Movies

Movie review: Blade Runner 2049 happily does not suck

This past weekend, Dara, Paul, and I, along with our pal Jenny, saw Blade Runner 2049. As a household, the Murkworks had varying levels of consternation about this movie. Paul in fact told me that he couldn’t bear to go see it if it turned out to suck, while Dara and I were somewhat less nervous. Even though we both have healthy respect for the original Blade Runner, it’s never been a movie we frequently go back and rewatch.

Hell, I’m a Harrison Ford fangirl, and I’ve maybe seen the original Blade Runner at most four or five times. Compare and contrast this with how many times I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. And especially how many times I’ve rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark!

That said, I did always rather like this particular Harrison Ford pic:

Deckard

Deckard

And, well, the prospect of seeing Mr. Ford in a movie that didn’t suck was tempting indeed. Fortunately for me, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t suck!

We all agreed afterwards that while it was too long, it ultimately stood as a worthy successor to the original. I’m not sure I like it better than the original. But its story is definitely compelling, and I’ve kept thinking about it since seeing it.

Usually when I do a movie review post, I’ll talk about spoilers behind a cut tag. This time, not so much. After seeing good reviews on both Tor.com (very mild spoilers) and The Mary Sue (specifically avoiding as many spoilers as possible), I’m rather inclined to the latter approach. This movie offers a lot to think about, both within its own context and in how it links back to the original. And I’m reluctant to interfere with a viewer’s ability to get at those things without any preconceived notions.

I agree with the Mary Sue that this movie is gorgeous. Likewise, with Tor.com’s dissatisfaction that the women in the cast ultimately function as little more than plot propulsion for the male leads. And yeah, the movie is kind of too long. Yet on our way out of the theater, we couldn’t nail down where exactly there should have been less movie. It did indeed need to take its time and let everything build.

And while I’m a trifle cranky about how the movie treats its women, I can at least say that there are multiple interesting female characters. Seeing Robin Wright as a police chief is particularly satisfying, after her turn as General Antiope in Wonder Woman earlier this year. Plus, the movie passes the Bechdel with one of her scenes, so there’s that! Plus, I can say that multiple female characters inspired the pondering I’ve done about this movie since we saw it.

Worldbuilding-wise, the movie does an excellent job showing how the world has progressed since the first film. As of this writing, I haven’t watched the shorts that cover some of this backstory in more detail. But the movie didn’t make me feel like I need to.

Director Denis Villeneuve, it turns out, also directed Arrival–which I quite liked. And he’s from Quebec, which adds another thing to my list of Awesome Quebecois Things. He has certainly produced a gorgeous movie here, so he’s now two for two on films of his I’ve seen and liked. This bodes well for further encounters with his work.

And Harrison? Let’s just say that goddamn, it was satisfying to see him. Gruff, crufty old Harrison. I still love him to bits. And those of you who know me and my musical affections will know instantly which of his moments, once he finally shows up on camera, is my absolute favorite. (For that matter, those of you who know my history with CrystalMUSH also now have on-camera evidence of what exactly I had in mind when I was playing Tance Vokrim! Because old Harrison? Yep. That’s Tance.)

Old Deckard, Who Could Also Totally Be Tance

Old Deckard, Who Could Also Totally Be Tance

So yeah. Go see it, if you haven’t already. Maybe keep your expectations down a tad. I’m not a hundred percent sure Blade Runner 2049 achieves greatness, or brings anything truly new to the table that the first one didn’t already present for us. But it was still a fun viewing and I’m quite glad I saw it.

If you have seen it, drop me a comment or two about your thoughts! (Everybody else, beware of comment spoilers!)

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