“Blade Runner 2049” a worthy sequel to the sci-fi classic

Alex Davidson

Staff Writer

“Blade Runner” is known as one of the most influential science fiction films of all time. Over thirty years later, a sequel with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in leading roles has been released in the form of “Blade Runner 2049.”

People are wondering if it was worth the effort—or if the property should have just been left alone.

The answer is “yes: it was worth it,” but caution is advised for new viewers, because it’s not for everybody.

The new film, directed by Denis Villeneuve of “Arrival” and “Sicario,” takes place in 2049, thirty years after the first one starring Harrison Ford, and is about the aftermath of the original film.

The film is set in an alternate reality future in which robot-clones, called “replicants,” are used essentially as slaves. The replicants are implanted with memories to make them seem more real and human-like, to keep them from being creepy to the humans.

The most notable thing about this movie is the fact that they didn’t fall into a typical trap a lot of sci-fi sequels do: changing the way everything works because our idea of the future changed since the original. This is known as “retconning,” short for “retroactive continuity.”

For an example of “retconning,” take Ridley Scott’s “Alien;” all the computers are text prompts that you have to type in commands for and which have a distinctly 1970s vibe. However, in “Alien: Covenant,” a prequel which was just released earlier this year, the computers seemed very much in line with what Windows would look like in the future, even though it took place in the “Alien” universe’s continuity before the original.

“2049,” on the other hand, stuck with the ‘70s computers, since that’s what they used in the original and that’s what makes sense in this universe. It was a small detail, but one that helps keep it in line with the original.

The acting was fantastic across the board. Robin Wright from “Forest Gump” as the police lieutenant brought life to a performance which could have easily turned into a wooden character, and Gosling did an amazing job as the replicant who has to hunt his own kind.

However, special recognition must go to Ana de Armas, who played Gosling’s love interest, the computer program Joi. She turned a literally robotic character into the most sympathetic person in the movie and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she was nominated for best supporting actress at the Oscars next year.

The writing did something that many films seem unable to do: tell a continuation of a story, while not being dragged down by what came before it. Rarely does a sequel manage to be even half as good as its predecessor, but this one is almost as good as the original and a lot of that comes down to the writing: they took the original story and reused the basic idea, but changed it in a way that it seemed like something completely new, so that people will still be entertained by it.

This film really isn’t for everybody, though.

Clocking in at just under three hours, it is incredibly long, and while it seemed to be marketed as an action-thriller it is more of a slow-paced sci-fi noir film meant to make you think about the nature of humanity, which may leave some movie-goers wanting.

The pacing, while perfect for the type of movie it is, is a bit slower than a standard sci-fi flick, and could leave the viewer bored and prone to distraction, which can cause problems since not a second of this film is unutilized. There were some action sequences, but they were mostly short punctuations to longer stretches of characterization and plot development.

Overall, “Blade Runner 2049” is a good movie and a fantastic sequel. Fans of the original will surely love it.

However, don’t go in expecting an action-packed thrill-ride, and if you’re simply looking for a popcorn flick, maybe skip “2049” and wait for “Thor: Ragnarok.”