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Film Critic: 'Blade Runner 2049' Not As Impactful As Original

Warner Bros. Pictures
Harrison Ford (left) and Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049.

When Ridely Scott's Blade Runner hit theaters in 1982, its shocking, dystopian future world alienated audiences. It didn't do well at the box office and only years later did it become a cult favorite.

35 years later, Blade Runner 2049 expands the Los Angeles of the original as well as upon the basic question of the original film: what does it mean to be human?


Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks, and Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard once again, the sequel follows Officer K (Gosling), a new and improved replicant and blade runner for the LA Police Department as he discovers a secret with the potential to disrupt society even further.

While film critic Dave Luhrssen is a fan of the original Blade Runner, he says that as interesting as 2049 was, it "faltered after a certain point."

Luhrssen's main complaint: the length and pacing of the film. With a running time of 2 hours and 43 minutes, "every minute needs to count for something and I wasn't getting that feeling in watching the film," he says. "I think this could've been a really good two hour movie, but it just got out of hand."

While Luhrssen is a big fan of director Villeneuve's previous work, such as Arrival, his direction could not compensate for "a mediocre screenplay" that was filled with too many digressions.

READ: 'Arrival': A Hollywood Rarity

"It looked over written. It looked as though parts of the idea got lost along the way. It looked as though the director felt the need to try to incorporate as much of it into the movie as he could. And as a result, the running time went on and on and on," Luhrssen explains.

Though, he says it does preserve the concepts and concerns of Phillip K. Dick - the author who inspired the original Blade Runner.

The trouble with sequels, Luhrssen says, is that they often divide audiences and bring inevitable comparisons. "It was probably prompted by the idea of cashing in on a familiar name," he notes.

"I don't think (Blade Runner 2049) is going to be looked back upon as fondly as the original - and then again it couldn't be because time really has gone on. The original was startling to look at at that time because it was so different then anything else going on in cinema and the new Blade Runner has the DNA of the original - it can't have the same startling impact," Luhrssen explains.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, co-founder of the Milwaukee International Film Festival and co-author of A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. He is the winner of the Pace Setter Award for contributions to Milwaukee's film community from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society. David Luhrssen has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Milwaukee Area Technical College.