In Anticipation of Blade Runner 2049

I was pretty skeptical about a sequel to the Ridley Scott 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner. First off, I wasn’t sure I wanted sequel. I mean, after so many years, would it be possible to capture the magic of the original film. The look and atmosphere is indelibly etched into my soul after so many viewings. My second reservation was, ‘Who the hell is Denis Villeneuve?’

Denis Villeneuve. Director of Blade Runner 2049. (c) 2011 Getty Images

At the time Blade Runner 2049 was announced I had never seen a film directed by Monsieur Villeneuve, but then last year I got to see his film Arrival. I was greatly impressed by this well thought out and intelligent science fiction film. After leaving the cinema I thought to myself – Hey. Maybe he really can bring Blade Runner back. Well, in a few days we’ll know one way or the other.

The original Blade Runner is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968). The original film takes place in 2019 (only two years from now) and this new film is set thirty years later in 2049. How will the writers see Dick’s original paranoia filled dystopia progress during these thirty years? Where will they draw inspiration from?

They might look at the three novels published by Dick’s friend, K. W. Jeter Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human, Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night, and Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon, but they don’t live up to the original. And how could they? While Dick was Jeter’s mentor, Dick was a writer in a class all his own. Like all great science fiction, though, they will be best inspired by our own world today.

While we cannot match the level of technology that Dick predicted in 1968, I think it’s safe to say we’ve matched or exceeded the level of paranoia he envisioned. Even Dick never considered level of intrusion in our daily lives from governments, corporations, and criminals. As sad as this situation is, it does offer excellent creative fodder for a project like Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049 (c) 2017 Columbia Pictures

When casting was announced I was extremely pleased to see Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard. It was a surprise to see the inclusion of Ryan Gosling included in the film. Not that I have any strong feelings about him one way or the other, it’s just that I had not seen him act in anything until recently. I hope he brings something new and interesting to the Blade Runner mystique.

Ryan Gosling as ‘K’ in Blade Runner 2049 (c) 2017 Columbia Pictures

But what to I expect from Blade Runner 2049? This is something I’ve been asking myself for a few months now. While I want to see replicants figured prominently in the story, I hope it isn’t just a reworked version of the first in an elaborate replicant hunt, in the way Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a mediocre retelling of Star Wars.

My biggest hope, I guess, it that Villeneuve and the cast can tell a great story in the Blade Runner universe without relying heavily on continual references to the original story. I’m looking for great characters that I can really feel something for, not just cool tech and big, needlessly long CGI sequences that do more to dazzle your eyes than contribute to the story in any significant way. While I don’t expect perfection (actually I do otherwise why am I spending my time and money in the cinema?) I’m hoping for something approaching Scott’s vision.

I’ve still not seen any of the trailers, nor any of the three ‘gap’ shorts that Villeneuve commissioned. That will change this weekend. I’m very shortly about to watch Blade Runner and these shorts to whet my appetite for the release of Blade Runner 2049.

As the release date gets closer (5 October!) I find myself looking up for a dirigible enticing me to move Off-World, or for giant adds for geishas offering me indiscriminate happiness in pill form more often. I don’t know if Blade Runner 2049 will affect me to the same depth that Blade Runner first did, but I’m hopeful, extremely hopeful.

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