Archive for August 19th, 2011

Returning to Blade Runner

March 2 of this year something happened that excited me.  Warner Brothers acquired most of the rights to Blade Runner.  Included in the package?  Sequel rights, prequel rights, and rights to the world itself.  The only thing they didn’t get in the package were the remake rights.  This was cool news.  This week, the bigger news hit.  Ridley Scott is on board, and will be working to make another Blade Runner movie.

That’s the grand total of the details to this point.  There’s questions being bandied around: Will it be a sequel?  Will it be a prequel?  But these questions ignore what I think is more probable than either, and probably the most exciting in terms of potential: what if it’s neither?

There’s four things to do with a movie with such a deep and beautifully crafted world as Blade Runner.  Remake is off the table.  Prequels and sequels are limiting, the former especially.  But there’s a fantastic fourth choice: tell a new story in the same world.  Please, I beg of you Mr. Scott and Warner Brothers, take this route.

There’s an argument that can be made as to why does someone need to own the rights to Blade Runner to tell a story that isn’t explicitly tied to the original.  And it’s a valid question.  Why not make a cyberpunk dystopian movie and keep it just different enough to not be Blade Runner’s world?  Largely because the world of Blade Runner is so deep, so nuanced, is such a character in that story that anything else is going to look like a pale imitation, a pastiche.  Why make something that’s almost sort of Blade Runner while trying not to be when you can make something that is Blade Runner?

It’s such a definer of an entire sub-genre in a way that few other pieces ever have managed.  To most people, Blade Runner IS cyberpunk.  It was one of those rare notion that maybe the future doesn’t always have to be a perfectly clean place filled with enlightened people living trouble free lives.  It might, and this was a novel idea, suck.  People might continue to be people.  It’s the dramatic mirror to the dark humor satire of Brazil, and it’s what many of us fans want out of such a movie.

So.  Give us the movie!

But…here’s the problem.  CGI was invented.

So much of the amazing look and feel of the original movie comes from the film makers actually doing things.  Actually constructing city scape miniatures.  Actually filming grunge and smoke and horribleness without having a computer filling in the little bits and pieces around the edge.  It’s hard to imagine a movie doing that today, not in this post Sky Captain world.  It kills me to speak ill of a movie that I really do love.  Sky Captain is a hell of a lot of fun, but above just about everything else it was a proof of concept, the first feature length movie filmed without a single scrap of sets.  Everything was green screen.  Everything was computer animated.  And that was GREAT for the movie, it created a really unique look and feel.

Then Lucas did it with Star Wars.

And now, I’m afraid they’re going to do it was Blade Runner.

Look at the old movies, the ones where people did and people cared.  Where they had to make things, because there was no alternative.  And they have all aged so beautifully.  The Alien Queen is still terrifying because she was real, she was on screen, she was directly interacting with the actors.  So much of the original Star Wars trilogy have already aged better than the prequels, when Lucas could do whatever he wanted with a computer rather than relying on puppetry, models, and ingenuity to create the look that he wanted.

The look of Blade Runner is what it is because it was all real.  It was all on camera.  It was real, and it was dirty, and it was grimy, all in a way that CGI still can’t really do right.  That’s the part of computer animation that still hasn’t gotten all that real, hasn’t advanced beyond what film makers could do if they had to sit down and figure out HOW to do it.

So there it is.  I’m excited and I’m worried, and I’m hopeful, and I just don’t know what to expect out of another Blade Runner movie.  What I do know is that I trust Ridley Scott to go forward and make it good, because this has always been his baby.  This is the movie he’s never quite gotten right, always wanting one more shot at a director’s cut.

I trust you Ridley.

Don’t let us down.


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