Spoiler free quick analysis review without any discussion of plot by a diehard BR enthusiast. Fuller analysis will be composed soon.
2 stars out of 4.
2049 is everything the original Blade Runner was labeled as being in 1982. With vast resources and a bloated running time this film manages to have not one iota of the original’s staying power that had neither the resources, budget nor over elongated runtime. In many ways it feels like an over hyped graphic novel devoid of a truly motivating story.
The key issue is that you really miss the original creative team that made Blade Runner what it was. Gone are Michael Deeley pushing for stronger narrative focus, gone is the tougher voice of writer David Peoples, and despite Denis Villeneuve doing a good job gone is Ridley Scott’s mind behind the camera which really propelled the original forward to such a degree that no one could ever replicate it.
The environment is on a vast scale but is actually LESS detailed and interesting than the original. The story is slipshod that at times it feels almost nonexistent built out of several elements originally intended to be in the original film and this is compounded by making many of the same moves as the original structure overall.
Mostly I am reminded of 2010 (1984) in that this is an unnecessary sequel without the original production team to quite probably the greatest science fiction film ever made that is convinced it is saying something important. (Yes, I consider Blade Runner to be tied with 2001 and Star Wars (1977, unaltered) as the greatest of all sci-fi. It is one of the greatest films ever made you know.) Yet with 2010 they actually told a story relatively well; and the same can be said for The Two Jakes (1990) being at least competent and decent even in comparison to Chinatown. Both of those sequels can be ignored or enjoyed occasionally for their good points.
On a modern note, while I was quite dismayed at the empty shell that was Mad Max: Fury Road in comparison to the original Mad Max trilogy, 2049 makes that comparison look pitiful. The production design of 2049 is…okay. What detail you actually get to see is interesting but overall there isn’t very much other than many open and rather barren locales. Many things take place indoors which recalls the original film’s planning as a low budget interior film before Ridley Scott came on board. The film has a number of truly good moments, but these are more side quests than anything else. They would make for a great low budget shorter feature that really probed their particular issues because in 2049 they only serve to elongate an already overstuffed picture that can only dump them in the waste piles unfulfilled.
Then there’s the score or I should say lack of a score. For something to follow one of the all-time iconic scores, this is really more of a selective subwoofer rattle ambient noise cue sheet. Literally. I wondered if the theater’s speaker cabinets would break since no theater today actually maintains its equipment with care any longer. Combine this with even a lack of one truly definable great moment to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and a story that when closely scrutinized doesn’t make sense and you have this film whose name 2049 almost describes the runtime of two hours forty five minutes.
Ultimately this…is an overwhelming tedium. A picture that is Blade Runner in name only. A large budget sci-fi film that has good ideas that merely serve as window dressing and fade into the background due to their lack of integration or true meaning to the story at hand. This is a motion picture without humanity, nor does it even truly question the nature of humanity in any meaningful way. And it drags. On and on without ever giving even the most diehard enthusiasts a real reason to care.
2049 is everything critics railed against in 1982 for the tampered with theatrical release of Blade Runner. They simply were writing about the wrong picture.
Do you get your ticket’s worth with this release? Sure I guess.
Is it nice to look at? Sometimes.
Any good ideas? Occasionally.
“Have a better one.”