Back Row Reflections – Blade Runner 2049

The following article contains minor spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner 2049”.
You have been warned.

The day I’m writing this is the day I saw both the original Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) and the subject of this article, the 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049. As such my thoughts are gut/initial reactions to both, so keep that in mind, please. That said, this will primarily be my thoughts on certain aspects of the sequel. Though there are some thoughts on the original that I’ll be bringing up when they’re relevant.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to it.

(Final note: Occasionally I’ll simply refer to the sequel as “2049” for short)

Blade Runner 2049 is a movie I’m surprised actually managed to turn out the way it did. This, a sequel to a neo-noir sci-fi movie from the early eighties that actually manages to keep the spirit of the original intact. Logic dictates this should’ve been an action-filled mess, or generally have just missed the point of the original entirely.

I would assume the involvement of Ridley Scott (who I was surprised to learn was just an executive producer, not the director for this) helped with that. And the safe assumption the director, Denis Villeneuve, was committed to keeping the tone in line with the original. Also helps that one of the original writers was on board. Generally speaking, the stars seemed to align in this specific case, and the movie is all the better for it.

The main talking point I have is something I might as well get out of the way now, and is a nice segue from the point I just made. 2049 has several moments where it looks like it could turn into an action-movie out of nowhere. But it doesn’t. Sure, there are some action scenes, but they’re very subdued and brief. The most “action-movie” thing that happens (apart from a few, very brief fight scenes) is when the character “Luv” and some lackeys come to kidnap Deckard.

They blow a section or two out of the side of the building Deckard & K are in, which knocks them (and Deckard’s dog) back as a result. From memory that was the only explosion in the movie, and even then, it was a fairly small one. Especially given the size of the building being hit. This was one of few key instances where I expected the movie to devolve into a typical action set piece…and (thankfully) that never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I like big action set pieces as much as the next person. When they actually belong in the movie in question. Blade Runner & 2049 are not action movies, and they never really try to be. While I’m not sure how much this made Blade Runner stand out back in the early eighties (given I wasn’t born yet), I know for sure it makes 2049 stand out among the movies of today.

Of the few sci-fi/sci-fi-related movies I have seen (and one yet to be released) this year, 2049 stands out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. I have a feeling Hollywood thinks this kind of movie can’t be made anymore, or can’t make money. Hopefully the fact that 2049 has already made its budget back proves them wrong. Though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t make them try to milk the franchise dry. Given rumblings of sequels to 2049 I won’t hold my breath though.

Tangent aside, I’ll now end on my thoughts comparing the original to the sequel. Straight to the point, I actually like 2049 more than the original. While I will concede I may have to give Blade Runner a proper watch later on (and also watch The Final Cut, as I’ve only seen the Director’s Cut), there’s just something missing from it that I feel 2049 actually has. And while I can’t pin-point too much, there is one major factor 2049 has over the original. Time. 2049 has a run time of almost three hours. Blade runner, no matter which version you’re watching, falls short of two hours.

While this might seem like an odd thing to bring up as a flaw of the original, I really do believe a lack of time is what hinders it slightly in comparison to 2049. 2049 has plenty of time to set up the plot and characters involved, especially the main character K. Blade Runner has some characters that you could honestly cut out entirely and it feels like you ultimately wouldn’t lose much. At least from a story perspective.

Whether it was thought a two-and-a-half-hour movie of this nature wouldn’t sell in 1982, or Ridley Scott just envisioned it as being as long as it was, I don’t know for sure. But again, I feel an extra half hour could’ve been added, which could’ve allowed for certain aspects to be expanded upon. Oh, also, I feel 2049 has a better/more fulfilling ending than Blade Runner. Sue me.

All-in-all I enjoyed the absolute hell out of Blade Runner 2049. And while I am very sceptical about any potential sequels that may happen in the future, I feel the future is bright for this franchise so long as the team behind 2049 is kept around to make sure it’s handled correctly.

Back Row Reflections – Wonder Woman

The following article contains spoilers for the DCEU in general to a degree, but primarily the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. You have been warned.

Well, this is interesting. Normally I would do a lengthy Facebook post about my thoughts on a movie but, for once, I’m actually writing them out for this site instead. Don’t hold your breath on this becoming a habit though. I know I’m not going to make any promises.

Just to give a little background, this was potentially going to be the last DCEU movie I’d willingly go and see in the cinemas. While I did like Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad were strikes one and two against WB for me. I was going into this movie with a lot of hype that it was amazing. While part of me hoped that it would live up to the positive hype, I was also fairly cautious at the same time. I’d given them a chance with Suicide Squad, which I thought actually looked interesting. I wasn’t going to get my hopes up twice.

Thankfully, this time, I wasn’t spurned.

Wonder Woman is a fantastic movie. Great visuals, a solid story, interesting characters, and above all else, Wonder Woman was Wonder Woman. I believed it. Whatever criticisms I have of this movie, and there are some, Gal Gadot’s acting is not one of them. I firmly believe that Wonder Woman is in safe hands with her.

The one thing they, and Gal herself, absolutely nailed was her empathy. My God. Empathy. That almost felt like a foreign entity in this franchise. Superman is a brooding Emo; Batman is Frank Miller’s Batman. While I liked Ben Affleck’s acting, and Henry Cavill isn’t bad either, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the first character in the DCEU I’ve truly given a shit about. I’m not kidding. Wonder Woman even captured elements of Superman’s character better through Wonder Woman’s eyes.

There’s a moment in the movie where Diana, Steve and their little band of misfits are making their way through No Man’s Land to try and get to who we’re told is the big bad. Diana is stopped by a woman who tells her the Germans have overrun a village and taken the locals hostage. Without a second thought, she puts her tiara on, discards her civilian clothes and proceeds to have one of the most satisfying action movies I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie.

I was almost brought to tears I was so happy. I’m not even joking. I was so happy with how this movie was going, and how Wonder Woman was being portrayed, that I genuinely almost cried. This was the Wonder Woman I wanted. This was the movie I KNEW they were capable of producing. If anything, it’s sad that it took them this long to do so. DC and WB HAVE made good superhero movies before. So, a string of publicly and critically panned ones annoyed the absolute hell out of me. They were better than that, and now they finally remembered it.

Wonder Woman is now the gold standard of the DCEU, and I hope they keep to that standard with the movies to come. I’ve always said I will never compare Marvel movies to DC movies (except when relevant, like BvS & Civil War), so now I thankfully, and finally, have a benchmark for this current string of films.

After thinking about it, I’ve decided I’m only going to mention one glaring problem I had with this movie. The inconsistency with blood. Diana gets grazed by a bullet and we get some blood on her arm. But then, much later, she stabs the guy she assumes to be Ares in disguise right through his chest. No blood. None. We see the blade sticking out through the ceiling of the watchtower they’re on. It’s clean. No. That’s not how that works. Don’t you dare wuss out on that.

Am I saying there needed to be buckets of blood? No. But for a movie with swordplay set in WORLD WAR ONE, there’s not much blood at all. Hell, the scene where Diana gets grazed by a bullet the Amazons are fighting and stabbing the shit out of the Germans. Once again, no blood on their swords. Do people in the DCEU not have any blood in their torsos or something? Like, this is something I’d expect from Disney, not Warner Brothers.

One other thing that bothered me, but wasn’t a major gripe, is that I wish this had just been a World War II movie. I mean, they put a pretty heavy emphasis on Germany as the bad guys, so it would’ve made sense. In fact, as I’d discussed with other people, this movie probably started that way. The assumption being “Ugh this is just Captain America” attitudes being what stopped them from committing to or possibly changing the setting.

Though in all honesty, I just wanted Wonder Woman punching Hitler. I mean. You can see where I’m coming from right? Wonder Woman. Punching. Adolf Hitler. In the face. That would be worth the price of admission alone. There are other minor things that bothered me about the movie, but as they’re mainly just nitpicks (as the WWII thing was) I’ll leave them out of this.

So, to summarise, Wonder Woman was a phenomenal movie that lived up to all the hype surrounding it. At least in my opinion. There were some issues here and there, but nothing that dragged the movie down for me all that much. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and if I’m able to afford it, I may actually see Wonder Woman again before it finishes up in the cinemas here in Australia.

So, there are my thoughts on Wonder Woman. At least, as much as I can justify spewing out anyway. What did you think of the movie? Did you agree with me? Do you think my opinion is akin to horseshit? Let me know. I’ll see you all next time with another At First Glance article.