Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is my favourite film of all time. It has been so pretty much since I first watched it in the mid 80s; I didn’t see it when it was released in 1982 as I was a mere 10 years old at the time and was only dimly aware of it. Strangely enough, my first contact with Blade Runner wasn’t the film itself or even the book that inspired it (Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?), but a comic book adaptation of the film that was serialized in the weekly Star Wars comic I collected back then.
The comic adaptation – which, thanks to the excellent blog All That I Love, you can read here – was a revelation to me. Although I already liked my sci-fi, I hadn’t read anything quite so dark or quite so near-future plausible. The art was impressive – even more so once you’ve seen the film and realize how closely the mood and style of the film was mirrored – and I found the ideas underpinning the story intriguing. After finishing the comic, I remember thinking that I had to see the film as soon as I could, and it wasn’t too long afterwards that I actually did. I was not to be disappointed. The film is a visual and sonic feast, and while Philip K Dick’s book may have inspired the film, the screenplay struck out in its own direction whilst incorporating the majority of Dick’s ideas. Strictly speaking, the story is very simple indeed, but there’s a whole heap of subtext about mortality, playing god, slavery and cultural disposability that lends a lot of weight to events.
So it was with a great deal of trepidation that I discovered that a sequel was being made. Originally Ridley Scott was to direct it, but although he has remained the executive producer for the film, he has ended up giving the reins to Denis Villeneuve (who helmed the impressive Arrival) – probably because he’s too busy with the ongoing Alien mythology films to be as hands-on as he might prefer to be. There are plenty of dangling plot threads for a new film to pluck at, but I think my major worry is that a sequel won’t be able to capture the gritty yet oddly dreamlike mood of the original as successfully. The original film is hugely influential on modern-day sci-fi: everything from the miniature work to Vangelis’s majestic and incredibly atmospheric score has been endlessly emulated in the years since the original film was released. A sequel cannot hope to be as mythic in scope or execution, but then again, with Ford returning to play Deckard, Villeneuve in the director’s chair and Scott still overseeing the project, I feel there’s scope for optimism – even in the absence of Vangelis (Hans Zimmer is scoring the new film, but as you will hear in the trailer, Vangelis’s musical legacy has had a dramatic and deserved impact on Zimmer’s score).
And so a trailer has now landed for Blade Runner 2049, and I have to say, it has properly blown me away. The striking visuals are certainly intact, given a 21st century makeover as you might expect. It’s too early to say about the score, but based on what little you hear in the trailer, it sounds like Zimmer proved to be right man for the job. It’s easy to be dismissive after all these years, but I dunno, I prefer to err on the side of optimism here. For the most part, the people involved in making this film happen have an excellent track record. The only thing I do know for sure is that when the film is released in a few months, I will be front and centre.