Early reviews have suggested that Blade Runner 2049 (2017), the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 sci-fi epic, is even better than the original. The fact that this is even a conversation we are having is testament to the incredible achievement by director Denis Villeneuve, but are the critics right?
The list of follow-up films that best their originals is short. More often than not, sequels are hastily put together and only created to cash-in on the original blockbuster and rekindle past glories. For studios, the marketing of such films is seen as a less risky option than promoting a new property.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Even if there is a clamour for a second, third or however many Fast and Furious films we’re up to now, cinema-goers rarely get the movie they are asking for.
For Blade Runner (1982), a film that isn’t just heralded as a genre-defining classic, but also a movie that has been repeatedly analysed from all angles, the sequel posed numerous problems.
Firstly, one of the big appeals of the original was the somewhat open-ended nature of the lead character. Harrison Ford’s Deckard was the eponymous blade runner, a term used for police officers tasked with ‘retiring’ replicants (biorobotic androids) in a rain-soaked future where neon advertising and carnal pleasure seem to be ubiquitous. Over the course of Scott’s staggering adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? we learn that the central character may have more in common with those he is hunting than with the rest of humanity.
The subject of Deckard’s true origins has been endlessly debated during the years since the film was released in 1982. Ford firmly believes that he was playing a human, whereas the director has since come out in favour of the theory that his protagonist was, in fact, an android. The pair reportedly clashed on set too, with Ford once saying of the film “I didn’t like the movie one way or the other…”
The perpetual scowl Ford wore throughout the movie, along with the other reported arguments with his co-stars, led many to believe that if there were to be a sequel, the actor would play no part in it. But that was not the case.
Even after persuading the Star Wars actor to come back on board, however, the other problem for the studio was in promoting the film itself. A gargantuan runtime of over 160 minutes is enough to make casual film fans think twice, and then there is the issue of spoilers.
The trailers of the film give nothing away about any of the characters. The press screening we attended came with a pre-written statement from director Villeneuve, which, along with expressing excitement sharing the film, issued a polite request for reviewers not to include any plot details in their articles.
We are often asked to hold back on revealing spoilers of movies (something that, depressingly, still needs to be told to some reviewers) but we can’t recall a time when an entire plot was essentially under embargo. As the film started, we remained perplexed by the ask, but within the first five minutes it all became clear. The very essence of the plot and nature of the characters are the spoilers themselves.
It all adds up to an invigorating cinematic experience and, understandably, one that everyone should have the chance to experience exactly as we did – completely fresh. But, boy, does that make it tough to sell the movie!
The fact that Ford turns up in the movie and meets Ryan Gosling (La La Land (2016)) would normally be something you would debate about revealing, but this is one of the few things we can openly talk about. It’s in the trailer, with an aged Deckard and young cop K (Gosling) sharing several scenes.
It’s hard to imagine that the original is now 35 years old. Many of the target audience won’t even have been born when it was released, but the film certainly stands up to repeated viewing. If anything, Scott’s vision of a future where capitalism reigns over humanity has become all the more relevant, and to top it all off the special effects remain some of the best ever put on screen.
So what of the new players in the Blade Runner universe? On screen we have Gosling playing an equally downbeat replicant-hunter, Jared Leto as a godlike eye in the sky and a myriad of supporting characters who all seem to be linked somehow. That’s about all we can reveal about the movie, but a more interesting cog in the machine is the director.
Villeneuve’s impressive run in the mainstream began with Incendies (2010) and most recently featured Oscar-nominated Arrival (2016). The sci-fi thriller about a (potential) alien invasion ended up being a far more sombre, contemplative affair than expected, and it’s that tone that the director transfers over to Blade Runner 2049. It’s quite handy, then, that the original also had a similar tone.
The other relevant film in Villeneuve’s filmography is Sicario (2015). Several scenes in Blade Runner 2049 are reminiscent of the dread-infused deserts of Mexico featuring vehicles traversing at high-speed with a thumping soundtrack to boot. The familiar synths of Greek Composer Vangelis (who scored the original) are in place, this time delivered by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The director explained his decision to remove his long-time collaborator Jóhann Jóhannsson from the project as being based on a need for the new soundtrack to sound more like the original. This might be seen as a ruthless, even single-minded, move, but then so was the decision to resolutely restrict details about the film from the press and insist on a lengthy runtime.
With all these elements in place, there is no doubt that Blade Runner 2049 is a throwback to the original without feeling like a retro-fit rehash. It’s fantastically plotted, never dwelling on unnecessary exposition. It’s here that Villeneuve manages to make the runtime work, with the scenes that play out over any length of time being very rewarding to watch. The Leto sequences might be wordy, but they make perfect sense.
The only reason that Blade Runner 2049 falls short (by a fraction) of the original is that it relies so much on knowing the intricacies of the 1982 film. You can’t really view this as a stand-alone film, and that just adds more credence to the reputation of the first film.
As a one-two combination though, Blade Runner is a knockout masterpiece.
Blade Runner 2049 is on general release from October 5
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.