aNewDomain — The first thing I said when I came out of the theater was, “I want to see that again.”
Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is a startling and dramatic contemplation of artificial intelligence, memory, slavery, catastrophic climate change and cloning amid blasted, bleak future landscapes.
“I’ve never seen a tree,” one of the (human) characters intones at one point.
The movie is also a contemplation of what it is to be human and what artificial humans might go through as they try to experience the same kinds of things that normal people take for granted.
Related topics were addressed in Steven Spielberg‘s AI: Artificial Intelligence. There a major theme was empathy for artificial life forms. Here the focus is not on empathy but on what happens when artificial life forms, previously treated as slaves, seek what they consider to be their rightful place at the table.”
Nothing is perfect, of course, but I only have one criticism.: the sound design. As experienced in a Dolby-equipped modern theater, the bass is so loud and room-rattling at times that it distracts from what you see onscreen.
That’s a small drawback when you consider how amazingly gorgeous it is onscreen, especially in high definition and on a big screen. That’s thanks to Academy award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, no doubt. As for the soundtrack, it’s stellar, too. Composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer and Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated Benjamin Walfisch , it expertly emphasazes the movie’s main concepts and themes without overwhelming them.
So will Blade Runner 2049 join the original in the pantheon of all-time great films?
That’s hard to say.
This may be the best sequel movie I’ve ever seen. It explores concepts and themes from the original while providing additional layers of complexity and visual splendor. As the original film’s reputation grew over the years despite a shaky initial reception, we may see the same phenomenon operate here.
I’m not too concerned about that future, though. Here we have an intelligent and beautifully crafted adult film that shows what can happen when resources and artistic talent are brought together in an uncompromising, imaginative, and thoughtful fashion. Check it out.
For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.
An earlier version of this review appeared at Dennis D. McDonald’s DDMCD site. Find it here.
Here’s the trailer.