Blade Runner 2049– It’s Beautiful But Is It More Than Just Neon & Smog?

Making its debut in 1982, Blade Runner arguably pioneered the cyberpunk subgenre in both aesthetics and thematics. Although adapted from the sci-fi classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the film itself would become its own icon. Establishing, in hindsight, the pinnacle look and feel we’ve all come to love and associate with the ‘80s.

The full official trailer for Blade Runner 2049 dropped, and it is downright stunning. Not only does it continue the neo-noir, techno atmosphere of its predecessor in both sight and sound, but evolved it.

However the Ryan Gosling helmed sequel, nearly three decades later, may look like Blade Runner, it may sound like it too, hell it may even have its original star, but can director Denis Villeneuve tell us a story like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner?

Right away, the trailer makes it a point to establish that 2049 is set in a fully immersive world building off the timeline of the original. This is particularly relieving since much of the sequel/nostalgia wave that is currently flooding Hollywood has been following an obnoxious trend of what can be called “millennial-izing” everything; inserting copyright safe knockoffs of iPhones and Snapchat to really make films “relevant.”

Scott’s Blade Runner was set in the year 2019, with the speculation and sensibilities of the 1982. No giant Apple or Facebook logos here, but a big ol’ Atari sign, and just a hint of Cold War, Soviet propaganda.

But this is not without a suggestion of progression either. What’s so striking about this trailer is the ability to really go out with the FX developed between 1982 and today, it really gives the world of Blade Runner an organic feel of progression, but still maintain its gritty charm without too much gloss.

Here we got a good clash of the old and the new, classic cop car from the year 2019, and Officer K’s (Ryan Gosling) new whip.

So Villanueve stuck the landing in terms of style, but there’s one thing that has me concerned, and that is what may potentially be an excessive “spelling out” of the movie’s plot and what could be the definitive answer to the age old question around Blade Runner: Is Rick Deckard a replicant?

In Philip K. Dick’s novel, one of the heaviest underlying themes was class disparity. We didn’t see too much of that in Scott’s original film, although it is heavily implied replicants (androids) are second class citizens, if not slaves. In this new trailer, it’s right in our faces.

“There is an order to things. That’s what we do here. We keep order. The world is built on a wall that separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you bought a war.”

There does appear to be a spin on the dystopian trope. As the line separating man and “machine” increasingly blurs, we have to question whether the wall Robin Wright’s character speaks of even matters anymore.

This theme is even more poignant as the eerily, organic manufacturing process of replicants is revealed.

“Every civilization was built off the back of a disposable workhorse. But I can only make so many.”

Hey, it’s Batou..ahem sorry wrong cyberpunk franchise…I mean Jared Leto, as potentially the heir to the Tyrell Corporation.

But what really starts hitting the nail on the head is the juxtaposition of shots between Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Officer K (Gosling), and their uncanny physical resemblance.

This paired with what will most likely be the big reveal at the end that has Gosling on the verge of tears.

It’s safe to theorize Officer K might be a copy of Deckard, and may come from a long line of Deckards. The book he is looking down at could possibly be a recording of his implanted memories

Unless this trailer is cut to throw off long time fans, it is certainly following a trend of spoon feeding. This is not such a huge concern as Scott’s original film (especially the director’s cut) and Dick’s novel, it’s pretty certain Rick Deckard is some sort of specialized replicant, and that his memories are all implants just like Tyrell’s assistant and Deckard’s love interest Rachel (Sean Young).

However there’s still a load of unanswered questions, like who are all these shiny, new characters?

Could these be rogue replicants in Officer K’s sights?

Hey it’s Drax/Dave Bautista! Is he friend or foe?

Yeah friends don’t throw friends through drywall. I’m gonna go with foe.

One thing’s for certain, Blade Runner 2049 will be stunning and a visual love letter to fans. Yeah the trailer’s plot might just be a little too on the nose, but hey, it’s been nearly 30 years, and this may be a ploy to pull in a new generation into a classic piece of sci-fi cinema and sub genre.

So dust off your leather trench coats and know what the difference between a tortoise and turtle is because Blade Runner 2049 is just around the corner for an October 6th release.

Alisha Weinberger is a comic book, video game, and animation enthusiast and critic. Along with comic reviews, she also maintains The Pop Break twitter feed. Alisha thoroughly enjoys the warm embrace of coffee, says "dawg" and "dope" ad nauseam, and shares a reluctant resemblance to Tina Belcher.

1 COMMENT

  1. “although it is heavily implied replicants (androids) are second class citizens, if not slaves”.
    In the original movie, the scrolling text intro tells us quite clearly that the replicants ARE slaves – intended for use in dangerous environments “in the exploration and colonization of other planets”. That, for me is critical in the interpretation of the movie. It’s Cyber-Sparticus.

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