Thursday, October 12, 2017

"BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)"

-a film review by CatsMando

How painful must it feel, to see yourself become nothing...

    I love the first one. A great film that circles about the notion of having a self. Covered in sharp, sci-fi visuals, and whose story is pushed forth in film-noir trappings. It's majestic, without the bombast. It's layered with very few fluffs. Best is, it's ponderous without pretense. So how does this new one compare? Well, to tell it short, just like HellorHighWater of yesteryear. BladeRunner2049 is an easy, instant, top-fave film of mine for this year. For my longer take on it, read on.

    The premise is, thirty years after the events of the first film, we now follow a different blade runner called "K". The film is very good at unraveling for us K's daily activities; hunt replicants, clock out from work, date his girlfriend, get some grub, go to sleep for the next day. In true film-noir structure, his is a life of comfort, it's no good life, and it could be better, way better, but his is a life he's acclimated with. But with that much comfort comes longing. And with new variables turning up from his case, he can't help but follow through, even at the risk of unraveling threads that may lead to conclusions he may not like. From there one of the multiple overlapping storyline begins.

    I guess it's starting to get obvious here that I'm tip-toe-ing around the story, and I admit it's becoming difficult for me to keep at it. I just can't spoil it, I really can't. It's just too good for a spoil here. So instead I'll just jump into the technicalities and other spoiler-free intricacies of the film.

    First thing that's a standout here is its use of its setting. Just like the first one, they really managed to sell the film's place as a proper living world. This even sold its scale better, for me, than how StarWars or StarTrek did theirs. So it goes without saying that yes, the cinematography of this film is, just so goddamn good. The lighting is ballsy for this time, but still just on par with the first film. That's good enough since the first one is a very, very good about that. The color use and cgi vistas is better than the first one here, and I think that's expected with the technology today, but still, nonetheless, it's an overall visually engaging film.

    The music stands out by virtue that so few tapped to this kind of approach. But it does get to be a little overbearing and more noisy than necessary at times(something I tend to notice with Hans Zimmer's works since Inception). But when it has to do what it has to do, like enhance the mood of a scene, it's effective. The sound is well directed too. A great example for it is during Deckard and K's encounter in an abandoned music theater.

    Now, to sum up the performances. Ryan Gosling is so cool, he's pretty much oozing it on the whole film. It's kind of expected for me though since the kind of character he pulled here is pretty much a refinement of what he did in his past film, Driver. Opposite Ryan for the bulk of the film is Ana de Armas as his artificial love interest Joi. She's both the emotional part of K's living, and K's actual emotional compliment and direction. She works great on the part she's given. Sylvia Hoeks is a capable threatening bad guy. Jared Leto as Niander Wallace, an unhinged "artiste" that took over Tyrell Corporation, is a treat to watch. Instead of being an over-over-the-top paper-thin character, here he's a thoroughly deranged man, held back by his "godly" aspirations. And that contradicting characteristic at play works.

    Others like Mackenzie Davis, Robin Wright, Carla Juri, Dave Bautista, and Barkhad Abdi rounds up their respective supporting roles well, each able to give real texture and expansion to the whole world of the film. Now take heed, the promo posters and trailers are a lie, if you're here just for Harrison Ford, you're in for a disappointment. THAT, must be said.

     Denis Villeneuve is quite an interesting newcomer. Totally sold me on Sicario, not clicked with Arrival, but I see it's quality, and now, he's proved here that he CAN handle a big-budget, big-concept film. He's really shaping up to be on the likes of Ridley Scott or early-James Cameron. Ultimately though, its nuance and slow-burn pacing(just like the first one) is also its weakness. It's evident from the get-go that this movie will not be for everyone. The posters undersells it while the trailers outright misleads. BladeRunner 2049, just like its predecessor, is a very different sci-fi film, for the good and bad of it.

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