Blade Runner 2049 Blu-ray Review

'Blade Runner 2049' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: More human than human, with more gorgeous than gorgeous visuals to match

January 16, 2018Ben MK

Set 30 years after the events of 1982's Blade Runner, director Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 follows K (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated LAPD officer and a duty-bound Blade Runner. Like his forebearer, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, who also appears in the film), K has been tasked with tracking down and "retiring" rogue replicants, especially those belonging to the Tyrell Corporation's Nexus 8 product line.

When we first meet K, that's exactly the type of mission he's on, stalking his quarry to a protein farm on California's barren outskirts, where he pays an unannounced visit to the farm's sole worker, a quiet hulk of a man played by Guardians of the Galaxy's Dave Bautista. The scene plays out at an unhurried pace — something Villeneuve maintains for the duration of the movie — but by the time it's all said and done, both K and the audience are left with a gripping mystery that Villeneuve and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green spend the remainder of the film's nearly-three-hour running time peeling back the layers of.

The result is a contemplative look not just at the nature of the soul and what it means to be human, but also at the way we live our lives today. After all, we're on the cusp of the original's 2019 setting, and many of the technological advances that were relegated to the realm of science fiction three decades ago have now become commonplace. Consider, for example, the fact that we've largely become a paperless society. But what if a catastrophic event were to wipe bare all the hard drives in the world? Blade Runner 2049's narrative makes allusions to a "big blackout" that did just that, negating the existence of everything from bank records to baby photos.

Suffice to say, Blade Runner fans will find that Villeneuve has put the utmost care into ensuring that this followup doesn't tarnish the reputation Ridley Scott's original has built up over the years. Bolstered by a higher quotient of action-packed set-pieces than its predecessor, Villeneuve's dystopian vision of Los Angeles is just as philosophically-minded, reflective of our current society and speculative about what the future holds, making Blade Runner 2049 a truly mesmerizing sci-fi spectacle with soul.

Blade Runner 2049 debuts on 4K Ultra HD alongside its Blu-ray and DVD counterparts, but if you're a videophile, there's no question about which version is the one to get. The HDR color reproduction on this 4K release is gorgeous, especially when it comes to the vibrant neon billboards and holographic advertisements that shine through the thick Los Angeles haze; and the 2160p image is the only way to truly appreciate Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography, not to mention the uniquely futuristic production design, some of which was created by legendary concept artist Syd Mead himself. As for the audio, the 4K carries the same Dolby Atmos sound mix as the Blu-ray release; however, that by no means is a negative. From the pulsating synth rhythms of the score to the sounds of gunshots, Spinner engines and explosions, this is demo-worthy material from start to finish.

Warner's two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes a Blu-ray copy of the film and an UltraViolet digital copy. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Designing the World of Blade Runner 2049 (21:55) - A look at filming in Budapest, the cinematography, set design and lighting design, the "functional" and "analog" visual aesthetic of the movie, and the realization of a dystopian Las Vegas.
  • To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049 (17:15) - A look at the casting of Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Robin Wright, Lennie James, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.
  • Prologues (28:06) - Three short films by different directors that lead into the story of Blade Runner 2049, with introduction by Denis Villeneuve (Shinichiro Watanabe's "2022: Black Out" and Luke Scott's "2036: Nexus Dawn" and "2048: Nowhere to Run").
  • Blade Runner 101 (11:22) - Six short featurettes that give viewers some background about the world of the film ("Blade Runners," "The Replicant Evolution," "The Rise of Wallace Corp," "Welcome to 2049," "Jois" and "Within the Skies: Spinners, Pilotfish and Barracudas").

Blade Runner 2049 is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of January 16th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 44 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on October 4th, 2017.

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