By Kent Wong, October 19 2017 —
Blade Runner 2049 is an art film at its core and will be hit-or-miss for many. Despite glowing reviews and mass-market reception, the movie’s sales stack low compared to its budget. But don’t let that deter you from seeing the flick on the big screen. Directed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 follows its 1982 predecessor as a neo-noir science-fiction heavyweight. It clocks in at 163 minutes and is written by the original Blade Runner writer, Hampton Fancher. The film is a love song to sci-fi that’s 35 years in the making.
Certain luggage comes with the sequel label. It risks the notion of being unoriginal by working within an established universe. It also needs to meet a certain bar — a high one in this case. Blade Runner 2049 acknowledges its source material, yet ever so carefully makes its own deliberate mark on cinema.
Many sequels are guilty of rehashing. Think of recent sequels like Star Wars: The Force Awakens — essentially a rework of A New Hope. Blade Runner 2049 offers a few nods to the original without being obtrusive. In fact, you don’t need to watch the original to fully enjoy 2049. The movie doesn’t even answer the threads left hanging in the original film. Whether that’s for better or worse is up to the viewer.
Good art allows for subjective engagement, not objective presentation. It asks you questions or reveals something you didn’t know was there. You can articulate these feelings when art resonates with you — you feel like you’ve connected with someone, a memory or an emotion. Blade Runner 2049 asks the viewer what it means to be alive and what they live for. Themes of identity, self and love are integrated in the film among other subjects like creationism.
The film’s moody ambient soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer, leaves ample silence. This works to its strength, making the use of music and ambience careful and deliberate. Silent moments are contrasted with the large, engulfing cityscapes of Los Angeles, circa 2049. Some of the strongest moments in Blade Runner 2049 are the quietest ones.
Just like its predecessor, the movie might not break even despite critical success. That’s too bad, because Blade Runner 2049 is a classic in the making.