As The Martian hits our cinema screens this week, Sir Ridley Scott has been answering questions about his up-and-coming projects. Prometheus 2 (now called Alien: Paradise Lost) was of course front and centre but Scott also revealed a bit more about Blade Runner 2 and it seems Drive star Ryan Gosling has all but been confirmed to be playing the main lead with Harrison Ford‘s returning Rick Deckard now more in a supporting role. With the new movie looking likely to be set 30 years or so after Blade Runner, a few hints of it becoming an ongoing franchise and a definite answer given to Deckard being a replicant or not, I find myself wondering if this really is a good move by Scott; in other words, do we need a Blade Runner sequel?
Blade Runner is a cult classic…period. Based on Philip K Dick‘s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, the film revolves around “Blade Runner” Rick Deckard’s search and elimination of a group of replicants who have come to Earth wanting more life from their maker. From the rain soaked streets of downtown to the flame spewing industrial high rises, Los Angeles 2019 is still, to this day, a sight to behold on screen. Coupled with Vangelis‘ emotion-filled score and a perfect eclectic cast, the influence, inspiration and importance of Blade Runner is not to be taken lightly. It’s power is seen, heard and felt with its message about death, as much as it is about life, raising questions concerning mortality, choice, status and ownership. Who am I? What are my memories? Where do I come from? When will I die? Tears in rain.
Released in 1982, it was essentially a flop. It split critics and underperformed at the cinema with its cult status being earned through video and, I believe, time…as is – it was way ahead of its and we had to catch up with. Several released cuts of Blade Runner introduce, snip out and change some of the films themes and revelations with each version being just as interesting as one another and all well worth owning. Not only that, the Blade Runner universe has been expanded already through sequel novels and a game which ran alongside the original film (but followed a different “Blade Runner”). Vangelis even revisited the soundtrack for its 25 year anniversary with a three disc version; two discs of score music with the third a new album influenced by the film. So, what are the pros and cons of having a film sequel?
To revisit the world created by the film makers is an exciting prospect. Imagine seeing that world with todays technology? Discovering what happened to Deckard and Rachel clearing up the mystery about Deckard’s origins and the effect his actions from the original had on him if is does turn out he is a Replicant. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Gosling is on a role, his last five years has seen him on top of his game and he can certainly hold his own as a lead man. As for Ford, well, you couldn’t do a sequel without him really besides I think he nails it in the original so seeing an older Rick Deckard will be very interesting. Hampton Fancher. Involved with the screenplay for the original film (and the game), Fancher is back on writing duties; a rushed knocked up story this isn’t going to be. And finally, Scott only producing. No doubt Sir Ridley is one of the finest directors ever…but (and I know this will divide opinions…it divides my own) Prometheus just didn’t work.
To revisit the world created by the film makers is also a daunting prospect. The world and feel of Blade Runner has been copied and interpreted to death and the original used a lot of model work and practical effects rather than the CGI soaked world of todays film making. Discovering what happened to Deckard and Rachel is something I personally don’t need the answer to. The various cuts of the original showed a couple of different possibilities but none left it begging for an outcome. As for Deckard’s origins, this I definitely don’t want the absolute answer to…it would cause the original to lose some of its mystery and power. The soundtrack. Vangelis return hasn’t been confirmed or denied or even discussed but the world of Blade Runner isn’t a world without the music of Vangelis behind it. And finally, it’s another sequel. Let’s be honest here, cinema has become overrun by sequels, prequels and spin-offs. Sometimes they blow our mind (Mad Max: Fury Road) but more often than not, they really don’t (The Expendables 3, Transformers 4, Fantastic Four).
I think what I am trying to say is that Blade Runner doesn’t need a film sequel…it certainly doesn’t need to be made into a franchise. There is something special and unique about the original, even with its various cuts, and any extension of that has a real potential of damaging it. But, don’t get me wrong, the first trailer will hit, it will be amazing, excitement will be high (remember that first trailer for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace) and we will all probably go and see it on the biggest screen…in iMax…in 3D…blah blah blah. The question you got to ask though is why will we be going to see it? I think the answer is the same when you ask why is Prometheus 2 now called Alien: Paradise Lost? Think about it.