It sounds like a done deal. Just create a new Blade Runner movie, and boom. You have the sequel to one of the most influential sci-fi products of the 20th century! Watching Blade Runner now, it's hard to believe the movie was made in 1982! That's before the original Star Wars trilogy was even completed! The movie holds up so well, it could easily fit within a modern sci-fi aesthetic, and I think that's why Warner Bros are assuming Blade Runner 2 will be a good idea. There's just one problem...
Blade Runner may have redefined the movie sci-fi landscape in 1982, but there have been a LOT of other movies to do the exact same since! The moviegoing landscape that Blade Runner 2 will be released onto is completely different to that of the 80s, and it's no longer a situation of copy and paste. Here are a few of the best sci-fi movies of the last twenty-five years that the filmmakers should keep in mind for Blade Runner 2!
First, let's run through some honorable mentions for movies that Blade Runner 2 needs to live up to!
- Gravity: In the simplest move, Alfonzo Cuaron made modern sci-fi a visceral experience rather than a textual one.
- Minority Report: Another Phillip K Dick adaptation. Despite Spielberg's best efforts, no one's mentioning Minority Report right about now.
- A Scanner Darkly: Wow Dick really did have a finger in all the pies! Still, A Scanner Darkly is pretty great, and I just wanted to mention it!
- The Hunger Games: Whether you like these movies or not, there's a huge potential audience out there for whom these are the epitome of dystopian science fiction!
Total Recall (1990)
So let's start off with yet another adaptation of a Phillip K Dick novel. In classic Ridley Scott style, Blade Runner was a sombre and respectful adaptation that simply moved things around to play to the medium of film. Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall straight up pillages the book, and essentially uses it as an excuse to make an action movie. What's important here is that that really isn't a bad thing. We live in a world where filmmakers can simply use book premises to imprint onto, and in Verhoeven's case, it was something satirical and silly! Oh, and talking of silly...
The Fifth Element (1997)
Luc Besson does not care about sci-fi. His main priority is to make a neat movie that he enjoys, and sometimes that gets sneered at like with last year's Lucy, and sometimes it's received as an immortal sci-fi crowd pleaser like The Fifth Element. What's great about Fifth Element is that it takes similar ideas to Blade Runner, and is playful and stupid with them. It shows that you can have a sprawling mega metropolis and spacefaring society alongside a metrosexual DJ wearing leopard skin spandex who screams as he counts to ten.
The Matrix (1999)
Now here's the big one. The movie that split the filmmaking discourse itself, and which plagued the minds of imitators for years after, The Matrix changed not just the visuals we come to expect, but the very experience we want from cinematic sci-fi. Sure, you can say all the Wachowskis brought us was slow-mo parodies and Equilibrium, and that something like Cloud Atlas would be much more at home on this list, but just think about the kinds of movies we've seen since. Film sci-fi is now fluid, not focussing so much as actual people and places, but more willing to delve into the almost psychedelic fallibility of human perception.
A slight jump forward here in both time and type of production. I've made a vow to include not only giant Hollywood-level projects, though I'm not including Primer because I've also made a vow not to be boring. Moon takes a broad sci-fi premise and focuses it on one person, and the extremely personal endeavors that come from that. The plight of Sam Rockwell's Sam Bell is just as much an identity crisis as that of Roy Batty in Blade Runner, but there are no giant cityscapes required to convey it.
Christopher Nolan's magnum opus has all the weight, intent and gusto as Blade Runner and The Matrix before it, yet somehow hasn't left the same impression on the art form. Sure, Inception is fun to reference, but I haven't seen too many imitators falling to the wayside. Still, the movie set the bar for positing grandiose style right next to ambitious intent, and any effort by Blade Runner 2 will have to tread very carefully. The worst situation would be to have Blade Runner 2 bash us constantly over the heads with noise. Impressive noise, but noise nonetheless!
Bong-Joon Ho's Snowpiercer is one of the best executions of vision of tone I've ever seen. Simply saying that it's The Hunger Games on a Train is the biggest disservice, because in this Korean-German co-production of a French graphic novel, the audience is actually confronted with things to which they haven't been taught how to react. Blade Runner 2 could come along and introduce the exact same imagery as the first movie, but it's all in vain if we've spent twenty five years getting accustomed to it. Bong-Joon Ho can take Chris Evans, one of the most photographed men on the planet, and make him look part of a fresh and inspired visual rhetoric. Put simply, that is the challenge Blade Runner 2 faces!
Are there any other movies you think Blade Runner 2 needs to live up to? Why not write your own post about it here on MoviePilot, and as always, vote in our poll, or leave a comment below! You can check out all my coverage of Blade Runner 2 here!