Blade Runner is my favourite film of all time. It’s the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever seen, with every viewing feeling special. I even own a five-disc boxset featuring international cuts, extended cuts and a workprint because it’s just so impressive. In just one movie, Ridley Scott and an incredibly talented cast and crew crafted a world that is as fascinating as it is utterly believable. It’s a world I’d love to visit again, for sure. So as a fan, I should be over the moon that after thirty five years, a sequel is coming.
From what we know so far, there’s a lot to get excited about. Ridley Scott is producing, Denis Villeneuve is directing and Harrison Ford is returning as protagonist Rick Deckard. Major names like Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto and Dave Bautista are also joining the cast. So why am I anxious to return to the dark future of Los Angeles that I love so much?
Too much to live up to
Blade Runner might be recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time now, but it took many years to earn that reputation. Upon release, the movie struggled to find success with critics and moviegoers alike. Following the huge arrival of Star Wars and Alien, the downbeat neo-noir tone of the film took audiences by surprise and not in a good way. However, after three decades and two director’s cuts, Blade Runner is rightfully celebrated as one of the most important movies around. Themes of slavery, depression and questioning one’s own humanity and identity don’t make for easy viewing, but thankfully the film found an enormous cult following.
But like Alien, The Terminator and similar genre movies, Blade Runner came out of nowhere with no expectations or legacy to live up to. Sequels, especially those that follow revered movies, have a lot riding on them. The pressure to recreate the magic of the first movie, to not only emulate but outdo the hauntingly beautiful artistry of the original is immense. Though it should be judged on its own merits or failures, despite what fans say it will be compared to the original and may blemish its reputation.
The ‘Prometheus’ effect
No matter what you think of Prometheus, it’s hard to argue that the movie was a return to form for Ridley Scott. As well as betraying the distressed, gritty future that made the first Alien so immersive, the film contained a range of bizarre character and narrative choices. Though pushed as an original story set before the 1979 original, it established a definitive backstory that for many fans felt totally out of place. Matters have only gotten more confusing with the sequel, Alien: Covenant, looming on the horizon. Covenant looks ready to directly tie Prometheus into Alien, something I and many other fans of the series don’t want or need.
Though Blade Runner 2049 is in good hands with director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival), there’s plenty of ways the movie could miss the mark. Studio interference and a mess of rewrites caused Prometheus to juggle ideas without focus, a fate which could befall 2049. Though 20th Century Fox have a history of meddling with their films, Blade Runner’s distributor Warner Bros. isn’t much different. Anyone who compares this year’s Suicide Squad with director David Ayer’s original vision will see that WB have a lot of destructive potential. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Villeneuve gets to craft and release the movie he wants.
Your interpretation doesn’t matter
One of the most thought-provoking elements of Blade Runner is the origins of Deckard, the film’s protagonist. All we know for sure is that he is the titular ‘blade runner’, a police officer tasked with ‘retiring’ androids who have gone rogue or caused trouble. We know nothing of his background, his family or his upbringing. However, there are hints scattered throughout the film that Deckard may be an android himself, a theory which has developed among fans for many years.
The great thing about Blade Runner is, though later cuts of the movie made the possibility more obvious, you can choose to interpret Deckard as you wish. There is nothing that says for sure whether or not he is a machine like those he hunts down, something which encourages repeat viewings and closer analysis.
But with Blade Runner 2049, all of that looks set to change. In an interview with MTV in 2012, Ridley Scott discussed Harrison Ford potentially returning to the film.
‘Is he too old? Well, he was a Nexus-6 so we don’t know how long he can live.’
Now that production is underway, we know that Ford is returning as Deckard which means that our creative interpretations of the character will probably be crushed. By Scott stating definitively that Deckard is an android, the tone of the sequel will definitely be affected.
What are your thoughts on Blade Runner 2049? Are you hyped for its release or are you afraid of how it’ll turn out? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts with us!