension of disbelief. Personally, I wouldn’t care about comprehensive world building if the movie had something interesting to say about the human/nonhuman condition, but its stale sci-fi ideas don’t reveal any truths that wouldn’t be just as evident if none of the characters were replicants.

    As the review notes, precisely how this technology “breaks the world” is a question that’s immediately glossed over as if the answer is obvious. It’s not. Does a society that treats biological constructions indistinguishable from humans (in K’s case at least) as slaves deserve to be destroyed? Would that destruction necessarily mean that replicants and humans couldn’t coexist peacefully as the first movie suggests they might? After all, K seems to get along with humans well enough. There’s a difference between ambiguity and negligence. If the script doesn’t care about its characters or its ideas, why should the viewer?

  • It’s not always possible to suspend disbelief. I cannot, in this case.

  • Tyler

    Maybe as a sort of nod to the “basic pleasure model” replicant as portrayed by Hannah in the original movie ? Perhaps to indicate that they are created from a similar dna profile ?

  • Tyler

    I assumed he killed her because he knew she was infertile and so a failure.

  • shalako7

    How did he know that? and did the viewer know? I certainly did not. it seemed gratuitously violent and misogynistic to me.

  • shalako7

    Agree with what you’ve written. I could not stand to see mother! The representations of women on screen are getting worse and worse. I hate the manufactured ‘fight scenes’ between men and women too. This is starting to be a norm in these films and we saw one in Blade Runner 2 between the Luv and the K. character.

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    Excellently said. Thanks for giving me the perfect response next time I have this argument with someone who loved it. (I’ll give you the credit, try and nudge them towards this site).

  • Bluejay

    After some eye-rolling, I can only say, have you seen Mad Max Fury Road? I know it’s a very different film, but there are ways to address enslavement, oppression and objectification without the film itself degrading or betraying its female characters.

    Yup! :-)

    https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2017/09/mother-movie-review-wtf-stfu.html#comment-3520567985

  • Tyler

    Wallace had those fish like drones that interfaced directly into his brain. I assumed they were scanning the replicant and giving him the data about her. And the scene was also to establish Wallace’s god complex where he gave life and took it away as well.

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