Like It or Not, Here Comes the ‘Blade Runner’ Sequel

Source: Warner Bros.

Hollywood doesn’t care much for what we want, in a sense. When it comes to picking through the bones of just about any franchise, studios have little to no concern for the desires of audiences. What they want is for you to see that a movie is getting a sequel, be angry for about a minute, and then get caught up in the hype of teasers, trailers, and a huge release weekend. Remember how upset we all were to learn that Jurassic Park was getting yet another sequel? That went away real fast, and all it took to snap us out of our indignation was Chris Pratt riding point on a pack of raptors.

The next entry in the “sequels we’ll be mad about at first but then begrudgingly accept” library comes in the plans for Blade Runner 2, set to begin production this July, according to Deadline. It’s unclear what exactly it’ll be about, but Harrison Ford will be reprising his role as Rick Deckard, starring alongside the likes of Robin Wright, Ryan Gosling, and Dave Bautisa. So it certainly won’t be short on a quality cast. But as io9 put it, this could prove to be “the least necessary sequel of all time.”

Nothing about the ending to 1982’s Bladerunner asks for another movie. It was made as a standalone sci-fi flick, and in the process became one of the most iconic and universally loved movies of its genre. Dozens of different cuts later and it’s still remembered as one of the greatest movies ever made. This makes an attempt at a sequel that much more unnecessary. The Terminator franchise has been (unsuccessfully) attempting to recapture its old magic for decades now. Prometheus was the first halfway decent installment in the Alien saga since 1986, and even that wasn’t a direct sequel. And yet here we are, about to embark on yet another journey of digging into an old franchise to tell us whether there’s any life left.

The first piece of evidence to tell us that the answer to that question is a resounding “no” is the fact that Ridley Scott won’t be directing the follow-up effort himself. Instead, Blade Runner 2 (or whatever the sequel ends up being called) will be in the capable hands of Denis Villeneuve (director of last year’s brilliant Sicario). Still, it’s the veritable canary in the coal mine for any movie: when its original creator doesn’t see the value in being directly involved (he’ll be on as a producer in a hands-off role). All that isn’t even considering the fact that the whole point of Blade Runner is that we’re never certain if Rick Deckard is indeed a human or a replicant. The ambiguity is the whole point of the message, and it only serves to be cheapened by a sequel revealing that Deckard has lived far past the artificial lifespan of a replicant.

The next problem likely to be encountered? Any sequel will be made in an era far different from the one Blade Runner came to life in. The climate in the 1980s was uncertain as to humanity’s future. The Cold War was still almost a decade away from ending, echoing an America that was scared to look to the world of tomorrow. The future Scott imagined seemed to reflect this in its almost dystopian nature. Blade Runner showed city life replete with spectacular technology, but also with an even murkier future for those down below on the street level. Making Blade Runner 2 in today’s fully imagined future would make for some awkward tonal shifting between the two movies that would be difficult to reconcile.

All that aside, the sequel is coming regardless of anyone’s objections. Without Scott at the helm or a clear idea of what the story will be, though, we have a hard time feeling optimistic about a movie attempting to follow up a film widely regarded as the toast of the sci-fi community. Next, we wait for the inevitable hype train to convince us otherwise.

Blade Runner 2 is set to begin filming this July and will hit theaters on October 6, 2017.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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