Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. A sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner, the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto in supporting roles. Ford and Edward James Olmos reprise their roles from the original. Gosling plays K, a Nexus-9 replicant "blade runner" who uncovers a secret that threatens to destabilize society and the course of civilization.

Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDenis Villeneuve
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byHampton Fancher
Based onCharacters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
Starring
Music by
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byJoe Walker
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • October 3, 2017 (2017-10-03) (Dolby Theatre)
  • October 6, 2017 (2017-10-06) (United States)
Running time
163 minutes[4]
CountryUnited States[5]
Budget$150–185 million[6][7][8]
Box office$260.5 million[9]

Ideas for a Blade Runner sequel were first proposed in the 1990s, but licensing issues stalled their development. Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson obtained the film rights from Bud Yorkin. Ridley Scott stepped down as the film's initial director and worked as an executive producer, while Villeneuve was later appointed to direct. Blade Runner 2049 was financed through an Alcon EntertainmentSony Pictures partnership and a Hungarian government-funded tax rebate. Warner Bros., on behalf of Alcon, distributed the film in North America, while Sony handled distribution in international markets. Principal photography took place mostly at two soundstages in Budapest over a four-month period from July to November 2016.

Blade Runner 2049 premiered in Los Angeles on October 3, 2017, and was released in the United States in 2D, 3D, and IMAX on October 6, 2017. The film was praised by critics for its performances, direction, cinematography, editing, musical score, production design, visual effects, and faithfulness to the original film, and was considered by many critics to be among the best films of 2017. However, it was a box office disappointment, grossing $260.5 million worldwide against a production budget between $150–185 million.[9][10][11] Blade Runner 2049 was nominated for and won several accolades, receiving five nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, winning Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. It also received eight nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, including Best Director, and won Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects.

PlotEdit

In 2049, bioengineered humans known as replicants are slaves. K (short for his serial number, KD6-3.7), a Nexus-9 replicant, works for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as a "blade runner," an officer who hunts and "retires" (kills) rogue replicants. At a protein farm, he retires Sapper Morton and finds a box buried under a tree. The box contains the remains of a female replicant who died during a caesarean section, demonstrating that replicants can reproduce biologically, previously thought impossible. K's superior, Lt. Joshi, fears that this could lead to a war between humans and replicants. She orders K to find and retire the replicant child to hide the truth.

K visits the headquarters of the Wallace Corporation, the successor to the defunct Tyrell Corporation in the manufacture of replicants. Wallace staff members identify the deceased female from DNA archives as Rachael, an experimental replicant designed by Dr. Eldon Tyrell. K learns of Rachael's romantic ties with former blade runner Rick Deckard. Wallace Corporation CEO Niander Wallace wants to discover the secret to replicant reproduction to expand interstellar colonization. He sends his replicant enforcer Luv to steal Rachael's remains and follow K to Rachael's child.

At Morton's farm, K sees the date 6-10-21 carved into the tree trunk and recognizes it from a childhood memory of a wooden toy horse. Because replicants' memories are artificial, K's holographic AI girlfriend Joi believes this is evidence that K was born, not created. He searches LAPD records and discovers twins born on that date with identical DNA aside from the sex chromosome, but only the boy is listed as alive. K tracks the child to an orphanage in ruined San Diego but discovers the records from that year to be missing. K recognizes the orphanage from his memories and finds the toy horse where he remembers hiding it.

Dr. Ana Stelline, a replicant memory designer, confirms that the memory of the orphanage is real, leading K to conclude that he is Rachael's son. At LAPD headquarters, K fails a post-traumatic baseline test, marking him as a rogue replicant; he lies to Joshi by implying he killed the replicant child. Joshi gives K 48 hours to disappear. At Joi's request, K reluctantly transfers her to a mobile emitter so he cannot be tracked through her console memory-files. He has the toy horse analyzed, revealing traces of radiation that lead him to the ruins of Las Vegas. He finds Deckard, who reveals that he is the father of Rachael's child and that he scrambled the birth records to protect the child's identity; Deckard left the child in the custody of the replicant freedom movement.

Luv kills Joshi and tracks K to Las Vegas. She kidnaps Deckard, destroys Joi, and leaves K to die. The replicant freedom movement rescues K. When their leader, Freysa, tells him that she helped deliver Rachael's child and that the child was actually a girl, K understands that he is not Rachael's child, deduces that Stelline is her daughter and that the memory of the toy horse is hers, one she implanted amongst those of other replicants whose memories she designed. To prevent Deckard from leading Wallace to Stelline or the freedom movement, Freysa asks K to kill Deckard for the greater good of all replicants.

Luv takes Deckard to Wallace Corporation headquarters to meet Wallace. Wallace offers Deckard a clone of Rachael in exchange for revealing what he knows. Deckard refuses, and the clone is killed. As Luv transports Deckard to be tortured and interrogated off-world, K intercepts Luv's shuttle and tries to rescue Deckard. He fights Luv and manages to drown her, but he is mortally wounded. He stages Deckard's death to protect him from Wallace and the replicant freedom movement before taking Deckard to Stelline's office and handing him her toy horse. As K lies motionless on the steps, looking up at the snowing sky, Deckard enters the building and meets his daughter for the first time.[a]

CastEdit

Archival footage, audio and stills of Sean Young from the original film are used to represent both her original character of Rachael and a clone of the character created by Niander Wallace.[13] Young's likeness was digitally superimposed onto Loren Peta, who was coached by Young on how to recreate her performance from the first film. The voice of the replicant was created with the use of a sound-alike actress to Young.[14] Young was credited for her work.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

 
Director Denis Villeneuve credits Blade Runner for igniting his passion for filmmaking.

From the 1990s, licensing disputes over Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? had stood in the way of producing sequels to the science fiction drama Blade Runner (1982).[15] Nearly three decades after the film's release, Alcon Entertainment co-founders Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson purchased the intellectual property from producer Bud Yorkin. The terms of Alcon's acquisition gave the studio complete ownership of the broadcast and franchise rights to Blade Runner, but excluded the license to reboot the original film.[16] No longer satisfied with the profits of their smaller-budget features, and with investor funding scarce, Kosove and Johnson sought to increase Alcon's output of blockbuster films: "If you don't have repetitive cash flow, which is a fancy way of saying being in the sequel business, you are going to be in trouble eventually."[17] Progress on a new Blade Runner feature soon intensified when Kosove named Christopher Nolan one of his ideal choices to direct,[18] although Nolan said he never planned to direct, despite being an admirer of the franchise.[19]

By August 2011, Alcon announced Ridley Scott's signing as the film's director to the press.[20] The British filmmaker had long desired a sequel to expand upon the subject matter.[21] After securing Scott's services, the studio assigned Michael Green and a returning Hampton Fancher the responsibility for writing the script.[22][23] Alcon producers provided some insight of their vision but were unsure of how to approach the Blade Runner story,[24][25] hence they and the normally candid Scott were tight-lipped when questioned further about the sequel's artistic direction in interviews conducted during the pre-production.[26][27][28] Ultimately, Scott resigned from his duties once his existing commitment to Alien: Covenant (2017) took precedence, and retained partial oversight as an executive producer.[21][29] He also made significant contributions to the screenplay, albeit in an uncredited role.[30]

Blade Runner 2049 was Alcon's second collaboration with director Denis Villeneuve, who they called for a meeting at a cafe in rural New Mexico to negotiate an offer. They had an existing professional relationship from Prisoners (2013).[31] Villeneuve credits Blade Runner for inspiring his passion for filmmaking,[21] but hesitated to accept the assignment at first as he feared tarnishing the franchise's legacy.[31] Nevertheless, he liked the screenplay and was assured by Fancher's investment in the project.[31][32] Villeneuve preserved elements of the original film by modernizing Blade Runner's retrofuturistic onscreen world, which he saw imperative for an authentic story.[21]

CastingEdit

 
Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford promoting the film at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling were Blade Runner 2049's first significant casting choices.[33][34] Gossip about Ford's participation had been circulating in the media since the project's conception, claims that the producers initially denied,[27][28] having only approached the actor for a part in 2014.[35] Alcon did not publicly announce Ford's signing until the following year.[33] Ford expressed interest reprising his role in past interviews and was enthusiastic about the Blade Runner 2049 script.[35][36] The work environment on set was another aspect of the production Ford was pleased with,[37] a stark contrast from the stressful shooting environment he endured on Blade Runner.[21][38] He felt the experience playing an older Deckard lent unique context to his character's already-established backstory. Ford stated "You're not walking into the stadium. You're on the starting line, and you got there just in time and you're off. It was great. And the story I have to tell flows effortlessly out of the groundwork we've laid before. And it's unanticipated, and it's complicated and it has an emotional context that is just was the bait on the hook for me."[38] The only other returning Blade Runner actor, Edward James Olmos, appears in a bit supporting part which pivots the central story.[39]

The screenwriters tailored K specifically for Gosling,[40] but it was the opportunity to work with Villeneuve and experienced cinematographer Roger Deakins, paired with his faith in the script, that convinced the actor to join Blade Runner 2049 in his first leading role in a blockbuster production.[41][42] Gosling developed a reputation for his discriminating film choices—the prospect of working on big-budget franchise sets never enticed him,[42] yet he trusted the filmmakers' instincts, and the thematic complexity of the film's screenplay furthermore reassured his decision.[43] A longtime Blade Runner fan, the actor said his first viewing experience of the film as a young teenager was profound, remarking, "It was one of the first films I had seen where it wasn't clear how I was supposed to feel when it was over. It really makes you question your idea of the hero and the villain, the idea of what it means to be human."[21] Blade Runner 2049 proved challenging for Gosling because of the production's scope.[44]

Ana de Armas auditioned several times before landing the film's female lead. De Armas was an actress of national renown in Spain aspiring to break into English-speaking roles.[45] After working her first Hollywood film in Hands of Stone (2016), she settled in Los Angeles in pursuit of a role that did not typecast her ethnicity. De Armas underwent four months of vigorous speech training to master her English before auditioning. Once the studio commenced production of Blade Runner 2049, the actress said her fitness training provided the necessary mental space to prepare for the intense shooting schedule.[45]

Villeneuve considered David Bowie, one of the franchise's core influences, for the part of Niander Wallace, but the singer died before the start of filming.[40] Instead he and the producers looked at Jared Leto, fresh off the filming of 2016's Suicide Squad, because they felt he exuded Bowie's rockstar sensibility.[40][46] Leto refrains from naming specific sources that shaped certain aspects of his character's persona, rather the actor cites real-life friends that work in tech as a general influence.[47] Leto is notorious in the film industry for his unorthodox preparation of his roles, and he continued his unusual practices in Blade Runner 2049 by wearing custom opaque contact lenses to work the set completely blind.[48] Villeneuve recalled his first day shooting with the actor, "He entered the room, and he could not see at all. He was walking with an assistant, very slowly. It was like seeing Jesus walking into a temple. Everybody became super silent, and there was a kind of sacred moment. Everyone was in awe. It was so beautiful and powerful—I was moved to tears."[48]

A raft of mostly young actors comprise Blade Runner 2049's supporting cast; David Dastmalchian, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri, Mackenzie Davis and Barkhad Abdi were lesser-known stars with years of expertise in indie cinema.[49] Among the few exceptions are Dave Bautista, Hiam Abbass and Lennie James, whose castings were revealed between April–July 2016,[50][51][52] and Robin Wright, assigned to one of three major female roles in Blade Runner 2049.[53] Wright's participation had been rumored for weeks, but was not immediately confirmed by the filmmakers because her existing duties to Netflix's political TV thriller House of Cards momentarily stalled the negotiations.[53]

FilmingEdit

The Budapest Stock Exchange's Liberty Square palace (exterior, top), whose interior shots (bottom) doubled for Las Vegas in casino-set scenes

The filmmakers embarked on location scouting in April 2016,[54] and principal photography of Blade Runner 2049 commenced that July, lasting four months until November.[55][56] They first toured London but found no soundstage available for the needs of the production. As a result, Deakins and Villeneuve flew to Hungary for location scouting partly due to Scott's familiarity of the country's network of facilities. They also toured Slovakia to source architectural ideas.[57] Blade Runner 2049's production crew were mostly Hungarian, with some American staff hired to supervise the set.[57] Inserts with Wright and Hoeks were the first scenes filmed on set.[58] Shooting took place mainly at Korda Studios and the Origo Studios backlot in suburban Budapest,[59] where the shoot qualified for a 25% tax rebate on in-state costs from the Hungarian government.[60]

The Alcon–Sony partnership allocated $180 million ($90 million each) for the budget, rebates notwithstanding.[17] Interior shots of the Budapest Stock Exchange's Liberty Square palace doubled for Las Vegas in casino-set scenes,[57][61] and abandoned Soviet industrial sites such as the Inota Power Plant and the Kelenföld were important filming locations that emphasized Blade Runner 2049's dystopian ethos.[15][54] The Budapest palace was the film's largest set, occupying at least three floors of the building.[57] Filmmakers revised Deckard's capture by Luv into a simple conversational scene after Ford conveyed to Kosove and Johnson of his disapproval of the dialogue.[58]

Pitfalls occasionally beset the production. The filmmakers frequently fell behind schedule, and an Origo Studios-employed subcontractor was killed by falling debris when dismantling one of the sets.[58][62] Gosling's obligation to fulfill a New York City press junket for La La Land (2016) exacerbated the unusual circumstances of the shoot; however, his scenes were able to be filmed in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.[58]

CinematographyEdit

Blade Runner 2049 is the third Deakins–Villeneuve collaboration after Prisoners and Sicario (2015).[63] Deakins was eager to work another fantasy project despite an unpleasant experience working the 1990 film Air America.[64] Together with production designer Dennis Gassner, the men brainstormed ideas for the film's visual palette as Villeneuve was editing his science fiction drama Arrival (2016).[57] The sequences were then storyboarded and left for Deakins and Villeneuve to execute.[57] They were inspired by the architecture of several major cities, intending to craft an imposing brutalist character for the urban landscape of a cold, wet Los Angeles, among them the appearance of Beijing's cityscape in dense smog, the foothills of southern Spain, Bangladeshi shipyards, and certain mid-century landmarks in London (such as the Barbican Estate and Trellick Tower).[57][64] For Las Vegas-set scenes, the filmmakers researched intense dust storms in the Sahara, Saudi Arabia and Sydney to replicate the sandy desert ruins Villeneuve sought for.[64][65][66]

It became apparent to Deakins that Blade Runner 2049 would be one of his biggest undertakings because of the technical demands involved realizing the onscreen universe.[64] Deakins exercises full artistic control of his shoots, and the extent of his oversight meant a single-camera setup for the set—the British cinematographer rejected a studio line producer's request for a nine unit-camera setup because he firmly believed said technique would yield sloppy camerawork.[67] Rather he and Villeneuve resumed the practical approach of their previous collaborations to capture the Blade Runner 2049 scenes.[15][57] They shot the project in 1.55:1 aspect ratio from a single Arri Alexa XT Studio camera with Zeiss Master prime lenses, assisted with an attached crane arm or a dolly.[57][68] The filmmakers conducted tests with an Alexa 65 camera but preferred the XT Studio's somewhat grainy image quality, and the choice of lenses corresponded to the scale and lighting specifications of the scenes. For example, close-up character scenes were captured in 32 mm lenses, but filmmakers captured sweeping cityscape shots with 14 mm and 16 mm lenses.[15] Occasionally, production filmed with Arri Alexa Mini cameras to capture shots from the spinners, the vehicles used in the film.[57]

 
Spinner on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles

When Gassner was first approached for Blade Runner 2049, he was called with a request from Villeneuve to observe the shape of passing street sweepers. Redesigning the spinners then became one of his initial responsibilities. He and the filmmakers envisioned a harsh, angular look for the spinners, one intended to evoke a sense of technological advancement.[69] It was also up to Gassner to complete most of the Blade Runner 2049 sets so producers could exercise full artistic control of the shoot.[69] Gassner had known Scott since 1982, when they had been introduced on the set of the Francis Ford Coppola-directed musical One From the Heart. The designer saw developing a distinct identity for Blade Runner 2049 while keeping consistent with the franchise ethos to be difficult despite his experience working franchise films. He said, "So you have to be respectful of the world that was already created and integrate that original aesthetic, but also create individuality and stand-alone visuals for the people who haven’t seen the original. It's kind of like you're sitting on the edge of a knife blade."[69]

CostumesEdit

Costume designer Renée April produced costumes featuring fake fur, painted cotton disguised as shearling, and breathing masks.[70] April initially researched the fashion styles of the 1960s and 1970s, but elected to research various decades for influence as well as both Eastern and Western culture. When discussing the film, she stated she did not consider it a fashionable one. "I made costumes for the dark, wet, polluted, miserable world that Denis [Villeneuve] created. I had to hold myself back and remove anything too avant-garde or outré because it did not help the story. There were no superhero suits because the world needed to be realistic, and the characters relatable."[71] When April discussed the film with Villenueve about what direction she should take the costumes, Villenueve told her "brutal", a similar description he gave to Gassner. "So I took it from there and made it tougher. Also, we did not want to do something science-fiction. We wanted to do it realistic. I did not want costumes with [lots of] zippers and plastic. So my job was to make the characters believable."[72]

Post-productionEdit

Warner Bros. announced in early October 2016 that the film would be titled Blade Runner 2049.[73] Editing commenced in December in Los Angeles, with the intention of having the film being rated R.[74] At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Villeneuve said that the film would run for two hours and 32 minutes.[75] There originally existed a four-hour early cut of the film that Villeneuve described "quite strong" but also at times "too self-indulgent". He prefers the shorter final version that he describes as "more elegant" and which Ridley Scott still described as too long. Villeneuve says he will not show the four-hour cut to anyone.[76][77] As with Skyfall, cinematographer Roger Deakins created his own IMAX master of the film rather than using the proprietary "DMR" process that IMAX usually uses with films not shot with IMAX cameras.[78]

SoundtrackEdit

Rapper-producer El-P said he was asked to compose music for the first Blade Runner 2049 trailer, but his score was "rejected or ignored".[79] Jóhann Jóhannsson, who had worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival, was initially announced as composer for the film.[80] However, Villeneuve and Jóhannsson decided to end the collaboration because Villeneuve thought the film "needed something different", and also that he "needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis's soundtrack" of the first film.[81] Composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch joined the project in July 2017.[82] In September, Jóhannsson's agent confirmed that he was no longer involved and was contractually forbidden from commenting.[83] The musical cue during the final scene, "Tears in the Rain", is a call-back to the "Tears in rain" scene from Blade Runner which saw the death of the film's central antagonist Roy Batty. The track is a reimagined version of the original Vangelis work.[12][84]

ReleaseEdit

PremieresEdit

 
An advertisement for the film at Birmingham New Street Station, October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 premiered on October 3, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, although following the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting, the red carpet events were canceled prior to the screening.[85] It was the opening feature at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montreal the following day.[86] It also was premiered in Switzerland at the Zurich Film Festival on October 4, 2017.[87][88] Sony Pictures Releasing, which had obtained rights to release the film in overseas territories,[89] was the first to release Blade Runner 2049 in theaters, first in France and Belgium on October 4, 2017,[88] then in other countries on the two following days.[88] The film was released by Warner Bros. in North America on October 6, 2017.[88] In addition to standard 2D and 3D formats, Blade Runner 2049 was released in IMAX theaters.[90] Also, Alcon Entertainment partnered with Oculus VR to create and distribute content for the film exclusively for its virtual reality format and launched it alongside the theatrical release of October 6, 2017.[91] That content would later be referred to as Blade Runner: Revelations.[92] Due to the popularity and preference of IMAX in 2D (as opposed to 3D) among filmgoers in North America, the film was shown in IMAX theaters in only 2D domestically, but was screened in 3D formats internationally.[93] Just like Skyfall, the movie was specially formatted for IMAX at the expanded aspect ratio of 1.9:1.[94] The film is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language".[95]

Some scenes in the film were censored in Turkey. The scenes that featured nudity were cut. This decision received criticism from the country's film critics.[96]

PrequelsEdit

Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures jointly released an announcement teaser on December 19, 2016.[97][98] A selection of excerpts (lasting 15 seconds) were released as a trailer tease on May 5, 2017, in the lead up to the full trailer, which was released on May 8, 2017.[99] A second trailer was released on July 17, 2017.[100]

Three short films were made to explore events that occur in the 30-year period between Blade Runner 2049 and Blade Runner, set in 2019:

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and 4K Blu-ray on January 16, 2018 and distributed by Netflix and Redbox on January 23, 2018.[106][107]

It made approximately $26 million in US physical home media sales.[108]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Blade Runner 2049 grossed $92.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $168.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $260.5 million, against a production budget between $150–185 million.[6][7][9][109] The projected worldwide total the film needed to gross in order to break even was estimated to be around $400 million, and in November 2017 The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film was expected to lose the studio as much as $80 million.[110] Ridley Scott attributed the film's underperformance to the runtime, saying: "It's slow. Long. Too long. I would have taken out half an hour."[111]

In the United States and Canada, the film was initially projected to gross $43–47 million in its opening weekend.[112] In September 2017, a survey from Fandango indicated that the film was one of the most anticipated releases of the season.[112] It made $4 million from Thursday night previews, including $800,000 from IMAX theaters, but just $12.6 million on its first day, lowering weekend estimates to $32 million.[113] It made $11.4 million on Saturday and went on to debut to $31.5 million, well below initial projections but still finishing first at the box office and marking the biggest openings of Villeneuve and Gosling's careers.[113] Regarding the opening weekend, director Villeneuve said, "It's a mystery. All the indexes and marketing tools they were using predicted that it would be a success. The film was acclaimed by critics. So everyone expected the first weekend's results to be impressive, and they were shocked. They still don't understand."[114]

Deadline Hollywood attributed the film's performance to the 163-minute runtime limiting the number of showtimes theaters could have, lack of appeal to mainstream audiences, and the marketing being vague and relying on nostalgia and established fanbase to carry it.[115] In its second weekend, the film dropped 52.7% to $15.5 million, finishing second behind newcomer Happy Death Day ($26 million)[116] and dropped another 54% in its third weekend to $7.2 million, finishing in 4th behind Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, Geostorm and Happy Death Day.[117]

Overseas, it was expected to debut to an additional $60 million, for a worldwide opening of around $100 million.[109] The debut ended up making $50.2 million internationally, finishing number one in 45 markets, for a global opening of $81.7 million. It made $8 million in the United Kingdom, $4.9 million in Russia, $1.8 million in Brazil and $3.6 million in Australia.[118] It debuted in China on October 27, and made $7.7 million in its opening weekend, which was considered a disappointment.[119][120]

Critical responseEdit

 
Roger Deakins' work on the film received critical acclaim and would lead to his first ever Academy Award for Best Cinematography win.

Blade Runner 2049 was well received by the American press, and various US publications included the film in their end-of-2017 lists.[121] Critical reviews compared the sequel favorably to Blade Runner as a worthy successor advancing the franchise mythos,[122][123][124] though some were conflicted over the pacing and tonal shifts of the story,[125][126] and the film drew occasional disapproval from reviewers who felt it lacked the spectacle and dramatic depth of its predecessor.[126][127][128] The film's craftsmanship was the main source of praise from journalists, who routinely singled out Villeneuve for his expertise: The New York Times' A. O. Scott viewed Blade Runner 2049 as an introspection of Villeneuve's own sensibilities, the product of a director exuding an "unnerving calm",[127] while San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle said the film seemed to employ a similar narrative tone to the director's late period films such as Arrival.[129] The Villeneuve–Deakins collaboration was noted for the creation of cinematography displaying "the kind of complex artistry one would expect from the profession's top veteran",[130] with Deakins' work described as "bleakly beautiful".[131] Other aspects of Blade Runner 2049, such as the set design, writing, and scoring, were cited among the strengths of the film.[131][132]

The actors' performances was a principal topic of discussion among critics. Critiques of the dynamic of the cast were positive in the media,[133] and reviewers often distinguished Gosling, Ford, and Wright for further praise.[132][134][135] Gosling's work was described as "superb, soulful",[136] physically convincing as a replicant in his expression and appearance,[134] whereas The Hollywood Reporter and Empire magazine were among those that believed Ford worked a career-best performance.[135][1] Other journalists, such as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, viewed the two men as "double dynamite" in conversational scenes, in which the film assumes "a resonance that is both tragic and hopeful".[136] One particular point of contention in Blade Runner 2049 was characterization: some critics, for example, saw K's romance with Joi as an idea of unrealized potential because the film explores their relationship only superficially, so Joi never seems to develop into a fleshed out character.[137] The harshest reviews criticized the film's depiction of its female characters in submissive roles.[138][139]

The fate of K in the closing scenes of the film has been a matter of debate; some critics have suggested that his demise is open to interpretation, as it is not explicitly stated in the film that K has died.[140] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Michael Green expressed surprise that K's death had been called into question, referring to the use of the "Tears in rain" musical motif in the final scene.[12]

The question of whether Deckard is a human or a replicant has been an ongoing controversy since the original release of Blade Runner.[141] Ridley Scott has stated that Deckard was a replicant,[142] however, others, including Harrison Ford, disagree, and feel preserving the ambiguity of Deckard's status important to the film.[143][144][145] Blade Runner 2049 draws no conclusion to this debate.[146] During various physical struggles, Deckard showed no sign of artificial replicant strength; however, Gaff described Deckard to K as "retired"; and replicant maker Niander Wallace tells Deckard that "You are a wonder to me, Mr. Deckard", and that he might have been "designed" to fall in love with Rachael.[144]

As of October 2020, on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 88% based on 435 reviews, with an average rating of 8.24/10. The website's critical consensus read, "Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right."[147] As of October 2020, Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[148] Critics who saw the film before its release were asked by Villeneuve not to reveal certain characters and plot points.[149] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale,[113] while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 78% overall positive score and a 60% "definite recommend".[116]

Social commentaryEdit

Reviewing the film for Vice, Charlotte Gush was critical of its portrayal of women, whom she said were "either prostitutes, holographic housewives" or victims dying brutal deaths. While acknowledging that "misogyny was part of the dystopia" in Scott's 1982 original, she stated that the sequel was "eye-gougingly sexist".[150] Writing for The Guardian, Anna Smith expressed similar concerns, stating that "sexualised images of women dominate the stunning futuristic cityscapes" and questioned whether the film catered heavily to heterosexual men.[138] Rachael Kaines of Moviepilot countered that "the gender politics in Blade Runner 2049 are intentional": "The movie is about secondary citizens. Replicants. Orphans. Women. Slaves. Just by depicting these secondary citizens in subjugation doesn't mean that it is supportive of these depictions – they are a condemnation."[151] Helen Lewis of the New Statesman suggested that the film is "an uneasy feminist parable about controlling the means of reproduction" and that "its villain, Niander Wallace, is consumed by rage that women can do something he cannot":

Fertility is the perfect theme for the dystopia of Blade Runner 2049, because of the western elite anxiety that over-educated, over-liberated women are having fewer children, or choosing to opt out of childbearing altogether. (One in five women is now childless by the age of 45; the rates are higher among women who have been to university.) Feminism is one potential solution to this problem: removing the barriers which make women feel that motherhood is a closing of doors. Another is to take flight and find another exploitable class to replace human females ... Maybe androids don't dream of electric sheep, but some human men certainly dream of electric wombs.[152]

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Denis Villeneuve responded that he is very sensitive about his portrayal of women: "Blade Runner is not about tomorrow; it's about today. And I'm sorry, but the world is not kind on women."[153][154] Quoting from the Variety magazine breakdown of viewer demographics for the film, Donald Clarke for The Irish Times indicated that female audiences seemed alienated from it; just 8% of its audiences were females under 25.[155] Esquire magazine commented on the controversial aspects of the sex scene — involving K, the holographic Joi and replicant Mariette — calling it a "robo-ménage à trois", and compared it to the sex scene between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in Her (2013).[156]

Mackenzie Davis, who portrayed Mariette, argued for the self-awareness of the film's social commentary in an interview with website Refinery29. Asked how she believed Blade Runner 2049 "differs [from Blade Runner] in its portrayal of women?", Davis responded:

I think it’s pretty self-aware about a pornographic economy that has reduced the roles of women to sheer consumption. The normalisation of women’s roles as things to be consumed, there’s products that are made, just like there are now, the idea of the semi-sentient sex doll is really in line with what’s going on in this Blade Runner universe, about having a thing that fulfills everything you want, but doesn’t talk back and can’t argue with you, but can be a loving supporting companion and also fulfill all your sexual needs feels like something that’s very contemporary and something the movie is very self-aware about. And then I think that there are female roles in different castes of this society that are able to be more embodied and powerful in conventional ways, and also have cracks in their facade where you see their vulnerabilities. But it seems like this world is so dependent on this caste system of humans perform these roles, replicants perform these roles, human superiors, creators, and those are the ways that women sort of travel between. But there isn’t a lot of upward mobility.[157]

AccoladesEdit

Blade Runner 2049 has received numerous awards and nominations. At the 90th Academy Awards, it was nominated for five awards, winning Best Cinematography for Deakins, and Best Visual Effects.[158] At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, it received eight nominations, including Best Director, and won for Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects.[159] At the 23rd Critics' Choice Awards, it was nominated for seven awards, winning for Best Cinematography.[160]

FutureEdit

During the promotional tour for the 2015 film The Martian, Scott expressed interest in making additional Blade Runner films.[161] In October 2017, Villeneuve said that he expected a third film would be made if 2049 was successful.[162] Fancher, who wrote both films, said he was considering reviving an old story idea involving Deckard traveling to another country.[162] Ford said that he would be open to returning if he liked the script.[162] In January 2018, Scott stated that he had "another [story] ready to evolve and be developed, [that] there is certainly one to be done for sure", referring to a third Blade Runner film.[163]

In January 2020, Villeneuve expressed interest in "revisit[ing] this universe in a different way," making "something disconnected from both other movies," as opposed to a direct sequel.[164]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter Michael Green confirmed that K dies as he lies motionless on the steps.[12]

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