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Blade Runner 2: Blade Runnerer

A story that Blade Runner 2 was being worked on by two screenwriters from DJ Caruso’s Eagle Eye floated recently. It was unclear just how official this project was, and how serious it should be taken. Was it the hopes of this screenwriter, or was it actually in pre-production already?

As it turns out, a bit of both, though at the moment it looks like it’s mostly the hopes of Travis Wright, who wrote a long letter to /Film explaining the status of the project, his involvement in it and this finishing remark:

I know there will be haters in regards to ever continuing Deckard’s story, but in my lifetime I’d love to sit in the theater on a friday night of its opening weekend and watch as Deckard sees attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Who wants to be there with me?!? Geek on.

I know next to nothing about Travis Wright, but for now, the above says just about all I need to hear. And before you start thinking to yourself ‘Hey, you know, I always did want to see attack ships blahblahblah’, allow me the opportunity to convince you otherwise.

Blade Runner Is a Unique Snowflake

In the history of the film industry, few works have been as monolithic, influential and respected as Blade Runner. Despite reception problems, continuity issues and re-releases over the years, it hasn’t lost an ounce of respect—Quite the opposite in fact.

It might not matter how many American Pie, Ernest Goes To… and Porky’s sequels and spin-offs they churn out. They are, for whatever qualities they may have, easily copied. Nor does it matter how many Star Trek films they do, the series was built for it. Jason? Whatever. American Ninja? Knock yourself out.

But Blade Runner is a unique film in almost every way possible. A perfect storm of source material, talent and serendipity. It cannot be replicated. Even Ridley Scott, in all his visual splendor, hasn’t been able to make a film since, that has been able to get within eye-sight of it. Doesn’t that say something worth listening to?

Perhaps it was exactly because Blade Runner leaves the audience with open questions that it has such an impressive longevity. And perhaps this longevity isn’t an invitation to create a sequel staring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Tell, Don’t Show

There’s a golden rule in writing, which goes show, don’t tell. As rules go, this ain’t half-bad. But there are times when instead of reinforcing the illusion, it breaks it. Consider for instance if you had read this instead:

I know there will be haters in regards to ever continuing Skywalker story, but in my lifetime I’d love to sit in the theater on a friday night of its opening weekend and watch ‘the clone wars’. Who wants to be there with me?!? Geek on.

It’ll be awesome! Oh. Wait. The clone wars were better off having remained an off-hand remark by Obi-Wan.

We don’t need to meet Deckard’s wife, we don’t need to know that Rachel inherited Tyrell Corp and we don’t need to see Harrison Ford pick up the Deckard mantle again (especially after we saw Indy 4, in which Indy wants nothing more than to watch a few episodes of Matlock while gobbling down luke-warm soup back at the retirement home.

Blade Runner Already Has Sequels

Three direct sequels in fact: Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Humanity, Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night and Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon, none of which I’ve read, and none of which I intend to read.

Also, David Webb Peoples, whom I have mucho mucho respect for (Leviathan, Salute of the Jugger, 12 Monkeys, Ladyhawke) co-wrote Blade Runner and went on to write SoldierI haven’t read the Soldier script, but word on the street is that Paul W.S. Anderson did extensive rewrites, and I chose to believe that, considering the rest of his atrocious output., which was then done by Paul W.S. Anderson, an absolute hack, who rampages through franchises like the black plaque through Europe. Now, what’s interesting about this, is that Peoples considers Soldier a sidequel to Blade Runner, and of course the film… movie, let’s go with movie—even has a cascade of references to Blade Runner.

In fact, if you want to see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, it wasn’t in the movie, but thankfully Mr. Anderson was gracious enough to put it in the trailer.

And then of course, the game, which was actually surprisingly good, everything considered. Though it did at times feel as if it was simply trying to touch all of the things that made Blade Runner, Blade Runner, rather than expand the universe.

Hell, Vangelis even did a sequel to the soundtrack, which was… Let’s not go there.

Ultimately, none of the above could capture the kind of lightning in a bottle that drives the original. It’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible. But it is implausible. And I would personally prefer if it was left alone as it is.

The Bottomline

I’m not a staunch sequel hater as such. There have been great sequels, I freely admit as much. In fact, I’m personally looking very much forward to TR2N. And hey, T2 was a great, if more family-friendly followup to its low-budget steel-bladed adrenalin-pumped predecessor. It works because Cameron was an unfliching egomaniac, which is probably why Aliens works as a sequel to Alien, despite being a fairly shallow Vietnam-in-Space followup to a much more atmospheric and erotic predecessor (stylistically, the aliens franchise is all over the place, and for that you can blame Aliens). Of course, of all sequels, I still hold The Empire Strikes Back as the best, for managing to expand on the universe, the story, the characters and their relationships, while also being a riveting ride.

But for every one of the classic ‘great’ sequels, there’s a plethora of Indy 4’s. Sequels with high production value, star quality and little else. No vision, no substance, no heart.

Consider 2010: The Year We Make Contact, a movie which isn’t in itself that bad, it just happens to quiver in the shadow of the greatest film ever made, which makes it look like a kindergarten project. And why? Nevermind Arthur C. Clarke’s books, which in my humble opinion never lived up to the film anyway, and consider instead the fact that someone decided that 2001: A Space Odyssey could do with a sequel, probably because:

I know there will be haters in regards to ever continuing Monolith story, but in my lifetime I’d love to sit in the theater on a friday night of its opening weekend and watch as we trespass on the land of the ephemeral mystery, imposing our mediocrity to the jovial sounds of cheap synthesizers. Who wants to be there with me?!? Geek on.

Consider T3: The Rise of the Machines, which is not only a pretty bad film in itself, but which cheapens what came before by being “essentially a B movie, content to be loud, dumb and obvious, and to leave the Great Ideas to bona fide public intellectuals like Keanu Reeves and the Hulk”Thank you A.O. Scott.

Consider Alien Resurrection, which is quite frankly disastrous in every way possible. And then some.

Consider Batman & Robin… Or don’t.

Consider any of the Planet of the Apes sequels.

Any of the Jaws sequels.

But more than anything else, consider that we already saw attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion in our minds eye, and it was a sight to see.

Don’t cheapen this. Just leave it alone and pass on by. Please.