Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: ‘Blade Runner’

Friday, October 20, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

It’s even rainier in “Blade Runner 2049” than in “Blade Runner” (1982).

That’s not the only difference between “2049,” with the title referring to the year in which the movie’s story takes place in Los Angeles, and the original, which takes place in 2019 in Los Angeles.

“2049” isn’t a sequel in the traditional sense. Yes, Harrison Ford reappears about three-quarters of the way through “2049” as Rick Deckard, living like a recluse Howard Hughes atop an abandoned Las Vegas casino hotel. Edward James Olmos reprises his role as Gaff. And near the conclusion of “2049,” a computer-generated Sean Young appears as Rachael.

The holograms of dancing and preening women are even more larger than life amidst the congestion and characters frequenting the neon-reflected streets of Los Angeles depicted in one main scene and then revisited tangentially.

Both films are based on characters from the 1963 novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” by Philip K. Dick.

What sets “2049” apart from the original “Blade Runner” is Director Denis Villeneuve’s vision, a minimalist take on the screenplay by Hampton Fancher (screenwriter, “Blade Runner”) and Michael Green (screenwriter, “Logan,” 2017; “Green Lantern,” 2011); as well as in the acting; dialogue, and art direction. Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” 2013; “Sicario,” 2015; “Arrival” 2016), paints a bleak picture of the future. It’s beyond dystopian.

In the marvelous cinematography by Director of Photography Roger Deakins, scenes are held long. The camera lingers on flying cars (Peugeot nameplates are a cheeky touch for the sports cars on steroids with sun-roof drones), orange-drenched landscapes, a gargantuan scrapyard, the dappled play of light on interiors, and on the characters themselves, including terrific closeups (the eyes have it).

It’s recommended that “2049” be seen in the Imax format, in which it was seen for this review.

The score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch continues the minimalist theme with low-tone rumblings, single notes, and other effects that give the sense of an avant-garde jazz score. “Blade Runner 2049” is a $150-million budget indie art film.

At the heart of the minimalism of “2049” is a remarkably minimalist performance by Ryan Gosling, as KD9-3.7, a young Blade Runner tasked with taking out rogue replicants (synthetic bio-engineered “humans”). Gosling (Oscar nominations, actor, “La La Land,” “2016; “Half Nelson,” 2006) carries the woes of the world on his fluttery eyelids. His mostly impassive face (he maybe smiles once in the film) registers all and reflects nothing from behind his blue eyes. Gosling gives a wonderfully-nuanced turn, with minuscule facial reactions telling volumes. There’s a stillness in Gosling’s presence that gives the film its reality check.

Gosling is a good choice to team with Ford. Once they get past the fisticuffs when they meet, they settle down to down some Johnny Walker and some talk. They prove an unlikely metaphorical father-and-son pairing. An action scene where Gosling comes to Ford’s rescue is one of the film’s most exciting. And nobody does the grimace of gravitas like Ford. “I know what’s real,” Deckard says emphatically and cryptically.

There are several fascinating supporting role performances: Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi, a Los Angeles Police Department supervisor and K’s boss; Jared Leto as Niander Wallace, head of the firm that manufactures replicants and rules the world; David Bautista as Sapper Morton, a replicant; Ana de Armas as Joi, a holographic confidante to K; Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, a brutal enforcer, and Mackenzie Davis, as Mariette, a replicant.

Look for several Oscar nominations for “Blade Runner”: director (Villeneuve), screenplay (Hampton Fancher, Michael Green), cinematography (Deakins. After 13 nominations, will 14 be the charm?), art direction (Dennis Gassner), soundtrack (Zimmer, Wallfisch), actor (Gosling) and supporting actor (Ford).

“Blade Runner 2049” is a sensory experience of stunning sight and sound. It’s a landmark and monumental work of cinematic art. Don’t miss it on the big screen.

“Blade Runner 2049,”MPAA Rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language; Genre: Science-Fiction, Thriller; Run time: 2 hrs., 44 mins.; Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Blade Runner 2049” was filmed in Korda Studios, Etyek; Budapest, Hungary; Mexico, and Nevada. Holograms include Elvis Presley (“Can’t Help Falling In Love”), Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra (“One For My Baby”). The opening notes of Sergey Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” activate the character, Joi. A two-disc CD of the “Blade Runner 2049” soundtrack will be released Oct. 27. Two editions of the CD are each limited to 2,049 copies. Producer Ridley Scott, who directed “Blade Runner,” said a third “Blade Runner” is possible with director Denis Villeneuve, screenwriter Hampton Fancher and actor Harrison Ford interested.

Box Office,Oct. 13: Oh, the horror ruled the Friday the 13th weekend box office, with “Happy Death Day” opening at No. 1 with $26.5 million, with “Blade Runner” slipping one place to No. 2, with $15.1 million, $60.5 million, two weeks, with Jackie Chan’s return to the big screen, “The Foreigner,” opening at No. 3, with $12.8 million.

4. “It” floated down one place, $6 million, $314.9 million, six weeks.

5. “The Mountain Between Us” climbed down three places, $5.6 million, $20.5 million, two weeks.

6. “American Made” held at No. 6, with $5.4 million, $40.1 million, three weeks.

7. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” moved down two places, $5.3 million, $89.6 million, four weeks.

8. “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” dissembled one slot, $4.3 million, $51.5 million, four weeks.

9. “My Little Pony: The Movie” galloped down five paces, $4 million, $15.5 million, two weeks.

10. “Victoria and Abdul” walked down two steps, $3.1 million, $11.3 million, four weeks.

Unreel,Oct. 20:

“Wonderstruck,”PG: Todd Haynes directs Allentown’s Oakes Fegley, and Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Millicent Simmonds in the Drama. Stories about a young boy in the Midwest and a young girl in New York intertwine.

“Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween,”PG-13: Tyler Perry directs himself and Patrice Lovely, Brock O’Hurn, and Lexy Panterra in the Comedy. Madea, Bam, and Hattie go to a haunted campground.

“Geostorm,”PG-13: Dean Devlin directs Abbie Cornish, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Gerard Butler, and Ed Harris in the Sci-Fiction film. A network of satellites that controls global climate goes haywire.

“Only the Brave,”PG-13: Joseph Kosinski directs Jennifer Connelly, Taylor Kitsch, Josh Brolin, and Miles Teller in the Biography Drama. Firefighters try to save a town in the film based on true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

“The Snowman,”R: Tomas Alfredson directs Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloë Sevigny, and Val Kilmer in the Horror film. A detective investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is wrapped around a snowman.

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer,”R: Yorgos Lanthimos directs Alicia Silverstone, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Raffey Cassidy in the Horror film. A surgeon faces a difficult choice.

Five Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes