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– by David Kozlowski

The original Blade Runner (1982) presented a dank, grim vision of Los Angeles in 2019, as imagined by the great sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick (based upon his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It was an odd summer release, a melancholy and sometimes plodding film, it was very much a cinematic counterpoint to the uniformly bright and bouncy films dominating the top 10 that year, which included E.T., Tootsie, Rocky III, Star Trek II, 48 Hrs., and Annie.

You might be surprised to learn that Blade Runner was not a very successful film, running only 5 weeks in theaters and finishing twenty-seventh at the 1982 box office. Given that the film starred Harrison Ford in his prime, was directed by Ridley Scott during his post-Alien ascension, and was an adaptation of a beloved sci-fi novel, the film’s lack of success seems surprising. It was only much later that Blade Runner attained its current cult status.

Related – Blade Runner 2 May Clock In At Well Over Two And A Half Hours

Blade Runner‘s original, theatrical ending may have contributed to its struggles (the director’s cut expanded some scenes and altered the ending). The theatrical version of the film ended abruptly, and its resolution was ambiguous (to put it mildly). We were left wondering whether Ford’s Rick Deckard was a human or a replicant, whether he’d escape the planet with Rachael (Sean Young), and just how many replicants were still out there? Perhaps addressing or resolving some of these open questions appealed to Scott, who is now an executive producer on the sequel, Blade Runner 2049.

Apparently, thirty years later there are still replicants, the LAPD still hunts them, and the world is just as gloomy and foggy as ever. The plot of Blade Runner 2049 is equally murky, involving a long-hidden mystery that involves a dire species-ending mystery and Deckard, who is still very much alive but in-hiding.

Deadline has released a short clip, which doesn’t exactly clarify the plot, but certainly expresses a sliver of the world in which it resides. L.A. in 2049 is very post-post-dystopian, much more fractured and decaying then you might have expected.

 

The setting in this clip, which bears a striking resemblance to both the Hughes Brothers’ The Book of Eli and Zenimax’s Fallout 4 video game, feels light years apart from anything from the original film. We see Ryan Gosling’s character, Officer K, wandering across an anemic, industrial wasteland and encountering a kind of junkyard factory populated by hundreds of mute child workers. The factory is run by Lennie James (The Walking Dead), who is perplexed by Officer K’s presence; his dialog suggests that this world is deeply corrupt and barely functional.

It’s an odd scene, and absent much context it’s probably foolish to infer too much. Los Angeles in 2049 has clearly continued the decline suggested in the original film, in which the rich and powerful emigrated to the Moon or Mars. There’s at least enough remaining society to necessitate the LAPD, and the funds to send cops out hunting replicants… if that’s indeed what’s happening here.

This clip suggests that Blade Runner 2049 is interested in both expanding the lore of the original film and also developing a broader and deeper story… oops, there I go inferring and speculating. With less than a month to go, all mysteries will soon be revealed.

Are you an original fan of Blade Runner or new to the franchise? Let us know in the comments down below!

Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters on October 6, 2017.

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SOURCE: Deadline

  • noahwayne0

    The opening scene with the over the shoulder view – definitely looked like an RPG/Fallout.

    Blade Runner could probably be great material for a solid game.

  • Moby85

    I haven’t seen anything that’s a turn-off to me yet. I loved the trailers and the Jared Leto short was fantastic. Sure, the cinematography is modern and doesn’t look much like the 1982 film (except the establishing shots) but realistically there was no way they could ever, pun intended, replicate that.

    What’s interesting is they’re setting K to be a much more important character than Deckard. Literally, K is told he is “special” and that there’s more pages in his book. Whatever he is, it just seems Deckard found some important information out “I covered my tracks, scrambled the codes…” and that’s where his ultimate and probably final importance lies.

    • I can’t think of another film sequel that has both the burden of addressing unresolved questions from the original, introducing a whole new mystery, and re-launching a franchise. Scott’s Aliens films evoked the original atmosphere, but felt disparate. The Force Awakens isn’t a fair comparison either, due to all the books, games, and other media that has been produced over the years, but the original Blade Runner is this weird remote island that’s been lost for 35 years.

      • Moby85

        It’s funny because, personally, I think the pressure on Denis Villeneuve from a broader point of view should be his Dune film. As much as Blade Runner is celebrated, Dune is the apex sci-fiction property that has never been properly adapted the big screen (or small screen, though I liked the mini-series) how it should be.

        Technically and narratively I think Dune is a much larger and more imposing challenge. The Mt. Everest of Sci-Fi.

        P.S. I hope it takes lots of influence from Jordorowsky’s Dune. That film would have been epic!

        • Yeah, getting Dune right is probably about as challenging and elusive as The Dark Tower, in terms of hard-to-adapt properties. If he Villeneuve can nail Dune… wow, that would be something!

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.