In 1982 the original Blade Runner based loosely on the Philip K Dick book ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’ was released. It tells of a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019 where replicants (genetically engineered humans) created by the enormously powerful Tyrell corporation are used as slave labour on off-world colonies. Any that escape back to earth are hunted and ‘retired’ by Blade Runners.

The film eventually gained a cult following after a slow start, mixed critical reviews and seven different versions of the film with only 2007’s ‘The final cut’ (actually put together in 2001) being accepted as the director, Ridley Scott’s fully complete, remastered and creatively accepted work. The soundtrack by Vangelis met with acclaim from the outset and is almost as arresting as the visuals, which continue to define the look and feel of cinematic and game based sci-fi to this day.

Although the pace of the original film is considered slow by some, most feel it is balanced and allows the characters to develop organically in front of the camera. I grew up loving how the characters – replicant or human – struggled with self realisation, the fight for life and eventual acceptance of death.

So the question is can they pull off a sequel – because it is a traditional sequel rather than a remake – or will intelligence, mood and style be replaced with a simple action film? Will will still have a film that is part detective, part sci-fi, part action, romance and thriller all beautifully rolled into one?

Denis Villeneuve is directing and Hans Zimmer is finishing the soundtrack despite not being the composer who kicked off the project. An interesting fact is that Villeneuve grew up with the voice-over version of the film and always thought this was the way the film was meant to be and actually suited the noir style. What actually happened was Warner Brothers decided that the American audience would not understand the complexities of the characters and story and so had Harrison Ford record a seemingly endless narrative that was played over the film explaining pretty much everything that was going on. This was not Ridley Scott’s vision for the film and was removed in later director cuts. I’m not suggesting we will get a voice-over but I assume Villeneuve will be aiming to reproduce the dark, noir tones of the original in this new story.

We don’t know for sure simply because the details of the sequel have been guarded closely though Wired’s Brian Raferty has a fantastic behind the scenes look at the new movie. If the first movie found it hard to make its mark, it seems like challenging proposition to make a sequel that will end up profitable, loved by the fans and gain critical praise. But I hope Villeneuve manages it.

“Blade Runner 2049 remains the rarest of Hollywood propositions: an R-rated, $150 million sequel to a movie that not a lot of people liked (or even fully understood) when it first came out.” Raferty, Wired

Perhaps this is why the marketing machine has now started up in readiness for the 5th October launch. Villeneuve has decided to have three ‘shorts’ made by three different directors and each focusing on a different element of the tech-noir world. The shorts are set between 2019 and 2049 and focus on characters or an event. At the time this article was written the first two of the three shorts have been released. The first about Niander Wallace the creator of the new generation replicants and the second is about Sapper who is a man trying to mend his ways. The third short deviates from the character profiles to explore 2022, just a few years after the original film and a date that marks an EMP detonation that caused a global blackout. The real difference though is that the third short will be an anime exclusive to Crunchyroll – released on the 29th September.

There has been some debate on the purpose, benefit and worth of releasing additional materials before a film is released and in this instance missing out on seeing them is unlikely to reduce your enjoyment or understanding but gaining back story can’t hurt if the new film is as interesting and ambiguous as the first.

I can’t wait. The cinema ticket is bought. Roll on October 5th.

Quote and mentioned article at Wired by Brian Raferty