A Towering Visual Spectacle
Blade Runner 2049 (2017): A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years.
Ok, first off, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. It's not doing all that well at the box office and that is a HUGE SHAME because this movie is a visual masterpiece! You don't need to have seen the original Blade Runner to follow along here. I can speak with personal experience on that one, because that's exactly what I did. But.....look at that picture! Doesn't that shot just look stunning? The film looks like that basically the entire movie! So stop reading this review and GO SEE IT. NOW.
Ok, now that you're back, let's talk about Blade Runner 2049. First off, the good! As I may have mentioned, the calling card of this film is the cinematography. Master sci-fi director Denis Villeneuve brings one of the greatest cinematographers ever into the fold in Roger Deakins to film this movie, and this may be his best work yet. From the lush colors to the incredible wideshots, there is not a single ugly shot in this entire film. And while the film has these unforgettable wide shots, it makes sure to knock the intimate close ups out of the park too. Seriously.... you could watch this movie with no sound on whatsoever and still be entertained. I feel confident when I say this film will be a favorite to win Best Cinematography at the Oscars, because it is one of the best visual works I have seen in a long while. (At least since 2015's The Revenant) But that's not the only thing this film has going for it, because if you turn the sound off you will miss out on the other great thing here: the score. This film's score definitely follows up the original's iconic score, as (once again....the dude is on fire this year between this and Dunkirk) Hans Zimmer creates a dark and eerie soundtrack that somehow rides the line between sounding similar to the original, while not being just a carbon copy of it. Simply incredible. No doubt Zimmer is on the top of his game right now, and he's making a strong case for winning his first ever Academy Award this year as well.
But that's not all. In addition to the cinematography and score, this film features an incredible set design and great costumes. I mean, look at that picture I used! It's beautiful! There are some scenes that take place in a Vegas casino, and the set design of those scenes is pretty amazing as well. Ironically, the blandest costume in the entire film is worn by Harrison Ford, but that was certainly intentional. Speaking of Ford, the acting is also fantastic. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are great, and Ana de Armas plays her role well too. Sylvia Hoeks is a newcommer for me, but her performance was excellent as Wallace's right hand replicant. She's definitely a bona fide badass, and I look forward to seeing what she does next. Jared Leto is the screen hogging to the max (as usual) and I can't help but love it, though I think his performance will become somewhat dated as time goes on. OH! And Barkhad Abdi is in this!!!! We finally get an appearance from this great Somalian actor! Woot woot! Buuuuut he did not tell Gosling or Ford that he was the captain of this film now, so I was a little disappointed by that. But seriously, Hollywood: get this guy more work! He's great!
I do have a few faults, though. By far my biggest issue with this film is with Arma de Armas's character. She's basically Gosling's projection girlfriend, but she has a really sloppy and shallow character arc that is "resolved" in a very mute and messy way. It's the focal point of some backlash against the film, and I can kind of see why. As great as Armas portrays the character as this childish and somewhat naive projection that matures throughout the film, the movie itself could not care less about her and her existence. Sadly she's just there to be sexy, but thanks to the talent of Armas she makes it a bit more than that. However it's still easily the weakest point of the film. Really, that's the only major complaint I have with this movie. I wish they had shown us some off-world colonies, but wishing for more film is hardly a gripe to have. Oh! Here's something else: the final climatic battle scene was kind of poorly shot compared to the rest of the film and was a little too chaotic, but given the beauty of virtually everything before it I'm more than willing to forgive that. That sequence is shot at night and I understand why, but I still kind of wish it had just been shot during the day so we could see everything. Ultimately, Denis Villeneuve leads a talented group and creates a gripping and immersive sci-fi drama that falls just short of perfection thanks to some shortcomings in the character arcs. However this film is MORE than worthy of your time and money, and is certainly worth going to the theater to see just to stare at its beauty and listen to the score. Make the time to see this one.
The Critique: A marvelous visual spectacle, Blade Runner 2049 is more than worthy of your time and is headlined by incredible cinematography and a fantastic score.
The Recommendation: You guessed it: an absolute must-see for everyone. There's more than enough to like here for all.
The Verdict: 9/10 Amazing
Oscar Talk: I think this film will get an easy nomination for cinematography, and it may very well earn Zimmer a nomination for the score as well. (Though the Academy may go for the more commercially successful film of his and give him a nod for Dunkirk) I could see costumes and production design, but this film may be coming out too early for that. We'll see!
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