The long-awaited sequel to the sci-fi classic film opens this weekend. Read on to find out what you need to know before you take the kids.
1. What’s it about?
30 years after the events in the first movie, the Tyrell Corporation is long gone, but a new megacorp, led by a new megalomaniac, has revived the Replicant program. A few of the old Nexus 8 models are still roaming around, though, and Ryan Gosling plays a new generation of Blade Runner tasked with eliminating the survivors. But along the way, he discovers a shocking truth about them.
2. Who else is in it?
In addition to Gosling, the movie also stars Robin Wright as Gosling’s boss, Ana de Armis as his artificially intelligent holographic girlfriend, Jared Leto as the new Big Bad Corporate Boss, and Mackenzie Davis as a sympathetic hooker. Also featured is Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks as Leto’s replicant assistant. Oh, and while the movie itself is framed to make this a surprise, the trailers haven’t tried to hide the fact that Harrison Ford returns as Deckard.
3. What’s it rated? Why?
The movie earned a well-deserved R rating from the MPAA for “violence, some sexuality, nudity and language”.
Violence: Director Denis Villeneuve was determined to show that in this dystopian future, life is cheap. The deaths throughout tend to be bloody and violent. And Gosling spends most of the movie bleeding from one wound or another. People get stabbed, shot, and blown up pretty constantly.
Sexuality: There’s a single sex scene in the movie that, while extremely weird, doesn’t include nudity. Earlier, there’s a scene outside a brothel, and while the front of the building is made up of frosted glass and it’s clear what’s happening inside.
Nudity: There was a surprising amount of nudity in the rest of the movie. A new female replicant is, uh, manufactured, I guess. and shown fully nude while being examined by Leto. There’s a point when Gosling arrives at corporate headquarters and walks through a hallway with display cases on past models of replicants, all of whom, both male and female, are fully nude. Late in the movie, we see giant statues of nude women, and there’s a massive hologram of a nude woman as well.
Language: The script is pretty liberal with its use of “f” and “s” throughout the movie.
4. OK, but despite all of that, will kids like the movie?
Younger kids almost certainly won’t. In addition to all of the adult themes above, it’s also oppressively dark. Composers Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer try to recreate Vangelis’ sound, but with only limited success: a lot of the soundtrack comes across as just loud noises. And maybe it was just the theater I was in, but those noises were loud – much louder, usually, than the dialog. The movie’s story is also complicated enough that younger audiences might find it hard to follow. Oh, and it’s really long (more on that in a bit.)
5. Will I like it?
If you’re a fan of the original, than my guess is that you’re going to like this. It’s truly a return to that world. The producers (who include original director Ridley Scott) did a great job of recreating the world, even limiting themselves in a lot of ways to the technology they used back in the 80s. So unlike recent forays into the Star Trek universe, you really could watch the original and then this movie back-to-back and feel like you’re in the same universe.
That said, the movie does feel as long as it is. It’s unnecessarily slow at times, and they spend a lot of time beating the audience over the head with the dystopia. The original did that as well, so in a way it’s more of the thematic alignment, but I did feel like they could have trimmed 30 or more minutes off the movie without really losing anything.
6. Do I need to have seen the original for this to make sense?
I’d guess probably yes. It is very much a sequel, and Gosling does spend the movie really trying to unravel a mystery that began with Deckard. There are a ton of direct references to the events in the original that I would think might cause you to get pretty lost pretty quickly if you haven’t seen it.
7. So how long is it, anyway?
The movie is a whopping, and as I said above, unnecessary 2 hours and 45 minutes long.
8. Yikes. When can I take a pee break?
RunPee has a good spot at 58 minutes when Gosling and his virtual girlfriend Joi leave the city together. You’ve got a good four minutes at that point where you’ll miss some action but no important plot or character development. At about 1 hour, 40 minutes in, there’s another good one that involves Gosling walking through an orange landscape. You’ll miss the aforementioned giant nude statues, but nothing important.
9. Is the movie worth seeing in 3D?
Definitely not. I saw it in 2D (now that MoviePass is back and awesome again), and I’m even less inclined than before to see movies any other way, but a lot of times you can tell where the 3D stuff would have been. In this case, the only thing you might be missing is a better sense of depth in the thousand or so scenes of cars flying through the city. My biggest concern with 3D is that the technology always makes movies darker, and this movie is at times so dark to begin with that it’s hard to see what’s going on. I think you’re going to sacrifice a ton of detail throughout the movie for some minor “gee whiz” flying moments.
On the other hand, there are enough big, sweeping scenes to potentially make seeing it in IMAX or other big formats worth it.
10. Is there anything after the credits?
One last thing: if you’re a fan of the Blade Runner series, you might want to check out the awesome Voight-Kampff machine replicas GeekDad Will James aka Billythebrick Cosplay is making, His first couple were for a museum exhibit in Seattle, but he’s happy to do more on commission.