Review – Running With Scissors (“Blade Runner 2049”)

The long awaited sequel has finally arrived, courtesy of visionary director Denis Villeneuve, who gave us the very strange Arrival in 2016. Aided with obnoxiously loud and roaring throoooooommmming bassoon and horn sounds, startling graphics, and Harrison Ford back as Deckard, your senses get a full work-out.
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Yup, thirty years have passed and all those pesky, 2019 old-model Nexus-6 replicants (human-like androids) out still out there being “retired” (killed) by blade runners (special police), but now, those blade runners are replicants themselves! Meet KD637, or ‘K’ for short (Ryan Gosling), a emotionless LAPD officer who is under the care of his boss, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright). But after ‘retiring’ a real mean old-model replicant (Dave Bautista), K discovers something odd… a hidden grave. Unearthing the remains finds the bones of Rachael, the former love of Deckard from the first movie and… WTH!? Evidence that she died in childbirth!

Wait, what? A replicant? Giving birth? Unheard of! The ramifications are staggering and have serious consequences, especially for the ginormous Wallace Corp. that bought out the Tyrell Corp. and who makes all those new replicants. Bizarre and blind replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) sends his lethal and trusted assistant, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) to get answers, but not before K is sent on the same assignment. Who is this mystery child and where is he/she now?

While K investigates, he is sidetracked by his lovely personal holographic girlfriend, Joi (Ana DeArmas) who travels with him. K checks out the memory clinic where isolated memory designer, Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri), informs K that only her fake memories are allowed in replicants, not real ones. But K’s ‘real’ memory takes him from the polluted and over-crowded cities of L.A. to the horrifying junkyards of San Diego to find more clues. Yeah, this future ain’t so nice.

Undeterred and Luv breathing down his neck, K’s clues lead him to the irradiated wastelands of what’s left of Las Vegas and Deckard (Ford) himself. While trying to get answers from this old 2019 blade runner, Luv and her not-so-lovely bad guys come a’callin’. There’s chases, reveals, McGuffin’s, and long, long, I’m talkin’ really, really long transitions from scene to scene that take forever to happen. Oh, and did I mention this movie is nearly three hours long?

Hampton Fancher (The Mighty Quinn) and Michael Green (Logan) wrote this endlessly overblown and tedious screenplay that has incredible visuals and a great cast, but the story is a boring retread of the original with more plot holes than is needed. Director Villenueve was so hellbent on getting his ‘vision’ across, that he forgot about telling a coherent, concrete story. Instead of delving into the lives of K and the others, we get  hours of IN YOUR FACE visuals and jarring wake-the-dead music.

Gosling goes through the movie as the passionless man (er, replicant) who desperately wants more out of his life, trying to break free of his ‘programming’, and holds the picture together nicely along with Wright as his trying boss. Ford is a welcome sight, Leto is sufficiently creepy, but Hoeks gets my vote as the best bad-ass of the movie. Not only villainous, but cunningly evil as well. Yes, Roger Deakins cinematography is breath-taking (as he usually is) and the LOUD and disturbing soundtrack is… well, disturbing, but you’re gonna be waiting around for quite a while something to happen.    

 
Blade Runner (1982)
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One of the single biggest sci-fi movies in the 80’s by Ridley Scott that, to this day, still resonates with its powerful message and beautiful film making.
 
Adapted from Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, this outstanding movie takes place in a dystopian L.A. future and the perils of one Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a burnt-out ‘blade-runner’. These guys are experts in hunting down and ‘retiring’ androids (called replicants) if they go rogue. And it looks three of them (Leon, Roy, and Pris) do just that, defying a ban that all replicants face if they return to Earth. Led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), they want answers and God help who gets in their way! Deckard reluctantly agrees to hunt them down and, during his investigations, begins a relationship with Rachael (Sean Young), an advanced replicant from the powerful Tyrell Corporation.
 
But these replicants are SO human-like that telling them from humans is nearly impossible. And they’re damn smart and strong, too. Pris (Darryl Hannah) cleverly coerces J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a robot toy maker, to sneak Roy into the Tyrell Corp to meet “his father”. Let’s just say, this family reunion doesn’t go well. Deckard has his hands full killing… I mean, retiring brutish Leon (Brion James) and lethal Pris, along with others, but Roy is a clever one. In the the exciting fight scene on the rooftops,  Deckard sees something he wasn’t expecting… Roy giving up and accepting his own death with dignity and grace! In the end, he just wanted to be human more than anything.
 
Deckard decides to leave the pollution-choked city with Rachael and start a new life somewhere safe and peaceful. And THERE in was the controversy. Depending on which movie version you see (and there are quite a few), the burning question remains: was Deckard a replicant? Since 1982 that question had been argued and batted about from whole websites to YouTube videos solely devoted to answering that very puzzle. Nobody, not even the Ridley Scott or Harrison Ford had the definitive answer! If you saw the sequel by now, you probably know the answer.

As with many studio releases vs directors visions, there were some major squabbles and, not surprisingly, this movie had its share of problems. From casting complications to script changes to altering the ending, Scott never got to make the movie HE wanted to show to the people. . .until 2007. There are several ‘cut’ versions, some with more or less violent action and some with or without Harrison Ford’s voice-over narration. There was an “uncut” version in 1987, then a so-called Director’s Cut in 1991, then finally, Scott’s pure vision (with added/cleaned-up scenes that included new CGI effects and a fixed stunt that originally looked bad) came out in 2007 called The Final Cut.

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