Blade Runner Musings – Contains 2049 Spoilers

With the release of the new movie my mind has been with Blade Runner.  Last night I went and watched the new Blade Runner 2049 movie with my wife.  This post is a partial review of the new movie, my feelings on the direction and also how I have been thinking about roleplaying in this Universe.  Lets start with the RPG side as I don’t want to leap immediately into reviews that may spoil the movie for those that have just happened on this blog.

Blade Runner role playing…

I have been thinking for some time that role playing in this setting would be fantastic.  It does not hurt that the card game I play (Android Netrunner) has direct attachments to this franchise either.  Netrunner is much more the bright and happy version of Blade Runner mind you.  What I had been envisioning for the past couple of weeks though is another of my mind twist ideas.  I know that some people hate these ideas of mine but it is something I would like to put in place.

What if the players were replicants?  What if the players were replicants and they did not know it?  This is the concept I would love to play and explore.

When I talk about replicants, I am talking the original movie kind.  Those that were built with a limited lifespan of four years.  Part of the game would be the realization that they were in fact replicants.  They would then realize that they were going to die in short order.  Imagine playing it from that perspective.

I had no idea what the new movie would contain so when I went and saw it I was surprised at the narrative similarities the two concepts had.  But for me this is a game I would be interested in running.

Which system?

I have been trying to think of a system that would work for this.  FATE needs too much upfront information (although something similar to the Demolished Ones at the start may work).  Cypher system would be a possibility but again the character generation would possibly cause issues in this.  I feel like it needs a Universal System but am uncertain what?  Or should I go to a system that mirrors the setting and use something like Cyberpunk 2020?  Any ideas would be awesome as there has never been an official game for the setting.

Blade Runner 2049 – my reaction  ***SPOILERS***

I was very scared about this movie.  Blade Runner is one of my constants.  One of my favorites ever since first viewing.  I have been to every theatrical release there was and I carry this movie with me everywhere.  I really did not want them getting this wrong and ruining the franchise for me like The Force Awakens did for Star Wars with me.

A lot of the younger generation have been introducing themselves to the movie in the past couple of months and their reaction is hilarious.  Where are all the explosions?  It is so slow?  Where is the action?  Come on millennials and Gen Y.  Pull your head out of your ass.  In some movies, story matters.

Blade Runner
This scene was nice, but also triggered my pet peeve in Blade Runner 2049

Immediately after the movie?

I walked out a little stunned.  It was not what I expected.  Not that I knew what to expect.  My wife liked it.  I was not sure.  There were times in that movie where I felt Tina Turner was going to come out and sing We don’t need another hero.  It had a real Beyond Thunderdome vibe cutting through it.  Especially with the replicant rebellion theme.

What had me in knots was the whole premise from the beginning.  Replicants were all over Earth and they had no inbuilt timer in them because they had created them to be subservient?  Blade Runners were now replicants themselves?  All of this seemed like complete and utter crap to me.  Why would they allow replicants on Earth when they could be so dangerous.  The subservient nature seemed so fragile with the baseline tests that are depicted.  It did not sit well with me.

And Rachel able to give birth?  Well now let me get on my soap box…

After a sleep?

I am a lot happier with the movie this morning.  A lot happier.  The first thing that shifted for me was the detail about Rachel having Deckard’s child.  In the original movie Tyrell talks about Rachel being an experiment.  In the original that was all about memory implants and making a more than human replicant.  But the feed in works.  What if Tyrell had created her so that she could breed with humans?

The next thing I came to terms with was the replicants on Earth.  Tyrell corporation has gone broke.  The Wallace corporation buys up their IP and remaining infrastructure and makes better replicants.  I thought of this from a human perspective.  We always think we can do better and so I could see how the Wallace corporation claims to have only subservient models and so they are accepted.

But in the movie they are not really accepted.  It does seem that the entire movie is made up pretty much of replicants but the humans in it make it clear.  Humans hate the “Skinjobs”.  This point again makes me wonder as to the legitimacy of this idea that replicants are allowed back on Earth.  The one thing that I still can’t seem to accept though is that they would have replicant Blade Runners.

The Nice

There are a couple of areas that this movie really champions that is very similar to the original for me.  The first is the “What is it to be human?” question.  This is embedded in this movie like a genetic marker.  It is played out in K/Joe’s story and really drives the narrative.  This is a nice counterpoint to the original movie as it asks us to identify with a replicant as the main character.  In fact many of the characters in this movie are replicants and they tell a human story.  Very nicely done.

The second really nice touch was Ana De Armas as Joi.  The counterpoint of a fake human keeping a holographic fake human as a companion was on point.  It did lead to one of the weirdest love scenes I have ever witnessed but the relationship dynamic is on point.  This contrast was perfect in my eyes and really helped push that main theme along.

The Negatives

There are two main things here that I want to get across.  First is the visuals.  I really think that they failed the whole Blade Runner visual level.  Blade Runner was a much more vibrant and esoteric beauty.  This movie was desolate in comparison.  The scenes of the cities hinted at the beauty but from afar.  It closed in too few times on what the view from the street was, missing much of the neon intensity seen throughout the first movie.  It is there, it is just not accentuated or used like it was in the first.  The impersonal neon telling us about a better life.

The Wallace CEO was awful.  Probably meant to be a sinister counterpoint to the whole Rachel having a baby thing.  Something for the audience to rail against as he sought out the child.  I found him ludicrous.  The scene where he spells out his main goal of having trillions of replicants that breed?  What utter crap.  He was under developed and oversold.  His acting flat and his impact on this movie very poor.

Pet Peeve

OK, I am going to say something that I even have a counter for in my own mind.  I hate it when someone in the movie development goes;

Yeah – the first one was great but it needs more tits.

Now my first counter to this is the first vagrant display of tits in this movie makes sense.  We see a replicant “born” straight out of its pregnant wrapper.  The display of violence that followed was arguably not required.

The following series of tits were not particularly needed in my mind.  I am not a prude – I just hate it when they do this.  The Matrix series lost me at movie number two because of this very reason.  Nudity is a powerful thing but it needs to be required for me to enjoy its inclusion.

Overall?

I like this movie very much in the same way that I like Tron Legacy as compared to Tron.  It is not the story I wanted but they did it well.  It is nowhere near as good as the original but it is a good movie.  This adaptation possibly will highlight to the younger generation what the first movie did for us.  It talks of being human and what it is to be human.  I am a bit worried that the movie will not be popular with the Gen Y and Millennials because again there is not much action in it.  What there is though is well placed and balanced.  Dave Bautista actually gets props for a good acting role for once.

Regardless, go see it.  Harrison Ford is excellent as is Ryan Gosling.  Sylvia Hoeks, Ana De Armas and Robin Wright make the film with beautiful roles.  Jared Leto is majorly disappointing, as he has been in every movie I have watched.  If you have any ideas on me running the replicant game, let me know!

 

4 Comments


  1. Hey, Mark!

    You could use the system from Lady Blackbird for Blade Runner. We used it in our group for a couple of different settings and it worked quite well.

    I didn’t like the Wallace CEO too – I think they tried too much to show him as the real big evil. But with his flying eye-drones he reminded me strongly of the blind god Io from Pratchett’s Discworld which was a bit weird.

    Reply

  2. I felt exactly the same way. The movie was good, not great, and did not feel like a worthy successor to the original for me. I was extremely disappointed when we find out K was a replicant immediately. In the original, the slow realization that Deckard could be a replicant and used to hunt his own was very Shakespearean for me. The mere possibility of the situation sounded like a massive tragedy that made the entire film more powerful.

    Leto as Wallace was utter crap. Horrible, misdirected, and just plain garbage. The scene where he kills the one just born was a complete waste, a Hollywood attempt to make us hate him, and it fell completely flat and stupid.

    The scene with the giant hologram…what was the point? Never got that scene. Just a big FX scene I guess.

    Joi was amazing. The actress was fantastic and the entire story was sad, emotionally powerful, and yet you knew it was two not-real entities and was the most poignant thing in the entire film. For me, those two brought home the entire point of the film, which I feel was “What does it mean to be human? Is it DNA, or being able to feel emotions?” The sex scene was fantasticly awkward and amazing at the same time, perfectly acted and directed.

    Anyway, a spot on post, thanks!

    Reply

    1. The hologram was touching and impersonal – it was a reminder of the purpose of Joi – but in my minds eye I could not help but think that it was just another excuse to show tits in the movie. It was exceptional on the big screen but could have been chopped.

      Reply

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