Blade Runner 2049 (3D Blu-ray) (2017)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 17-Jan-2018

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Designing The World of Blade Runner
Featurette-Blade Runner 101 x6
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
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Denis Villeneuve
Studio
Distributor
SONY Pictures
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 $34.95 Music Hans Zimmer
Benjamin Wallfisch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Mandarin
Mandarin
Cantonese
Indonesian
Korean
Spanish
Thai
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 nit-picking.

†††† 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 nit-picking.

†††† 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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

†††† On top of being released on standard Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blade Runner 2049 also debuts on 3D Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Sony. Denis Villeneuve's outstanding science fiction blockbuster was only shot in 2D with Arri Alexa cameras by master cinematographer Roger Deakins (who earned his first Oscar for his efforts) before being converted to 3D in post-production. It's worth pointing out that even though Deakins oversaw and approved the conversion, he has publicly stated on his website that the 3D iteration does not represent his true vision - his preferred edition is the standard 2D widescreen version. Nevertheless, for fans of 3D who still buy 3D discs despite the ostensible death of the format at home, the option is provided, which is better than no release at all. Like the other Blu-ray editions on the market, this presentation is framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and is not opened up despite an open matte edition being prepared for its theatrical IMAX exhibition. Placed on a dual-layered BD-50, Sony have almost packed the disc to its full capacity, maximising the bitrate for the best possible 3D Blu-ray presentation without spreading the movie across two discs.

†††† Admittedly, at the beginning of the movie, I felt underwhelmed by the quality of the conversion. This is a far cry from the likes of Marvel movies which exhibit insane depth, with 3D effects that are apparent in every shot. Blade Runner 2049 is more subtle and understated, which is no doubt by design, but may be disappointing to some nevertheless. I felt that establishing shots in the opening of the movie should have much more depth to them, as they almost look 2D. Things do improve, but again the 3D is more subtle, which makes the image look more "realistic" but may not be what 3D enthusiasts are after. Still, there are impressive moments to behold. In the wide shot when K leaves his Spinner at Sapper Morton's farm upon spotting a flower, the landscape stretches out into the television, everything is nicely layered, and there's agreeable dimensionality to all the visual elements. Before long, I warmed up to the 3D; shots of K walking the streets look excellent, while K's Spinner looks separate to the rest of the image when it flies towards the city. A close-up of Joi's hand as she's outside in the rain for the first time boasts pleasing depth and separation, too. More impressive is a shot looking through the window of Lieutenant Joshi's office as she initially discusses the important discovery with K; rain runs down the glass, and the characters appear at different depths. Likewise for a shot looking through the side of K's Spinner as it flies through the neon-lit streets of Los Angeles.

†††† Each room seems to have more dimensionality to it, from K's apartment to Wallace's ornate office. The sequence during which K travels to San Diego is a wonderful showcase for the 3D conversion. Again, the 3D effects are understated, but since the set-piece is a bit brighter, the conversion has more to work with and there is more to be seen. Everything from wide shots of K's spinner, shots of K and Joi through the windshield, to the brief skirmish look sensational, while close-ups of Luv's face during the sequence are seriously impressive. Indeed, each visual element looks 3D; there is no cheap "pop-up book" effect with 2D at different depths. Also see the introductory shot of Deckard, pointing his blaster towards K - the blaster appears to be protruding out of the screen while Deckard's face is at a different depth. On that note, the collar of K's jacket also appears to protrude. In other moments, dirt, debris, snowflakes, raindrops and even fire embers look separate to other visual elements and appear at different depths. Hallways look long, stretching back into the screen. The climactic fight on the water is another brilliant showcase for 3D, and despite being set in darkness you can always make out what's happening. I removed my 3D glasses several times whilst watching the disc, and the screen was often a blur, reinforcing the extent of the 3D effects. Blade Runner 2049 is undoubtedly a terrific fit for the format, given the movie's achingly gorgeous visuals and sci-fi setting. Deakins might not think much of the 3D, but I'm glad we have the option to watch the movie at home in three dimensions.

†††† The presentation carries the same qualities as the 1080p 2D transfer; fine detail and texturing look hugely impressive, whether it's on skin, costumes, environments, props or sets. Close-ups and extreme close-ups of Luv at the 64-minute mark remain truly extraordinary, revealing every pore on her face, while close-ups of her hand in the same scene are equally impressive. Sharpness, too, is frequently eye-catching. Certain shots look a touch smooth and even slightly smeary, but this is not a frequent occurrence. Colours usually stand up despite the inherent dimness associated with 3D glasses; oranges during the Las Vegas sequence still look terrific, and the palette is faithful to other editions of the movie. I still miss the enhancements that High Dynamic Range provides, but that's only because I've seen the 4K edition with HDR and know what I'm missing out on. Some moments look a tad dark or drab, but colours for the most part look terrific. In terms of the encoding, outside of a few smooth-looking shots, there is nothing to complain about. I was unable to detect any anomalies with the encoding; no aliasing, macroblocking, ghosting or crosstalk. I did pick up a bit of banding in Wallace's office with its meticulous lighting design, but that's about it.

†††† Blade Runner 2049's 3D presentation is not reference-quality, and those who are seeking more in-your-face effects may feel let down, but I soon warmed up to the conversion and appreciated what it added to the experience. There's a wonderful sense of spatial reasoning in almost every scene, and the 3D never looks botched. After all, Deakins oversaw the conversion himself, so any perceived shortcomings in terms of depth are faithful to his intentions, even if he prefers the 2D version. It's certainly interesting to see a 3D conversion overseen by the master, now Oscar-winning cinematographer Deakins - this is actually his first 3D movie.

†††† A selection of subtitle options are available, including both English and English for the Hearing Impaired.

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

Audio

†††† To the horror of audiophiles the world over, Blade Runner 2049 debuts on 3D Blu-ray with a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as a descriptive audio track. Including a lossy mix is the audio equivalent of placing a movie on Blu-ray in standard definition; it does not take full advantage of the format's possibilities. The lack of lossless audio is truly disappointing, but it's apparent that there simply was not sufficient space to accommodate one - the disc is nearly filled to capacity as it is. Still, with movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi looking great in 3D and being endowed with a lossless 7.1 track, would the video quality suffer that much by providing a lossless audio option? At the very least, the disc isn't filled with erroneous additional language options that would have taken up more space.

†††† The primary issue with the track is that it's not as precise or as crisp as the lossless tracks available on the other Blu-ray editions. There's an oh-so-slight muffle to everything, which is a huge problem for a movie of this nature. Dialogue can be hard to make out at times, and raising the volume only reveals muffling. Sound effects like gunshots and engine rumbling are impactful to a certain degree, but lack the oomph of the lossless tracks. Atmospherics are also weaker, and the beautiful score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch at times lacks clarity. Panning, separation and placement effects are less apparent even though this is a 5.1 encode. At least there are no pops, clicks, sync problems or drop-outs, but the lack of clarity is still disheartening.

†††† Is the track serviceable? Yeah, sure. It also wouldn't prove too problematic to those without a surround sound set-up. But more discerning audiophiles will be troubled. There is only so much that you can do with lossy sound - just as there is only so much you can do with a compressed 480p DVD since its resolution is so limited.

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

Extras

†††† The set contains the 2D disc which contains a disappointingly slight selection of extras.

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.

†††† The U.S. 3D release from Warner Bros. features the following that are not included in our 3D set:

But Warner's 3D release features a lower bitrate and, therefore, inferior image quality. Comparing the two, Sony's 3D presentation is more refined, though it's not a huge difference. I'm still giving the win to the U.S. disc for its lossless audio. It's worth noting that there is a bonus disc available as a JB Hi-Fi exclusive, but no 3D edition was released that contains said bonus disc. There is also no 4K + 3D bundle, much to my chagrin.

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.

†††† For those who still buy 3D discs, Blade Runner 2049 is an impressive use of the format. 3D enthusiasts who are accustomed to the insane depths of superhero movies may feel underwhelmed, as the conversion is more understated, but the presentation is excellent all the same. Despite a lossy Dolby Digital audio mix, the presentation is immersive and I look forward to watching it again and again. The included 2D disc also contains a few special features. This one comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, April 13, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE