Blade Runner 2049: Modern Struggles of a Visual Masterpiece

Greetings from the Ether,

We had announced a review for Blade Runner 2049 a couple days ago, following our review of the original, and after seeing the early showing. Our hesitation was based in the fact that this film needed time to digest. The film was breathtaking, mind-boggling, and possibly one of the most beautiful movies to ever be made. Despite these facets, the scope of 2049 is so vast and encompassing, that a good evaluation could not be made directly after the first viewing. As the film has processed in our brains, we feel we are ready to tackle one of the greatest sequels ever made and a true masterclass artistic piece.

Nevertheless, let’s dive into this dystopia!

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Still from Blade Runner 2049

Following a detective as he investigates the mystery of a missing child, K finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that may not only change his life forever, but also permanently alter the world around him as well.

Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. No questions asked, no arguments worth discussing. Is it a flawed masterpiece? Yes. Just as its predecessor had flaws, this sequel also does. These minute flaws do not overshadow the surreal, brooding tale that is this film. Director Denis Villeneuve parallels the talents of Ridley Scott’s direction of the original. Stacked floor to ceiling with an all star cast, capturing a gloomy, dystopian universe, and once again tackling questions of morality and the human condition, Blade Runner 2049 is just as poignant and important as the original film was, especially in today’s box office climate.

K is brought to life by an outstanding performance from Ryan Gosling. Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard and delivers an emotional take that is little seen from the Hollywood legend. Sylvia Hoeks nails her turn as the chillingly brutal replicant Luv. Jared Leto does a great job as Tyrell heir, Wallace. Dave Bautista only continues his ever-improving acting talents as Sapper Morton, Robin Wright also fantastic as Lieutenant Joshi. Ana de Armas is haunting and beautiful as Joi, delivering an integral piece to the film for the protagonist K.

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Still from Blade Runner 2049

Roger Deakins’ cinematography is visually stunning and immaculate in every sense of the word. Denis Villeneuve’s direction is meticulous and paced at a speed that only builds tension, throttling audiences into the gruesome finale at the end of a long fuse. Each shot of this film feels planned, exacted to perfection, and even destined in a sense. Not a single moment in the film is short of unbelievable. Long pans of desolate cities, overhead angles of the dark, rainy vision of Los Angeles, each setting thoroughly thought out and passionately executed.

Some moments of the film can drag during the nearly three-hour runtime, though they bear little credence to the overall structure and narrative. A few characters weren’t explored enough, though again, it doesn’t affect the overall movie. With the long runtime the crew were afforded, they definitely made the most out of every second.

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Still from Blade Runner 2049

When you see Blade Runner 2049, be prepared for an experience. Not a film. Not a movie. Not pure entertainment. Expect an engaging, philosophical masterwork that delivers all the promises the original held for us. The film is not constant action and explosions, it’s not fast-paced. 2049 is a slow building pressure cooker filled with cinematic wonders that explodes with a deafening climax, presenting a chilling twist to finalize an existential journey.

There are many surprises in Blade Runner 2049, so whatever you do, DO NOT read any spoiler reviews or watch any online. Go to this film with an open mind and as little knowledge as you can. You will not be disappointed.

As you likely read in the title, we are going to discuss the struggles Blade Runner 2049 has been facing in the box office. Originally projected with a $50M opening, 2049 has barely broken the $35M point by the end of the weekend. Yet IMDB has it nestled in their Top 250 Films of All Time, Rotten Tomatoes has it “certified fresh.” Metacritic has an amazing score for it. So why isn’t it grossing as much as expected?

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Still from Blade Runner 2049

There are many answers to this question from many sources. The one we have stuck to the most, is that philosophical and artistic cinema has died in the collective consciousness of general moviegoers.  Without heroes in spandex ripping corny one-liners as they defeat a supervillain, or giant robots created purely from CGI battling their equally computer-generated opponents, most films are doomed to fail. Denis Villeneuve has made nothing but fascinating and expertly directed films, yet the opening weekend of 2049 barely beat his previous box office record with his outstanding sci-fi flick, Arrival.

Blade Runner 2049, like its predecessor, is a film that requires thought and sincere questioning. It is not spoon fed to the audience. It is not non-stop action from start to finish. It seems that when movies like Transformers: The Last Knight can easily make back their budget, but films like 2049 have to rely on Asia to save them from being a financial disaster, we have reached a peak of short attention spans. Audiences often forget that before Star Wars, not many films had a fast pace. They relied on storytelling and visual techniques to convey interest.

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Still from Blade Runner 2049

We find it needless to say that cinema is dying for general audiences, and if a film as spectacular and thought-provoking as Blade Runner 2049 can struggle at the box office, there is no more denying the dumbing down of general theatrical audiences. Hopefully, 2049 will reinvigorate moviegoers into appreciating film again for the storytelling and cinematography. But again, much like its predecessor, it seems this film may be considered a flop at the box office, regardless of the quality and sheer scope of the film.

We highly encourage you all to see Blade Runner 2049. Don’t watch any form of reviews with spoilers and be prepared mentally to leap into another universe. 2049 is not just one of the greatest sequels ever made, it is also a soon-to-be classic in Science Fiction.

Who ever said lightning didn’t strike twice in the same place?


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4 thoughts on “Blade Runner 2049: Modern Struggles of a Visual Masterpiece

  1. Some people just don’t care for films that make you think. (Though in fairness the length could be a deterrent too. I remember when most films were only about an hour long, which allowed the theaters to show double features, but with a natural break between them so, for the occasional “epic,” at least on a first run, there’d usually be an intermission about half way through. So in a way it’s a tribute that most films nowadays run from about 90 minutes to almost two hours.)


  2. So I just looked up 1956’s The Ten Commandments and see its run time was 3 hours and 40 minutes — so you really needed an intermission. But back then you could get away with it with Biblical subjects.


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