As a huge fan of the 1982 original film, I've been anticipating the Blade Runner sequel—Blade Runner 2049—with a mix of delight and dread. The film's teaser trailer has finally been released and gives a glimpse of what's to come.
One of the central mysteries of Blade Runner is whether Rick Deckard is a replicant. For 30 years, Harrison Ford and co-writer Hampton Fancher have said he's not. Director Ridley Scott has said he is. (Personally, I'm in the "no" camp, because it would literally rob the character of his humanity.) One way to determine the answer: Does Deckard age? Does he have a built-in lifespan, like other replicants? The teaser offers an answer. Harrison Ford appears in his gruff, gray, grizzled, 74-year-old glory. That would seem to imply he's a human being.
Some fans worried Ford would be "youth-anized," to use the great term coined by Double Viking editor Steve Attanasie. That is, made not to age so he could indeed be a replicant. If you were disturbed by Tarkin in Rogue One, I can only imagine how creepy a CGI-enhanced Deckard would be. So the sequel is off to a good start.
Except for the controversial ending, Blade Runner never left the dark, rainy environs of Los Angeles. But in the teaser, Ryan Gosling's Agent K seems to be walking through the desert. The dusty, reddish-orange color palette has never been seen in Blade Runner. It marks an intriguing way to go beyond the limits of the first film while keeping it visually stunning.
Other scenes show the nightmarish yet beautiful Los Angeles we know from the original film: rain, light beams, towering skyscrapers, huge video screens. After so many imitators, it will be great to see that gothic sci-fi noir setting on the big screen again.
While we're on the subject... "Agent K"? Does he have no name because he's a replicant? A kind of blade runner secret agent? Or a deserter from the Men In Black?
One of the most distinctive qualities of Blade Runner is its electronic score by Vangelis. At once eerie, mythical, mournful, and futuristic, it's unlike any other soundtrack I've ever heard. Though Vangelis is still alive, the filmmakers have instead tapped Jóhann Jóhannsson as the composer. He created the alien, tonal music for Arrival. While I'd love to have the original composer back, Arrival's uniqueness and the bits of music we get in the teaser give me hope.
A lot of fans didn't like Harrison Ford's narration in the theatrical release. There's even a legend that Ford deliberately gave a flat performance so that the voiceover wouldn't be used. And when Ridley Scott re-edited the film for his famous Director's Cut, the narration was gone.
Yet here it is again in the teaser. The line (and the recording?) is from the original film: "Replicants are like any other machine. They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, they're not my problem." Is that just a nod to fans—who didn't like the narration to begin with—or does it indicate that the new film will feature a voiceover as well? And wouldn't it be Ryan Gosling's voice, since he's supposed to be the main character?
The Missing Persons
The cast includes Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi, House of Cards' Robin Wright, Guardian of the Galaxy's Dave Bautista, and brilliant/insane actor Jared Leto. None of them appear in the teaser. Are they good guys? Bad guys? Replicants? New versions of characters in the original film? If nothing else, their absence keeps the film's mysteries intact.
What are your thoughts on Blade Runner 2049? We have until October 6 to talk about it.