Denis Villeneuve's stunning Blade Runner 2049 arrives on blu-ray this week, allowing you to visit the futuristic world in the comfort of your home. Check out my review to see why it's worth checking out on blu-ray, especially if you skipped out on it in theaters.
The sequel to Ridley Scott's iconic Blade Runner was a big hit with critics when it released last year, but didn't exactly light a fire at the box office. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why (though I'd lay a lot of the blame on the marketing being all wrong). Personally, I wasn't able to see it in theaters due to the length.
With a newborn in the house, my theater going was fairly limited, and at nearly three hours long, it was a tough one to justify getting to. Much as I wanted to see it, I had to wait for the blu-ray, and let me tell you...it was worth it. While I would have loved to catch it in theaters, if you missed out on it like me, I can tell you it's worth making the time for on blu-ray.
Blade Runner 2049 picks up a few decades after the previous film, where the world has moved on, essentially, from the events of the Replicant uprising from before. While there was a ban in place, a new era of replicants have come about from Wallace (played by Jared Leto) who are more obedient. These new replicants are more commonplace and easier to distinguish, but a few of the older models are still being hunted and 'retired.'
Ryan Gosling's character (who goes only by the letter K) is a Blade Runner, a division of police tasked with hunting down the older model replicants. This makes it ironic considering K is a replicant himself. His latest mission uncovers a deeper secret, one with potentially massive ramifications on the world at large. He's discovered a replicant who gave birth.
Mankind couldn't deal with the possibility so he's ordered to find the child and eliminate all traces of its existence. Wallace, however, wants the child for himself, in order to learn how replicants were able to reproduce and build his empire even further. K finds himself caught between these two forces and his investigation leads him to unexpected discoveries, including Harrison Ford's Deckard, that changes everything he believed in.
It's hard to talk much more about it without delving into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, it's a very dense film with a lot of things going on, ultimately leading to places you weren't expecting. In simplest terms, it's about a cop looking for this hidden child. It’s so much more than that, but seeing it all unfold is a big part of why this film works. Sure, it’s a simple premise, but is has deep undertones, and subtle plot threads/themes that will keep you thinking about it long after the credits roll.
The acting is exceptional and the direction is impressive. So much of this film’s story is told visually, with dialog playing second fiddle. Shots are devised to bring emotion instantly into a scene without anything having to be said, and the subtle things that pop up on the screen offer clues to what comes next. Nothing is done without purpose in the film, and it’s that aspect that helps make it so engaging and rewarding for multiple views.
While it is a longer film, coming in at nearly three hours in runtime, it never feels like it drags. It’s...odd. There are points where I can look back and think they should have been trimmed (or cut altogether), yet when I think more about it, they felt like purposefully placed pauses; giving audiences time to absorb things going on. As such, it’s hard to consider anything in the movie unnecessary, and it all works towards the purpose of the film’s story and themes.
Sight and Sound
To say that Blade Runner 2049 is a good looking film is something of an understatement. To say it’s eye meltingly gorgeous in just about every shot might be the closest you can get. Okay, hyperbole aside, the movie is easily one of the best looking films (cinematography, VFX, color choices, etc) in the last several years and I have a strong feeling it’ll be looked back on fondly decades from now.
The blu-ray transfer does the film justice, managing to present every image in crips clarity. For all the bright colors that are peppered throughout, the foggy gray of the futuristic Los Angeles is ever present. Thankfully the blacks or sufficiently deep, offering a great contrast for the darker/grayer scenes so everything remains clear, while the colorful scenes absolutely pop off the screen.
The sound design is equally impressive in the film, with ambience noises used to really make the futuristic city come to life. The surround sound does an excellent job of conveying the feel of the movie, transporting you right into the action. From a technical standpoint, the blu-ray does a solid job of enhancing an already great movie.
The Bonus Features
Blade Runner 2049 comes loaded with these special features on the disc:
· Designing The World of Blade Runner 2049
· To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049
· Prologues: 2036: Nexus Dawn
· Prologues: 2048: Nowhere to Run
· Prologues: 2022: Black Out
· Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners
· Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution
· Blade Runner 101: The Rise of Wallace Corp
· Blade Runner 101: Welcome to 2049
· Blade Runner 101: Joi
· Blade Runner 101: Within the Skies
There are a pair of behind the scenes featurettes that give you a good look at how they recreated the world of Blade Runner for a new generation. It’s impressive to see the sheer amount of work that went into crafting the visuals for the film, moving things forward, while staying true to the design of the original.
The Prologues serve as short films to show off different parts of the world, while the 101 featurettes delves deeper into the overall lore. For long time fans of Blade Runner it’s a neat backdrop to the new film, while newcomers can get caught up on all they may have missed out on (or potentially forgotten).
Overall, the bonus features are pretty hefty, with some great “in-universe” content. While I wish we had more than a couple making of featurettes to enjoy, it’s hard to complain about what we get in this release.