Blade Runner 2049 (2017): ‘Real or Imitation?’ – A Film Review


Blade Runner 2049 is the science fiction film franchise follows the ever changing technology. The future is becoming more and more about the now and questions about humanity and artificial intelligence are beginning to more seriously overlap – just look to Ghost in the Shell and Ex Machina the other big influences on this film. Science fiction can be popular fantasies about aliens and space but they can be serious questions over humanity. Blade Runner, based upon the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, is an essential science fiction film about the nature of humanity and robots or replicants in Blade Runner. What is life? What is human? More human than human, it can all get lost like tears in the rain. This atmospheric and futuristic dystopia has become one of the biggest cult phenomenon in Science Fiction and follows its theatrical cut into five cuts to the final cut for a deep film from the Ridley Scott’s vision. Blade Runner is detailed and epic and asking questions. So Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that is almost unexpected. CGI landscapes returned to after the power of the detailed models were torn down. Where could the story possibly go?




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Of the films that you may get a chance to see this year on the big screen Blade Runner 2049 is one that makes an argument for the silver screen. It, like Blade Runner before it, has a sense of scale. The landscapes venture out and are vast elements of a world that almost dwarfs the characters within it. The soundtrack and the performances of the cast, Ryan Gosling in particular, further emphasise this. It is an atmosphere that Blade Runner 2049 is concerned with and this comes with a rather slow but breath-taking pace. Exploring the new depth of technology, we see an update to artificial technology in holographic technology in the characters. The impressive CGI here explores new areas as characters meld into each other and over each other. Visually Blade Runner 2049 is certainly impressive.


Performing Replicants

Ryan Gosling puts in a striking performance as he runs his character from robotic emotionality to breaking point and back. His companion Joi (Ana de Armas) makes for a similarly touching performance and both are a send up to the idea of more human than a human (just what does it mean to be human?). The slow pacing helps the films atmosphere but also suffers the film at times. Blade Runner 2049 plays with audience expectations in a loving send up to its predecessor. However, despite a very strict sense of recalling the themes of Blade Runner; there is a sense that the scenes, that are almost a repeat just don’t quite capture it – like a ‘fanfiction’. SPOILERS: A beginning scene is like the Voight-Kampff test scene in Blade Runner, but looks and feels different as the landscape and colour palette is a completely new world and against Blade Runner’s theme of the privileged above the desperate overcrowded dirty below. END OF SPOILERS.



Blade Runner 2049 is atmospheric and powerful, slow and thought provoking and shows a well developed world. However, for all it’s loving send ups to Blade Runner and for keeping many aspects of that film still alive, it forgets many too. Forever feeling like an artist in love rather than an artist continuing, Blade Runner 2049 stops a story’s themes and questions about the world and instead focuses on others. SPOILERS: One of Blade Runner’s big questions was whether Deckard (Harrison Ford)was a Replicant, Blade Runner 2049 seems to desperately want to keep this theme alive with dialogue that second guesses itself but, ultimately, it leaves all ambiguity aside by it’s simple continuation of their story. END OF SPOILERS. Blade Runner 2049 is a wonderful film but just doesn’t quite fit in with the universe it is trying to be a part of.


A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.



In 2049, K (Ryan Gosling) is a modern Blade Runner (hunter of Replicants/Androids). One such replicant he finds gives strange clues to something a lot more beneath the surface of this futuristic dystopian world.


Films Mentioned

Blade Runner (d. Ridley Scott USA/Hong Kong/UK 1982/2007)

Blade Runner 2049 (d. Denis Villeneuve USA/UK/Canada/Hungary 2017)

Ghost in the Shell (d. Rupert Sanders USA/UK/India/China/Canada/New Zealand 2017)

Ex Machina (d. Alex Garland UK 2014) 



 Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Denis Villeneuve

Interview with Ryan Gosling

Interview with Roger Deakins

Behind the Scenes

Hidden Connections

Unanswered Questions

Blade Runner Short Films: Bridging the Gap

Questions we have from Blade Runner 2049

Does Blade Runner 2049 say Deckard’s a replicant


If you liked this…

Blade Runner (1982/2007) A Film Review

Ghost in the Shell (2017) A Film Review

Alien: Covenant (2017) A Film Review

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Blade Runner 2049 (d. Denis Villeneuve USA/UK/Canada/Hungary 2017)

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