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Tuesday, October 17, 2017


There are so many jewels in the crown of this movie that it’s hard to know where to begin. (Review by Patrick Compton – 9/10)

Nearly 122 years ago, on December 28 1895, the Lumiere brothers screened a film that many movie historians believe marked the birth of cinema. It was a simple, one-shot documentary called The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (France).

The camera was placed near the track so that, as the train approached, it gradually grew bigger in size so that it seemed to its first audiences that it would crash through the cinema screen.

That feeling of awe and wonder concerning the cinematic image has never quite disappeared, despite our increased knowledge and sophistication, although very few films bring it out nowadays.

This is a roundabout way of saying that Denis Villeneuve’s sensational sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult film, Blade Runner, really does provoke something of that emotion audiences must have felt all those years ago. It is truly a thrilling feast for the eyeballs and you really do need to see it at Gateway’s IMAX theatre where the giant screen, surround-sound and 3D images combine to give you a sensory ride you won’t forget.

The original Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (who is executive producer on this sequel), was adapted from the sci-fi novel by Philip K Dick,

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Enthusiasts will be interested to know that the man who scripted the original, Hampton Fancher, has written this one as well.

For the uninitiated, a “blade runner” is someone who “retires” (i.e. kills) rebel replicants, which are bio-engineered humans who serve as servants or slaves. Harrison Ford played this role as Rick Deckard in the first film before retiring after falling in love with a glamorous replicant played by Sean Young. Now, 30 years later, it’s the turn of a modern replicant, “K” (Ryan Gosling), to take over Deckard’s role, hunting down wayward older-issue replicants who are suspected of plotting some kind of rebellion.

After retiring one of the replicants, K discovers evidence suggesting that a replicant has given birth. This remarkable and seemingly impossible fact troubles him, forcing him to review his status and the ethics of his job. “I have never retired something that was born,” he tells his boss, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright). “To be born is to have a soul.” Nevertheless, he is asked to find and kill this child, if it exists, because the notion that replicants may be able to reproduce is regarded as dangerous and likely to lead to war.

That gives you an example of one of the philosophical questions that this movie asks as K – who has been created to unquestioningly obey orders – finds himself sinking into a morass of self-doubt.

That’s enough of the plot, which has plenty of distance to go as the movie plays out over an epic 163 minutes.

The movie’s biggest impact – at least on first viewing – is sure to be a visual one, with Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer’s howling industrial score coming a close second.

The production design is remarkable, an expressionist feast of angular lines and shadows, and there are also scenes that could have been ripped from Kubrick’s The Shining.

There are so many jewels in the crown of this movie that it’s hard to know where to begin. One to watch out for is K’s “virtual” girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armas) who is a holographic creation desperately yearning to escape her confinement and enter the “real” world.

Even a movie as intellectually cerebral as this one has to have its bad guys, and these are brilliantly realised by Jared Leto who plays the head of the Wallace Corporation (that engineers replicants) and Sylvia Hoeks who plays his ass-kicking enforcer, Luv.

And don’t forget that you’ll be meeting Harrison Ford and Sean Young once again ...

Blade Runner 2049 is currently showing in Durban. - Patrick Compton