Blade Runner (1982) (2017)
Re-watched original Blade Runner in preparation of the new one coming out (first time in a couple decades at least).
I remember loving it when it came out, even if it was a bit noir. (And it's still and 89/91 on Rotten Tomatoes). Watching it, again, 30 years later, I'm reminded first how young everyone looks, but also of all the things it got wrong:
- There were CRT’s everywhere (portable electronics/etc), when they had flat screens back then and they should have known those were the future.
- Everyone smoked, just as the anti-smoking fascism was getting started (they should have predicted that).
- Since 1980's was anti-Japan (Japan's taking over the world) phase, they figured street slang would be munged Japanese -- but they failed to predict that there are a lot of Chinese and Indian people in the world, or that the Keynesianism Japan was trying would be as big a disaster for them as it was for us in the 1930's (or everyone else that's over-used it).
- The other thing was the buildings were huge and decrepit. So they both looked like 100 years in the future, and like they'd been there for 50 years (and were decaying). And you don't get both of those in a mere 35 years from filming.
- And for placing it in 2019, they had us having cloned cyborg-slaves, flying cars, mega-corps, space colonies. (But they didn't advance in basic communications as they still had pay-phones. They were poor quality video phones, but still). It shouldn't have taken a lot of brain-power to figure out that in 30 years, we weren't going to advance that much -- or that personal communications would advance more.
I think they were just sloppy -- borrowing the basics from the story, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", and not updating it in the 14 years that passed between it's authorship and final release. It doesn't seem like it would have hurt to place it in 2050 or 2100. So it was a human story, wrapped in some bad futurist backdrop, instead of a TRUE sci fi -- which tries to think about how technology will change the culture (and is sort of the point). Sci Fi is about continuity with the timeline and universe you create. This sort of failed.
But I really liked the human story, as told through the eye's of an android with a limited lifespan, and facing it's end. So while I wasn't thrilled with the dark and dreary filming style (and like when does it ever rain in L.A.?), slow pacing, and minimalist dialog (or inconsistencies with science and tech) -- it had a mood. 'And it was still a really good story. Told well. It touched on some important things: the temporary nature of our lives, remembering our humanity/compassion/empathy, love, and undertones reminding you to live every day like time is precious.
So I'm not as in love with the film as I was when I first saw it. But to me, it was a better movie than most others that get more credit for ground-breaking Sci Fi: 2001 a Space Odyssey, Logan's Run, E.T., Close Encounters, Star Wars, etc. I should make the short list of classic Sci Fi, and one of the best of the 70s or 80s. So as a SciFi movie, and on the technicals: meh. As a movie that tells an important story, and had a fantastic style for its time, it's absolutely on the must-see list.
Blade Runner 2049
Perhaps I had too high of expectations, or the complete smell of re-hash made me lose my appetite. Perhaps, I'm not a brooding angst ridden (goth/doom-rock listening) 18 year old that I was when I saw and loved the original.
But while I thought first was too long, dark and drawn out -- the story was redeemingly good, and fresh. (I loved it questioning what makes us human, and pondering our existence and arrogance). This magnified the long and drawn out, and the worst elements of the style, it wasn't fresh, and it was long. Still, there was some story in there, the visuals while similar to the first, and were quite good (in a 1980's retro-futuristic kinda way). And the acting was believable -- I just didn't care about any of the characters. The good guys weren't very good, the bad guys weren't that bad -- which I normally like if there's some conflict and nuance, but it felt like everyone was just a robot playing their roles. (Pun intended).
People that loved the first one, should probably like this one... assuming their tastes haven't changed in 30 years. But mine did.
Written: 2015.12.15 Amended: 2017.10.07