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brkl

Blade Runner 2049

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Yeah. Diversity casting, female roles, there's very valid criticism to be heard in these respects. There's no defense to be offered. If that's what ruins the movie for you, it is in fact ruined.

 

Spoiler

The treatment of the main character – his shallowness, his total reliance on values that are entirely artificial – is definitely a Dick move. A Philip K. Dick move. And BR 2049 smacks K's self-deception in our faces at every turn. We're supposed to feel awkward. That his motivations get jumbled up toward the end, and that the viewer is struggling in the same way, may be a plus to the movie after all. Critics have spanked it for spelling too many things out anyway. Eventually we get see how the replicant revolution just offers more of the same techno-fascist cruelty, and at this moment, K makes his one first human choice.

 

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Ok, I'll put up my thoughts before catching up on the thread. I was disappointed by the movie, although it offers really lovely visuals and soundscapes and a bunch of scenes that are very good. The film doesn't earn it very long running time; it's slack and has a ton of expository dialogue. Ideas that would have been conveyed through a couple of visual scenes seconds in length in Blade Runner are pre-chewed with five minutes of dialogue. Several of the principal characters are wafer-thin and spend their scenes posturing to the camera. The plot is on one hand a very sappy continuation of Blade Runner and on the other hand deals with power struggle on a scale which IMO just doesn't belong in Blade Runner.

 



I liked how K's place in the world was conveyed, I liked that the main character is known to be a replicant and the film deals with the implications of that on his identity. All the set design and how the world is brought to the viewer is immaculate. Gosling is excellent. 

 

Wallace is just rubbish. Every scene with him is terrible, his motivations feel totally manufactured and he doesn't seem to talk to people. He just makes speeches at the camera. 

 

Luv has one or two promising scenes, but she becomes a B-class action movie quipping bad guy very soon after. She also doesn't seem to have other motivations apart from pushing the plot along.

 

I wouldn't have minded Joi if her plotline was way shorter. A couple of scenes and her loss could have conveyed everything necessary without bogging the film down. 

 

K's boss was also barely a character. She would have been OK apart from her role in raising the stakes to "This breaks the world." 

 

But the plot... The stakes shouldn't be political, they should be personal. I really don't think the replicant uprising stuff belong in Blade Runner: they would be backstory delivered through text in my vision. But what bugs me even more is the other plotline about Rachel's baby, which of course is a pretty huge part of this film. Even the crappy ending the theatrical release of Blade Runner had didn't go as far as to say Deckard and Rachel had a damn baby together. The whole issue of Rachel suddenly being special is just off. I don't like it.

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I just came out of the film and my feelings are equally conflicted. I did like the film, the experience of seeing it, quite a lot. The visuals are superb and all in all I think it does a great job of respectfully adding to the Blade Runner universe. At first I didn't think a sequel was a good idea at all, but whatever this is, it's not a throwaway film. It has something to say, it says it with great gusto, and it's a miles better cinema experience than half of what I see. So, props for just putting out a thoughtful and interesting science fiction film.

 

The length is an issue. It really is long and the characters largely don't support that length. I always defined Blade Runner as a movie that felt like it was 45 minutes long, no matter how often I watch it. It just flies by. This, in contrast, takes its time. There are also loose strings that reek particularly of setting up a sequel, which I didn't really care for.

 

 

Particularly the resistance movement, the mystery of the boy and the unfinished business with Wallace. Feels like this could've been resolved in the film. Some of this was fine to keep the mystery going, because, yeah, the best part of this was Gosling figuring stuff out. The pure detective stuff. Sure, it was a callback to the first film - which is largely Deckard going from place to place gathering clues and at the same time exposing the world to us - but that's fine.

But wait, did K die at the end? That's not what I read into it at all. He was just resting on the stairs, having lost everything and getting ripe for the job of terrorist/freedom fighter for the replicant resistance. Right? Earlier we saw him recover from some pretty harsh wounds quite easily.

 

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Some thoughts..

I thought the boy was a fabrication, or at least unclear intentionally. Thinking back im not too big on that ambiguity. 

Also the resistance thing didn't bother me because it seems like the point of the film was to follow k as he tries to figure out what it is to be a 'person'. K dies when he makes the choice that conforms to neither faction and instead follows his own morals.  His death is a good one because he's succeeded in defining his own life and morality rather than being someone's tool. Also I really dug how it turned out he was not "the one" and the best thing he could hope for was a small victory. 

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10 hours ago, brkl said:

Agreed on K. The film doesn't tell us.

 

I think it's pretty much implied.

 

Spoiler

And, concerning that resistance – I mean, it might have been the crappy movie theater audio, or the crappy German dubbing – didn't they tell K to kill Deckard, thus ruling out completely that he would ever join them? Aren't they a complete no-go after killing off K's hope to be the Campbell hero, plus a real boy to the only father figure he ever had? And in this resistance, he would be nothing special after all, just another drone who's good at killing, receiving more of the fake emotion that he's so damn hooked on. Yet the movie scatters K's belief in that artifice at every turn. His digital companion is one of millions, the 'real name' she gave him is used by other digital companions just as well. I strongly believe K is done with all that, especially after seeing the real thing. And he has literally stopped mattering, his tiny part in the very grand scheme of things is played.

 

To the plot, whether he dies or not is not even of particular importance. He's dead to the plot.

 

What I've tried to convey to my best friend last weekend, without spoiling the movie for her, is pretty neatly explained in this vox article:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review

 

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I had pretty high expectations from the first trailer. As an artist I love color and composition, and as a sci-fi fan I love the Blade Runner/Akira/Ghost in the Shell/Deus Ex brutalist futurism. The later trailers did make it seem all action-packed, but I was convinced it would be a good one, and it delivered.

 

To me the story is less important, I found it very inspiring as a work of art. The colors are very good of course, and the craft of doing it with physical sets and all is very good too, but also the fact that in almost every scene in the first hour they introduce some futurist concept with a fresh spin - the cars with the drones, the projector and the emenator complete with a working UI concept that feels natural, how they store data, how they light the Wallace offices, it's all extremely well thought-out and presented, and often manages to avoid tropes too. That trend continues in what you mention, @Vainamoinen.

 

Spoiler

To me the fact that they introduce a whole replicant resistance in 5 minutes and then never mention it again is amazing. They could have very easily made that the last act of the film, and it would have sucked, because this is just a story about K and his relationship with this world, and this man Deckard who happens to be at the center of the events that led him there. It's just something that's going on in the world, but it's not relevant to this story. A great feat of restraint on the writer's part there, completely avoiding the trope. Same with the set-up that K would have been Deckard's son, also shot down. And he's no super cop. They never show him alongside any other detective, he's not presented to be superior to any of them. K is not special, K is just dealing with some shit.

 

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I saw it last weekend. The whole thing looks gorgeous and the soundtrack is pretty great. I liked K and Joi's scenes, and the Luv-character. I thought Deckard's scenes were a bit of a drag tho, and Wallace was pretty bleh. Overall? It's... fine. Which is also how I felt about the original, so WORTHY SEQUEL I guess!

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7 hours ago, Vainamoinen said:

 

I think it's pretty much implied.

 

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And, concerning that resistance – I mean, it might have been the crappy movie theater audio, or the crappy German dubbing – didn't they tell K to kill Deckard, thus ruling out completely that he would ever join them? Aren't they a complete no-go after killing off K's hope to be the Campbell hero, plus a real boy to the only father figure he ever had? And in this resistance, he would be nothing special after all, just another drone who's good at killing, receiving more of the fake emotion that he's so damn hooked on. Yet the movie scatters K's belief in that artifice at every turn. His digital companion is one of millions, the 'real name' she gave him is used by other digital companions just as well. I strongly believe K is done with all that, especially after seeing the real thing. And he has literally stopped mattering, his tiny part in the very grand scheme of things is played.

 

To the plot, whether he dies or not is not even of particular importance. He's dead to the plot.

 

What I've tried to convey to my best friend last weekend, without spoiling the movie for her, is pretty neatly explained in this vox article:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review

 

 

 

Yes, that's what they ask him (why not ask him to kill Wallace if he's going to be killing people?). Anyway, I don't agree that avoiding a fantasy movie trope is such a feat since this wasn't a sequel to Star Wars, it's a sequel to Blade Runner. It should go without saying. The unfortunate thing is that they retcon Rachel to be the Chosen One, which waters down Blade Runner's resonance. Man, thinking about this movie after seeing it is depressing. I was very taken with parts of it, but the visuals don't stay with you as long as the disappointments.

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Oh, I'm totally not down on this movie, it's just that I'm surprised I didn't love it more. But it's a very neat scifi movie with lots of stuff going on and reading that article, I came to realize a much neater plot than I assumed after seeing it.


But man, did I mentally groan hard when Wallace started telling Deckard that the whole plot of Blade Runner was engineered to get him and Rachael together. I only barely backed away from that by putting it as a hypothetical scenario, but mannn that was awful. Do not retcon old movies to make your new movie seem more special, please! [See also Spectre.]

 

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Oh, I meant myself :P I am.

 

Dan didn't approve of my use of the word 'retcon', but here's why I think it applies:

 



The baby stuff is impossible to  accept. The way in which Rachel is different from other replicants is mentioned in Blade Runner: she has memory implants, which are presented as new technology. All replicants are adults and have a limited lifespan. So far replicants have been developed to be smarter and stronger than previous model and the new development makes them more stable (they hope). Tyrell has no motivation to focus on replicant babies and the notion that he already cracked that problem in Rachel can't be just inserted into Blade Runner without cracks in its structure. The sequel also implies that Deckard was engineered to fall in love with Rachel, which just guts the original film and makes it serve the sequels plot.

Edited by brkl
Didn't want to double post.

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I don't know who this Dan guy is, but I agree with him!

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21 hours ago, brkl said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

 

Yes, that's what they ask him (why not ask him to kill Wallace if he's going to be killing people?). Anyway, I don't agree that avoiding a fantasy movie trope is such a feat since this wasn't a sequel to Star Wars, it's a sequel to Blade Runner. It should go without saying. The unfortunate thing is that they retcon Rachel to be the Chosen One, which waters down Blade Runner's resonance.

 

 

 

Maybe I can overlook that because in fact the original didn't click as much for me.

 

Spoiler

For this particular movie, and for me, Rachel is just a reminiscence to the old one. It's not a movie about the 'chosen one', thankfully. I don't have the same nostalgic feelings towards the character Rachel, and she doesn't even come into this story except as a clone, so she can be the chosen one just as well. :P

 

The feat, of course, isn't just that BR49 avoids the chosen one chlichée for the main character. It's that moviegoers think it would be the standard chosen one trope, because we may believe that's the only way the story could sensibly develop – and even though our expectations are disappointed in that respect, the movie still makes sense as a narrative. Well, for me at least. :)

 

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I loved the film. The diversity concerns are all valid, of course, but it was such a relief to me that they put something out with a strong artistic vision, and which (to me) authentically evoked the original without mimicking it whole cloth.

 

That said...

 

Like brkl I am a bit disappointed by the fate of Rachael and Deckard. In the context of this film I think it works just fine (though having Rachael absent but Deckard present does feel a bit conspicuous), and Ford offers a good performance, but there was a beautiful tragedy to the four-year lifespan concept in the original film. Doing away with that really robs Gaff's parting lines of their weight: the playful ambiguity of whether he was referring to mortality outright, or the truncated mortality of a replicant, is gone. You can explain it away as this being a secret new model of Nexus, with Gaff unaware of the unrestricted lifespan; this works for the plot, but is unsatisfying from a dramatic perspective. I don't even mind newer models introduced since the original having longer lives (such as the Dave Bautista one), because that doesn't feel like it's undercutting any of the emotional impact of the original.


It's not so much whether it's a retcon in the fiction, as a retcon to what it meant. I think I would have preferred it if they weren't referred to in this film at all, and it was someone else who had become the first replicant mother. Would that have been rubbish? Do people not like it if the characters don't all tie back to people we've already been introduced to?


Anyway, I think I've gotten pretty good at compartmentalising disparate sequels and spin-offs and so on, so although the above complaints were a shame for me, it didn't really harm my enjoyment of either film much at all.

 

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A wee comment on retconning replicant lifespans - if I'm remembering correctly, before Batty they were longer lived anyway. The four year limit was introduced as a failsafe when they started rebelling.

 

Also, a question. Perhaps I'm being dim but Roderick mentioned the mystery of the boy. What mystery/boy?

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Well...

 

Now I feel as if I might be dumb and didn't get some obvious thing. But K discovers that Rachael had two kids, a boy and a girl. And he suspects that he is that boy. Later it turns out that his memories were of the girl and that she's the chosen one or whatever. But I didn't understand why there was even a boy, I was thinking there might've been twins or something? Or if it's a ruse, I still don't get it. Why conjure up a genetically identical boy just to have the girl pretend to be a boy and claim she died? Because this was rather unfathomable, both during the movie and now, I kept thinking there was this major plot thread unresolved. About the boy.

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The boy was a fabrication, part of the plan Deckard and co. make at the birth. They keep talking about fabricating records, or something like that. When K finds out he wasn't the one, he flashes back to the line about "fabricated records", so I assumed they falsified the records to make it look like the girl died and made an identical dna record of a boy to confuse authorities. I can't quite explain the logic behind it, but after the revelation that K wasn't the child I just assumed the boy never existed. It was a falsified record to help hide the girl, somehow.

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1 hour ago, Roderick said:

Well...

 

 

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Now I feel as if I might be dumb and didn't get some obvious thing. But K discovers that Rachael had two kids, a boy and a girl. And he suspects that he is that boy. Later it turns out that his memories were of the girl and that she's the chosen one or whatever. But I didn't understand why there was even a boy, I was thinking there might've been twins or something? Or if it's a ruse, I still don't get it. Why conjure up a genetically identical boy just to have the girl pretend to be a boy and claim she died? Because this was rather unfathomable, both during the movie and now, I kept thinking there was this major plot thread unresolved. About the boy.

 

I think it's pretty straightforward. They tried to throw people off the tracks of the girl by pretending there was no girl alive, only a boy, so people would look for a boy. They didn't have the girl pretend to be a boy at all (in fact that would defeat the point). The girl was a girl, and hopefully the chances of someone looking for her would be low, because among the various obfuscations, one of them was designed to make people think the child was a boy.

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Right, gotcha. My reading was that Deckard and co fabricated the duplicate male entry in order to make the search twice as difficult for anybody hunting the child. I didn't at any point get the impression Rachel had had twins, or that that was the insinuation. We saw the memory of the 'boy' being chased, and then they pull a Nolan and we realise it's a girl.

Maybe that's wrong. I'm looking forward to possibly seeing this in IMAX.

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Rachel gives birth to a girl. They need to insert her into the system, but she can't have replicant DNA obviously, so they copy the DNA data from some boy into her fabricated records. 



 

But it doesn't make any sense, because they then make her records look like she died, which defeats the whole purpose of fabricating records. What records is she using as ID?

 

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6 hours ago, brkl said:

 

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Rachel gives birth to a girl. They need to insert her into the system, but she can't have replicant DNA obviously, so they copy the DNA data from some boy into her fabricated records. 

 


 

But it doesn't make any sense, because they then make her records look like she died, which defeats the whole purpose of fabricating records. What records is she using as ID?

 

 

Presumably the records are not the ID on her driver's license or whatever. The purpose of fabricating the records is to obstruct eventual investigation. Making it look like she died obfuscates things because it means the investigators will be looking for a boy. This is one reason K became convinced that he was the child - he was looking for a boy.

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This all sounds like movie logic to me, designed to enable K to think he's the one and then have a twist that he's not. It doesn't make much sense otherwise. The very fact that there were two records with identical DNA was what made the file jump out during his investigation in the first place! If they had not done that, probably no one would ever have noticed. Beyond which, if they were able to tamper with the files, why not differentiate the DNA instead of making a duplicate? A computer could cross-reference that in no time and alarm bells would go off.

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If you don't like movie logic you may wish to refrain from watching movies, because that is the main sort of logic that operates in them. The original Blade Runner is chock full of just as much (if not more) movie logic, for instance. Some examples:

 

Why are they running a V-K test on all the new employees of Tyrell Corp. when they have the names and faces of the escaped replicants? How the fuck does the Esper Machine work? Why are there serial numbers on every single part of every single artificial animal but Deckard doesn't know this nor have any way to tell what the serial number is? Why does the club owner deny that he had ever seen Zhora when she's about to be performing in five minutes for everyone to see, thus making it obvious that he is lying? Why do the police standing around not react at all when Deckard pulls out his gun and starts firing wildly into a crowd, despite the fact that they clearly don't know he's a blade runner because he only later identifies himself to them? Why does Tyrell's automatic robot lady voice, which tells him who is in his elevator, not tell him that there are two people in the elevator, one of whom is a murderous replicant? Why, when Pris has Deckard right where she wants him, does she let him go so that she can run away and do six backflips towards him? How does Gaff have Deckard's gun at the end?

 

I can totally understand how this sort of thing can bug someone, but if it bugs you then movies might not really be for you, because it's extremely rare to find a movie that isn't full of stuff like this.

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