Hey kids let’s complain about Blade Runner 2049

Berlin: not a dystopian future-scape, just a regular city full of pollution and porn
Berlin: not a dystopian future-scape, just a regular city full of pollution and porn

Yesterday I moseyed on down to my adorable little neighbourhood cinema/public living room to watch a film I’ve been excited about for ages. Blade Runner 2049. This film has 89% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time I am writing this; that’s pretty much 9/10. 9/10 is a terrific score. If your career performance is 9/10 you’re probably reading this on a much nicer laptop than mine in a much nicer apartment than mine drinking a glass of good Shiraz rather than the plastic cup of sugar-free grapefruit Fanta I am unashamedly chugging. If your product is endorsed by 9/10 housewives, you can bet that the last housewife will probably buy it anyway out of socially-anxious paranoia. So this film, I thought, is going to be bloody brilliant. But actually it’s not, I’m afraid to say. Let’s talk about the reasons why and set me up for plenty of lovely online harrassment.

  1. Sitting and talking. Talking and sitting.

Blade Runner 2049 is opulently spectacular. It is so visually amazing (in the true sense of the term, as in ‘oh good gravy I am so amazed’) and sumptuous that it feels somehow high-calorie. I loved every glorious second of the incredible special effects, masterful set/costume design and breathtaking sci-fi landscapes.

Unfortunately this is one of those films that might actually be better if you watched it with the sound off because all the actual stuff in the film ruins it entirely. It is SO LONG and SO LITTLE HAPPENS. The only thing that does happen is characters sitting down, having a drink and talking. They sit and drink and talk about events that we don’t get to see, events which sound like they would have been quite a bit more interesting than yet another scene of people sitting, drinking and talking. It’s like Mad Men without the retro charm and simmering sexual intrigue. The entire film is characters telling each other a very complicated story, at length, in the form of elaborate monologues, droned at each other without much actual back-and-forth. Why are we in this incredible futuristic neoniverse watching people having a nice dram and a relaxing chat?!?

At one point Harrison Ford and Sexy Face Man are having a fistfight in an abandoned cabaret hall while vivid holograms of classic stage shows flicker around them. This invigorating bit of actual Things Happening only lasts about 2 minutes though, because then Harrison Ford stops the fighting and LITERALLY SAYS “Shall we just stop this and go and sit down and have a drink?” I know Harrison Ford is getting on a bit at this point, but everyone in this future timeline seems to be really lazy. Also, side question: do people in the future have hyper-evolved superlivers?

2. Amazing imagery, DULL people

Blade Runner 2049 is one of the least diverse pieces of media I have seen in ages. There were dozens of roles in this film which did not *need* to be filled by cis white actors and yet…and yet. We have maybe two non-white actors in the entire thing, both playing insignificant extras who have six lines in total. Come ON, HOLLYWOOD. This is SCI FI. It is possibly the EASIEST genre in which to incorporate a wide and inclusive range of people. How can you produce a film which contains so many non-western languages and yet is 99% full of pretty white anglo-saxons?

Also, the non-white characters in the film are as follows:

  • a police forensics dude who is so bland and insignificant I can’t even remember if he had legs
  • a scuzzy pawn-shop type dude who runs a scuzzy pawn-shop type place and inexplicably has facial tattoos when no-one else in the film has any tattoos at all
  • a scuzzy orphanage owner who ***FOR SOME REASON*** wears a headscarf and is illegally forcing children into non-stop slave labour in the middle of an enormous waste dump.

…I mean…maybe these portrayals are kindof a bit not cool? I hate to be the one to say it, but Blade Runner 2049 – GET EFFING WOKE.

3.Where all my chubbz at?!

And further to this prior point: is it really too much to ask to just once, in a film, see a woman who isn’t a tall, slender naiad? I’m not asking to see warty, obese women talking to Ryan Gosling while their untamed pubic hair curls rampantly out of the bottom of their booty shorts. All I am asking for is women who represent a slightly broader range of body types than the one absolutely flawless type we are forced to pretend summarises all of the female aesthetic. And yes, male actors are also cherry-picked for their looks, but we still get some variation among them. Ryan Gosling is admittedly beautiful, but Harrison Ford is looking considerably crustier and chunkier than in his good old days and we still love to look at him. Heck, Jared Leto spends the whole film looking like one of the male members of ABBA dressed for a business meeting. While every single female in this film could more or less be the same chick wearing different wigs and skirts in different scenes.

Please, movie people. I am just asking for a scant expansion of your pincer-thin horizons. Just one main character with my Olympic women’s shot-put champion thighs or generously-stuffed-bratwurst arms. Just one sympathetic female lead whose thighs touch when they’re sitting and drinking and talking. Please. Just one. I am so tired.

4. Everyone hates replicants, but not as much as they hate women

Women in this film are terrible. Either they are power-mad, cock-crunching dominatrixes (possibly the plural is dominatrices?) (and yes, there is definitely a deliberate kinky element to their violence and power), or impotent and wordless props, or impotent and mouthy props who are actually computer-simulated love interests which have, despite being entirely the product of a piece of software, managed to perfectly master the art of the sexy-messy casual updo. This film is so oddly misogynistic I felt like standing up and shouting ‘WHAT THE FLYING F**K?!’ in my best Germaine Greer accent.

In one scene, a new female replicant is ‘born’, and writhes around naked on the floor covered in a thick transparent gel. For a long time. The camera makes sure to linger on that shot of the writhing, glistening naked lady for a gooooooooooood lonnnnnnnnnng look. Then she stands up and is immediately stabbed in the womb and dies. It’s breathtakingly cruel cinema. At this point it’s like the movie has become self-aware and is doing a parodic meme of itself inside the actual movie and oh god INCEPTION NOISE BWAHHHHHHHHH.

In another scene, the evil sexy gorgeous fiendish dominatrix woman is giving a series of orders to bomb dozens of people to death in order to expedite the next stage of her plan. Meanwhile, a servant is stooped at her side, lazering adorable cartoon animals onto her fingernails. Nowhere in the entire film do we even get a hint that this character would be interested in cartoon animals. She is an intelligent, elegant and mature woman who will stop at nothing to carry out her objective. But I guess, deep inside, her non-functioning ovaries still squee when she sees a Hello Kitty bumbag.

What is this movie?! What does the scriptwriter think women even are?!?

“Ah jeez Bob, you know what dames are like – animals in the sack, distracted by cute baby animals in the workplace, amirite?”

HARRISON FORD YOU SUCKERED ME INTO SEEING THIS FILM. YOU HAVE LET ME DOWN FOR THE FIRST TIME; I HOPE IT SHALL ALSO BE THE LAST:

Other than these minor issues it’s a pretty good film, if a little boring and needlessly expositional. Now come on, Internet. Send me your hate. I am ready for it. Come at me bro.

Rose T

Jill of all trades: writer, illustrator, designer, editor, web designer, craft maniac

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