Years ago, back in the mid/late ‘eighties, I would never have dared dream this were even possible. I have mentioned several times here in the past, how Blade Runner utterly disappeared from the spotlight following its dismal box-office failure in 1982, and its equally poor critical reception. The rise of home video, and its need for fresh product, gave Blade Runner a second life. Repeated viewings unveiled its nuances and the public (eventually) caught up with the film. If ever a film could be said to be ahead of its time, Blade Runner was it.
Sometimes I look back on those days when the film was the very definition of the word ‘cult’ with some fondness. I recall an outside examiner marking my art design folio during my degree days coming across some Blade Runner-inspired work of mine (I believe it was ideas for a boardgame tie-in); suddenly he paused, sat back and launched into a reverie about the film. “There was a philosophy about that film,” he remarked, and then my artwork was forgotten and we were sharing our thoughts/love for the film like kindred spirits sharing some arcane knowledge. I literally could count on the fingers of one hand back then the people I knew that had any awareness of the film at all.
The years have changed that of course, and the films later success seems to have reached a point that seemed quite impossible back then. They are now going to make a sequel.
If ever a film never needed sequel, Blade Runner is it. Particularly after so many years. But one thing Hollywood loves is a sequel, and a marketable IP to work from. Over the years the film has gained such a following and critical acclaim that I guess it was inevitable, particularly following the success of The Final Cut version back in 2007 (has it been so long since then?). The only good thing about a sequel is that it isn’t a remake- thankfully Hollywood has at least not gone down that route.
So on the one hand, I consider any Blade Runner 2 with some loathing. How can it possibly improve on the original? What can it add to it? How many are the ways it could completely fuck everything up and damage the credibility and status of the original (countless, surely)? Sometimes I think the magic of Blade Runner is its very age- it’s neon-drenched 1980s vibe and its photochemical effects. What the hell can CGI add to it?
And yet there is a nagging curiosity, particularly with Ridley Scott attached to the project (although that’s diluted somewhat following Prometheus), regards the possibilities. Its the same way I felt about Prometheus pre-release, and for the Star Wars prequels… maybe none of those realised those possibilities, but you never know. You just never know.
Recently Ridley Scott commented about the film in an interview: “We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one,” Scott said, adding that Harrison Ford was involved too. “Harrison is very much part of this one, but really it’s about finding him; he comes in in the third act.”
That makes me rather nervous. Its one thing to have another movie spinning off from the original but quite something else to bring back characters from the original- particularly Rick Deckard. There has been some bone of contention regards Deckard being human (my own preference) or a Replicant (Ridley’s preference, wrong/nonsensical as it may be), but I like the idea that its open to interpretation and the film can be ‘read’ either way. I’d contend that having the character in a sequel would rather indicate a definitive statement either way. I prefer the vagueness, the subtlety, the mystery. Its like turning Space Jockeys into bald giants, we just don’t need it.
Anyway, Blade Runner 2 certainly seems to be happening, and next year we’ll see developments and I intend to run posts on this blog as they arise. Its a bumpy ride all the way to a likely (how could they ignore it) release in November of 2019. Well, maybe it will arrive before then, but its got to be tempting to go for that date, hasn’t it?
November 2019. I vividly remember walking to a RPG session with some of my nerdy mates way back in my teens, talking about Blade Runner, thinking about the year 2019, what the world would be like, working out how old we would be. It seemed a lifetime away, 2019, just as the year 2001 and its own filmic associations still seemed some time off. But 2019 is coming, and so is Blade Runner 2. Its a very strange world sometimes.