Monday, May 8, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

The latest Blade Runner 2049 trailer is full of stunning shots, as director Denis Villeneuve seems to be trying his hardest to surpass Ridley Scott’s original vision of a grim, dystopian future. But in the early moments of the trailer, one shot stands out: a car speeding down a road, flanked by glowing, skyscraper-sized Atari logos. It’s a striking image, but in the world of 2017, it’s hard to imagine a universe where Atari even exists in the year 2049, let alone on the scale Blade Runner 2049 presents.

The Atari logo is a neat throwback to the original film, which was released in the height of Atari’s heyday in 1982. Then Scott positioned the video game brand on billboards in Blade Runner, alongside what were massive companies like Pan Am, RCA, Bell Phones, and Cuisinart. After all, Scott was envisioning our future, and in 1982, imagining 2019 without Atari or Bell Phones was like filmmakers today imagining a future where Apple no longer exists in 40 years. (Rumors of a “Blade Runner curse” have been floating around the internet for years, since so many of the companies featured in the film’s on-screen ads experienced financial ruin following the movie’s release.)

So it makes sense that Atari would still be a power player another 30 years in the future of Blade Runner’s fiction. But it’s also possible to look at Atari’s presence as a sign of cultural stagnation in the Blade Runner universe. While the new trailer is certainly far slicker when it comes to visual effects, Rick Deckard’s world looks no more technologically advanced 30 years in the future than it did in the original film. And in a world where big, resurrected franchises like Jurassic World or Star Wars: The Force Awakens take the decades-long time gaps between their stories as justification for drastic changes in culture, politics, and technology, it could be telling that the world of Blade Runner seems unchanged decades later. It’s worth noting that Villeneuve isn’t pioneering new ground here by offering a stagnant world of technology — he’s simply re-creating and expanding on Scott’s dire outlook from the original film.
We won’t know whether it’s just a neat throwback or a more telling clue to the state of the Blade Runner world until Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters in October. Either way, it’s still an incredible shot.

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