Blade Runner 2049

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I have a long history with the original Blade Runner.  I first saw it when I was seven-years-old, I think.  Harrison Ford was on the cover, it looked futuristic and cool, in an action-packed sci-fi sort of way, given the, I don’t know, “space pistol” he was holding.  Blade Runner, it turns out, is not appropriate for children.  Not because of the violence, sex and nudity (though for some that may be a valid reason), but because it is a slow, ponderous movie that is more concerned with the philosophical notion of humanity than with action.

I’ve seen Blade Runner maybe about a dozen times—including the theatrical version, the director’s cut and the “final” cut.  I understand Blade Runner is a masterpiece, and while I do like it, it’s just something that resonates with my on any sort of personal level.  I can ooh and ah over the visuals, which are no doubt incredible.  The movie spawned countless imitations.  I know the history of the film pretty extensively.  I just don’t really give a shit about it.

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Arrival (2016)

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There are some fictional events that I think are irresistible to filmmakers, simply because there’s a million and one ways to tell that story, and you can tell it so personally and make it so your own.  There’s the “end of the world” scenario, where it can either be a personal apocalypse or something troubling on a theological level.  It all depends on what the passions of that storyteller are, what drives them.

And then there’s the “first contact with aliens” scenario, which has all the wiggle room in the world available to tell a story as rooted in optimism as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or as capitalistically cynical as Independence Day.  Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival has it both ways.  It sees the opportunity and the meeting as an important meeting of the minds with fantastic implications for advancement for both species, but one with disaster looming in every moment, because humans are, by nature, a distrusting bunch.

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