Blade Runner 2049 – Box Office Disappointment
Article by Ray Schillaci
Why? Why is it such a surprise that Blade Runner 2049 has received a tepid box office response? Did any studio exec learn their lesson the first time? Apparently not. Now, the first one suffered from some confusing messages and terrible laconic unnecessary narration by Harrison Ford. But when Ridley Scott got his way with it, delivering his director’s cut, the film became a cult classic.
With this new 2049 iteration, we get a wow factor as far as technical achievement. But if the story and characters do not engage us, what is there to invest in? An empty vessel? Audiences of yesterday and today will still not buy it. Film geeks may revel in it. Techies will get their jollies, but the average filmgoer will bypass it like they have done with so many others that the connoisseurs of cinema worship.
I love Scott’s version of Blade Runner. I appreciate Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. I am a big devotee of Malick’s Days of Heaven, but none of these films were money makers. They don’t have to be, and I’m glad they exist. But, I am still not sold on a “Denis Villeneuve film”, nor do I hold anything of his in the high regard of the films mentioned.
There are a number of issues with all of them for me, and fans, I am well aware of the bird you’re kindly sending me. My favorite happens to be Arrival, even though there are some glaring questions regarding time travel. My least favorite is Prisoners. I hated that film, and found it vastly inferior to a far better Israeli film with a similar subject matter, Big Bad Wolves.
Let me enumerate my issues and what I appreciate with BR 2049:
1. Too long – 2 hours and 43 minutes requires 16 fluid ounces of covfefe
2. Merely existing to answer the questions of the original and set up for another sequel (kind of like Scott’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, and the 1984 dismal sequel to Kubrick’s 2001, 2010)
3. Very cold and far removed (no heart)
4. Visually stunning
5. Epic sound design
6. Must be seen in IMAX for full appreciation
7. What I would have given to get another Roy Batty.
That’s what’s missing! Rutger Hauer’s speech at the end of the first movie. That wondrous piece of dialogue that makes Hauer more human than Ford’s character. It’s the heart of Blade Runner, and what makes it a classic.
All the visuals, spectacular effects and bombastic sound that Villeneuve brings to IMAX cannot make up for the brilliance of humanity that is absent from this new installment. Sure, they give it a try with Ana de Armas’ character, Joi, the almost-too-real hologram. But it doesn’t quite click like Hauer’s Roy Batty, that appears more flesh, sweat, and blood.
Frankly, I would have been shocked if Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacle made a big splash on our shores. Internationally, where they have more patience, it will probably do well, but I don’t think it will be enough to launch the franchise suggested. It does have one wonder what Villeneuve has in store for us with a his new Moby Dick of sci-fi epics, Dune. On a different note, it would be fun to see Gosling and Ford teamed up in a comedy ala Shane Black’s, The Nice Guys. Both have proved their comedy chops and appear to fare much better. And, can somebody give Jared Leto a role where he is semi-normal. He’s starting to fall into the Willy Wonka world of Johnny Depp.