It's because of this that I've been eminently skeptical of its upcoming sequel, Blade Runner 2049, which stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, and is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). The first teaser for the film was released on Monday, and it's wiped most of my doubt away.
The trailer opens with a classic bit of wooden-board dialogue from Harrison in the first film (metal), and shows a character, presumably Gosling's replicant-hunting "K," walking through a Hardware-esque desert landscape (double metal). Perhaps most metal of all, the trailer evokes the same otherworldly chimes and towering, buzzy synths that permeated Vangelis' soundtrack for the original film.
Not much is known about the story except for that it involves Gosling's K—perhaps a reference to Philip K. Dick, who wrote the book that inspired the original film, or Franz Kafka's recurring protagonist of the same name—unearthing "a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos."
The story sounds a good bit more grandiose than the original film, which could be to its detriment. The original film's stakes weren't quite at save-the-world levels, which made the story and its characters feel nestled inside a fleshed-out world that only felt bigger the more details were packed into the micro-level story of a cop hunting rogue robots. This time, it looks like the plot will take a bird's-eye view of the universe that the first film created.
Another concern I had while watching the trailer was that Ford and Gosling might be a bit too charismatic for this picture. Part of Ford's appeal for me in the first film was that his performance was incredibly flat. His character, Deckard, was basically a starched overcoat with a crew cut, mumbling through lines with little inflection. It worked because a large part of the film's subtext were Deckard's own doubts about if he was human or a replicant—something that is still debated by fans. It's unclear if this ambiguity that formed the film's philosophical underpinning will return.
Minor concerns aside, the trailer is fantastically shot and edited, and offers the hope that the visual tone of the film at least will be completely on point.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Denis Villeneuve's 2016 film 'Arrival' as 'The Arrival.' It also referred to Greek musician and composer Vangelis as 'Jon Vangelis.' This article has been updated to reflect both corrections.