Friday, March 04, 2011

the Blade Runner sequel(s)

hey everyone

just how fondly remembered and treasured the film Blade Runner is can be seen in the extensive press coverage being given to the news that a deal to make sequels to the film is "almost" in place. that's right - almost. with no concrete plans or even permission to do so, news that there might be a sequel, or possibly even a number of them and "prequels", was considered major enough news to warrant an official press release.

it's nice to see the film get this kind of reverence and respect, really, since it was a major box office flop on release. it was only some 10 years after the release, when a "director's cut" was issued, that a number of people saw this film as the masterpiece a few of us knew it to be. ideas of a follow up have always been speculated about, and indeed do exist in a set of official "sequel novels", but never before have we had an announcement like this that suggests it will all happen.





there are a number of reasons why a Blade Runner sequel has not been made in the last 25 or so years, all mostly relating to the fact that the "ownership" of the film and concept is as far from clear cut as you could imagine. it was, in fact, only the death of one of the shareholders that cleared the way for the recent, magnificent 5 DVD box set of the film. on top of this, i had always hoped that Warner Bros had not tried to force the issue of a sequel as there was not, and indeed it perhaps remains the case that there is not, any artistic reason for making one. in terms of artistic importance, Blade Runner must be held rather close to the works of Stanley Kubrick in works protected by the studio.

the latter view mentioned is probably, alas, not the case. a Company called Alcon Entertainment appears to be key to getting the funding and financing for any and all sequels. a good deal of noise is being made and attention drawn to the fact that they were responsible for a recent film called The Book Of Eli, a movie i am led to believe was rather good. somewhat less attention is being drawn to the fact that they also made this film :





yes, that's right - any and all Blade Runner related films and possible TV shows are in the hands of those who went ahead and made the single most irresponsible remake in history, and as a consequence delivered unto audiences one of the worst films ever, the ghastly, horrid remake of the magnificent British classic The Wicker Man. this is not what one would call a good sign.

there is a school of thought, then, that we should all jump on the "anti-sequel" bandwagon straight away, for fear of them delivering a film as bleak and desolate as the original film, although not for the same reasons.





i am, however, reluctant to instantly slam the idea. the Blade Runner universe is an interesting proposition for a new visit. in the film, after all, we did only get a brief glimpse of a fascinating, perhaps more likely than we could ever possibly have expected, future. here, for what it's worth, are the thoughts and ideas on how a Blade Runner sequel could work which spring to my mind.


only one person absolutely needs to return from the original film......

and that's the composer, Vangelis.





there are many, many aspects as to why Blade Runner move from box office failure to one of the most celebrated films in history, and few are as striking as the music for the film. when Michael Mann attempted his ill-fated, frankly awful film version of TV show Miami Vice a big warning sign to him should have been that Jan Hammer refused to allow the music he composed for the show to appear on the film as "the film seems to have nothing to do with the TV show.". Blade Runner without the astonishing soundtrack created by Vangelis is not Blade Runner. if he cannot be inspired to create a new soundtrack, or at the least allow them to use elements of the one he created, then the project should grind to a halt there and then.

you have a choice of three directors only.....

of the film directors working at present, here are the three who could pull of a not only acceptable but probably exceptional sequel to Blade Runner : Christopher Nolan, Duncan Jones and David Fincher. all three have a name for handling films with high expectations, that are character driven whilst also hosting some incredible, dazzling special effects and, perhaps of particular importance, having the trust and respect of the vast majority of the target audience for this film.

the temptation to bring Sir Ridley Scott back must be fought. the "messy" way in which he has handled the idea of doing another Alien film (he has no idea if it would be a prequel or sequel, he claims that it will "certainly be in 3D" despite having no idea what it would be) and the fact that he has "thought" about a sequel for Blade Runner for some four years and hasn't quite come up with anything suggests that he's just going to tarnish all that he did with the first film if allowed another go. there's also the likelihood that, stung by the relative box office failure at the time (it did go on to make huge amounts of cash over the last 30 or so years), he might try to "right a wrong" in his mind and go for a more commercial movie. not that there's anything wrong with films making money at all, but every now and then sometimes the box office doesn't matter when compared to the name and reputation of those invovled.

another big, and i mean really big, no-no would be the temptation to pursue at all costs James Cameron for the film. despite his track record for already making a superb sequel to that other Ridley Scott classic, Alien, as well as the first two Terminator films, his celebrated recent effort, Avatar was devoid of all human interest or appealing story that the other films mentioned had. if they wish to throw vast sums of money at James Cameron to make some fancy light show then by all means do so, just please do not do it in the name of Blade Runner.

that said.....


learn from Aliens......

if you go all the way back to the mid-80s then the idea of doing a sequel to Alien must have seemed as ridiculous as the idea of a sequel to Blade Runner does now. but then they made Aliens, a film that ties in very, very well indeed to the original film and yet exists as a standalone film in its own right. a very impressive trick, and a very impressive film to boot. if they can follow this path with any Blade Runner sequel then i and many others are going to be a good deal more positive about the idea.

however, they must also......

learn from the Matrix sequels...........

The Matrix was an innovative, brilliant film which combined state of the art special effects with an engaging, interesting story, brought to life by some great performances (yes, even Keanu was good in it). the two sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, saw the memories of greatness eroded very quickly as the makers rejected all that was good of the first film and loaded the films with pretentious, preposterous and quite frankly dull "fake mysticism".

work out what the eventual audience for Blade Runner actually liked and build on that please, don't go feeding us a whole load of bull.....






broaden your horizons.....................

whereas just about all of Blade Runner takes place in a dozen or so locations in the Los Angeles of the future, the world it hints at is vast. off-world colonies and other cities are a blank canvas. if they shove the whole thing into a block in downtown LA, they will have wasted the chance given.

on that note, the stories of the original characters - Deckard, Rachel, et al - are done and dusted. there is nothing more that one can say about them. that too, sadly, means that this chap should not feature.





Roy Batty was for many the star of the show, and his exit, with particular emphasis on his final lines, resonate as one of the greatest moments in cinema. any and all attempts to resurrect his character are futile. do not do it.

which makes it go without saying that......


the "official" sequels should be avoided.........

there are at least three "official" novels that are sequels to both the film and the original Philip K Dick novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?. whereas the books by K W Jeter are not entirely bad, the description given tells you all you need to know about the problem with them. they attempt to be sequels to two similar but also vastly different concepts.

by all means borrow ideas from here, as i would expect they shall do from the other works of Philip K Dick, but any effort to make the sequels full on adaptations of these novels, even allowing for Hollywood's notorious sense of "artistic licence", is just not going to work. i can't say much more than that without giving spoilers, really.

the final point will probably be the one that has the least chance of being heeded....





anticipate or even expect financial failure...........

with the noise being made about a theoretical sequel one suspects that they are busy planning and anticipating a blockbuster on the scale of The Dark Knight. oh dear. true, The Dark Knight was a masterpiece, but absolutely no one thought it was going to rake in over one billion dollars at the box office. there will be an understandable but rather inappropriate wish to try and force a repeat of the trick instead of letting it happen.

it's very difficult to see how one could make a Blade Runner film that stays true to the original concepts and yet incorporates "blockbuster" elements. attempts to do so would probably end up with them making something closer to Batman & Robin rather than The Dark Knight. you would have to guess that no one wants that.

if they make a proper film here, then the audience and all important income will follow eventually. if they go for flashy effects and a simplistic story in the hope of getting very big money fast, it will be doomed to fail.





so, there you have my views, which i can only presume are wanted, going on how many people have forwarded me links to the story! and much appreciated it was too, all of you who did.

with the sequels appearing to be inevitable, one can only hope that the producers remain true to why Blade Runner is held in such regard. it's very easy to take an instantly negative view of the whole project, but at this stage i find it hard to believe that those who are investing so much time, money and effort into making a sequel have not done so just to make a fast profit - that's what comic book adaptations and remakes are for.

if any other news crops up i'll do my best to include it in a follow up post, but in the mean time, well, let's wait and see, and if only those making this could see with our eyes............



painful to live in fear, isn't it?
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