Warning: The following review is infected with spoilers.
BEIRUT: It has been a fruitless few months for Hollywood with films silently traveling in and out of the box office.
Symptoms of franchise fatigue have been apparent on every audience member’s face – tired eyes, unimpressed expressions, and heavy sighs.
It seems whenever that occurs, Hollywood turns around and offers a film that all should experience.
However, Blade Runner:2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, has been struggling at the box office and that is an unfortunate reality.
Dennis Villeneuve’s cinematic and narrative masterpiece is a school in filmmaking, not only due to its production value but also because it is, in fact, the perfect sequel.
In the age of flat, predictable, and over saturated franchises, making effective sequels is no easy task.
Yet, everything about Villeneuve’s film works both independently and as part of the Blade Runner mythos.
It not only pushes the narrative and the world of Blade Runner forward, but it also builds on the characters and takes them to places that make sense to the overall arc, while giving the audience new information.
One has to note that another reason for the narrative’s success is due to the fact that the film’s promotional material did not spoil any of the film’s major plot points.
Lately, a film’s plot has the risk of being ruined from lengthy trailers that are filled with major spoilers, and thankfully Blade Runner:2049’s marketing stayed away from that. Instead of giving emphasis on narrative beats, the trailer showcased the film’s visual spectacle and kept the narrative hidden, a strategy that many other films should employ.
The film follows Ryan Gosling’s, K, an advanced replicant, who goes through an existential crisis when he discovers a truth that could spark a war between humans and replicants.
The characters are all flawed and each has their own visible and clear goals within this fable about what it means to be human.
A scene within the film finds Gosling’s K speaking with Dr. Ana Stelline, a doctor who builds and creates memories for replicants, as they discuss how one can differentiate between a real memory and a fabricated memory.
Stelline states that fabricated memories are perfectly designed, and all aspects of the memory are taken into consideration, from the smallest to the largest detail, while real memories are based on emotion, so they’re messy; a clear allegory on cinema.
No amount of synopsis would do justice to the multifaceted narrative that pays-off everything it sets up, from character arcs to overall thematic elements.
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have both sculpted a perfect screenplay, that will likely be too advanced for the mass audience.
It not only touches upon the miracle of life and what it means to be alive, but also aspects of love’s complexities, faith, and why humans believe in what they do.
Those who have seen his previous works, know how much Villeneuve is in control of the mise-en-scene, and his work in Blade Runner:2049 is no different.
Every shot is so intricately crafted that it would take hours to fully analyze everything that is occurring within the frame.
From the color palette to the wardrobe; from the lighting to the set design; truly Villeneuve is one of the worthiest cinematic auteurs of our time.
The amount of world-building that occurs so effortlessly within the film is another reason why the film is as immersive as it is.
To build more upon the strength of the film’s image, Roger Deakins should be the only contender for this year’s Oscar race in cinematography.
The film’s unforgettable visuals come directly from the outstanding use of the frame, camera movement, and most importantly lighting.
There are moments where the light is constantly shifting, as it rotates from shadow to light, which grants the scene a mesmerizing effect.
For once Hans Zimmer’s new sound, Zimmer 2.0, works in conjunction with the image and the narrative.
Zimmer emulates his best Vangelis while adding his own stylistic imprint within the Blade Runner world, and crafts what is possibly his best soundtrack in recent years.
Though mostly using synthesizers, Zimmer does compose a soft melody that is almost hypnotizing.
The film’s full immersive experience is nothing without the performances that each actor delivered.
From Ryan Gosling’s cold and distant K to Jared Leto’s sophisticated character with a God complex, the cast delivers a tour de force.
Harrison Ford’s reprisal of Deckard, the character he played in the original film, was so captivating that one could argue it was a stronger performance than his reprisal of Han Solo, a character that Ford himself wanted dead.
Blade Runner:2049 is truly this year’s cinematic masterpiece, and it will no doubt recruit some very loyal fans.
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