Bladerunner II: Electric Boogaloo
I had a mixed set of impressions on this. Saw it in an IMAX on Monday night with about ten people, and it was WAY TOO LOUD. I generally like Zimmer sound tracks, but this one feel to me more like a parody imitation of the original BR movie score. That, I could live with, but the random Inception-like BWWWWAAAAWWWWWWHHH trumpet blasts are WAY over-used and intrusive.
Not gonna give many spoilers here, but there's a scene in here that I saw done in the movie "her", starring the voice of Scarlett Johansen as an A.I. who hires a sexual surrogate to "interface" with her owner/boyfriend, Spike Jonez. Nobody but me saw "her", I guess, so I'm not surprised if people thing that scene is novel.
Ryan Gosling's character arc here is very interesting and strong, though I don't care too much for his deadpan delivery all the time. it was a choice, and he committed to it well, so I can't complain too much. There's a spot in the near-middle of the movie that basically moves the plot along by improbable Deus Ex Machinas, but on the whole, it works pretty well. It IS glacially, no, tectonically paced. Makes the first movie seem like an MTV music video by comparison. It's all well and good to be lyrical, but sometimes, less is more.
The art direction and FX are of course fantastic. This team, I could imagine doing a good job on "Akira", if that ever gets made.
Overall, I give it a B+ but I'm not sure millennials with a mayfly attention span are the right audience for this.
So, not ONE of you has seen it yet?
Oooooohhh I saw it...
I will preface this by saying that I do not, and have not *ever* really cared for the original Blade Runner. I've probably seen it 3 times, and I just watched part of it again recently on TV right before 2049 came out.
To start with positivity about the original; I fully acknowledge how significant and influential Blade Runner is as a landmark sci-fi movie from 1982. It has cool visuals and set pieces, and the special effects are awesome for the time it was released. And the interrogation scene with the upside down turtle is legitimately good. For the negative... I just find it boring. I don't think it's better than similar movies of its kind. I think the voice over is kinda stupid. But mostly, it just feels long and boring to me. And I say that while admitting that I liked There Will Be Blood! So it isn't just long, slow-moving films in general that don't do it for me. Something about Blade Runner doesn't sit well with me.
But I went to go see BR 2049 anyway for two main reasons:
1) It looked kinda nuts (in a good way)
2) I really like some of Denis Villenueve's previous movies (Sicario and Arrival)
Overall, I thought it was OK. I would never want to watch it again. But I'm mildly happy I saw it once. It had some really interesting cinematography/sets/sci-fi ideas. But damn... There was some bad stuff. Like Jared Leto's character. What was that all about? Did he say anything substantial the entire movie? And I legitimately don't even remember what happened to him at the end. Not good when you don't even remember the fate of the villain. On a positive note, I *did* like the climactic fight scene in the ocean with Leto's right hand woman.
[Mark Suszko] "Saw it in an IMAX on Monday night with about ten people, and it was WAY TOO LOUD."
DUDE. Yes. 100% agree. I thought maybe the theater I was in had old speakers or something, but when the music BWAAAAMMS hit, it shook the walls. In a distracting kind of way.
[Mark Suszko] "Not gonna give many spoilers here, but there's a scene in here that I saw done in the movie "her", starring the voice of Scarlett Johansen as an A.I. who hires a sexual surrogate to "interface" with her owner/boyfriend, Spike Jonez. Nobody but me saw "her", I guess, so I'm not surprised if people thing that scene is novel."
I love Her! That scene in 2049 would have been good maybe had Her never existed, but also I kinda felt like its placement in the story didn't make sense either. It followed the scene when Gosling was basically told he had 48 hours to get outta town. Then that scene happens? Felt jammed in there. Would have made more sense earlier.
[Mark Suszko] "Ryan Gosling's character arc here is very interesting and strong, though I don't care too much for his deadpan delivery all the time."
I think they were playing off of Harrison Ford's voice over from the original. Ford read those lines like he wanted to be anywhere else.
I think Gosling's acting relies a lot on the Kuleshov effect ☺
I didn't find the placement of the Joi surrogate scene that far off - it's behavior that would be in character for a flesh character love interest in such a situation. People under huge stress often resort to carnal intimacy of one kind or another for comfort, or just distraction, even when it's not the most efficient or convenient thing to do at the time. And people witnessing death often feel sexual desire as a diversion and re-affirmation of life.
It gets spoliery from here; so you've been warned, but I'd like to discuss some points.
Joi really serves a huge role in the movie, even though she has little to no effect on the main plot. She's what humanizes K and gives him a reason to exist outside of his job. He has no family or friends. He's reviled by everyone around him all day and all night, and his mere existence, day to day, is constantly being reviewed for approval. That's a recipe for psychosis in anyone, much less a replicant. He can't have any kind of normal social relationship, and so his digital "waifu" is what's keeping his marbles from scattering completely. Being an interactive AI that learns, Joi is also a mirror into K. Since she's "whatever you need her to be", she reflects and learns in response to Joe K's inner character traits over time. If he's caring, so is she. If he's thoughtful, so is she. This could be interesting to compare to the AI "Karen" in Spiderman: Homecoming, who is more like a telephone help desk operator and yet... Peter Parker needs Karen's guidance and advice when using the Stark-built Spidey suit, but he also confides in her.
Back to Joi; she's got at least a limited form of free will, and makes her own choices in order to express her "love" for Joe, even if it's not really love but just a set of drives in her programming. She's got some variation of Asimovian Laws in her, since she risks her own identity/existence in order to go "mobile" with no backup- she's elected to become "mortal", out of a sense of dedication to Joe, over her maker. Something they showed briefly in one scene, but could have amplified, was that, being a Wallace product, and being monitored, knowingly or not, by Wallace's assistant, Joi has to know or deduce that she's an unwilling spy for Wallace, tracking and recording Joe's every move. Only by going mortal can she break that connection and protect Joe...
When Joe loses Joi, literally and figuratively, then sees her avatar blown up huge as an advertisement, it parallels Deckard seeing the re-made Rachel on several levels. It reminds me of the late Tom Petty lyric from "American Girl": "God, it's so painful, for something to be so close - and still so far out of reach". Sure, K could buy another Joi - but it wouldn't be "his" Joi. Deckard is tempted by The Devil, in the guise of Jared Leto's Wallace, to re-live the love he had with the first Rachel - but he knows it's not the same person. But you can see how sorely tempting it is. Yet Deckard is a hard man, unwilling to lie to himself about anything. His only goal is to love his child and keep her safe, by keeping her away from him. Joe's only motivation at the start is to follow orders. Until he begins questioning the orders due to the evidence he's seen. Joe's basically a flesh version of Joi: doing and being whatever the "customer" wants. Once the connection between Joe and Joi is gone, and Joe is told he's doomed, Joe has only one duty left - to see the case thru and fulfill what he considers his destiny.
Deckard, Joi, and K are all about demonstrating sacrifice, denying one's own needs to protect or help another, or fulfill a duty or obligation. Two of them are built that way. Deckard was perhaps raised that way, or chooses to be that way, having free will.
This is assuming Deckard is not a replicant, then or now. It really is dumb, I think, to leave that hanging all this time thru 2 movies, and I choose to believe he's human, despite retro-active theorizing by Ridley Scott. Why do I think that? Because Deckard isn't as good as any of the replicants at anything. He shows no super-human abilities at all, in fact is weaker than the Nexus 6 series he chased. Rachel was quote, "a special case", with no finite life span. Unique. So an old Deckard is by default human, since all replicants to that point except Rachel had 4-year life spans. If Deckard's a replicant, he's a piss-poor one. And one might argue that could be purposeful, sending a weaker model out after models that have gotten out of hand. The underdog hero vs. powerful villain thing has been done before. But none of that is in the original shooting script. It would destroy one of the points of the first movie if it had: that he was terminating people that were better than him, more human than human, emotionally as well as physically. And for the audience to relate properly, Deckard MUST be a human, as we are, I believe. So what about the unicorn? Those who think Deckard's a replicant say that unicorn origami proves Gaff (Edward James Olmos) knows what Deckard is, and is toying with him.
But you can read the whole Gaff thing as, this is the competitive, resentful young turk cop who wants Deckard's job, maybe even HAD that job, before "retired" Deckard was forced back into the work by his boss. The unicorn origami is just Gaff's calling card, telling Deckard that Gav had been present and could have killed Rachel and Deckard, had he wanted to, but he's chosen to let them go, clearing the board for Gaff to get promoted, without assuming any guilt or involvement. The unicorn dream is stock unused footage from another movie that Ridley added in during post - a move which has confounded fans for years, because it completely flips the story.
Wallace, played by Jared Leto, is a little under-developed as to his back story and motivation. He also seems privy to secret information there's no good explanation for him to know. His main goal, of finding the secret of how replicants can self-replicate, makes no sense in the context of his monologue. He says that to ensure human survival across the stars, he wants to make more people, faster. They never say how long it takes to grow a replicant. The assumption I'm making is that it may take about the same time as gestating a baby, maybe a little less, but the replicant comes out of the process fully grown and imprinted with knowledge. But it still takes 9 months plus about 16-20 years to grow and train a human "from scratch". One at a time. That's not going to give Wallace the numbers he wants.
This I thought was bad writing, because the police captain has it right from the start: replicants are a slave class, controlled by limited life span and inability to breed. Take that away, and there is no distinction between them and us, and no control, and then they will - and should - fight for their independence and self-determination. It's really an argument for replacing replicants with mechanical androids, which have to be faster to make. So a key element underlying the movie is confused and partly distorts what is going on (for me).
I found it confusing to have that particular memory implanted in K. I'm still not sure who put it there or why, except to throw the audience a false trail while giving K a stronger motivation for completing his task. Did Wallace have it put in there? And where did he get it from? Can he not make the connection between the memory, and the person he's seeking? Did the Memory technician do it, to find her parents? Then she'd have to have known what Joe's job was going to be, before he was made. And ignore the implications of Wallace finding out she's hiding in plain sight, working for him. Was it just a random mistake? And, knowing that she's motivating a detective to track her own self down, why would she still do it, if the order came from Wallace? I found this element unclear, and it changes the color of the story a lot depending on the answer.