Sunday, 4 February 2018

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Tarkovsky Meets Philip K Dick in Villeneuve's Modern Classic

Denis Villeneuve's stunning, thoughtful, creative sequel to Ridley Scott's original gets a disc release from Sony (4K, Blu-ray, Ltd edition Blu-ray, and DVD) just after coming out on Digital Download and Sky's Buy & Keep Program. 

It's thirty years after the events of BLADE RUNNER. Ryan Gosling is LAPD Officer K (shades of Kafka), a blade runner whose job it is to 'retire' Nexus replicants past their sell-by date. When he disposes of Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), K discovers a strongbox containing female bones. Scratches on the pelvis suggest the deceased underwent a Caesarian section, but the most interesting thing is that the bones bear a serial number, meaning these are the remains of a replicant. But replicants can't reproduce. Or can they? 

Pursued by agents of megalomaniac replicant manufacturer Nimander Wallace (Jared Leto) and accompanied by his virtual girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas), K finds himself on a journey to find the child, the truth, and of course, Harrison Ford.

While BLADE RUNNER was very much a film of the 1980s, BLADE RUNNER 2049 confounds expectations somewhat by feeling like an SF film from the  early 1970s, bursting as it is with both creativity and an unrelenting bleakness both in its production design and its philosophy. In fact perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is that it exists at all in the current movie climate. Not that this is 163 minutes (!) of drabness. Roger Deakins has quite deservedly been nominated for an Academy Award for his deliciously varied colour palette that ranges from washed out grey to glowing ochre. 

And yes, BLADE RUNNER 2049 runs for nearly three hours. It doesn't feel like it, though, in fact in ways you may end up wishing it were longer. The film has a most welcome Tarkovskian feel to its gloomy setting and measured, deliberate pacing, and, in the end, it may just be the first Science Fiction Biblical Epic. The promise of a child who will save a race, a villain ordering his minions to 'Bring me the child!' while nonchalantly destroying the 'angels' he has created, sacrifice and salvation all add to a potent mix that needs that kind of running time to play out properly.

       DVD extras include Blade Runner 101, which is six behind the scenes featurettes and three original short films that bridge the two features - 2036, 2048 and 2022. The Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD discs have those and Designing the World of Blade Runner which features interviews with Villeneuve, Ridley Scott, Gosling and Ford. Finally, there's a two-disc limited edition Blu-ray which has all the above, plus 30 more minutes of exclusive featurettes and five art cards. 

Denis Villeneuve's BLADE RUNNER 2049 is out on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Limited edition Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 5th February. It's already available on Digital Download and Sky's Buy & Keep Program

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