First Hit: Although this film was well shot and interesting in its context, I ended up not caring about the characters.
The original 1982 ‘Blade Runner’, projected our life in 2019. It was bleak and focused on the creation, use, and abilities of replicants. It left us with questions as to whether replicants could re-create. Given that we are developing robots, self-driving autos and other interesting things, we are not what was projected back then. Given this, it is my guess that we won't be what this film says about 2049. The only caveat would be, we could be worse off than what is projected.
The original wasn't popular (gross sales) when it came out, however it did organically grow a larger and wide-ranging audience because of its questions, pacing and the way it was shot. It became more of a cult film that aged really well. In other words, as time went by, its positive qualities came forth and lasted. In that film replicants went back to Earth to find their creator and Rick Dekard (Harrison Ford) was sent back to kill these renegade replicants and in doing so, he started having questions of his own.
In this new version, again the languid pacing is in its own world, and because we have a history of this, it's expected. This makes this better understood in the first viewing. We are placed into the year 2049 and Los Angeles is this bizarre sort of world of real humans and replicants. If replicants can reproduce, then what use are humans? The story then, is about a Blade Runner “K” (Ryan Gosling) who thinks he’s found the remains of previously pregnant replicant and is tasked by his boss Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) to find out if this baby lived and destroy all evidence of its existence.
This is asked of him because there is a fear that there will be a war between humans and replicants. As he learns more about this person’s possible existence he learns more about his possible part of this evolution.
This film’s storyline isn’t easy to follow; however, one aspect is that K thinks he may have real memories, versus programed memories and he tries to validate this by official memory maker Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri). He also speaks with the head of company that makes replicants Niander Wallace (Jered Leto).
Wallace is trying to program replicants to reproduce and in one scene, a fully grown and replicant reproduced woman drops onto a padded platform in the middle of an empty room. To make the point that this is a reproduced replicant, she arrives via a replica of an amniotic sac. Rather interesting and telling scene.
In search of his own beginnings, K then goes to San Diego which is a waste dumping ground, and speaks with Mister Cotton (Lennie James) who helps him put real context to a dream he has. Then he heads to a deserted and dust filled Las Vegas and finds Deckard (Harrison) hiding out with a rangy dog. At first Deckard doesn’t trust K that’s validated when all of a sudden others come to kill them both. Deckard is abducted by Luv (Syliva Hoeks) as a way to control the future.
However, K feels kindred to Decker and helps him escape. In the end, this film leaves the viewer with questions, as it's suppose to do, and makes one wonder if there will be one more film.
The music is a great part of this film. It enhances the sense, time, and etheric feeling of this film. The visual pacing is variable; however, the overall sense was, for me, too slow and pedantic. There were sections I wanted sped up or removed as the sense of the pace was already established and it was taking too long to develop and I was losing interest.
Gosling is strong is this type of role. His inner quiet and strength is what made him the right person for this part and he does it well. Juri is wonderful as the manufacturer of memories. Wright was good as K’s boss. Hoeks was strong as the steely person wanting to control what information gets out and what doesn’t. Leto is very good as the person creating the replicants. His otherworldly presence is felt. Ford was perfectly grumpy and irritated that his life was discovered and made more complicated by K. Ana de Armas as the hologram Joi was enticingly strong. James was excellent as the leader of the orphan kids in San Diego. The music by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch was a very strong part of this film. The mood, sets, and pacing by Denis Villeneuve was very strong under his direction. Hampton Fancher and Michael Green wrote the complex screen play that did a good job of moving the overall story forward.
Overall: I struggled with the pacing, loved many of the sets, and thought the overall story was interesting enough to keep me engaged.