By RYAN SHEEHAN
(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – Thirty-five years after “Blade Runner” was released, “Blade Runner 2049” hit theaters Thursday, Oct. 5. I had the opportunity to watch “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049” back-to-back on opening night. Both films take place in the same movie universe which is a dystopian future where androids called replicants are forced to serve their human masters.
“Blade Runner” follows Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, as he hunts down a group of rogue replicants that have arrived in Los Angeles. “Blade Runner 2049” occurs 30 years later from the first. A replicant cop called K, played by Ryan Gosling, must solve a mystery around an old case, connecting back to the original.
“Blade Runner” wasn’t popular when it first came out. When it was first released the film was given mixed reviews and lost money at the box office. Having watched it, I can see why. It’s not the average movie. It’s more like an art house film than a traditional Hollywood movie. “Blade Runner 2049” is the opposite, and depending on your own preference, that may be a good change or a bad one.
In truth, “Blade Runner 2049” is not for everyone, and “Blade Runner” even more so. “Blade Runner 2049” has a lot of quiet scenes and a runtime of almost three hours. “Blade Runner” is a strangely dark film, filled with themes and visuals that can be foreign to some viewers. Both can be unsettling at times, especially with their subject matter. Neither has that much action either. Instead, they choose to focus on the characters and their emotions.
“Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049” have their strengths and weaknesses. The original is very complex, much of it is up for interpretation. To this day, fans still debate whether or not Deckard is really a replicant himself.
Something the new version lacks, and that the original did properly, is the villain. Roy Batty is fascinating. On one hand, he is a psycho that has killed dozens of humans in cold blood. But on the other hand, one could argue he is not the bad guy. After all, he is not killing humans for some evil purpose. He is fighting for his mere existence and freedom from his human masters. I love his “Tears in Rain” scene. It’s my favorite moment of the film.
You could also argue that Deckard is the real bad guy. He’s a blade runner, and their job is to find and kill replicants–who are slaves–that have escaped and come back to Earth. “Blade Runner 2049” does not have this level of moral ambiguity.
“Blade Runner” does have a major flaw though: If you are going to watch it, which cut are you going to watch? There is the theatrical cut, the director’s cut, the final cut, along with four others. I have a funny feeling “Blade Runner 2049” will only have one.
“Blade Runner 2049” has some good qualities as well. It has a much more structured plot, with a beginning, middle and end. The narrative follows a lot better. Also, the film has good pacing to it, even in the quiet moments. The original was not like that. The biggest problem with “Blade Runner” was that it felt boring at times. I can’t recall an occasion when I felt bored watching “Blade Runner 2049”.
As you might have guessed, I prefer the original final cut over the sequel. “Blade Runner” left such a strong impact on me. Despite being bored at times, I still felt this intense fascination with what I was watching. I know I will see this movie several more times in the future.