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Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? In a week where a follow-up to Blade Runner was confirmed, I find myself wondering whether or not there comes a point where a movie is too old to warrant a sequel.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t the Blade Runner news that initially got me thinking about this, but the idea that – if JJ Abrams gets around to starting a Star Trek sequel next year as many expect, it’ll be 2013 at the earliest before the movie is released, four years after his first. In these hyper-accelerated times, four years seems like leaving a franchise fallow for too long… so the thirty-year gap between the original Blade Runner (Released in 1982) and Ridley Scott’s planned return suddenly seems almost ridiculously long.
On the one hand, there’s something to be said for waiting such a long time; you get the idea that, if nothing else, this isn’t some rushed cash-in to a fad or the unexpected box office bonanza of the original. If something has taken this long to get going, there’s every possibility that it’s because time has been taken to make sure that it will be something more than “just” another sequel, right…?
Except… If something has taken thirty years to get going, you have to wonder if there’s any real reason for it to exist at all. After all, Blade Runner didn’t really leave a lot of plot holes that demanded resolution (Ambiguity, sure, but that’s kind of the point, that those things are left dangling) – Have there really been people out there for the last few decades thinking to themselves “If only they’d hurry up and make Blade Runner 2“?
Beyond the lack of need for such a project, I’m suspicious about whether or not any movie could realistically live up to the Blade Runner that fans have watched countless times, and become so familiar with that even its flaws somehow become good, comforting things. After thirty years of devotion, a movie ceases to a movie, almost, but becomes host to all manner of additional, related memories and memes and, really, how can anything new live up to that? It’s a lesson that you’d have hoped moviemakers would have learned from the Star Wars prequels – You really can’t go home again, especially not when home is a cult movie that’s been dissected to a truly outrageous degree for years.
(I’m also suspicious about Scott returning to Blade Runner after returning to Alien for Prometheus. Is he doing a greatest hits tour?)
The whole idea of sequels is an odd one. It’s very purposefully abandoning originality to play in more comfortable, more familiar surroundings. There’s something to be said for exploring ideas and characters deeper, I know, but that feels fresher and less like creative cowardice when it can be portrayed as continuing an ongoing story, rather than going back to the well years – or decades – later. I don’t know; as much as I want to hope for the best for the new Blade Runner, I just keep imagining that it can’t help but be a letdown so many years later.
Am I wrong? Has the sudden emergence of the project after all this time made you more excited than you would’ve been back in, say, 1984? Or do you prefer that your sequels come out in relatively quick succession and then allowing a story to finish?