-If this thing makes a lot of money, it will be the coldest, bleakest blockbuster of all time.
I mean, the original film's dirty bleak cyberpunk 2019 Los Angeles, dire as its prospects were in many ways, at least had an air of slick or romantic cool about it, like a bleak place that you'd somehow want to visit or maybe even live in, if you were messed up enough. There is NO HUMAN BEING ON EARTH who could find beauty in Villeneuve's 2049 Los Angeles. The skies are so grey and dark and dead and dusty and chiaroscuro that the original BR looks like something that had Windex sprayed on it by comparison. (No dollars will be given to anyone who guess what Ebert review I took that from.) I get Villeneuve's reason for doing this probably has something to do with the dire current environmental predictions being so painful to think about, so it's only fair that this film reflects that, but egads. It is not in ANY WAY a "beautiful" film, not to me. Visually powerful, yes, but in a very depressing way. That said, it's probably better than whatever Ridley Scott would have done if he were directing. And mind you, I consider coldness to still be an "emotion," so I'm not accusing the film of having no humanity behind it.
-Denis Villeneuve's favorite visual motif in this movie: fields of things that go on forever and ever. That big series of circular silver fields at the beginning (whatever the hell they were, I forget), the rows of buildings stretching on forever in his hideous grey 2049 Los Angeles, the endless sets of files in the Jared Leto character's headquarters, the rows of little bald kids in that Dickensian center being run by that one black dude. I can't be the only one who noticed this; since it's a new thing and not something that calls back to the original BR it's a nice touch on Villeneuve's part. (Though I guess those rows of buildings are a callback to the "Hades landscape" from the original BR.)
-The callbacks to the original Blade Runner are handled with a lot of grace and subtlety. No nostalgia here, no wink-wink references like you'd get out of, say, Prometheus (the irony being that I liked the Alien callbacks in Prometheus, but that's because there wasn't much else going on in the film that I *did* like.) When Villeneuve does a reference to BR it really is about extending that film's world into this one, like Gosling using an old wooden horse toy to do all his detecive work the way Harrison Ford had to solve BR's case by finding a single fish scale. This is good because there are quite a few callbacks to BR, and in more ways than one! Maybe following Mad Max: Fury Road's lead a little?
-Barkhad Abdi! Had forgotten he existed. Avon Barksdale from The Wire! Edward James Olmos cameo! That creepy guy from The Dark Knight (and Villeneuve's Prisoners) who was arrested because they thought he'd tried to shoot the mayor! You know the guy! And to top it all off Robin Wright kind of looking like a man! Princess Buttercup my rosy red ass...
-Gosling's performance is good enough for what it is. He's one note for the most part, kinda like Drive, but when he has to convey an emotion, he does do it pretty subtly. Probably more subtly than Ford does in the original. Hell, maybe he's even the better actor. Ford, for his part is used well enough. Maybe a notch below TFA. But he was the best thing about TFA, no?
-Gosling's initial meeting with Harrison Ford constitute the best scenes in the film. And if you liked that bright-yet-dirty yellow light that Villeneuve and his DP bathed all those scenes in, be sure to check out Villeneuve's Enemy from three years ago because that entire film is FULL of that shit!
-Three things to note about the sound:
1)The gunshots, explosions, etc., when they're there, are deafeningly, painfully loud. Like fireworks going off next to your ear.
2)The frequent use of extreme loudness drowns some of the dialogue. Shades of Christopher Nolan and Dunkirk which is still fresh in my mind. (Come to think of it, shades of Dunkirk in the scene where Ford almost drowns, too! :-))
3)The music is....not as memorable as the original's, nor used as well. Shame, the trailer made it look like that was going to be a major highlight.
-The scenes where Gosling has to...what, prove he's a human? By repeating the word "clicks" after the end of a bunch of sentences? Those were just weird.
-There's not a lot of people in the movie. I mean, the original BR had a smaller cast, but also a sense that there were millions of people milling around in the 2019 LA streets
-The "blackout" where all files were wiped from every computer on Earth could have been more than just some background plot device. Or maybe not. But part of me wishes they had spent more time with it.
-Another good performance in the film is the French girl, not sure of her name off the top of my head, as Gosling's holograph of a girlfriend/partner. It's interesting how her scenes show more warmth than any other character in the movie, even though she's a hologram. A good way to be "more human than human." It's also really f*cking depressing to think about, but that's this movie for you.
-I know there are a few charges of misogyny coming from a few quarters, and I don't want to b###h about "SJWs" or whoever's doing this, but I will say that whoever's doing it isn't making much of a point. There is a subtext in the film about men turning women into whatever fantasies they would like to have--Gosling's relationship with French holograph chick, Ford being turned off when Jared Leto gets not-Rachel's eye color wrong (I liked that line--"Her eyes were GREEN!"), the scene where that (very very well cast!) Daryl Hannah-looking hooker "syncs" with French girl, a gigantic holograph of a completely nude woman talking to Gosling...but it's a nice motif anyway and hardly something that wouldn't make sense in a Blade Runner universe ("pleasure models" and all).
-Depressing as the film is, at least Villeneuve (and/or Hampton Fancher) didn't kill the dog. Nice, even if it was probably a fake dog.
-Well, I did see Sean Young's name in the final credits, so I guess that was...her voice? When we saw Rachel? If it's CGI Sean Young, then it's better than CGI Peter Cushing or CGI Carrie Fisher in Rogue One.
Now, for the part that derails everything:
-THE FINAL ACT F*CKING BLOWS!!!!
-Can Denis Villenueve end a film to save his life? Sicario came the closest, I guess. Arrival turned into Interstellar, bzzzzzt, eff that. Prisoners just sort of ended. So does this one. It just sort of ends.
-What was even going on? Some sort of revolution by replicants who want to have kids, but only hinted at? Yeah, so? What did the Jared Leto character actually...want? It all just ends on Gosling having to keep Ford alive and drown the ninja replicant chick in one action scene out in the rain....all so Ford can...meet his daughter? Yeah, so?
-Whatever the purpose of it is, this movie, while artier and probably more cerebral than the original BR, is definitely not going to give me more to think about than BR.
-I can't think of the film as anything better grade wise than a B because of the poor final act. I don't think I'm even going to be rewatching it for a good long while because of that!