Warning: Spoilers (River Song voice)
Yesterday I saw Blade Runner 2049 with my Dad. He bought a senior ticket, one and a half quid off. Apparently there are benefits to being sixty. We went to an IMAX screening and its aim of being an EXPERIENCE are wholeheartedly achieved. Finally, a cinema EXPERIENCE that lives up to hype, unlike others. Not naming names. (Vomit, 3-D). You felt everything, the heat, the explosions and Ryan Gosling’s eyes looking right through you.
Oh, and it was a great film. More than great. A sequel to the still brilliant 1982 cult classic that lived up to and exceeded my non-existent expectations. Like Trainspotting 2 and Twin Peaks: The Return, this was yet another drop off from the Nostalgia Train that didn’t disappoint.
The plot takes us deeper into the mythology of the replicants and asks philosophical questions about humanity and the world around us. Not in an arty way, thank god. One criticism off viewers is its slow pace. Only from the mouths of fools can this be applied; at two and three quarter hours long, I was never bored. Not once. Compared to the epically sluggish Avatar (which is still three hours and seven pounds fifty I’ve yet to reclaim) this had purpose.
Finally we’ve been treated to an intelligent blockbuster that balances action and plot. Not equally, I would say its forty percent shootouts and car chases, and sixty percent people talking and, you know, actually developing an intriguing story. The talking is never intentionally ponderous, scenes play out at a natural pace, never rushing to the end and delivering a satisfying conclusion that leaves you with something to think about.
Ryan Gosling, (the only fair haired man in the world who can get away with a stubble,) tap dances from the world of La La Land, and slaps himself a hundred times in the face to fit into this moody world, playing Joe, a replicant finding human emotion. And we’re so entranced by him, we forget about Harrison Ford, who only appears as Phillip Deckard in the last hour of the film!
The direction is incredible with colours and textures that really stand out and provide noir film tributes that devoted film buffs can easily recognise and the more casual viewer can simply appreciate as a mesmerising spectacle.
Critics agree it’s one of the best sequels ever made. But why has it failed to click with audiences? I don’t want to take the snobbish approach and say it’s too intelligent for the average viewer. Which it is. Or that you need to concentrate. Which you do. Or that it has more to it than the brainless Superhero flicks that bombard the industry and shield any creative originality. Urgh, well yeah it does.
Simply, it’s a film that mainstream audiences didn’t want. It is not Star Wars or Marvel. The original film bombed and developed a ‘cult following.’ But does that mean there’s a genuine audience for something? No. As my Dad pointed out, we weren’t the only Father and Son’s at the screening. The Sons were about his age. And for new generations who like the original, doesn’t mean they want, or will pay the extortionate ticket price for a sequel.
So like its predecessor it will be a box office failure turned cult classic. Which is what it should be. Failure to recuperate a profit is only an immediate problem, cult films last forever. It will be the subject of academic and film student’s thesis and dissertations. Internet geeks will scrutinise and drawl at the mouth over.
I can’t answer say whether Androids Eat Electric Sheep, but I can say Blade Runner 2049 is worth seeing. Not just on IMAX.