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Sometimes Movies Are So Iconic, They Don’t Need a Sequel

blade runner3

Blade Runner doesn’t need a sequel. There have been a lot of moans and groans that Michael Green, who had a hand in the much-maligned Green Lantern, is writing a Blade Runner sequel, but it wouldn’t matter much to me if the script were being penned by Philip K. Dick himself (may he rest in peace). Blade Runner still wouldn’t need a sequel. The film isn’t just good, it’s truly iconic. And icons need to stand alone.

The look of Blade Runner is solidly a 1982 vision of the future. Set in 2019, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir gives us a neon-lit but grungy Los Angeles landscape filled with flying cars, vague Asian influences, and a whole lot of shoulder pads. Yes, the ‘80s are back in fashion, but our modern effects give off a high-gloss shine that speaks to our tastes today. Blade Runner is from the era of the VCR; we live in an era of the iPhone. It’s unlikely that Scott or any other director would willingly return to the comparatively slow processes it took to achieve the somewhat-dated effects, although those are what make help to make Blade Runner so iconic. Instead, I fear that those smoke-filled noir scenes will be filled with perfectly animated smoke curls.

labyrinthMovies with iconic imagery, like Brazil and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, don’t need modern sequels, either. They pushed the envelope at the time that they were released but have weird imperfections we notice today. Imagine a sequel to Labyrinth.: There are scenes in that film in which the green screens are apparent, the puppets look like puppets, and David Bowie’s pants are seriously too tight. But all of those imperfections have made the film identifiable, unique, and cult-worthy. Please, David Bowie, if they ask you to reprise your role as Jareth, just say no.

A potential Blade Runner sequel has another hurdle to overcome: We know a lot more about genetic engineering and artificial intelligence than we did in 1982. There were only 14 years between the first printing of Philip K. Dick’s short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and the release of Blade Runner. That film is now more than 30 years old, and in that time, we’ve learned more about the nature of human psychology, the ability of computers to mimic human thought, and the downsides of messing around with consciousness. It’s possible that in the hands of a gifted writer, these themes could be adapted to be more present, to make more sense in 2013 than they did even way back in 1982. But, that requires a gift for subtlety, and a true understanding of what made Blade Runner so fascinating to begin with.

Given enough time and enough money, almost any movie could end up with a sequel. In the future, someone will look for a way to add another chapter to Inception, or bring back the gang for Avatar 2 (heck, James Cameron is already talking about Avatar 4). But those films have become iconic to our era. Whether you love or hate them, they will be remembered as reminiscent of how the decade looked and felt. They reflect our hopes and our fears about the future. Let’s hope future generations are kind to them.

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Comments

  • dekko

    The *only* way I can envision a sequel of any kind is that it needs to be placed in the hands of a genuine auteur filmmaker with a vision and it most likely will have to be set decades, it not hundreds of years in the future of the original so that we’re not stuck with a dated (and by now, overly-used) vision of the future. It can be the same continuity and touch the same themes to justify a connection to the original, but at the end of the day, like any movie, it just has to be *good* which is always a difficult task.

  • percane

    Just because a film doesn’t “need” a sequel doesn’t mean a sequel is a bad idea. the original alien didn’t need a sequel, but we got aliens, which was just as good and went somewhere completely unexpected with the franchise. the terminator didn’t need a sequel, but we got the arguably better terminator 2. granted a lot of the time sequels are done just for profiteering and are absolute crap, but if we sat back and said “this movie is iconic, there should not be a sequel” we’d miss out on some real gems.

  • numberthirty

    Most of what’s in the article is beside the point. At the end of Blade Runner, the story is complete.

    No need for any sort of a sequel.

  • ticklefist

    What I poked my head in to say.

  • akkadiannumen

    What he said.

  • Chuck777

    I’d rather they do a sequel than a re-make because the latter almost never work out. At least a sequel has a fighting chance at being ok.

  • Chuck777

    But Aliens and Terminator 2 came out in the same era (roughly) as their forebears. A Blade Runner sequel is more akin to Terminator and Terminator: Salvation.

  • Happily LS

    What he said.

  • demoncat_4

    the only way a blade runner sequel is going to work is the focus include what decker has been up too since the ending of the original as part of it. with harrison ford on board. besides sadly to hollywood one has to have a sequel so the studio can make as much money off of the film as possible as a franchise.

  • AAB

    The *brand names* “Blade Runner” and “Harrison Ford” (as in:
    this actor is succeeding Ford’s role) triggers more mass consumption of plastic
    goods (the foundation of “First World” culture) than if they just
    created a new sci-fi film from scratch. We get to have our dignity chipped away
    at convincing ourselves that we are still “Americans” while we spend
    most of our time either trying to find work, or in managing a bureaucracy while
    sitting in a cubicle being treated

    like an economic unit that comprises a ‘person’ before and after sitting in grueling
    traffic as the price of gasoline increases and the purchasing power of our
    paychecks diminish each year. Oil is no longer cheap, so plastic is not an easily
    accessible (that’s why we out-source our work and manufacture plastic goods in
    China and Mexico -so we can still fool ourselves into thinking we are still
    part of some efficient, apparently ‘more productive’ First World’ democratic
    culture’ -instead of admitting most of us only really know about sitting in
    traffic, sitting in a cubicle, sitting in a parking lot eating fast food, and sitting
    in front of advertisements disguised as entertainment constantly interrupted
    with commercials while none of us know what congressional district we live in,
    who our congressman is, who makes up our local legislatures, how a bill gets
    passed, what all the amendments are -the whole time ‘americans’ must act
    subversive and abusive toward others different while being obsessed with
    whether someone is either liberal/democrat or conservative/republican, or
    whether someone is straight or gay, or married or single, or from the country
    or the city, or rides a bus or drives a car, or is able to emulate the same
    type brands/music/shows.

    That is it; that’s all of us in a nut-shell (made out of plastic, of course).
    So, uh…’yaaaay’ for a “new” Blade Runner movie… Go on with your
    consumer-chump pride, y’all… keep on spending on crap, while the value of the
    dollar diminishes, the World Trade Organization forfeits US sovereignty to
    submit to profit over health, profit over family, profit over *LIVABLE*
    communities, –just keep telling yourself “Think Positive!”, “I’m Special!”, and
    the 20th Century classic: “If I work hard for a company I will get
    ahead one day!!!” like a good little consumer.

    Gee, I wonder what price Harrison Ford is charging just to make a five
    minute appearance in the movie -gotta make sure them consumer slaves spend,
    spend, spend, spend $$$$$ !

    ***Gotta invest in speculative plastic shapes formed to look like something
    from the movie, it is not as if the dollar comes from any place that breeds
    competition… -you can now out-source Indians (people who are from different
    languages, races, and geographic locations), and they will always be able to
    underbid US competition (thanks to the WTO), AND they also know how to
    cooperate, tolerate and TRAIN each other, which is very un-american.

  • Jimmy

    I don’t want a sequel to Blade Runner because I don’t want any definitive answers to the end of the story. If Harrison Ford is in it, or his character’s fate is mentioned in the sequel it takes away the ambiguity of the original film’s ending and ruins it. So I vote no to a sequel.
    Some films do not warrant a sequel – Highlander is a perfect example. It was a complete film from start to finish with a definitive ending. Then they fucked it up with crappy sequels and a TV show that was OK but eventually undid the magic of the original film. This is probably the best example of how “sequelitis” ruined a great film.

  • Dan C.

    This article has once again shown that “iconic” is the most useless adjective on the internet, even when you tack on a “truly” for good measure. Blade Runner’s production design has already inspired so many imitations, on film and in comics and especially in video games, that a direct sequel won’t dilute that aesthetic any more than things like Soldier, the recent Total Recall, or Deus Ex. Whatever you think of those examples individually, their collective effect is to make the Blade Runner style a subgenre instead of a unique statement (and it was already borrowing from the look of Heavy Metal, as Ridley Scott has freely stated).

    The licensing of the name Blade Runner has very little to do with the creative values of the film, which have already been taken up in dozens of places. This fuss over the sequel just looks like fanboy puffery to me, possessiveness of geekdom’s sacred texts without much thought to how cultural influence actually travels.

  • Tim H

    What he said! (I think……….)

  • Andy E. Nystrom

    I think that’s the bigger issue than the notion of iconic. Some movies warrant sequels, some are best suited to done in one. Nothing to do with quality but rather the story being told. A sequel to Blade Runner would, among other things, likely answer questions that are best left for the viewer to decide for themselves. I think Blade Runner explored the nature of humanity quite well as a done in one. I’d rather see a movie that tackled the same themes, but in a completely differently way in its own world.

  • dekko

    So, bascially – the sequel needs to be done by James Cameron…?

  • Tim H

    I agree. As Peter Jackson showed us with the Lord of the Rings Creature of the Lake (outside Moria) modern Hollywood hates mysteries and must shine a bright light on everything. As an old 1980s movie, Blade Runner carries mystery even deeper than when it was ultra-modern back in 1982–because now it is timeless, the setting it inhabited is a “never world”. Hollywood will just turn that into an action-adventure flick with Dekker fighting killer androids that spout bad poetry.

  • Sam

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  • Brian Thomas

    Harrison Ford is too old. If Deckerd is a replicant (as Ridley Scott has stated) He’d be dead by now. Sean Young is too old and for the same reason, her character would be dead by now. You’d have to recast the roles, which automatically makes it a remake in all but name. This movie will succeed like the remake of Total Recall (it tanked).

  • Brian Thomas

    Blade Runner is Iconic because it is a complete package. It absorbs / filters many influences true, but it brings them together in its own unique way that in turn influence other films in its genre. It withstands the test of time and is used as a touchstone / reference in other works.

    The “Nerdrage” is over whether a sequel is necessary for a story that was essentially a “done in one” with no real franchise potential and making a film that will essentially be a reboot of that movie (Original cast member are too old as stated above) and a rehash of themes already presented in the original. And this is being written by the same genius who gave us “Green Lantern”? Fail by association.

  • aaron

    I refuse to regard Inception as iconic, or even close to the class of Blade Runner.

  • Spyder7373

    There are plenty more ideas to be mind from Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep that never made it into Blade Runner a look at Mercerism the religion based on caring for live animals would be interesting. But do yourselves all a favor and read that book. If you think the movie is good the book will blow you away. A true Sci Fi master piece.

  • demoncat_4

    or both he and sean young would be in hidding for after all they could do the sequel where replicants age too. if nothing else they will have harrison make a cameo. and one can only hope the blade runner sequel has the same fate as the total recall remake it tanks.

  • John Smith

    I’d rather see a good adaptation of Neuromancer.

  • kalorama

    Most movies don’t actually “need” a sequel (unless they’re planned out as multiple story arcs from the beginning, which is becoming more common with action franchises). Avengers doesn’t “need” a sequel. It pretty much wrapped up its story neat and tidy in one go round. But guess what? It’s gettin’ a sequel anyway. Why? Because it made a billion dollars. That’s show biz.

    The issue of whether a movie’s story stand on its own isn’t the relevant factor in determining whether it can support a sequel. The real question is whether there are more interesting stories that can be told with those characters and/or that world. And the answer to that question in most cases is “yes.” It doesn’t matter how “iconic” (I’m really growing to hate that word) the film is. In fact, an argument could be made that the more iconic a movie is, the richer it’s character and story and thus the more ripe it is for further exploration.

  • Sentry616

    Bitch, bitch, bitch.
    Like having a sequel means the original is diminished by a follow up.