Blade Runner 2049

I missed the press screening of Blade Runner 2049 and was bummed. As most, I was a fan of the original. And after seeing the interesting documentary a few months ago about the screenwriter of the movie, I was even more hyped about this. But the San Diego International Film Festival was going on, and I was just swamped with movies and shorts I was watching. Finally last night, I went to a late showing at the Reading Town Square to watch it. This morning I got an email from Asher Luberto, a film student in Santa Barbara that I’ve been talking movies with for the last few months. He had seen it last night, too. And something occurred to me during our email exchanges. Instead of sitting down and writing the review, I should just cut and paste our conversation. That will be my review. So, here it goes (spelling errors be damned!)

ASHER LUBERTO: Watched blade runner 2049 last night and loved it! For me not as good as the original, but warrants a second look that could change my mind. I also watched Sunset Boulevard, a classic, and in my opinion the best film made in Hollywood about Hollywood. I saw the dark tower, and that was a pretentious bland mess. What did you think about the new Blade Runner film?

JOSH BOARD: Well…I saw Blade Runner at 930 last night, after watching two other movies earlier. I was tired as all hell !!!! Amazing music score. Terrific set pieces.

ASHER LUBERTO: I totally got the same thing from the music, I loved it! Especially the score when we followed Gosling through 2049 LA I could practically feel the bass in my seat!

JOSH BOARD: Great cast. But…the story doesn’t warrant a 2 hour 45 minute film. It seems like with each scene (I’m thinking about Jared Leto scenes), they were trying for that powerful scene reminiscent of the Rutger Hauer moment that’s so powerful in the original. Yeah, Sunset Boulveard is a classic. Love it. There’s a more contemporary movie that reminded me of that,, with Woody Allen directing. Bullets Over Broadway, from the mid-90s. Diane Wiest (who got an Oscar nomination or maybe won the Oscar) plays an aging actress. They’re putting on a play in Broadway. Everytime she tells characters “Don’t speak!” I was in stitches.. It’s brilliant.

ASHER LUBERTO: I totally agree with the film being long and a bit pretentious. But I loved Deakins cinematography as well as the score and performances. I have been telling my dad since “Prisoners” was first released that Dennis was going to be the next big director (almost like a modern day Hitchcock with his ability to create suspense and do a wide variety of film, although that’s reaching) and every film he continues to hit it out of the park. Also the visual poetry was powerful as well as the ending. Sunset Boulavard has got be in my top 50, amazing movie.

JOSH BOARD: Enough about Sunset Boulevard! Hahahahaha. Well, Roger Deakins is certainly the best in the business, and it was stunning to look at. As a director, well…I liked Prisoners. I thought Arrival was rather disappointing. A lot of this movie didn’t make sense. Jared Leto stabbing that woman? What was that about? My wife complained about all the naked women, asking what it was about, especially since it was for an extended amount of time. I can see her point, although, I had the same debate with a local critic that felt Ex Machina was being exploitative in that regard. I think sometimes with sci-fi….naked women kind of shows…I dunno…what in the future computer geeks will come up with. I mean, look how much the internet became a hub for porn and everyone hooking up. So, instead of the old days when sci-fi movies had jetpacks and flying cars, we now have… flying cars and naked replicant women!

ASHER LUBERTO: I totally understand where you are coming from with your view point of women. But I felt like in this films case, they were exploring the human body and how real and intimate the replicants are, as the film is exploring what it means to be human. Some of my favorite shots of this epic were some of the more confined and poetic, although Deakens grand noir modern Los Angeles is one of the finer and more dazzling pieces of cinematography to ever grace the silver screen.

JOSH BOARD: Yeah, that’s true, but I felt like we’ve seen that before.

ASHER LUBERTO: Scenes like one that takes place during the films beginning as our protagonist (a replicant) gazes at a dead tree symbolizing him being a soulless replicant. Where as he comes around to a realization of the humane aspects of himself we revisit the tree, where he finds flowers. Another scene that was as touching and powerful as any in recent memory, was when Gosling comes across a hive of bees. A bee or colony of bees most nearly represented in ancient times a symbol of power and unity, something that he seeks and all replicants seek, whether fighting for a good cause or not.

JOSH BOARD: The bee scene was cool. I’m not so sure they were going for any symbolism as much as it was just a cool visual, and…reminds people of a time where animals and bugs were around. Especially now when we hear more and more about how bees keep dying out. My wife and I joked about Goslin and playing a replicant was perfect, since he’s sometimes stiff in his roles.

ASHER LUBERTO: The performances were all terrific, Gosling and Ford feature a wide range of emotions, some being nothing short of heartbreaking. As collosal and layered as the plot is, I felt connected on an emotional level to these characters.

JOSH BOARD: Dude, you liked this movie WAY MORE than I did. Do you have any complaints about it?

ASHER LUBERTO: As for complaints the screen time is nearly 20 min too long, and every scene seems to be shooting for power harnessed in the groundbreaking tears in the rain excerpt of the original, making it a tad bit pretentious, however, I still really enjoyed the film and in my opinion will hold the test of time!

JOSH BOARD: I don’t think it will hold up so well, but…I think it’s a decent sequel. Part of the problem for me is…having seen so many movies, I think of other things. The flower scene you bring up was interesting. I did like that. It reminded me of other films, though. I think part of my problem is, let’s say this movie came out two years after Blade Runner….although Blade Runner wasn’t a huge hit at that time, it took decades of it becoming this underground cult hit…this sequel would be brilliant. Now, I find myself thinking…didn’t we just see this in “Her”? Oh, that reminds me of (the much better) “Ex Machina” from a few years ago. Many scenes in this movie were mesmerizing. I even liked the old casino, and how they brought memories of old (card tables, roulette wheels), with the current (holograms of Elvis singing, or Frank Sinatra on a jukebox). What didn’t you like about the movie? (wow, I totally sounded like the waitress from Hell or High Water)

ASHER LUBERTO: I feel the film borrowed some from other films, but is original. I felt the film was overbearing in its length, and the plot tried to cram a little too much. That’s what made the first so effective. Amidst the brilliance of the tactical constructed world that we have all come to loved, at its heart it was a noir similar to those from the confined 40’s and 50’s mysteries. Although this film has a noir undertone, I felt the plot was blown out of proportion much like in Scott’s Alien Covenant. I do not have much to complain about though, as I think it is one of the best movies this year! How many stars are you going to give this?

JOSH BOARD: 2 ½ out of 5. What would you give it?

ASHER LUBERTO: 4.5 out of 5.. This is undeniably a flawed film, and you could argue its doesn’t amount to the sum of its parts, but that’s not to say it’s not a good film for me. There’s more to it then a mouthwatering visual exercise, but the story and performances resonated with me enough to warrant a very high score.