Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - WITH Spoilers

  1. Toby Frost

    Toby Frost Well-Known Member

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    I thought the Wallace stuff was quite weak overall, and that bit was particularly weak. I understand what they were trying to show, but creating a character - and, it should be said, a naked woman at that - just to kill her just to show that the villain is a villain is cheap. Everything about Wallace felt like a cheaper knock-off of Tyrell, I'm afraid, even down to the lighting.

    The killing of Rachel 2, however, really meant something, and carried a lot of weight for me. It reflected on Deckard's mental state, and on the ideas central to the film. It had no exploitation to distract from its casual brutality, and Wallace didn't get to pontificate.
     
    Feb 12, 2018
    #41
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  2. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry but to me this is a biased view. There is absolutely nothing in that scene that seems to be a commentary on the filmmakers' part about the female condition or women's place in our society. Again, I'm okay with people saying that the society depicted in BR 2049 is misogynistic (which is true, amongst other things) or that Wallace is a misogynistic pig (I don't think that was the point of the scene however). But that doesn't make the film itself misogynistic.

    This is a scene about a man who wants to be god but is impotent. He is the weak link in that scene, philosophically and thematically, he is the one in a position of inferiority. The petty little man who cannot control life, therefore destroys it. The replicant happens to be female because Wallace is trying to a create fertile replicant women, not because it's better to write a scene in which Wallace kills a woman. She is naked because the scene shows him giving birth to her, she is the Eve to his God, just like we're all naked when we're born. Not for the pleasure of the audience. Did you find her nudity titillating? I didn't. No more than the naked male and female replicants seen as K visits the Wallace Corporation. Was the scene supposed to be titillating? If anything, her nudity and her helplessness are horrifying - which is what I think the filmmakers were going for.

    I'm not trying to comment on the validity of that scene or even the quality of it - I would agree with you both that this scene is weak in terms of writing, and that Leto's Wallace was the worst character in the film. All I'm saying is: Just because a naked woman is murdered on screen does not mean the filmmakers have misogynistic views.

    Wallace is clearly the villain of that story. Equating what he thinks and does with the filmmakers' views on life and society seems strange to me.

    What are other examples? You mentioned before that all the female characters in the film were there for the pleasure of the male characters and were brutally murdered, but you didn't mention any clear examples - if I missed any in your posts, please excuse me.

    But let's take a moment to mention the scene where the police commissioner invites herself into K's apartment, pours herself a drink and casually suggests that they should have sex, implying that he is her thing and that she feels free to do as she pleases with her little male lapdog? Wouldn't you say that she's pulling a Weinstein on him in that scene?

    Why not comment on the multiple occurrences of other female characters, including other replicants even, comparing K to a dog (he is called a "dog", a "good boy")? I mean, why not apply that same logic and say that this is a misandristic view of a poor little man caught between the actions of women in power? His boss, the replicant tracking him down to kill him, the resistance leader using him to further her agenda... This seems entirely at odds with a misogynistic reading of the film.

    Again, BR 2049 shows a world where life is cheap and people are commodities, and it works for females, males, replicants and humans alike. It's a society of slaves. I don't see anything misogynistic about it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Feb 13, 2018
    #42
  3. Rodders

    Rodders |-O-| (-O-) |-O-|

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    I only watched this last night and I’m still digesting it, but overall I really enjoyed it, even if it was a little harsh in places.

    I need to watch it again a couple more times, but I didn’t feel misogynistic. No one had any control of their lives and everyone is disposable. In fact, with so many great female characters, I didn’t find the film misogynistic at all.

    Joi was interesting because she evolved though the film from just a hologram and I did get the impression that she did love him at the end and had kind of gone beyond her programming.

    K was just a thing. Something to be used and thrown away. I found the abuse that he took for being a replicant quite difficult. Clearly humans will always hate something. Quite a miserable character, really.

    Luv was good to watch on screen and her last comment “I’m the best one”was pretty interesting. I suppose we all want to stand out from our peers.

    Lt. Joshi was another great character. The scene in K’s Flat was interesting and I would’ve liked to seen her developed more.

    Overall, an excellent movie, I thought. Good effects interesting script that is a worthy successor to arguably one of the greatest movies ever made.

    The soundtrack was also pretty good, imo. Not quite up there with Vangelis’s original, but still pretty good.
     
    Feb 13, 2018
    #43
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  4. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    @The Crawling Chaos - I'm struggling to frame a reply - it seems to require a lot of work, but also because I'm not sure I could make a convincing case.

    What I would suggest is that there is an unfortunately coming together of two issues:

    - female characters who exist to serve male characters,
    - an overall theme that replicants are objects to simply use, take pleasure from, or kill without regret.

    The first is a common complaint, but the second allows the worst possible interpretation of the first.

    I keep trying to imagine what BR 2049 would look like if all the genders were flipped. Even putting aside blatant sexual imagery of men, I suspect most of the audience would perceive an underlying violent misandry - for the same reasons as above.

    Maybe someone should write it, to see. :)
     
    Feb 13, 2018
    #44
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  5. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    I believe I understand and partially agree with your point. "Partially" because I think it's only one piece of a bigger picture that says exactly the opposite.

    Does BR 2049 have female characters who exist to serve male characters? Yes, the replicant prostitute is one. But does the movie confine her to that definition? I don't think so. She is never used or abused by anyone and seems to be the master of her destiny. She holds what is presumably a high position in the hierarchy of the replicant resistance and is the one who leads the resistance to K, rescuing him and healing his wounds in the process. Being a replicant prostitute is the hand life (AKA the screenwriter) dealt her, but what she does with it is where the film takes its distance with what would otherwise be a misogynistic character. The only time she ever has sex (off-screen might I had) is to allow two lovebirds to experience sex, it's an act of love. And there again, she takes control by only allowing herself to get dragged into this to plant a device on K and allow the resistance to track him. Maybe she is a prostitute and sells her body on a regular basis, but the movie never even hints at this. Could they have made her anything else than a prostitute? Yes. Is their depiction of that character handled tastefully? I think so. A film shouldn't be accused of being sexist just because it shows prostitutes, it is how it treats this or these prostitutes that makes it sexist or not.

    Likewise, the replicants / slaves issue is handled well: They do not stay confined to that role. They organise an uprising (again, off-screen). They transcend the biological limitations humans wanted to hold them prisoners of: They reproduce. K, a man with no purpose as an individual, finds one in a cause greater than his life. I think the people who called the film misogynistic stuck to a skin-deep interpretation of the roles these characters fill in the thematic universe they inhabit.

    BR 2049 is ultimately a movie about transcending the limitations that society or life would want to impose on you (slaves resisting their oppressors, an AI freeing herself from the confines of an apartment and finding love, a woman whose condition forces to live locked in a bubble finding refuge in the boundless world of dreams, a father who never even saw his daughter to protect her finding a way to become reunited with her...) and freeing oneself of these shackles by adhering to a greater purpose (K's entire arc, from servile underling to master of his fate).

    The only characters the movie preys upon are the villains, who remain stagnant in their failures as individuals. At no point does the film seem to side with their views on the worthlessness of life.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Feb 13, 2018
    #45
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  6. Judderman

    Judderman The Iceman cometh

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    As a replicant rebellion is being formed and Wallace is still alive it seems there is potential for a 3rd film. Maybe in 2050 :) Though if it was about a war it would be with less substance and more action. Wallace's end is not resolved, though he is a poor character.
    I recently watched the Ghost in the Shell film with Scarlet Johansson. A similar Japanese influenced image of the future but definitely has more colour and some, limited positive indications for society. Whereas Blader Runner 2049 features only people with dark, bland lives that are almost robotic, and are barely discernible from androids that think.
     
    Feb 13, 2018
    #46
  7. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    It doesn't have to be so literal as the prostitute or Joi - Luv is a physically strong but otherwise appears weak as a character in that she exists only to serve Wallace without any real motivations of her own. This is a real shame because in Blade Runner both Pris and Roy Batty are nuanced characters driven by their own motivations, yet the replicants in BR 2049 are missing this dimension.

    2c. :)
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #47
  8. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    But Blade Runner and BR 2049 are entirely different movies in their themes and their approach to the replicant problem.

    The point of Blade Runner was that Pris and Batty were the real "heroes", they were free spirits who were certainly involved in villainous actions, but were the only humane (human?) characters, while the detective (or rather, the more advanced replicant) chasing them was little more than a dehumanised robot, disconnected from his own humanity until the climax of the film.

    In BR 2049, the situation is different: Replicants have been revamped by Wallace technology to be obedient slaves, regardless of what they might have to say about the tasks they are asked to perform. So yes, they start off as drones without desires or needs. But the whole point of the movie is to show how the good guys are able to move beyond those limitations and find purpose.

    Luv is portrayed as a young girl - not a woman - who is required to perform several terrible actions and has conflicted feelings about it, hence her tearful yet heinous face as she murders the police commissioner. She is nothing more than a kid who wants to prove her worth to her father and herself ("I'm the best!"). In that I pity her.

    But there is no denying that unlike Pris or Roy, whose purpose was noble and relatable to the audience ("I want more life"), she is an unredeemable villain. So this actually proves my point that the villains in BR 2049 are the only characters who are stagnant and that the movie condemns to rot away (Wallace) or die (Luv) because they are unable to transcend their base nature. So yes, she is weak and unable to find "any real motivations of her own", but this is not the movie mistreating her as a character: It's the movie punishing her as a villain. Just like Wallace is weak. Both appear strong by their physical strength or influence over others, but both are actually hollow and weak, and condemned to failure or annihilation. That is their comeuppance.

    I don't think it's fair to use a villain as an example of whether or not a movie treats a character with the respect it should owe to its gender.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Feb 14, 2018
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  9. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    That's where the problem is, though - women characters whose reason for being revolves around the male characters are common in film. This is where BR 2049 compounds the issue as many female characters are also literally objects to serve.

    This same criticism cannot be applied to most of the male characters. Even Wallace may offer little to the plot, but he's still driven by his own goals, and is not defined by his relationship to another character. And though K is introduced - and treated - as an object, we see his development into an emotional being to sympathise with.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #49
  10. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    I agree that Luv's reason for being is to serve Wallace, but that has nothing to do with her gender or misogyny: He uses her as a hitman and there are no hints to her ever being used for sexual favours, for example, and she seems to enjoy a lot more freedom than K in accomplishing her task. She could be a male character and that wouldn't change a thing to her character, her position is not defined by her gender.

    Now, K's master (the female police commissioner) also makes sexual advances to her male underling. But again this has nothing to do with gender, so while you could (and should, if you applied the same logic to every character and not just the females) claim that the film has hints of misandry in that scene, where a female character uses her position of authority to try to gain sexual favours from a male underling, I would also argue that you're mistaken. Again the movie is not making any statement about gender equality or politics: One servant just happens to be female, another happens to be male but their genders never define them or confine them to their situations. The male transcends his nature because he's the protagonist, not because he's male, the female remains trapped in hers because she's a villain, not because she's female.

    I think this is a case of gender being in the eye of the beholder. If you don't bring gender politics into this film, you find that it has absolutely nothing to say about it.

    I would also argue that Luv is the only female character in the film whose reason of being is to serve one of the male characters. That is not the case of the prostitute who serves her female leader, the resistance leader who serves her cause, the police commissioner who serves the law, and the dream designer who lives in a parallel reality where she only has to answer to herself. I've already explained at length why I think Joi should not be considered as a female or even a human in my older posts, but if you did consider her as one, then I would agree that her role too is defined by her relationship to K. So we have 1 (2, depending on how you view Joi) female characters that fit your description out of 6. Again, BR 2049 seems far more progressive than most modern films.

    I think you're focusing on one particular case when the movie actually offers a very broad and progressive spectrum of dynamics when it comes to genders interacting with each other.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Feb 14, 2018
    #50
  11. biodroid

    biodroid Expensive Gadget User

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    I have never seen the first Blade Runner movie, will it ruin the new movie for me, will I miss plot points etc.? I tried watching it about 30 years after its releaseand it was not really my cup of tea, too slow. I love Denis Villneuve's movies like Sicario and Arrival.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #51
  12. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    I personally wouldn't, but I think you can watch BR 2049 without having seen Blade Runner. You will miss out on some context, but the movie does an okay job of explaining what the situation is when its stakes become intertwined with characters from the first film.

    However, don't go in expecting anything other than a slow film. Its pace is far more similar to the first film's than it is to Sicario's or Arrival's.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #52
  13. Toby Frost

    Toby Frost Well-Known Member

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    I thought that BR 2047 was really slow, and could have been 40 minutes shorter and better for it. I think it probably is best considered as a sequel, since to me it felt like a rambling discussion of issues raised in the first film.

    I think I’ve said all I want to say about the female characters. I’d end up by observing that while identity politics is a factor of some kind in reviewing a film or other piece of art, a method of critiquing based mainly on it will miss a huge amount.

    This makes me wonder. When Blade Runner was released, the cyberpunk visual style (neon signs, rain, Japanese writing etc) was novel. Now it looks almost retro and it seems likely that the future won’t look quite like that. So I wonder whether the whole cyberpunk thing will become (or is becoming) tinged with nostalgia, much like noir. While anyone visiting, say, Airstrip One or Gilead would want out after about half an hour, a trip to a cyberpunk city could be quite entertaining. Provided that you could escape, of course.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #53
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  14. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    Or has become?

    Commercially the 80s and its associated genres, including cyberpunk, have been back for a while, with the return in the last 5-10 years of 80s-styled sneakers and flashy clothes, the so-called "new" synthwave musical genre, the implosion of pop culture merchandising (often from long-forgotten 80's properties) and the constant revisitation of franchises with sequels (Blade Runner, Alien...), adaptations (Ghost in the Shell) and remakes.

    Thematically, with our recent advances in technology (medical advances, AI, trans humanism...) and our failures as far as societal issues are concerned (overpopulation, communitarianism, war and climate crises, implosion of borders, isolated individuals living in an illusory digital world and multinationals gaining more influence and power over us), the stage was pretty much set to generate a craving for a new exploration of cyberpunk, which seems more prescient now than it ever was.

    Perhaps it has to do with generations born in the late 70s and early 80s having become the leading consumers today and their need to revisit their childhood to keep time at bay, perhaps it has to do with the fact that we slowly come to realise we never heeded the warnings of 80s fiction and wish for a return to that time, when we still had a chance to do something about it.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #54
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  15. Foxbat

    Foxbat None The Wiser

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    Just finished watching this.

    Beautiful, stylish, excrutiatingly slow and did what many sequels do - dispells the mystery of (and therefore diminishes) the original.

    Was Deckard a replicant or not? I no longer care - that's what this movie did for me.

    The question is - will I watch this movie again? A big, fat resounding no to that. I've got some paint drying that needs watching.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #55
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  16. Luiglin

    Luiglin by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe

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    Weird, I enjoyed the pace. To me the original was always too short. I wanted more of the atmosphere and visuals. 2049 gave me that and more.

    I enjoyed the fact that the original hinted that Deckard was a replicant and that 2049 teased us with the hint that K was a born. A nice contrast.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #56
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  17. Lumens

    Lumens Hellenologophobia sufferer

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    I think BR2049 was always going to be a fan fiction tribute. A very expensive one. I enjoyed the atmosphere too, but the story was not very engaging, even when ignoring all the issues raised here.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #57
  18. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    Okay, let's flip the genders then and see what happens to the story:

    - Kay discovers the bones of a man, who through a series of flashbacks and genetic clues, suggests might be her father. She now follows a trail she hopes will lead to her mother, and so confirm that Kay is a real woman when she is otherwise told she is not a real person.

    - The chairwoman of Wallace industries is frustrated that her man robots do not have power over procreation, which would make her a Goddess. To demonstrate her frustration, she has a naked and helpless man robot brought to her, and slashes open his reproductive organs.

    - Kay continues her investigation, supported by a pretend man who is programmed to be emotionally supportive. The pretend man thinks that sex will help her, as that is the role of a man, and so has a robotic male prostitute visit them.

    - Wallace is worried that someone else has found a way for her robots to reproduce. Her favourite man robot, Darling, follows a trail which leads after Kay.

    - Kay wanders through a wasteland, dominated by statues of naked and sexually aroused men. She finds her mother, Rachel. But before Kay can reveal she might be her daughter, Darling appears.

    - Darling beats up Kay, then he destroys the equipment powering pretend man. Pretend man manages to tell Kay he loves her before fading away.

    - Darling kidnaps Rachel and takes her to Wallace headquarters, where the chairwoman produces a copy of the father, Deckard, but simply shoots him dead when Rachel doesn't want him.

    - Kay feels sad, because she has found out she is not a real woman. A giant naked hologram of pretend-man appears. Kay is not comforted by the sight of giant naked pretend man.

    - Rachel is transported somewhere to be disposed of, but Kay manages to stop it. Kay fights Darling, but Darling stabs her repeatedly, then kisses her. So Kay chokes him and holds him head underwater for a long time, allowing us to take satisfaction in watching him drown.


    I've left out the plot element about the daughter, because women being seen as fragile and needing protection is an old sexist trope, and there's no easy stereotype that demeans men in the same way.

    Even still, I suspect most male viewers would be left uncomfortable by the portrayal of men in such a story. :)
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #58
  19. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly what I mean by my "beholder" statement, though: It is your wording that makes this summary potentially offensive to men, you are the one reducing characters to "pretend men" or "man robots" (replicants are not robots by the way), injecting intentions that weren't in the film ("as that is the role of a man") and putting the emphasis on things I didn't see or experience ("taking satisfaction in watching him drown"), because that's how you read / want the movie to be.

    I could take the time, and maybe I will, to rewrite the exact same summary without any prejudice towards what the film supposedly says about gender, and turn it into a perfectly workable story that wouldn't be offensive to men.

    I for one can see the great film that this would have turned out to be, even with the roles reversed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Feb 14, 2018
    #59
  20. The Crawling Chaos

    The Crawling Chaos Well-Known Member

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    I tried to stick to your summary as closely as I could - but some elements needed to be altered as I found them really disingenuous, ie. deliberately missing the point of a scene to make it seem offensive when it wasn't (the scene with the giant naked Joi hologram is not to attempt to "comfort" K, but to make him realise he never had a sincere relationship with his Joi, since she was nothing more than one in a million other Jois who all looked and behaved the same way for their respective owners).

    I also chose not to include the reversed scene in which the male police commissioner invites himself into Kay's apartment, drinks a whisky and casually offers to have sex with her subordinate, because I believe I've referenced it way too many times already in this thread.

    And since I think this will be my last contribution to this thread, at least as long as the conversation keeps revolving around that particular topic, I will point out one last time that there is a huge difference between depicting a world that has misogyny in it (the statues of naked women in the Nevada desert, symbols of a decadent society which has also destroyed nature) and having a misogynistic view or agenda. There is the subject you treat and there is how you treat it.

    Does BR 2049 depict a misogynistic society? Yes. Is BR 2049 a misogynistic film? No.
     
    Feb 14, 2018
    #60
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