Bladerunner 2049 - review (spoilers)
I wouldn't normally post film reviews on this site, but since the original Bladerunner had that fantastic and iconic Vangelis score, and is my favourite film of all time, I thought it was justified.
Plus I wanted to get this off my chest as there are so many ridiculous 5 star reviews around...
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS PLOT DETAILS SO BE WARY IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN IT YET. I WOULDN'T WORRY THOUGH, THE FILM ISN'T REALLY GOOD ENOUGH TO GET ALL PRECIOUS ABOUT...
I was looking forward so much to seeing this, especially after all the five star reviews it'd be getting from places I normally trust, but I couldn't disagree with those reviews more. I thought the film failed in basically every way and in areas that the original had suceeded magnificantly. How did they get it so wrong??
The original is essentially a film noir set in the future, using a fairly standard plot device of a bounty hunter tracking down his victims. That plot is not what makes it interesting; it's just a narrative to hang all the philosophical questions on. But that narrative does require tension, suspense, atmosphere - and that's what film noir gives it in droves. It may be violent, but the end sequence is more about suspense than endless spaceships crashing into Las Vegas hotels. The violence is eked out and the cat and mouse of Deckard and Roy is what makes the sequence full of drama.
The new film has no style beyond standard Hollywood blockbuster, with scenes lurching from one thing to another thing to another thing, seemingly arbitrarily.
The new film comes nowhere close to the poetic dialogue of the first. There's nothing like 'If only you'd seen what I'd seen through your eyes', 'the candle that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast', 'Attack ships on fire on the shoulder of Orion'. Etc, etc. Sure, they attempt it, but the lines sound clumsy and false in note by comparison. There were a couple of good ones, I think, but I can't remember them now.
It's by Hans Zimmer and someone, and it's ok. Standard sort of sci-fi stuff, including an ever increasingly intense engine-rev-roaring sound, that ultimately I found quite irritating. He tries to allude to the original's lush Yamaha CS-80 poly-chords, but it's got an annoying digital edge that defeats it. Either go full lush analogue or don't bother trying to reference it at all. In my opinion.
There's a couple of nods to the evocative descending pitch dive sound, but not really for any particular reason other than the original featured it.
It was all plot, so the fact that it was plodding and predictable meant that there was no air of mystery, of 'what's the meaning of this', no ambiguity. It was all neat pieces of the jigsaw that exactly fit together.
See the film once and there's absolutely no reason to see it again. There's no ambiguity to enjoy, which the original has in spades and which is why it's so endlessly watchable.
All the reviews have banged on about it being the most incredible realised future world ever. But it's not. It's just a load of CGI that lacks the presence and reality of real models (such as the original's giant pyramids of the opening sequence). Every big sci-fi has over the top visuals nowadays, so it just seems kind of run of the mill to me.
Where were all the people? The original Bladerunner feels like a populous and bustling city. That was missing from this. Just felt like a weird deserted computer game world.
And what was the point of the Elvis and Sinatra??? Indulgent nonsense. Oh, and there was no point having Rachel reappear for five seconds before subjecting her to yet more....
...VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
I found the scenes featuring violence against women sickening - stomachs slit, hands crushed and an overlong drowning sequence that the camera seems to think we should really love watching. Well, I don't. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of violence in society, and I'm sick of gratutious violence in the cinema, especially when it's mainly the women characters that seem to suffer it.
And of course, there's the giant hologram women with their breasts out. Pretty much only for the benefit of the male viewers, no? I don't think they can hide behind the excuse of, 'oh, well that's what we think the future will be like', as we're seeing these images in the here and now, and everyone is being exposed to them in the here and now. And it's proven to be a negative thing in society. So just fucking stop it, eh, Hollywood? But then I suppose it's your ingrained culture anyway, isn't it?
[Note - I am aware there are problematic scenes in the original too. Also nothing to be proud of.]
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ROBOTS, ETC
I thought the girlfriend was a good invention; interesting to have a replicant and AI have a relationship. That could have been explored more. The double body sex scene was silly though, and again just panders to the male viewer as mild titillation. (See above)
There was a hint about what this film could have been if it had been looser, more mysterious, less willing to spoonfeed each and every plot point: Dr Badger. That scene had life about it, verve, and an unpredictablilty that the entire rest of it lacked.