Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Cataline Critique: Blade Runner 2049

Basically it's Blade Runner...

...without this guy.

Which pretty much says it all.

Okay, standard rules for a critique.  This is a discussion not a review, so if you need a spoiler alert. This is it.

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This one is more boring than the original and that's saying something.

Here is the plot in a nutshell.  The new Blade Runner, K,  is a replicant.  That one is explicitly shown in the first few moments of the movie when he hunts down kills another replicant.  The limited lifespan subplot appears to have been lifted (I should point out that I kept nodding off during this movie so if that was still in play and I missed it.  I apologize).  Replicants are now given fake, implanted memories of a childhood.  Presumably so that the personality that develops from that childhood is useful to the profession that the replicant will be assigned to.

K's childhood memories are of a brutal upbringing in some illegal wasteland orphanage.

After killing off the Drax replicant, K finds the remains of a female replicant. Which we discover was Rachael from the first movie.  She apparently died in child birth.  The date of her death is inscribed on a makeshift burial marker.  The date of Rachael's death is also featured in a vivid memory that K had always assumed was simply implanted in his mind.  Its carved on to the bottom of a toy horse that K buried in an abandoned coke oven (I think) when he was a wee urchin being chased by other urchins.  This was supposed to be a fake memory but then he finds the horse right where he remembered leaving it.

K is now left wondering if his memories are in fact real and his own.

This actually is in keeping with the works of Phillip K. Dick. Being a guy who was really into the Sixties, Dick was frequently at a loss for an answer to the question, 'who am I?'  As well as, 'is what I am seeing, real?'

So it's fitting that the screenwriters incorporated the theme into a sequel that Phillip K. Dick had pretty much nothing to do with.  Hats off to Fancher and Green.

Anyway, the first question of Rachael's baby was, did the child live?  K is sent out to find the child and retire him/her.  K is clearly under the impression that he is the child of Rachael.

Incidently, K's girlfriend is Cortana from Halo.  Apparently they are in robo-love, which isn't so much forbidden as it is just kind of sad and a little beneath him.

Honestly, Cortana did nothing to move the story forward and when she died I really didn't care.  Also it was pretty fucking silly.  This plot line hails from an age where cloud storage didn't exist.  I mean if your hologram girl means that much to you, back her up for fuck's sake.

Anyway, if Rachael is the mom, then you know who the Dad was.

Nothing personal kid.
But things didn't work out so well with my last movie-son.

Anyway, Blind Space-Jesus who now runs the Tyrell Corporation sends out his evil girl replicant to find Deckard and hopefully locate the child.  He apparently wants replicants to procreate the old fashioned way, which is a little silly since they have a more efficient way of doing that already.  

This whole sub-plot weakened the entire story. Up until that point the premise was Man versus Himself.  When evil girl replicant showed up in Vegas and captured Deckard, the premise switched to Man versus Man.

The other problem I had was that K was simply and obviously, a red herring.  When you recognize a red herring as such, you immediately begin scanning for a more likely suspect.  If you are only provided with one possible character as a suspect, (in this case, simply due to the age Rachael's child has to be as an adult), the mystery and surprise elements fail.  I had this one figured out at the halfway point and I doubt if I was the only one.

That's really all I'm going to say about the plot.

So do I recommend it?  

The surprising answer is, yes...

...Provided you have fond memories of the original.  Which I do.  

Blade Runner for me is a reminder of my college days.  College being the reward I got for having survived high school.   It is part of the background of my memory of those years.  Classes, girls with skin tight jeans, shitty part time jobs, Ronald Reagan being a totally awesome president, all night D&D sessions with my friends with Dominoes Death Disks being to delivered to my door and watching pirated videos of what few science fiction  films were available.

How could I not love it?

But if you didn't like or see the original then there is little here for you.

Scott's visuals remain the strongest thing in the film.  Although the sound track gives them a run for their money.  

Bottomline: if you liked the original, this is a decent but boring call back.  Sure it's pretty flawed but then so was original. 


Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

I have fond memories of the original, untampered with Blade Runner. And I see that you do recommend this but...nothing you described really makes me want to watch it. Especially since Rutger Hauer isn’t in this one. That guy is awesome.

I’ll stick with the Reginald and then go watch Soldier with Kurt Russell. It was meant to be in the same ‘universe’ anyway, if I remember correctly.

Mr. Bee said...

"Soldier"!- heh. I liked it but it got panned and that was hardly a surprise. It's a GI Joe comic book of a movie except with less nuance. Kurt Russell's acting in it was, shall we say, "unique" but still elicited a lot of sympathy for the character. The points were driven home with a pile driver - but when it validates some viewpoints I hold, well that's okay just this once.

Chris Lutz said...

I thought Russell being someone who had lost much of his humanity due to his training was pretty good. Finn should have been more like that in TFA instead of the black, comedic sidekick.

Blade Runner 2049 was really machines doing machine things. There were what, three main human characters? The nihilism was oppressive. I'm always rooting for humanity.