Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Best 4K Bluray I have seen and heard yet!
Such an amazingly beautiful and insightful film that is a great extension to the original. With this rewatch I still loved it, but knowing how the mystery comes together made the first half feel a little more drawn out.
Joi, the stunning visuals, and the roaring sythn score with plenty of subwoofer were my favorite parts. I can't wait to watch it again in a few years when the plot has faded more from my mind, so I can piece the mystery together all over again!
A sequel that comes decades after the original but matches it in every way and then goes beyond.
First off, I highly recommend you watch or revisit the original before heading into this Blade Runner Universe expanding masterpiece. Heck I just saw the original last night, and I already went to rewatch it again after seeing 2049!
2049 perfectly rounds out this whole mythology which I am starting to feel might be one of the best two part movie franchises of all time.
Cinematography: See this on the biggest screen you can! The flush diverse landscapes are amazing. We get the rainy city scape of the original, San Diego as a giant landfill, foggy farmlands, Las Vegas as a nuclear desert waste land, then back to the city scape with snow instead of rain.
In each instance the screen is decked out in sometimes stunning colorful vibrance and other times dark and subdued images. I hope so badly that Roger Deakins gets and Oscar for this achievement.
The Score: Just as 80s retro as the original along with the bombastic energetic sounds of Hans Zimmer... complete with tribal beats and chilling silent moments.
Really when you think about it, this movie is all about contrast. You have so many long quiet moments that are suddenly dashed when the score ramps up to full volume to compliment the occasional sections of full on action. I will touch on contrast in the cinematography later in spoilers.
The Pacing: While this is a long, at times quiet, and mysterious story it is so worth seeing based on the deep world building emersion it provides. All the movies Denis Villeneuve has directed have this intriguing drive that totally captivates me as a film lover... even Enemy in a much more abstract way.
One very prominent theme in this movie is sexuality. There is plenty of nudity included that is used to drive this theme that plays a central role in the story.
I already know that people that loved or appreciate the original like me will go and see this. This may not be the average popcorn movie goers kind of film, because it does get artsy... but Villeneuve does include enough action and intrigue for those Blade Runner newbies that are interested seeing what all the fuss is about.
From the opening scene we are informed that our main character K is a replicant that is hunting down older models. And K is a complete badass in every fight scene, even when he gets knocked down.. which I can not say for Deckard in the original.
Here is the biggest difference on why I loved this film and just like Blade Runner. In both films the humans are complete ass holes, and in the original we are pulling for Deckard who walks, talks, and acts like a human ... when we should be on the side of the replicants. This ends up leaving me 'cold' on the film overall, like I said in my recent review of the original.
Now if you go into the original going along with this idea that Deckard is a replicant, then you can think more about the 'More Human than Human' concept and the blurred lines of the humanity of humans compared to replicants. All that is ambiguous and does not hit you until after the film, if at all. On the other hand 2049 sets us up by pulling for Replicants so the film can then greatly expand on additional themes like faults in technology, reproduction, and our place in the universe.
Was it just me or did the scenes in Las Vegas feel like you were playing Fallout New Vegas ; )
Now back to Cinematography, the whole film I could not wrap my head around why so often these characters in the shadows were so damn dark and hard to see. I mean I get them being in the shadows, but they should not be totally blacked out. This was really bugging me, then toward the end during Deckards scene with Wallace.. it hit me. The shadows are metaphor for the soul. When a figure it blacked out where you can only see their outline ... that is meant to show just the vessel of a character or just their body. Basically what the humans/ the audience may think of the idea of replicants. But then when the light is adjusted you can see the characters soul shine thru. And this is done for both replicants and the humans in the film to show that they both have these similar characteristics.
Let me take a moment to complain about the font... why was it so damn small. I am looking at the huge screen with this almost microscopic font... was there a logical reason for that ... if so I would to know what that could be.
I loved the scenes between K and Joi. They are a couple, but Joi is a product that is programed to do everything possible to make K happy and comfortable. The juxtaposition is that K is a replicant and not human so they are both artificial. So we end up get this fascinating relationship that mimics and expands on ideas in the film 'Her'.
But despite Joi being a halogram, we come to fall in love with her just like K does and are just as crushed as he when she is terminated.
I have to mention that Ana de Armas looks absolutely gorgeous as Joi complete with those amazing lips that are also a call back to Rachael in the original.
Also Ryan Goslings is amazing in this film, he emotes so much passion in the quiet scenes and as I mentioned earlier is believable as an ass kicking Blade Runner during those high octane moments.
K comes full circle towards the end when he sees this billboard of Joi naked, and that is never something we saw when they were together .. possibly because of how personal that connection was... but then it is cheapened with this sex sells interactive advertisement in the end that shows the true intent of the product and go back to this theme of being artificial.
I thought the glitching technology with Joi after their crash and the Vegas show were used extremely purposefully. In this distant future technology sometimes is not 100% reliable and can cause unpleasant moments.. just like what the audience endures seeing them in the film. This may be aiming to bring up technology in comparison with the replicants and showing how they might be more 'Human than Human' and not seen as just tech.
Coming back to Deckard's confrontation with Wallace, from my interoperation Wallace clearly says that Deckard was designed to fall in love with Rachael which ends up leading to the first replicant child. So this confirms at least for me in the 2049 film about Deckards true nature, which is much more believable. Seeing Racheal come back in the scene looking just like she did in the original was truly stunning and then CGI used to pull this off looked amazing to me. The only issues I have with these CGI people recently used in movies is that usually they look a little soft in the face, but that is my only complaint.
Finally the last scene where we see K ... he lays down on the steps and stares into the sky. To me this showed that after this ordeal he is looking to God to understand his place in the universe ... and it is perfect end for this character that we have grown attached to. I heard one interoperation where they thought he died, but I don't agree with that.
There are so many more brilliant moments in the film, like all the action, Harrison freaking Ford, and the dream sequence with the horse, and the ultimate revelation on who the replicant child is .. just to name a few.
This film is a masterpiece that I hope the Academy honors, and it makes me appreciate the original that laid out the ground work even more.
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Happy movie watching... SKOL!