Fresh on 4K: ‘BLADE RUNNER 2049’ will be remembered long after its titular year

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Rated R, 163 minutes.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Ryan GoslingAna de ArmasHarrison FordSylvia Hoeks and Jared Leto
Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Not too long ago, many were worried that this long awaited sequel would fail to capture what made the original film such a cult classic nearly thirty years ago. Yet in a strange way, the fact that BLADE RUNNER 2049 failed to achieve financial success at the box office may be exactly why it’s the perfect companion piece to its equally ill fated predecessor. Now available on 4K UHD Blu-ray, BLADE RUNNER 2049 is not only one of the best films of 2017, but also one of the finest 4K releases to hit the market.

Movie Grade: A

Set thirty years after the events of the original film, a replicant uprising frequently referred to as, “the blackout” resulted in the prohibition of all replicant manufacturing. The prohibition was ultimately lifted after Niander Wallace, a mysterious businessman played by Jared Leto, created a new model of replicant that is incapable of rebellion. One of these new models, known only as “K” (a restrained yet nuanced performance from Ryan Gosling) is also a Blade Runner in that his sole purpose is wipe out any remaining older models at any and all cost. To dive any further into the story would reveal too many spoilers for a film that is meant to be explored with as little knowledge as possible, so please take my word for it that BLADE RUNNER 2049 wildly succeeds at adhering to the world and tone of the original as well as being its own movie.

Video/Audio Grade: A+

BLADE RUNNER 2049 is presented in native 4K resolution as it was sourced from a 4K digital intermediate. Cinematographer Roger Deakins has truly outdone himself with his work on this film. Not only are minute textures of facial pores and hair crystal clear, but also wide shots of the endless junkyard of San Diego are bursting with detail. For those fortunate to have seen the film in IMAX with the massive aspect ratio of 1.90:1, you may be disappointed to find this disc only offers the more standard widescreen ratio of 2.39:1. It’s unfortunate that the image fails to fill the entire screen, but what’s there is simply stunning.

This disc only comes with HDR10 rather than Dolby Vision, but the increased color depth is wonderfully put to use here. With so many scenes with unique color palettes used in their lighting, these distinctions are now even more vivid. The warmness of the primarily orange colors that overtake Wallace’s headquarters beautifully contrast the cold blue tones found in the urban streets of Los Angeles to further demonstrate the separation of class and power.

The Dolby Atmos track is nothing short of phenomenal. The deep basses used in both the sound design of L.A. as well as Hans Zimmer’s award worthy tribute to Vangelis’ original score are haunting and will really tempt you to turn it down a notch. Don’t. Dialogue is separated very nicely and is rarely difficult to distinguish from the rest of the track. There is also the option to switch to a DTS-HD 5.1 track.


Extras Grade: B+

The three “prologues” that fill in the gaps between the two main films, while already available online, are a welcome addition and feel right at home alongside the main attraction. However, it would have been even better if these three shorts had been included on the 4K disc, but sadly are only available on the standard Blu-ray. The additional features are certainly interesting, but amount to a little under an hour of content.

  • Designing the World of BLADE RUNNER 2049 (1080p; 1.78:1; 21:55): A comprehensive overview of the newly imagined world of the film, with substantial contributions from the cast and creative team.
  • To Be Human: Casting BLADE RUNNER 2049 (1080p; 1.78:1; 17:15): Director Villeneuve and the film’s producers discuss their casting efforts for all of the major and most of the minor roles in the film.
  • Prologues (1080p; 1.78:1): These three prequels were initially issued online prior to the film’s theatrical release. Each is introduced by Villeneuve. A “play all” function is included.
    • 2022: Black Out (15:45): In a stylish anime directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, we learn the story of “the Blackout” that is repeatedly referenced throughout the main film.
    • 2036: Nexus Dawn (6:31): Directed by Luke Scott (son of Ridley), this live-action short recounts how genius industrialist Niander Wallace, after acquiring the Tyrell Corporation, was able to lift the prohibition on manufacturing replicants.
    • 2048: Nowhere to Run (5:49): Also directed by Luke Scott, this second live-action short is set one year before the film opens and reveals how Sapper Morton fled Los Angeles for the remote farm to which K eventually tracks him.
  • Blade Runner 101 (1080p; 1.78:1; 11:22): A series of short featurettes on various aspects of the BLADE RUNNER universe and the film’s design. A “play all” function is included.
    • Blade Runners
    • The Replicant Revolution
    • The Rise of Wallace Corp.
    • Welcome to 2049
    • Jois
    • Within the Skies: Spinners, Pilotfish and Barracudas

Introduction: At startup, the disc plays a trailer for the Blade Runner: Revelations gaming experience.

Final Grade: A

BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a movie that was meant to be experienced in the finest way possible and this 4K disc knocks it out of the park. Deakins’ extraordinary camerawork alone is a masterpiece and is entirely worth making the purchase. The lore of the BLADE RUNNER saga is deep and understandably intimidating for newcomers, but taking the time to absorb all this incredible sequel has to offer in both its visuals and narrative is immensely gratifying.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.