Dec 2, 2018
Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the second of two episodes today as we’re working to get caught up from the fire. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP.
Last segment, our family was back together again, and things were getting back to normal, with school the following day. I was feeling awful when I woke up, definitely having caught whatever my spouse had, but there would be no rest for the wicked. The reason? Ants. Ants were fricking everywhere, making a trail down the stairs and swarming our garbage can. It tends to happen in areas affected by wildfires, as we found out five years ago, when ants start searching everywhere for food. The ladies were heading out the door, and I was running around spraying and wiping and trying to figure out where they were entering the house, like some modern-day Leiningen. Also, our daughter’s drain was clogged, and laundry had backed up, and dishes needed to get done, and, and, and... I guess it was getting back to normal, ready or not.
More on the story from the fire tomorrow.
Today’s movie is “Blade Runner 2049” (2017), the Warner Bros science fiction epic directed by Denis Villeneuve and written for the screen by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, based on a story by Hampton Francher, and sourced from the original work “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. The film is set thirty years after “Blade Runner” (1982), where investigator K (Ryan Gosling) uncovers a secret that requires him to track down the missing Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). The film was nominated for five Oscars and won two for Cinematography and Visual Effects.
I’ve been excited about the many adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s work, both for the big screen and the small screen, and today’s franchise has a lot to do with the explosion in adaptations we’ve seen. Prior to “Blade Runner” (1982), the only adaptation of Dick’s work was a single episode of “Out of This World”, and Dick’s relationship with “Blade Runner” was contentious before he finally accepted it, and unfortunately died a few months before its theatrical release. After his death, and the success of “Blade Runner”, Hollywood became a feeding frenzy, turning Dick’s work into multiple adaptations, and one film, “Total Recall” has already seen itself rebooted. Add to that the extreme success and popularity of “The Man in the High Castle” and the new “Electric Dreams” anthology series, and it’s a great time to be a PKD fan. But is this film really a PKD adaptation?
The answer is no. It is, more correctly, an extension of Ridley Scott’s vision of “Blade Runner”, which was a much more philosophical look at the characters and ideas contained within “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, the source novella. As an aside, there’s an incredible limited comic book series using the entire novella text from Boom! Studios worth checking out. The source material is actually a very pedestrian look at the world he created, and not so much the science fiction noir film Scott created for the theaters, then re-issued for home release with multiple endings, where Rick Deckard either is or isn’t a replicant, among other details. I remember getting the whatever edition on VHS, and as much as I complain about it now, it was my first experience with Philip K. Dick, and while I prefer the novella to the movie now, I still admire Scott’s world, extended by today’s film into something larger and, based on its critical and financial success, self-sustaining.
“Blade Runner 2049” is an absolutely beautifully rendered world, making use of all the advances in special effects while retaining the key style elements of the original film, and advanced a few decades further down the spiral of a decaying planet, and a tantalizing promise of seeing more of it and the rest of the solar system. It also manages to upgrade the idea of a replicant / human relationship with the idea of a replicant / replicant relationship, and even more as the mystery unfolds. Lots of great ideas for philosophy clubs around the world. And we finally get to know which ending was the intended ending of “Blade Runner”, a relief for me.
But it’s slow. So very, very slow, and very, very long. I have time to appreciate the grand views and amazing practical effects, and enough time leftover in most scenes to start getting sick of it. I love Denis Villeneuve’s entire cinematography, and believe it deserved the Oscars, but I also think thirty minutes could easily have been cut from the film, or that more needed to happen in those gaps to make the journey worthwhile.
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017) is a stunningly beautiful follow up to Ridley Scott’s original film, clarifying the first film and extending the universe for a second, and possibly more to come. While it is not a Philip K Dick story anymore, it does continuing to evolve and expand the universe created by his source material into something to be appreciated on its own terms. Science fiction fans, and definitely fans of the first film, have already seen this film, but anyone else who hasn’t should check out the first film, then caffeinate and make enough time to watch today’s film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
Metacritic: 81 (MUST SEE)
One Movie Punch: 8.2/10
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017) is rated R and is currently streaming on HBO.