Either if you like science fiction or not, there are a few titles that every movie fan knows. Blade Runner (1982) is, undoubtedly, one of those titles. You can try and make a test, if you want. Pick a young family member, one of those relatives you don’t know much, so your influence on them wouldn’t be a factor. And don’t cheat picking a too young one, alright? The family member should be at least in its teens. And then, the question: “What is a replicant?”. Okay, the answer might not be the most accurate one if the person is not a fan. Maybe they say a wrong answer like “Harrison Ford is a replicant” (are we totally sure that is a wrong answer?). But that is the main point, they know Blade Runner exists.
Okay, if you find the case that they don’t even know who Harrison Ford is, just give up. Give up because that person knows nothing about movies. Someone who doesn’t know who Han Solo or Indiana Jones is is a person not worth to talk to.
But then, if Blade Runner (1982) is such an important piece in the world wide cinema universe, how comes the expectation for this new installment is not as high as the big name might deserve? I think there are basically 2 big factors for that. First of all, the original film is strongly stuck to the past. The fact that a futuristic universe like the one depicted in the first Blade Runner is set in 2019, less than 3 years ahead from now, make the whole package to look, in just one word, old. Where are the flying cars? Where are the human-like androids? Somehow we should be glad our world is not as fucked up and decadent like the scenario of 1982’s Blade Runner, luckily we don’t suffer from acid rain and a total lack of humanity. Or at least not in a so much evident way as is done in the film. But that only makes this fictitious future to look old and out of date. It happened with Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and more recently also happened with Back to the Future Part II (1989). That was kind of funny. “Where are the flying skate boards?” the internet said. And then some smart businessman made water Hoverboard (aka flyboard) and that was the sensation of 2015’s summer. But well, that’s another story, maybe some other day.
The second factor about why the world is not anxious waiting for this new Blade Runner installment is probably just that… who needs a new installment? The comment of how Hollywood is totally out of ideas is been around every conversation or blog page related to movies for the last decade. The theatres are packed with remakes or sequels nobody needs, because they don’t bring anything new to the principal story. Okay, in a lucrative or audience level they are still profitable, otherwise the studios wouldn’t invest those big fortunes in produce and promote them. But are those new films needed? Until when will the audience accept the same old porridge over and over again? Will the masses ever get tired of hollow versions of the same old characters that have been around for decades? The 1980s and 1990s movie universe have been pillaged, and the results are very rarely worth. And also, do you remember that magic thing that was “the movie of the year”? When both kids and adults were expecting for over a year that one movie to be out in the theatres. You had marked in the calendar months ahead the day you were going to go and watch certain movie. The thrill to finally see that film that was going to change your world, like Superman (1978), Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). I think the last time something vaguely like that happened was with Spider-Man (2002). Since then, we are numb to new big time releases. The kid inside of us waiting for a film like it’s christmas day has died. The big movie studios killed it, but it’s we the audience who allowed that.
So… do we really need a new Blade Runner movie? Let’s talk about it a little more and then we decide.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)
Yes, that is the final title the Blade Runner (1982) sequel has. After so many discussions and rumours about the title, when the new project was presented a couple of months ago, the name was finally made public. No more calling it “Blade Runner 2”, “The new Blade Runner”, “Will Harrison Ford be in the new Blade Runner?” or “Blade Runner again?”; the name is out and it is BLADE RUNNER 2049. At least that gives us a hint of when this new installment is placed in time. If the events of the first one happened in 2019, this ones happens 30 years afterwards.
The plot is kept in secret by the producers and the crew, but there are rumours that it might go in this direction: The meeting between Rick Deckard (played again by Harrison Ford) and a woman who claims to be Eldon Tyrell’s niece. Remember Dr. Eldon Tyrell from Tyrell Corporation, was the mastermind behind the development of the “replicants”. Those androids that looked like normal people and were a menace in the quest of who are to be to control of who. From this startpoint, and with the information given about Dr. Tyrell’s creations, Deckard and his partner Dave Holden (Ryan Gosling taking the reigns as the main face of a possible new franchise) will have enough material to start a new investigation. So Rick Deckard can reprise what has been his main obsession in all his career: being a Blade Runner in the hunt of replicants.
As mentioned, there is not much more information about what this new installment is about, what is its plots and intrigues. We only have a handful of rumours, an attractive cast and a direction with lots of potential.
When the name of the new Blade Runner film was made public, we also knew who was going to be in charge of its development. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)’s director is canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. Perhaps this name doesn’t ring any bell by itself, but if you are a movie fan you might have seen some of his works. Despite his relatively young age, Denis Villeneuve already had a wide career and experience when his film Enemy (2013) became an instant classic in the independent film circuit. The film won several awards, specially in his homeland of Canada, and opened the doors for Villeneuve to jump into the league of notorious filmmakers.
Then is when his next work Sicario (2015) turned as one of last year’s more successful films. Leaded by popular faces like Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, Sicario is a sweaty dusty thriller that makes us be part of the fight between the U.S. government against the mexican drug cartels. A mix of bureaucracy, sense of loyalty, the urge to survive in a hell created by humans, the conflict of idealism versus reality, but also lots of cliches.
And perhaps it is a coincidence or not, but Denis Villeneuve’s latest movie is a science-fiction mystery drama. We are talking about Arrival (2016), yet to be released in commercial theatres by the time this article is written but one of the biggest titles of the year in many film festivals around the world. A thriller about alien and human communications, just to warm up motors for when he has to deal between humans and androids. Undoubtedly a natural step forward for this filmmaker in his solid career. Maybe the kind of warranty the audience and internet world needs to keep the pessimistic lines away from this new Blade Runner project. Scepticism is served, ladies and gentleman.
Although most of the cast is revealed (you can check it out by yourself visiting the film’s IMDB.com profile), not much we can say about it. Basically because the plot is still a mystery, so we just have no idea who is who. But so far there are 2 characters that has been made public. The first one is the most evident one. Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard. No need to say if the character was to be back, only one actor was able to be in his skin. A younger version of Agent Deckard, something very popular to do nowadays in these sequels or remakes, would have been a grave insult to the fans and the Blade Runner universe. We shouldn’t forget Harrison Ford is over his 70 years of age, and although he is still in a great shape there has to be a day when his body won’t be able to go on with the frantic activity needed to play these kinds of roles. Star Wars already put an end to Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) and Shia LaBeouf had an attempt as his fictitious son to take over his iconic character in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). So it makes sense that if the producers want to spoil us with a long Blade Runner franchise they need a character who could carry on with the adventures once Rick Deckard vanishes. And that character seems to be Dave Holden in the form of Ryan Goslin.
Of course this is only a guess since the plot is still unrevealed and we only feed off of rumours. But the second big name in the cast list for Blade Runner 2049 is Ryan Goslin. Another young actor and fellow canadian of director Denis Villeneuve who has build a solid and respectful career along the last years. Probably better known for the big audience for his roles in Nicolas Winding Refn films Drive (2011) and Only God Forgives (2013), Gosling didn’t ruffle any feathers when was announced to be the sidekick for Harrison Ford and possible star of future installations for Blade Runner. I guess that is a pretty good sign, we all know the internet can be a dangerous place and the fans are a little non-responsive when comes to touch their favorite classics. Just ask Ben Affleck about his new Batman. But Ryan Goslin, with his calm presence and contrasted acting skills seems to have the blessing of biggest and most cruel judges in the movies world: the fans.
Along those 2 names, we have announced other actors in still unknown roles. Names like Jared Leto, Ana de Armas and Robin Wright, among others, will be the ones in charge to be around the adventures of the Blade Runners against the replicants menacing the peace and equilibrium in this futuristic society. Because the plot will be about the replicants, won’t it? Well, if it’s Blade Runner there has to be replicants, people will say. I think so too, but we will have to wait to see what cards are in this game.
It is not fair not to have mentioned the name of Ridley Scott in this article yet. What? You don’t know who Ridley Scott is? Okay, this mister is the one behind 2 of the most important science fiction movies of the last half century. He set the bases for both science fiction and horror genres. Besides being the man behind the original Blade Runner (1982) he also did Alien (1979). Now, probably you heard about this one, right?
It is true that Ridley Scott is as loved as he’s hated. Many people claim he just has no idea about making a good movie, that he was just lucky or got the right people around to cover up his lacks of talent. And somehow that is an easy theory to believe, you just have to take a look at his filmography. But one thing is for sure, maybe you can question the quality of his work, but you can never question the impact these productions have had in our collective film memory. Ridley Scott was also behind titles like Legend (1985), Thelma & Louise (1991) or Gladiator (2000); films that probably didn’t invent anything but they belong to the top lists of each one of their decades. And you can call him a crazy suicidal man, but he also brought to our theatres the epic controversial (and unacurated) version of the discovery of America with 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992).
But both his followers and his detractors have some points in common: there are 2 titles in Ridley Scott’s filmography that are just sublime, untouchable and fundamental to understand the genres of horror and science-fiction: the 2 mentioned before Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979).
Call it the weight of time, lack of ideas or just the need to give a continuity to these 2 legendary films, the time block of 30 years made Ridley Scott to have the need to sully his own classics. Deep inside the 21st Century nobody expects any epic from Ridley Scott. He wants to bring some new ideas in the genres he brought so much in the past? Okay, no problem, just deliver products of entertainment like The Martian (2015). But when he gets his hands on the classics, the danger alarms go off. It happened when he tried to give fresh air to the Alien universe with the childish and lame approach of Prometheus (2012), and seems like now it’s the turn of his other masterpiece. And that is the fear all the science fiction lovers have at this moment. Will Blade Runner 2049 be another disaster like Prometheus?
Blade Runner (1982) vs Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
One of the few, if not the only hope, we have for Blade Runner 2049 not to be another Ridley Scott fiasco is that Scott is not behind the cameras. As said before, a young(ish) and booming in success and quality filmmaker like Denis Villeneuve seems to have the last word in this new installation. What else?
This sequel, as the original one, is also based on the Philip K. Dick characters and plots from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, published in 1968. This time, the source story by Ridley Scott is dramatized in the text by screen writers Hampton Fancher (who also wrote the script from the original Blade Runner) and Michael Green (the one behind the text from Alien: Covenant (2017), the sequel of Prometheus (2012)). So we see everything remains in the universe of Ridley Scott, for good or for bad.
The cast of Blade Runner (1982) was a mix between already recognizable faces (Harrison Ford himself was already a big star specially thanks to the success of Star Wars and Indiana Jones) but also had a handful of actors unknown for the general public. Some of them have been having a rich career after being replicants like Rutger Hauer or Daryl Hannah, although some others like Sean Young never managed to get rid of the shadow of this science fiction adventure. What will happen with the new faces in the Blade Runner universe? Will they get stuck to their characters? Will they die of success? Or will this one represent the beginning for new successful careers?
And finally, the music. In a movie like Blade Runner, music is like any other character. In the original film from 1982, the delicious soundtrack by Vangelis became a referent in science fiction and also in progressive classical electronic rock. This time, the man with the mission of putting music in the adventures of the Blade Runners is islandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who also worked in the soundtracks of the previous films from director Denis Villeneuve Sicario and Arrival and publicly claimed that his main inspiration for this new sound collection was the original score by Vangelis. Sounds good so far, right?
Cinema is all we want.
At this point, almost one year before the release date of Blade Runner 2049, it’s hard to know what to expect. At least, for me, a huge fan of science fiction, although not a big devote of the original Blade Runner, my primal thoughts are skeptic and prudent. I know one thing for sure, and it’s that Blade Runner 2049 will be a mandatory movie to watch, no matter I like it or not. Why? Simple, because it will instantly become part of history. And history, together with us the audience, is what will judge if this new installment was a blessing or a bad bad idea.
In the meanwhile, all I can do is to recommend everybody to rewatch Blade Runner (1982). Watch also Alien (1979), and as many other movies as possible. Enjoy cinema, enjoy the stories, the images and the sounds. And then, see you in the theatres at the beginning of October next year. Because then, after leaving the cinema having watched Blade Runner 2049 is when we will be able to judge. Now the movie is theirs, they are filming it. But once it’s out, it will be ours. Thats the magic of cinema, and we love it.
And now, finally, the long awaited trailer teaser for Blade Runner 2049: