* The following contains minor spoilers for Blade Runner 2049
A couple of nights ago I saw Blade Runner 2049 and now I don't know what to think anymore. I'm troubled with questions of a philosophical nature, ruminating on reality and searching for an understanding or meaning that appears to be tantalisingly, infuriatingly, just beyond grasp.
I'm mired in a deep reflective murk where any answers I do fall upon quickly disappear. Like tears in the rain.
Just to be clear none of this was sparked by the events of the movie. No. The story Blade Runner 2049 tells is disappointingly straightforward with answers aplenty. A deeply ambiguous, enigmatic puzzle to be studied, questioned and argued over for decades to come this is not.
Instead, my current existential quandary revolves around the world's reaction to the film and my own. Words like 'masterpiece' have been bestowed upon it and the reviews range from an impressive 5 Stars and skyrocket up to the dizzying heights of 100%.
Me? Yeah, I thought it was alright.
This is why I've been dissecting my brain and questioning reality. Have I got it drastically wrong? Did I miss something? Was I in the wrong cinema watching the wrong film?
The only answer I've come up with is no. Obviously the rest of the world has got it wrong. Again. And that, friends, should have been the end of it. But it's not.
The problem is that my views on Blade Runner 2049 keep shifting. For a film that places such importance on memories it's kinda fitting that my opinion is mellowing the further away I get from it.
The morning after seeing it a pal asked how many stars I'd give it. My answer satisfied neither of us. It's complicated, I said.
Blade Runner 2049 is a difficult film to rate. You must acknowledge that director Denis Villeneuve has successfully completed an impossible ask; 1) create a sequel to one of the most influential, important and iconic films in cinematic history and 2) not f*** it up.
Mission, accomplished. It's a pretty easy recommend to people who loved the original, those who have never seen it and people who fell asleep through it. Eg, everyone.
It's hugely entertaining, superbly acted and visually untouchable. Almost three hours of solid wow that builds upon the aesthetic of the original, but vastly broadens its scope. Damn near every scene leaves your eyes popped and your brain revelling in its deeply grim, ultra-stylish, future-noir world.
Sure, some of it doesn't make sense (why in this sprawling metropolis is our hero's car the only one flying around?), and some of it only exists to look cool (why does the baddie have a room with a platform surrounded by water in it?). But when everything looks this mind-bogglingly amazing, the sole answer is who cares?
The soundtrack bugged me but only because I adore the original score by synth maestro Vangelis and listen to it obsessively. Hans Zimmer's work is an admirable facsimile, suitably spacey and evocative, but lacks the heart and humanity that Vangelis brought to proceedings. And I really could have done without Zimmer's trademark, droning horn blasts exploding in my ears every two minutes. They felt so out of place.
But my biggest beef with the picture is how much it was dumbed down and spelled out. The vagaries of the original replaced with concrete answers. It hints at more and reaches for a profundity that it just doesn't possess.
Look, I get it. Blade Runner, great as it is, is a relic of its time. That film could not be made today. This major motion picture from a major movie studio needs to make back major money, and that doesn't happen by making a movie that's equal parts intrigue, frustration and boredom.
That the new one is as faithful as it is can only be classed as a gawddamn miracle. Like the original, Blade Runner 2049 moves slow and mixes in occasional boring passages. But I dig this old school, slow-burning, sci-fi and want more. There's plenty of 'gee whiz, let's wisecrack our way around the galaxy,' space opera stuff already.
It's the dumb stuff that bothers me; the baddie's so cartoonishly evil she may as well have a moustache to twirl, the movie's mystery really isn't and pulling back from a lame twist isn't much of a twist.
I keep thinking about the film and re-thinking what I think about it. Those incredible visuals, its many astoundingly great scenes, how close it gets to the deeply ambitious goals it was shooting for... It's left me conflicted. I want to like it more than I did because I want more. It gets so much right that I want to forget all it got wrong.
Maybe it didn't. Maybe I did. I just don't know anymore.