Blade Runner 2049 (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 17-Jan-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Designing The World of Blade Runner
Featurette-Blade Runner 101
Short Film-2036: Nexus Dawn
Short Film-2048: Nowhere To Run
Short Film-2022: Blackout
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 163:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Denis Villeneuve
Studio
Distributor
Universal Sony Starring Ryan Gosling
Harrison Ford
Jared Leto
Robin Wright
Ana de Armas
Mackenzie Davis
Sylvia Hoeks
Dave Bautista
David Dastmalchian
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Hans Zimmer
Benjamin Wallfisch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Chinese
Mandarin
Chinese
Danish
Estonian
Finnish
Indonesian
Korean
Latvian
Lithuanian
Malay
Norwegian
Russian
Spanish
Swedish
Thai
Ukranian
Vietnamese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† It took thirty-five years, but Ridley Scottís highly-acclaimed 1982 box office flop Blade Runner has finally spawned a sequel. At once, Blade Runner 2049 is the follow-up that Scottís science fiction classic deserved, and itís also better than it had any right to be, standing alongside the likes of Aliens, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Godfather: Part II as one of cinemaís all-time greatest sequels. Bolstered by outstanding technical specs, smart writing and immaculate acting right across the board, 2049 is a breathtaking extension of Blade Runner, overseen by visionary French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve who proves to be an ideal successor to Scott. Written by Michael Green (Logan) and Hampton Fancher, the story of 2049 is intrinsically tied to Scottís movie in ways that cannot be spoiled, but it also confidently stands alone. Be warned, however, that this is not an action-heavy mainstream sci-fi film, ŗ la Star Wars - in keeping with its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is for a specific type of filmgoer, demanding patience as it plays out at its own pace. Itís essentially the most expensive art-house movie ever made. And if you dislike Blade Runner, itís probably best that you sit this one out.

††† Set three decades after the events of the first movie, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) works as a blade runner for the LAPD, tasked with tracking down and ďretiringĒ the artificial beings known as replicants that have grown out of control or obsolete. Led to a farm overseen by rogue replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), K discovers skeletal remains pointing to a thought-impossible anomaly. Kís superior, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), sends him to investigate, hoping to clear up the situation as quickly as possible. But the discovery attracts the attention of Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who is responsible for the new generation of replicants after the Tyrell Corporation went out of business. Hoping that the discovery can benefit his company, Wallace sends his enforcer, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), to follow K, making the blade runnerís investigation all the more perilous. In addition, K finds himself searching for former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who disappeared many years prior.

††† Like Scottís film, Blade Runner 2049 is a noir-ish detective story first and foremost, deepening the details of this vivid futuristic world as K pursues leads and clues, grappling with the gravity of his shocking discovery. Built upon a core of intriguing ideas and themes, the story - hatched by original Blade Runner scribe Fancher - avoids simply rehashing its predecessor and creates a more pronounced narrative trajectory, ensuring that it never meanders despite a meaty running time. Clocking in at a staggering 163 minutes, 2049 is packed with story and subplots, but not a single piece feels inessential. Even a cameo appearance featuring Edward James Olmos reprising his role as Gaff might seem like simple fan service, but it serves to make the movie feel more complete. Furthermore, unlike the original film, 2049 is imbued with emotion to supplement the spectacle - in particular, the final scene is heart-wrenching. K feels like a fully-realised character despite the coldness of this world, and shares an intimate relationship with his responsive holographic companion Joi (Ana de Armas), whose presence is announced with notes from ďPeter and the Wolf.Ē Even though both are merely artificial intelligence, this aspect of the story is unexpectedly poignant, highlighting that Joi can only satisfy K on a superficial level since nothing can quite replicate the raw intensity of human interaction despite insane technological advancements.

††† With movies such as Sicario and 2016ís Arrival under his belt, only Villeneuve could have successfully pulled off a Blade Runner sequel, as heís one of the only modern-day filmmakers able to handle the complexity and density required for such an endeavour. In fact, itís seriously doubtful that even Scott himself would be able to so much as match Villeneuveís directorial brilliance or confident sense of pacing. It would have been easy enough to create a more action-oriented sequel for easier mainstream consumption, and to an extent that might have been enjoyable, but Villeneuve is more interested in a purer form of cinematic poetry, providing the perfect alternative in an overcrowded cinematic marketplace dominated by superhero movies. Blade Runner 2049 does its best to replicate the viewing experience of Scottís original movie, with patient pacing and a proclivity for scenes filled with silent, lingering study, but this isnít just an unnecessary homage - Villeneuve deepens and develops this hellish world, revealing that San Diego has become a trash dump and there is more to learn about replicants. Luckily, too, the minor bursts of action are brutal and enormously effective. In particular, a climactic battle is one of the most nail-biting sequences of the year, and it exists without cheapening the material in any way.

††† From a visual standpoint, Blade Runner 2049 is unequivocally flawless, emerging as one of the most aesthetically unique and distinctive science fiction movies of the 21st Century. From top to bottom, the set design represents an organic extension of the original movie, preserving the futuristic, Tokyo-esque vision of Los Angeles filled with industrial-looking buildings, flying cars and gigantic advertisements, while the metropolis is bathed in perpetual darkness and rain. 2049 was lensed by cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has been nominated for many Oscars and previously collaborated with Villeneuve on Prisoners and Sicario. Deakins is the best cinematographer in the business bar none, and with Blade Runner 2049, he again demonstrates his astonishing talents for composition and lighting. Itís doubtful that anybody else could have made this follow-up look so thoroughly eye-catching in every single shot. Perhaps shooting on 35mm (and 65mm) film stock could have brought the visual aesthetic even closer to the original movie, but this is just nitpicking.

††† Blade Runner 2049ís special effects deserve the highest of praises; Villeneuveís vision is flawlessly brought to life, making astute use of the monstrous budget. There is no obvious CGI to speak of - every visual element looks tangible and real, ensuring that nothing will look dated a few decades down the track. There is a brief cameo by a character from the original film who is made to look precisely the same as they did in 1982, and the illusion is seamless. Digital de-aging is nothing new thanks to Marvel, but this is next level - itís overwhelmingly convincing. Composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch were actually brought onto the project at the last minute, but the resulting original score is a huge asset, reminiscent of Vangelisís iconic synth-based music from the original movie, perfectly complementing the breathtaking visuals. The soundtrack also contains songs by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, which enhances the pictureís flavour. However, at times, the score does lack the distinctive presence of Vangelisís work, particularly during sweeping shots of the city, but that presumably comes down to the style that Villeneuve was aiming for. Again, this is nitpicking.

††† Gosling may not seem like an obvious choice for this sort of motion picture, but it seems weíve been underestimating the actor, who truly brings his A game and then some. The actor doesnít say a great deal, but subtle facial expressions convey a lot; Gosling is perpetually committed to the role and not a single moment feels contrived. Just as impressive is Ford, reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Fordís presence is certainly minimised compared to what the marketing implies, but the story itself is so spellbinding on its own merits that youíre never left yearning for his arrival during the first two-thirds of the movie. When he does show up, Ford delivers the performance of his career, bringing honest-to-goodness emotion and plenty of attitude to the role that he played thirty-five years ago. The good news doesnít stop there - Villeneuve also coaxes top-flight performances from the likes of Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Robin Wright and, particularly, Ana de Armas. Blade Runner 2049 may be a stunning visual feast, but thespian achievements are equally impressive.

††† Perhaps Blade Runner didnít need a sequel due to the nature of its narrative and the ambiguity that Scott was aiming for, but Blade Runner 2049 continues the story in a logical way without diminishing the impact of the motion picture which started it all. In addition, Villeneuve builds upon the original movieís thought-provoking themes, with existential questions about humanity and the power of memories. And even though itís a longer movie, 2049 arguably surpasses its revered predecessor due to its understated emotional and dramatic resonance, and more sure-handed pacing. To be sure, not everyone will take to 2049, just as certain viewers did not take to Blade Runner back in 1982, but the movie works like gangbusters if you have the patience to appreciate it. This is not just an amazing sequel; itís also an outstanding original sci-fi and another winning directorial effort for Villeneuve. Blade Runner 2049 is the purest and most rewarding cinematic experience of the year.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Sony Home Entertainment with an AVC-encoded 1080p presentation that's placed on a dual-layered BD-50. With the movie running at over 160 minutes including credits, and with the disc containing about an hour of supplemental material, the movie only takes up a bit under 37GB of space on the disc - the transfer maintains an average bitrate of 23 Mbps, which is strictly mediocre and could be better. (The Region A release from Warner Bros. only manages a bitrate of 20 Mbps, making our local disc superior.) Still, it's impossible to make a movie shot by master cinematographer Roger Deakins look bad on Blu-ray, so while this high definition presentation is certainly no match for the superior 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, it has its strengths and should be enough to satisfy unfinicky viewers.

††† Framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, it's actually surprising to see how much fine detail the 1080p encode is able to bring out, particularly during close-ups. Close-ups of Gosling during his post-traumatic baseline tests are especially impressive, allowing you to take in the actor's subtle body language. An extreme close-up of Luv's face as she coordinates a missile strike resolves amazing skin textures, though the highlights aren't as precise as the 4K Blu-ray which has the benefit of High Dynamic Range. Contrast and image depth on the whole is a bit on the weak side, while shadows aren't always as deep as they could be. Still, the ins and outs of the insanely intricate production design are easy to appreciate here, from K's apartment to the dense streets or expansive ruins. Many videophiles online expressed disappointment online that no home video versions offer the movie in its expanded IMAX aspect ratio, which had more visual information at the top and bottom of the frame. Deakins did approve a re-formatted 1.90:1 IMAX version, but the cinematographer framed the movie specifically for 2.40:1, and therefore that's his preferred aspect ratio. Some people may wish that an open matte edition was available, but we need to respect the artist and their intended vision.

††† The Blu-ray faithfully retains the colour palette that I recall beholding in the cinema during the movie's theatrical release, looking almost monochromatic at times, while the neon lights of the city streets are colourful and the ruins of Las Vegas are given a strong orange/yellow push. Skin tones occasionally look a bit pasty, however, particularly during scenes set in Lt. Joshi's office which carry a very understated, clinical look. The presentation looks razor-sharp more often than not, too, with superb object delineation - facial hairs, drops of rain and flakes of snow are all individually discernible. At times, the transfer shows how good standard Blu-ray can still look.

††† I did detect a tiny bit of banding, particularly during the opening sequence at Sapper Morton's farm, but the encode is otherwise free of encoding anomalies like macroblocking. It's just that thanks to the compression, certain moments look a tad soft and the transfer is nowhere near as texturally precise or eye-popping as the 4K presentation, particularly when it comes to the wide shots. The video does begin to struggle a bit during darker moments, or moments set in rainfall. Nevertheless, the video thankfully never looks smeary. In addition, shots involving panning or tilting are a tad jumpy, while the 4K Blu-ray is smoother in this respect. Could the movie look better in 1080p with a more generous bitrate? Probably. But at least we have the movie on 4K Blu-ray, which is the definitive presentation.

††† English subtitles are available. I had no issues with the track.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Whereas the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features a Dolby Atmos track, which is in keeping with how it was originally mixed and exhibited theatrically, this standard Blu-ray only features a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track - and to make matters worse, it's only 16-bit as opposed to 24-bit. This does seem like a blatant. deliberate choice to save the superior audio mix for the superior format, but it's still unnecesary all the same - especially given that there's 6GB of unused space left on the disc. However, at least the audio is lossless - Universal Sony's 3D Blu-ray option only comes with a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is an abomination. Still, there is a nice sense of separation and immersion to the 5.1 track thanks to smart use of the surround channels - see K and Joi sharing a scene in the rain at the 22-minute mark, for instance, as rainfall sounds come from all around. Music, too, fills all available channels to nice effect. Also, whenever vehicles fly past, well-judged panning effects are utilised. Prioritisation is never an issue, as dialogue is always easy to comprehend.

††† Thankfully, the subwoofer is put to good use when necessary, for instance during the opening scene when K retires a replicant - both the gunshots and the sound of said replicant hitting the ground are deafening. Punches and engine rumbles are likewise appropriately accentuated by the subwoofer. But while the track does fine when it comes to the louder moments, it falls short during quieter scenes. For instance, in the opening sequence at Sapper's farm, the sound of a pot cooking on a stovetop is not as apparent as it is on the 4K disc's Dolby Atmos track. Subtle atmospherics are not as apparent either, and the track can sound a tad limp and missing some layers compared to the Atmos mix - not to mention, the Atmos mix sounds crisper. Still, despite the track's flaws, I thankfully never detected any drop-outs or sync issues - this is an expectedly well-encoded track from the folks at Sony.

††† It still seems foolhardy to downgrade audio when an Atmos track is ready to use, but I suppose it's another step to convince consumers to upgrade to 4K for the best experience all-round. This doesn't affect me much, as I will always grab the 4K edition when I want to watch the movie at home, but not everybody has the necessary equipment, I guess (as strange as that might sound, given that audiophiles can fork out for expensive Atmos set-ups).

††† There are additional lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, for those interested.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† The selection of special features is disappointing, to say the least. It's certainly not a patch on the original movie's five-disc Blu-ray set. The lack of deleted scenes and a commentary certainly suggests that a double dip is likely.

Designing the World of Blade Runner 2049 (HD; 21:55)

††† In this excellent featurette, the stunning production design of Blade Runner 2049 is explored. Villeneuve talks about the extent of the practical effects that were used in the movie, even limiting use of green screen to make the movie look more tangible and to allow the actors to deliver more naturalistic performances. Deakins' incredible contributions are touched upon, as well. There is tonnes of behind-the-scenes footage showing the amazing sets that were built, while concept artwork is shown and the crew also talk about bringing in legendary production designer Syd Mead (who worked on the original Blade Runner). Admittedly, this does feel like it's part of a larger documentary, but this is still worthwhile and informative, never feeling too fluffy or self-congratulatory.

Prologues (HD; 28:06)

††† As a part of the movie's marketing campaign in the lead-up to its release, three prologues were released online which fill in some of the gaps between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. Luckily, all three are included here. You can either watch these individually or via a "Play All" function. Villeneuve drops in to introduce each short.

Blade Runner 101 (HD; 11:22)

††† There are six bite-sized featurettes here, which can either be viewed individually or via a "Play All" function. Unfortunately, these are all YouTube-grade fluff pieces which don't provide a great deal of insight.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Compared to the U.S. release from Warner Bros., our local disc misses out on:

††† Whereas the U.S. disc features a lower bitrate and therefore an inferior video encode. However, the JB Hi-Fi exclusive version features a bonus disc with the aforementioned featurette plus more. Nevertheless, the U.S. edition still wins compared to our single-disc Blu-ray set.

Summary

††† Blade Runner 2049 is a gift from the filmmaking Gods. It's a magnificent tribute to the original Blade Runner, a worthy sequel, and a breathtaking original science fiction movie to boot. It is undeniably one of 2017's best movies and it will stand the test of time.

††† Universal Sony's Blu-ray presentation is fine, though it has its shortcomings. The 1080p video is a bit compressed but still looks very good, while the 5.1 audio track lacks the fullness and richness of a Dolby Atmos track. While I wish there were more extras, the included supplements are of good quality. All things considered, this one comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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