The Women Of Blade Runner 2049

This article was originally intended to be a full analysis of Blade Runner 2049, but I felt necessary to put my thoughts down on what the women of the film mean, and why they are the better characters.

Full spoilers for Bladerunner 2049 ahead

“I’ve told you, you’re special”

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Joi, an embodied AI, speaks those words to K, a replicant. These are two characters in this film and that is a line of dialogue set within the universe. However, it resonates at a meta-level.

Bladerunner 2049 is a film that shouldn’t exist. It’s an anomaly of the studio-driven, money-based Hollywood system. It’s a sequel of a 35 year old film that bombed at the box office, a film that underwent the most convoluted releasing process in the history of cinema, a film which, still today, not many people know of, care about or understand. And somehow its forbidden child came to life.

It’s been months since the release of Bladerunner 2049. I saw it on October 5th, opening day. I say this not to sound obnoxious, but because I feel that this film is an event. In 20 years we will be asked when did we see 2049, where did we see it, and what was it like?

The experience (and it is an experience) of witnessing Dennis Villeneuve’s masterpiece roll before my eyes is something which is hard to put to words. It’s a monumentally reflective and contemplative film, one that dares to ask us where we are heading, this society designed by men, for men and controlled by men. Whilst the first Blade Runner (which I will refer to as 2019 from now on) was, among many things, about a group of characters facing what it means to be alive, 2049 is, to its core, characters looking for the means to create life, something that, both in human and in Replicants, only women can achieve.

2049 is populated with male characters, but the women are the ones who shine in this oppressive world. Rachel, Luv, and Joi have been revolving around my head, because their characters are intricate and make me question a lot of things.

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The Rachel we see in 2049 isn’t the same of 2019. Or is she? Does she have the memories of Rachel? When she sees Deckard, in the most emotional scene of the film, what is she thinking? This isn’t the Rachel that asked “Do you like our owl?” so many years ago, and yet…I can’t help but think there is something in there. Or maybe it’s just the way Wallace programmed this Rachel to act in front of Deckard.

At first, I thought Luv was a simple goon to Wallace, an enforcer to the mastermind. But, upon rewatching the film multiple times, I discovered she is so much more than that. Luv goes above and beyond her programming. So much so that it’s strange to say she has a programming. That’s because she might just be the most human replicant we have seen in the Blade Runner universe (sorry Roy…). Her mission to find the child of Rachel and Deckard might have started as something she was ordered to do, but I think she is looking for something else. She is looking, herself, to be able to create life within her. She says it herself “I am the best”. But she isn’t, and that kills her inside. Jealousy drives Luv.

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And then there’s Joi. This is my favourite character of 2049 because, in many many ways, she is the only real Human. Blade Runner has always been about wanting more life. But that word really means “time” to every one. Except Joi. Programmed to live forever, constantly closed in the coldness of cyberspace, she transcends herself by developing feelings, emotions, and the desire for more life. One life. One single life. Because that’s what makes her “a real girl”. Whilst everyone is looking for more time, Joi is looking for the best time, even if it means she might die. And that is what being human is: knowing that one day you will die, and making the best of your time regardless.

Blade Runner 2049 is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!

What Makes A Christmas Film?

It’s Christmas time. Or, well, if you are slightly humbug-ish, that period leading up to actual Christmas where all the streets and shops and adverts are stuffed with so much festivities that your turkey’s envious.

It is also that time of year where film obsessives come out in their drones to argue the intricacies of a Christmas movie. In a recent poll by YouGov, the British population voted (by a whopping 50%) that Die Hard was not a Christmas movie. For those who don’t know, Die Hard revolves around an ex-NYPD detective who has to rescue his wife and her building  when it is overrun by terrorists. It also happens to be set on Christmas Eve.

Of course Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Of course it is. For the love of Christ (literally), a henchman is killed, left dead with Santa Claus hat upon his head and the words “now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho” screeched across his chest. The season reeks throughout the film and whilst it may not result in a singsong around a fireplace whilst some pipsqueak chirps about how great love and Father Christmas is, the yuletide elements are still there.  It should still be entered into the roster.

Admittedly there is a difference between a movie with Christmas sentiments and a film set at Christmas. Yet again family fuelled festive fun revolves around Disney’s snow-ladden beast Frozen as a goofy snowman and two princesses battle out sugar-addled songs that we’ve also heard a billion times over. But the film is set in Summer, has nothing to do with Christmas at all, and yet the appearance of that heavy white stuff (no, I mean snow,) has us jumping to shove it into cinemas and TV scheduling to bemuse the tiny, little ones.

Then there are the darker films, like Die Hard, that do not revolve around a cheesy ramped messages of a cantankerous man who needs to learn that love is more important than money (or a business man must learn the true meaning of family.) In Bruges, Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone, and any Shane Black film all feature Christmas Trees, or that jolly fat man, or presents in some fashion yet this is just a backdrop to a story that is either hitman, wizards, or superheroes. Does this mean they should be immediately discounted when it comes to our festive viewing? Because regardless, they still have the season in some way: A motif, a background, or a mention.

I mean  – on a personal note – my Christmas viewing always includes my favourite film Filth. It’s a Irvine Welsh tale of depravity and mental illness but quintessentially Christmassy. It features a multitude of songs, has a strong festive theme throughout include, that culminates in a harrowing New Year’s Eve scene. Damn straight I’d include it as  Christmas film as the season’s appearance has an opposing effect on the film, making it more brutally dark that this breakdown is happening around the holidays. It is a major theme in Jon S. Baird’s brutal tale and, certainly can be included on the list.

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Yes, we all gravitate towards the over-the-top festive outings: The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and A Nightmare Before Christmas are a few heavyweight films that focus on the importance of Christmas and are actually set in the time period. They speak of wisdom and family and giving and feeling at home, all addled with enough gooey goodness that it fills you with warmth.

So what is it? What really makes a Christmas film? Is it the spirit of the holidays or the months it is set in? Can we accept Die Hard as a bonafide Christmas film?

Of course we can. Of course we bloody well can. The biggest point is why are we arguing this? Shouldn’t we be embracing the differences? Maybe there are people who don’t want to sit through puffed out and puffed up pieces of Noel Nonsense but want to keep the spirit of the season alive in some manner. We absolutely do not have to concede and box ourselves in with a very narrow Christmas brush. We should listen and add more amazing movies to our library!

Put on your favourite festive film and let us enjoy what the hell we want over this Christmas period. By god, after the year we’ve had, we’ve earned it.

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What’s your favourite Christmas film?