A sequel too far

You must have noticed the trend for belated sequels that’s ripping through Hollywood. Toy Story 3, 11 years after Toy Story 2. American Reunion, 8 years after American Wedding (also known as American Pie 3 – lord knows we needed another one of those). Then there was Tron Legacy – a staggering 26 years after Disney’s charming first foray into computer animation. And lots of back lit cell animation, it should be said.

I’m not complaining at all. Not really. A movie is a movie. Some sequels are better than their source. Godfather II. Empire Strikes Back. Wrath of Khan. And Toy Story 3 is widely acclaimed as a worthy entry in the canon.

If a sequel fails, it fails largely because the film just isn’t very good – not because it’s a sequel. Take Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It had all the right parts, but it also had lots of wrong ones (ropey CGI, UFO nonsense, Shia LaBeouf). It was just a few ballsy meetings away from being a decent romp. You know, the kind of meeting that ends with Steven Spielberg kneeling on George Lucas’s throat.

I’ll give any sequel a chance . I’ll judge it by its merits on the day, sitting in my premier seat, balancing a bucket of popcorn on my lap.

Except for Blade Runner. Keep your filthy hands off Blade Runner, you filthy, corporate, Beemer driving, coke snorting dogs.

For those not up to speed, the story is that the rights to Blade Runner – or rather the bits that Ridley Scott and his crew created for the 1982 film – were recently bought up by a production company, Alcon. The intention was to make a movie set in the Blade Runner world.”Why worry?” geeks smugly commented, “It’ll never happen”. Now, Ridley Scott, fresh off Alien none-prequel Prometheus, is said to be involved. Oh-oh, the same geeks are saying now. Oh dear.

It’s Han Solo shooting first, all over again.

I really want to have an open mind. I want to believe that Scott can go back to the same world and make a movie that fittingly continues the Blade Runner legacy.

But I don’t believe he can. I don’t believe anyone can make another Blade Runner with the same visual impact, the same narrative innovation or the same goddamn cultural importance as the original. And if the sequel can’t do that – why bother?

You can make another film. A different film, with a different premise and setting that is every bit as game changing.

But if you go back to the world of Blade Runner you, by definition, end up making a movie about science fiction film after Blade Runner. You end up remaking every urban, dystopian thriller that came after it, from Brazil to Minority Report.

Such was Blade Runner’s influence on film, fiction and fashion that there’s barely a cranny of post Blade Runner popular culture that hasn’t, in some way, been touched by it.

And now that look and that take on urban society, is a cliche. The multicultural mish-mash, the Moebius designed fashions, the neon and nighttime and rain and decay. As much as little green men, flying saucers and big ass ray guns, they are now ingrained tropes of science fiction film.

It’s possible that Scott has something more clever in mind. Like Prometheus, the sequel to Alien that isn’t a sequel.

But, if that’s the case, why not simply make another Philip K Dick novel? One of the good ones still to be put into cinema production… Now Wait for Last Year or The Man in the High Castle? And why not interpret them for now – for a time almost 30 years after Blade Runner – and invent the future all over again?

I will wait. I promise that I will wait and see. And I will see it. How could I not?

But if it’s as horrible as the very idea seems, I am reserving the right early on to say “I told you so”.

Technology, TV and Film

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