Film Theory

Why Did You Have to Ruin “Blade Runner” for This Generation?

By August 9, 2018 No Comments
Blade Runner 2049 Poster

I came, I saw, I reviewed. This long-anticipated film represents a milestone for me, as the original “Blade Runner” was the single film responsible for my foray into a filmmaking career – the first film I had ever seen that could create powerful emotions through the nonverbal “dialogue” of light and shadow and mood and tone and music and silence. It still stands as a remarkable cinematic achievement; every frame remains beautiful still. Do you want to know what I think of the reboot? Well, well…in the style of Denis Villeneuve, I will hold off and take this opportunity to build suspense…ENDLESS SUSPENSE!

Roger Deakins was a godsend for this film. Although it really is a completely different movie from the original, it can hold its own visually. The colour palette is all over the place, but the craft is visible. I really love much of the look, but there are moments where the lack of colour contrast is unpalatable. Specifically, where the original would have a blue image littered with orange specks to provide depth, this version blandly applies global grading to the image (like in this example):

There are times when the film tries to echo back to the style and certain lighting effects of the older film – like when they use the shimmering caustics effect that Ridley Scott had been challenged on. Without an obvious source like water to produce the caustics, it seemed out of place – or so the gaffers and cinematographer argued. Scott stood his ground, and it’s one of the more memorable scenes; audiences didn’t need to see the source, but the feeling was important. However, they reeeeeeeeally overdo the throwback, along with a couple hilarious attempts.

Back in 1972, Bruce Lee started to make a film called “Game of Death,” starring his students Dan Inosanto and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as several other gung fu geniuses like Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Lee halted the filming when the opportunity arose to shoot an American-Hong Kong co-produced blockbuster called “Enter the Dragon.” He would never complete “Game of Death,” suffering fatally from cerebral edema at the age of 32. The 11 minutes and 7 seconds of footage from the production of “Game of Death” was later repurposed to make a complete film, with Bruce Lee being replaced by several actors – including Billy Lo and Kim Tai-jong. To sell the illusion of Lee appearing in more of the film than he really did, they included his ACTUAL funeral procession, along with ridiculous-looking stand-ins and cardboard cutouts taped to a mirror as actor Kim Tai-jong positioned his body not-so-perfectly in place. It’s laughable, painfully bad – and irreverent. …Ahem, when Rachel from the original “Blade Runner” makes an appearance, the CG face-swap is at least this bad and unnecessary – albeit with greater technological execution. You didn’t think I was going to come back around, did you?

There were things I loved about this movie, despite thinking that you could EASILY chop off 45+ minutes and make HUGE improvements in the pacing. A slow movie makes not a poetic one…. And you know me…I looooooooooove slow-ass boring shit. I once got fully erect throughout an entire film that was just a single, 94-minute take – no cuts. Rock. Fucking. Hard. At the hands of a capable director, this film could’ve been a new step in the evolution of the sci-fi genre. Buuuuuuuuuuut totally fucking hated it with every ounce of my being. When they showed some shots from the original (they chose the least attractive ones in the hopes it wouldn’t diminish their own photography), it reminded me of how beautiful the original is – and how much I wished I’d been watching that instead. And although I can understandably guess at some of the reasoning, the choice to go with spherical lenses for the sequel left me miffed.

I can’t even hold back as much as Villeneuve would. There is so much in this movie that doesn’t make any fucking sense! And not the kind of “I like Christopher Nolan and think his obscure references are just smart” kind of way. Fuck me, I was WISHING for that kind of pedantry. I swear half of the film was unnecessary and most of the characters were expendable – even if we just assumed their SOLE FUNCTION was for exposition. Didn’t need them. The cop boss? Get rid of her. The weird holographic love interest? What the fuck…why? Abort her. Ryan Goslings character? …Eh, maybe. Jared Leto? Abso-fucking-lutely!!! His acting wasn’t bad, but he was the very definition of superfluous.

And what’s up with their stupid, baiting dialogue that simply reverses halfway through their laBORious soliloquies? “You love pain because it reminds you of being alive. You’ve never felt pain.” Shoot me in the face. I don’t care, I’ll have a closed casket. Seriously, just end this misery.

I found myself gritting my teeth through every predictable, painfully slow scene. Villeneuve is like this guy that thinks his stories are super interesting, but you already know how they’re going to turn out, but he won’t let you leave…he just keeps talking like this is the first time you’ve ever experienced a twist of fate.

“And so then I’m like, make sure these gifts are labelled right because it would be a DISASTER if they were switched, you know? Like, you know? And guess what! Oh my God, you’re never going to believe-“ “They were swi-“ “You’re like never going to believe it. So I go to the party, and they’re all lining up to do the gift exchange. And I see my boxes-“ “They were switched, right?” “Hang on. They line up all the presents and Sherry takes hers and Keegan takes his and, like, oh my Gawwwwwwd, they each open their presents and guess what!” “They were switched?” “They were SWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCHED!!! Hahahahahahaha! It was the FUNNIEST THING EVAR!!!”

Just fast-forward the story, you flaccid fucking dick-wrangler! JESUS!

I think it’s worth going if you actually leave at minute 35. If you stay longer, you’ll be pulling your hair out. The sad part is that they have all of the good stuff in the can, and could really make something fantastic if a capable editor/director duo managed it. Cutting out all the useless inserts of photos and objects and bullshit would shave at least 20 minutes; nixing the rest of the shitty, pointless “subplots” (more like wastes of my fucking time, amirite?) would add another 45 minutes or so. This goddamned crap-stand is nearly 3 hours, people…for a synopsis, the entirety of which, I could pantomime in an hour. If this piece played at 90 minutes, I think you’d have an award-winner. And that’s the real tragedy here: getting so close to creating an excellent piece of cinema, only to have it ruined by a hack, egotistical, shit director who resembles a knitted scarf more than he does a man.