There was a time when sequels were met with a great deal of trepidation but the success of superhero movies and other blockbusters has now made them something to anticipate and beg studios for on social media. The only ones now met with any sort of scepticism are those serving as follow-ups to classic or beloved movies many argue are best left alone.
Blade Runner was one of those movies and while talk persisted for years about a sequel, it never came to pass. That changed when Denis Villeneuve came on board with Ridley Scott for Blade Runner 2049 and the more we heard about the movie, the clearer it became that it was going to be something special.
Like the first instalment, the sequel required multiple viewings, and was unfairly criticised for a relatively long runtime or how much mystery it was shrouded in. With the release of the film on Blu-ray and Digital HD we have the chance to revisit this sci-fi masterpiece and predict that it will some day be every bit as beloved as the original.
Here, you’ll find an in-depth examination of what makes a great sequel, why some inevitably disappoint, and what it is about Blade Runner 2049 that’s so damn great.
What Makes A Perfect Sequel?
That’s not an easy question to answer. If it was, we wouldn’t be lumbered with so many underwhelming efforts! Essentially, any movie that expands on what came before stands a chance of fitting into this category and the likes of Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man 2, and Toy Story 2 all stand out as notable examples of “the perfect sequel.”
Like Blade Runner 2049, those addressed what didn’t work with their predecessors while also upping the ante but not just for the sake of it. Yes, the scale of the movies listed above was bigger but only when it best served the story and found a way to pick up on loose threads we may not have even noticed were there in the first place (who would have ever guessed that Darth Vader would be Luke Skywalker’s father after watching A New Hope?).
While there have been plenty of sequels which are better than those which come before it, it helps if they have a solid foundation to build on; early estimates point to Pacific Rim Uprising being a box office disappointment regardless of how good it is and that’s because it’s expanding a world that the vast majority of moviegoers don’t want to return to.
The Sequels That Don’t Work
Blade Runner 2049 may have lived up to expectations but a lot of sequels have not. Many people loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi (myself among them) but look no further than the mixed response it’s received on social media to see that it was the “worse movie ever” for some fans. Simply put, it didn’t deliver what they wanted and was hated as a result.
That’s strange because it was a great movie but Rian Johnson’s decision not to expand on the plot points and themes introduced in The Force Awakens – another movie many hailed as a disappointment – meant that it just didn’t work for a lot of people. So, despite being well made, it seems the decision not to expand on its predecessor is what really hurt it.
Sure, many sequels are bad because they’re made for the wrong reasons, can’t live up to what’s come before, or have new creative teams behind the camera who misunderstand the material but it seems that those which don’t follow the blueprint of a movie like Blade Runner 2049 are the ones which ultimately fail to take off and make fans truly happy.
Blade Runner 2049, a.k.a. The Perfect Sequel
Blade Runner 2049 is far from the only “perfect” sequel out there. The Dark Knight is a million miles ahead of Batman Begins, while Aliens is a definite improvement over Alien (while being very, very different). However, it serves as a great example of a movie which lives up to expectations and develops the world in an immensely satisfying manner.
As we followed the story of Agent K, we learned more about the role of Replicants in this future landscape, while simultaneously catching up with a familiar face or two and finding out what became of them. As a fan of Blade Runner, what more can you possibly ask for? The world we loved was expanded, in a way that works perfectly with the story it told. Our 5-star review of the film explains exactly why.
Everything from Independence Day: Resurgence to Cars 2 and Hannibal were highly anticipated and every single one of them didn’t work for a variety of reasons. The main one, though, is what we’ve already addressed here – they tried to please fans by going bigger and better but that means they lost what made them special along the way.
Blade Runner 2049 is not a movie that fits into that category so if you failed to see it when it was released or are curious to find out if it really does live up to the hype and match the movie it serves as a sequel to (widely hailed as one of the best sci-fi films ever) you need to check it out for no other reason than it’s somehow better than what came before it.
Blade Runner 2049 is now available to buy right now on Digital, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Limited Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray Feb 5.