Blade Runner has since become a bold pattern on the fabric of our planetary culture. If you haven't seen it - and there are millions, if not billions who haven't - I urge, nay beg, you to watch it before you see 2049. In fact, before you watch the first movie, go read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.
The best way to measure a movie in my book is whether I can stay awake. There's something about the cinema's cosy darkness, like a factory womb, where replicants are nurtured. So I feared the 163 minutes. It turned out that 163 felt like 5. The movie looks amazing, plenty of nods towards the original's unique style, but glad to make progress in time, in look, in visual depth. The acting is universally excellent, highlights include Ryan Gosling in his best screen performance to date, Harrison Ford owning the screen when he shows up, Jared Leto utterly credible as the mysterious Wallace, Robin Wright perfectly cast as the grizzled LAPD police chief and Ana de Armas as an engaging hologram.
In terms of the big idea, it's still about what it means to be human and whether we can ever really know for sure that we are human. These are the kind of questions that don't surface very often in popular culture and it is to the credit of the filmmakers that they have taken Philip K Dick's obsession and really run with it. There's a scene where K's hologram girlfriend offers to read to him, Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. There may be meaning here, in terms of imagined entities creating or owning further imagined entities. In my opinion, she should've offered to read Philip K Dick's Ubik. Could it be that everyone in the film is already dead, from that mysterious blackout that erased digital history? That would've pushed it out.
In terms of where we are now with our humanity, the Blade Runner future is one without animals, humans themselves in decline. We feel bad when Joi the hologram is destroyed, which brought me back a couple of weeks to when my daughter was on my phone, poking Talking Tom repeatedly in his face. The virtual cat said 'Ow, ow, ow' and I said 'Stop hurting him, that's not nice.' Are we already there, I wonder?
Read my fiction at www.garyjbyrnes.com