When I first heard of this project, I thought my usual sequel / prequel thought, Hollywood’s after my wallet again! and instantly put up my guard. I’m not alone. Many fans of classic films and amazing single title outings go directly into resist mode, and given some of the train-wrecks we’ve experience, can you blame us?
Typically I’m on the other side of fandom. The take my money side. Though I worried that they were be bad, I was there for Transformers, Turtles, and Ghostbusters. Admittedly, I was happy with these franchises staring back up and liked bits of all the movies; even felt Ghostbusters was entertaining.
However, Hollywood has reached into my pocket too often and Bladerunner (like Big Trouble in Little China) has a special place in my mind. So, I slapped Hollywood’s grubby hands away from my wallet and waited for reactions.
The first wave of fan-friends who saw it opening night raved. Good enough for me. I went.
After the viewing, I thought, Wow, I felt that world. To me, it totally shattered any preexisting atmospheric record and connected perfectly with the old Blade Runner feel. There wasn’t any hyper changes from the original (like, say, podracing); just more of the same. Wait. Not just more of the same, but more depth in the same world.
The 2049 world felt like it evolved form the original Bladerunner and things weren’t too vastly different. Sure there were more invasive ads, but we’re experiencing that now. The overpopulation was almost forever present and street vending remained the main source way to attain food.
I thoroughly enjoyed the world. And the tone.
The story told in the world, meh. I know some of my friends are screaming WHAT?!
*Shrug.* It was meh. To me.
At the time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I enjoyed the experience and wanted to see it again to get that immersive feel, but didn’t. Something was off and I couldn’t tell what.
Now, I think it has to do with the main character; K. Maybe it was knowing that he was a replicant from the beginning, maybe because it felt like he was doing his job reluctantly instead of it driving him, maybe it was his buy-in on his entirely virtual girlfriend. I get why that last one is an important story element, but it smacked of this guy is a victim of his world.
I think that’s what bothered me at a subconscious level. This guy was suffering, but his suffering didn’t drive him to improve his life or make the world better. He had relented to it. You know, just getting by, and while that might be the way that many folks live their lives, it’s not the kind of life I want to pay money to see (a second time).
In fact, almost every other character in the movie was more compelling than K. The bad guy, his lieutenant, K’s boss, even the memory makers. All of them were more active in their own lives than K.
2049 was a very robust and alive world focused on a might-as-well-be-dead character. A might-as-well-be-dead character who never struggled to get a pulse. Sure, he might have felt special for a moment, but beyond that, he was a merely a tool in the story. Any other Blade Runner could’ve done the same.
And that’s where I think this movie failed me. It was very much a continuation of the world quite good in my opinion, but not the kind of good that will get me to buy a second ticket or own it on Blu-Ray. Further, is a friend said, “Let’s go see 2049. My treat.” I’d probably asked, “What else is playing?”