RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
"Blade Runner" is back. Sure, Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo and Indiana Jones. But diehard fans also know him as Rick Deckard, hero of Ridley Scott's iconic sci-fi film.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLADE RUNNER")
HARRISON FORD: (As Rick Deckard) I was looking for six replicants in a city of 106 million people.
MARTIN: Now 35 years later, audiences are getting a new "Blade Runner." Here to talk about why is MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan.
KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Hey. How are you doing, Rachel?
MARTIN: I'm doing well. I am excited about this because I loved the original "Blade Runner." I was surprised, though, to find out that "Blade Runner," the first time around, wasn't actually a very big hit.
TURAN: Yes, no one liked it. Audiences didn't like it. This was the summer of "E.T." People were in a more jovial, genial mood. And this is a very dark, dystopian film, the original. Harrison Ford played a blade runner, someone who hunts down rogue androids, called replicants, and kills them. And there was a dark voiceover on the film, which the critics hated. So everyone abandoned this film.
MARTIN: Clearly, people changed their mind because they're making a sequel (laughter).
TURAN: Yes, it's rare to have a sequel to a failure. It almost never happens again.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Right.
TURAN: But you know, what happened was that the look increasingly captivated people. I mean, Ridley Scott said in an interview he was shocked to get a phone call from Bob Dylan who said he wanted to talk to him because he liked "Blade Runner" so much. This dystopian vision started to seem real to people. And people started to think the film was, like, seeing into the future. And also, you know, the times darkened. And it just - all of a sudden, the film and the times came together, and people were - started to embrace the film.
MARTIN: OK. So here we are. The new "Blade Runner" is coming out. The year the film is set in is 2049. There's a lot of competition, though, when it comes to framing the future out there. Dystopian films are all the rage. So how does this film stack up? I mean, do you buy it, the future they lay out here?
TURAN: You absolutely buy it. I mean, visually, it really is a knockout. Everyone worked very hard. Director Denis Villeneuve, who did "Arrival" last, has a real visual flair. And they've worked very hard at figuring out what the future 30 years after the last film would be like. There's a Las Vegas that is kind of enveloped in red dust that's astonishing. There are 3-D holograms on the sides of buildings that were like the ads in the first film. But these are in 3-D, and they talk to you when you walk by. And into this world comes up Ryan Gosling, who plays the new blade runner. He's trying to solve a mystery, and he ends up, naturally, having to talk to the old blade runner, played by Harrison Ford.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLADE RUNNER 2049")
FORD: (As Rick Deckard) You're a cop. I had your job once. I was good at it.
RYAN GOSLING: (As Officer K) I know.
FORD: (As Rick Deckard) What do you want?
GOSLING: (As Officer K) I want to ask you some questions.
MARTIN: Old blade runner meets new blade runner.
MARTIN: Does this work?
TURAN: The plot - you know, the plot has some hiccups. This film is very long. It's two hours and 43 minutes, including the credits. The plot gets very convoluted. But finally, you know, just like with the first film, this world sinks into you. And what you take home when you leave the film is you've been in this astonishing world.
MARTIN: The first film really posed a central question. You know, it was trying to get at - what do androids feel? You know, like, how dimensional are the robots in our lives and artificial intelligence? Is there a question that this new film is trying to ask?
TURAN: Well, yes. There is. But, I mean, to tell you what it was, I'd have to give away a key part of the plot. And I'm...
MARTIN: Come on...
TURAN: ...Honor-bound not to do that.
TURAN: Can't do it. Can't do it, Rachel.
MARTIN: All right. Kenneth Turan - he reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times.
Hey, Kenny, thanks so much.
TURAN: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.