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Blade Runner 2049 looks like a careful extension of Ridley Scott’s vision

Last night at CinemaCon, Sony Pictures Entertainment gave those in attendance a look at some new footage from director Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming film Blade Runner 2049. Let’s just say that I walked away really, really excited.

Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman introduced the film during the company’s presentation to theater owners (Sony is handling international distribution), recounting his first experience seeing Ridley Scott’s 1982 original. He then brought star Ryan Gosling onstage to discuss the project.

Gosling described how the choice to focus on practical effects and environments made stepping into the reality of the universe that much easier. “Every location was real, every set was there, every prop was functional,” Gosling said. “It was a fully functioning, living, breathing world.” The pair also revealed that chunks of the film take place in Las Vegas alongside the classic’s Los Angeles setting, which required the filmmakers to re-create a futuristic version of the city in Budapest, where the film was shot.

Of course, all of this was a prelude to the footage itself. It started with some brief clips of the original, with an abbreviated version of the final monologue from Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) laid in as voice-over. Then new footage kicked in, revealing Gosling’s character walking through a vast, almost pyramid-like building that called to mind the design of the original Tyrell Corporation.

The footage included a glimpse at Jared Leto’s character — seemingly a creator along the lines of Tyrell — watching as a new replicant slipped from some sort of plastic sack and fell to the ground before him. “Every civilization was built off the back of a disposable workforce,” Leto’s character said in voice-over while caressing the creature. “We build angels here. But I can only make so many.”

Robin Wright also appeared in the footage, playing a police commander that seemed to reprimand Gosling’s character at multiple points — “There is an order to things,” she said in sequence. “That’s what we do here.” By the end of the scene, Gosling’s character came face-to-face with Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard.

From a plot perspective, the vague outlines of the movie are sort of visible: Gosling plays a cop. He starts investigating something, but rattles the cages of his superiors (likely due to Leto’s character). So, he seeks out the missing Rick Deckard for help.

But the real takeaway from the early footage is the design and look of the film. Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner is iconic, not just because of the hard-boiled noir at its core but because of its fantastic dystopian art direction. The look and feel of the movie is as essential to its story as any of the plot points. All of the footage from 2049 fit that same mold, with the sets, designs, costuming, and style looking not just like an echo of the world Scott created, but like a logical extension — as if that world really did age 30 years, and somebody made a movie about what the universe became.

Obviously, it’s a bad idea to judge a film based on a few minutes of footage, but in comparison to other previews Sony showed at the event, Blade Runner 2049 was the clear high point. A new clip from The Emoji Movie revealed a film that seems as ill-conceived as its title, and an extended look at the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower was downright disheartening — overstuffed with mythology and an awkwardly cheesy Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. (Idris Elba, however, seemed wonderful as gunslinger Roland Deschain.)

New trailers from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle received warmer welcomes, as did the opening sequence from Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver — a movie the studio is so confident in that it actually moved its release date up to June 28th. But for science fiction fans, there’s only one date that matters: October 6th, 2017, when Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters.


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