The World in Crisis Again? (2049)
As Collider’s timeline notes, the rising action in Blade Runner 2049 begins at the cusp of ecological collapse:
“When we return to Los Angeles, 30 years after the original movie, climate change has caused the sea level to rise dramatically. A massive Sea Wall has been built along the Sepulveda Pass to protect the Los Angeles basin. Los Aneles [sic] is even more uninhabitable than before and filled with poverty and sickness. Humans who were not well enough to leave for the off-world colonies are left behind. There is no fresh food, and inhabitants survive on Wallace’s genetically modified food products sold from vending machines at street markets.”
By 2049, society has erected two significant walls, a physical one, and a metaphorical one. To contend with global climate change, Los Angeles constructs the so-called “Sea Wall” to contains the rising waters. The second wall, which Robin Wright’s character alludes in the trailer (“The world is built on a wall that separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you bought a war.“), refers to the escalating replicant-human conflict. While neither wall will be easy to maintain, the latter clearly informs the conflict in Blade Runner 2049, while the former is responsible for painting the vivid, devastated landscape that frames the film.
Between the timeline and the trailers, Villeneuve and his team have constructed a gorgeously rendered shot of humanity at its worst. In the film, Neander Wallace saved humanity by forcing their dependency on his brand of machine-vended GMO meals. On top of that, anyone with the capital or connections has escaped the razed planet, leaving their compatriots to deal with oppressed replicants, as well as a decaying world.
During the film, Wallace clearly has major designs for both humans and synthetic life. At one point, Wright’s character implores K to find Deckard, clearly afraid that his secret will “break the world.” Whatever information Deckard, and perhaps K himself, have access to, could save or destroy the remnants of life on Earth.
In four short months, Blade Runner 2049 debuts and (hopefully) every nagging question from the past 30 years will bubble to the surface. The Comic-Con timeline, however, sets audiences up with a fantastic mystery, as well as a bleak yet somewhat hopeful vision of the future. It also paints a better picture of the central conflicts of the sequel, which feel genuine to Ridley Scott’s original universe.
Despite their revealing moments, both the trailers and timeline dangle many curious carrots over the film. With complex heroes and villains, as well as a stunning futuristic landscape, Blade Runner 2049 appears to construct a compelling world, one which is consistent with its predecessor and adds new layers to the classic tale.
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