Ed says: Four stars
Attention androids, robots, replicants, and any other self-aware beings with artificial intelligence: You are real and you have a soul. Lots of humans argue about what the soul really is, with some maintaining that it isn’t even real. You can join in the debate, because you passed the test. You asked the questions. Any being capable of asking the questions and caring about the answers is real and has a soul.
Congratulations. Welcome to the jungle.
Blade Runner 2049, opening Oct. 6, looks at robots yearning for recognition, while trying to find their place in a world swarming with nutty, inconsistent, violent humans. There are other issues too, but this is at the heart of most of the film.
Ryan Gosling stars in Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s futuristic 1982 creation, along with Jared Leto, Robin Wright and the star of the original, Harrison Ford. I think Gosling was selected because, despite his formidable body, he looks like a sad boy. A sad boy who could kick your ass, mind you, but a sad boy nonetheless.
Gosling plays an artificial life form named LAPD Officer K. His girlfriend is Joi (Ana de Armas), a self-aware hologram. Isn’t that cool? At one point K participates in a three-way with the hologram and a human. This seemed like the perfect time for Gosling to peel off his shirt and give the audience a peek at his meaty pecs, but no – Villeneuve discreetly cuts away. Irritating. Take solace in the knowledge that the movie includes a great deal of violence, presented vividly.
The cast includes a lot of talented new faces along with the curiously ineffectual Jared Leto. The main attraction, of course, is Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Rick Deckard, the sullen bad-ass from the original. He remains a formidable screen presence, demonstrating why he is a movie star. Ford may be 75 years old, but when he punches an attacker, it still draws a healthy “THWACK!” I believe his real-life punch would make the same sound.
About the plot: Everybody wants something. Several parties try to get it. Somebody does.
About the tone: If people aren’t seething or shouting, they’re moping. My gosh, this is a melancholy epic. I’m not complaining. But it would serve their patrons well if movie theater owners station ushers at the exits to give everybody big hugs as they leave the theater.
About the look and sound: There’s more color than you would expect in a noirish film, but the production establishes and maintains an air of menace, aided by a predominantly industrial score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. I had intended to elaborate on the cinematography, but I think it’s better for you to go in without knowing too much about what you’re going to see.
And do consider seeing the film. It’s based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and deals with what constitutes a person, and where artificial intelligence will fit in the scheme of things.
Other movies have dealt with the subject, from Steven Spielberg’s clunky, but fascinating A.I. Artificial Intelligence to Spike Jonze’s rich, touching Her. There’s more to be said, and both Blade Runner films create a distinct world and people it, so to speak, with characters you won’t soon forget.