Monday, 19 December 2016

Sequel or replica(nt)?

Today turned into a pretty big deal for me. Not because it's my last week at work before the Christmas break, or that I'm feeling guilty for not having seen Rogue One yet. No, it's because today is the day that the Blade Runner 2049 trailer was shown.

I have mixed fixed feelings on this. I love Blade Runner as a stand-alone movie (ignoring the fact that there are about 5 different versions) and wish that film companies would just leave great one-off films alone. Blade Runner also treated its audience as adults and didn't deign to explain every plot device (it just had Gaff wandering around being brilliantly cryptic). On the other hand, the sequel could be great and it could be a wonderful example of where a sequel does complete justice to, and even betters, the original (see Toy Story 2).

So what did I think? Well, to be honest the trailer didn't show an awful lot (which is sort of how trailers should work). The tone felt right, the music and voice-over helped massively, and old man Deckard added the same sort of nostalgia that old man Solo added to The Force Awakens. Ryan Gosling will probably be pretty good too, but at this point it's hard to tell.

The most overriding feeling I had was just how empty the scenes in the trailer appeared to be. So far it has none of the built up chaos of the original and, dare I say it, it looks too clean. I always think back to the design of Sebastian's hotel room as a marker for the design ethos of Blade Runner. A jumble of new tech and degraded antiques, a collision of two completely different worlds. I think there's something deeper here too, we aren't too far away from the year 2049 so the idea of setting a future tale here could be fraught with danger. We live in such a combination of the contemporary and the future that often it's easier to imagine how the far future looks than the one that's coming round the corner.

I won't exactly quote William Gibson on this one but I'm pretty sure he mentioned that we are pretty much all living a science fiction life nowadays, which makes it harder for him to separate current day from future state. If you've read any of his recent books set in the modern day you'll understand this.

Insert Dick joke here.

And I suppose there is a danger of taking on the mantle of something that is widely considered to be one of the finest movies in it's genre. As a medium films have sunk themselves into our consciousness, whether it be quotes from Star Wars, the theme from Jaws, or people saying hello to their little friends. Blade Runner is no exception. We took the kids to a pantomime at the weekend, a performance of Dick Whittington full of jokes that were squarely aimed at the adults, and lo and behold, halfway through the character of King Rat started a soliloquy. "I've seen things you people couldn't possibly imagine..." Well, I almost fell off my chair. I never thought I'd hear that one in a regional theatre production at Christmas!

So this film has huge boots to fill. I hope it manages it. I am rooting for this one, in fact I am desperate for it to prove me wrong and deliver on all fronts. I just hope Gaff doesn't turn up and explain the paper unicorn.

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