Looking over the reviews for Blade Runner 2049 – the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner – it becomes clear that the critics seem to be firmly divided when it comes to which is the superior film. 2049 currently sits at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, placing the sequel just 1% shy of its predecessor, while over on IMDb, 2049 boasts an impressive 8.6/10 compared to Blade Runner’s 8.2/10.
While everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, we here at Epicstream happen to fall into the camp of those who feel that 2049 surpassed the original film. Naturally, we’re going to venture slightly into spoiler territory, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, this is your one and only warning, because here are 5 reasons Blade Runner 2049 is better than the original:
It Doesn’t Need Multiple Cuts
Despite its notoriety in the sci-fi genre, seeing Blade Runner can be a daunting task for newcomers, largely because there are SEVEN different versions of the film in existence. There’s the Workprint (a version shown to test audiences in March 1982), the U.S. Theatrical Cut, the International Cut, the Director’s Cut, the Final Cut, the San Diego Sneak Preview Cut, and the U.S. Broadcast Cut (the first five are included in the 2007 five-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition and 2012 30th-Anniversary Collector's Edition releases), and depending on which version of the film you see, your experience may differ greatly. For example, the U.S. Theatrical Cut includes the much-lamented voiceovers by Harrison Ford, as well as a studio-imposed “happy ending” reveal that Rachel doesn’t have a four-year limit to her lifespan like other replicants. Most fans swear by the Final Cut, in which Ridley Scott had full creative control, but with 2049, the film works exactly as it was presented in the theaters. If we do end up with a director’s cut, that’s all well and good, but as it stands, 2049 doesn’t need to be tinkered with or reworked; it left everything it had out on the field.Advertisement
There Are Fewer Drawn-Out Dialogue Scenes
Blade Runner manages to clock in at 1 hour and 57 minutes while 2049 has a whopping runtime of 2 hours and 44 minutes. However, despite the nearly one-hour discrepancy, the latter cruises along almost effortlessly while the former, despite its merits, can be slow and ponderous at times. Why? Perhaps it’s because 2049 chose to make better use of its runtime by minimizing the long, drawn-out dialogue scenes that plagued the original. Admittedly, Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace has some monologues that err on the side of excessive at times, but it all feels completely organic within the confines of the narrative. There are little to no “unnecessary scenes” because nearly everything Villeneuve gives us on the screen adds something of value to the story.
It Takes Advantage Of The Higher Production Value
It’s been said that Blade Runner is a sci-fi film that looks like a detective noir film, and the exact opposite is true for 2049, which had an estimated $150 million budget compared to its predecessor’s $28 million (approximately $71 million when adjusted for inflation). That being said, 2049 makes full use of its expanded budget, resulting in arguably the most visually spectacular sci-fi film of the century. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is awe-inspiring, and the bleak dystopian future Scott so perfectly created the original is even more beautiful in the sequel, from the impressive explosions to the fluctuating holographic interfaces to the flying cars. In 1982, Blade Runner was a film that was already ahead of its time, and 2049 not only continues that trend but doubles down on it.
It Makes The Original Feel Like A Prologue
While Blade Runner is one of the most impressive and iconic sci-fi films of all time, 2049 makes it feel like it was all building towards this sequel. Make no mistake – this isn’t to say that Blade Runner isn’t required viewing. Quite the opposite, actually, as the original film provides the necessary backstory one must be familiar with in order to understand the intricacies and nuances of 2049’s dystopian world. However, the countless seeds planted throughout Blade Runner would hardly be worth remembering if we didn’t get to watch them bloom into something even more remarkable in 2049.
It Provides Viewers With Both Ambiguity And Certainty
Is Deckard a replicant? That’s the biggest questions fans had after watching Blade Runner, and it’s a question that’s continued to both plague and intrigue them ever since. Thankfully, Villeneuve didn’t undo any of that ambiguity, providing evidence that both supports and debunks theories about Deckard’s true nature. On the one hand, Deckard is living in the massively irradiated wasteland that was once Las Vegas, but then again, he’s survived for 30 more years since the original film (far beyond the lifespan of the Nexus 6 replicants) and has aged quite visibly in that time. Still, as much as ambiguity and uncertainty are cornerstones of the original Blade Runner, some fans don’t like things being left to their own imaginations. Enter Officer K, otherwise known as KD9-3.7. While not revealed in any of the marketing, Ryan Gosling’s Blade Runner character is, in fact, a replicant – a new model, at that. By maintaining the aura of mystery surrounding Deckard and also giving fans an outright, unapologetic replicant as the lead character, Blade Runner 2049 truly delivers the best of both worlds.
What about you? Did you think Blade Runner 2049 was better than the original? Let us know in the comments section!