2017, Movies

Blade Runner 20149 (2017, Denis Villeneuve)

I’ve seen the original Blade Runner 2 or 3 times over 10 years ago but I’ve yet to be completely sold on it. Before I watched, multiple people (critics, friends) told me it was one of the best movies ever made. I liked it more the second or third viewing, but I’ve never come around to that view. Maybe I would feel differently if I watched it today.

Maybe it was the context – watching this movie on a 15 hour flight that seemed like it would never end, after watching a shitty movie – but I mostly really enjoyed the sequel, as sequel that my younger self definitely thinks shouldn’t exist, even if I don’t love the original like most people do. (I still mostly hate remakes and sequels in theory. I think they are rarely done right. Then again, Denis Villeneuve makes movies I like.)

One criticism I heard about this film is its length. But let me tell you: when you’re on a 15 hour flight, you’re not sleeping and there is still more than 4 hours left somehow (after you’ve already watched two movies!), a long movie that keeps your interest is just the ticket. I may have felt differently watching it in theatres.

Villeneuve manages to find a pretty nice middle ground between honouring the original film’s aesthetic and making it his own. There are shots that really recall the original film and there are scenes, such as the opening, that feel set in a different world, or at least an expanded version of the original world. One touch, in this regard, is the score, which is quite different than the original. (This is a good thing, in my mind. One of the most iconic things about the original movie is its score.) The film is extremely pretty to look at but doesn’t feel like Villeneuve is desperate to honour the original in every respect.

Also, Villeneuve is not Ridley Scott, which turns out to be a good thing. I haven’t seen the original movie in years, but I feel like the Ridley Scott films I have watched in the last little while – including a few I watch over and over again – have a feel and pace very distinct from this film. It was over a week ago, and I was very tired, but I feel like Villeneuve’s version of this universe is distinctly his own when it comes to pacing, editing, shot selection, etc. I could be talking out of my ass, though.

MILD SPOILER

My only quibble was with the climactic fight. I don’t think it ties things up the neat little bow that the movie thinks it does and I was kind of mystified that everything was suddenly okay. Maybe I missed something – by this point I was 13 hours into my flight – but it felt like it didn’t resolve much but the surviving characters treated it as though it did.

Still liked it much, much more than I was expecting to.

8/10

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