This is a trilogy of short film prequels to the 2017 movie "Blade Runner 2049," which is a sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner. That film was set in 2019, and the sequel, as you can probably guess from the title, is set thirty years later, in 2049. The prequels, of course, are set between the two films. For now, I'm referring to them collectively as "Road to 2049," because that's the title of a subsite of the new movie's official website. (Though on Vimeo, the first two films in the series are called Blade Runner: Lost Memories.) The official site has some info about several events taking place over those three decades between films, and you can watch the first two of the short film prequels on that page. (At the time that I wrote this, the third short film was not on the official site, and I'm not sure if it will be. But maybe it will.) Anyway, the first two shorts are live-action films directed by Luke Scott, with whose work I am unfamiliar. (I'll be listing their runtimes based on Vimeo; on both the official site and YouTube, they're a bit longer, because of an introduction by Blade Runner 2049's director, Denis Villeneuve.) The third short is an anime directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who's directed a number of anime series before, perhaps most famously Cowboy Bebop.
tek's rating: ½
2036: Nexus Dawn (5:56)
IMDb; Vimeo; Wikipedia; YouTube
Ever since 2023, it's been illegal to produce Replicants. But there's a reclusive genius named Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who had ended a global food shortage by creating genetically engineered food in 2025, and then in 2028 bought the remains of the Tyrell Corporation (the company from the original film that made Replicants). He went on to invent a new model of Replicants, called Nexus-9, which are apparently unable to disobey humans. And in this film, set in 2036, he appears before a group of lawmakers, and makes an appeal to them to repeal the prohibition against making Replicants. He does this in a rather dramatic fashion, which I guess ultimately wins over the lawmakers, who were initially adamantly opposed to repealing the ban.
I suppose the film was good. Probably better than my rating would suggest. It's just not something that made a huge impression on me as a standalone story, I guess. As a scene within a full movie, it would have been pretty cool, so I guess it does work as something that helps to set up the actual movie. Anyway, I definitely wouldn't find cause to disagree with anyone who rates the film higher on its own merits than I do.
tek's rating: ½
2048: Nowhere to Run (5:28)
IMDb; Vimeo; YouTube
Set the year before the feature film, this short follows a Nexus-8 Replicant named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), who I guess is a worm farmer. At this point, worms are the only remaining protein food in the world. (Which makes me wonder what the hell became of Niander Wallace's food supply.) Anyway... Sapper is friendly with a girl and her mother who are in the obviously dystopian marketplace where he sells his worms. Before going about his business, he gives a book to the girl. After taking care of business, he sees a group of men violently accosting the girl and her mother, so he violently intervenes to save them. Unfortunately, this brings him to the attention of someone who may cause him problems later (or at least, someone who may identify him to someone who will likely make trouble for him in the feature film).
I dunno. I may have liked this slightly more than the first short, but not enough for me to actually rate it higher. At least I was more interested in Sapper as a character than I was in Niander in the first short. And I'd like to learn more about his relationship to the girl and her mother. I expect both Niander and Sapper will be more interesting in the feature film than in the shorts. Of course, both short films are meant more to whet the appetite for the feature than they are to stand on their own merits, but again, I wouldn't disagree with anyone who rates this film higher than I do.
Black Out 2022 (15:46)
Crunchyroll; IMDb; Short of the Week
So, this is the anime, and the longest of the short films. It's the third to be released, even though it's set earlier than the other two films. (And I learned of its existence before I knew the other two shorts even existed.) The official movie site mentions a blackout of unknown origin in 2022, which apparently led to the prohibition against Replicants in 2023. This film shows us how the blackout happened. A couple of Nexus-8 Replicants named Trixie (Luci Christian) and Iggy (who are both pretty badass), and a human named Ren, were one of several cells that were responsible for the blackout. Before this, humans had started a "human supremacy" uprising against Replicants, which I suppose is the motive for the blackout, which led to a lot of problems for humans. But I suppose we'll learn more about all that in the feature film.
Anyway... I suppose I liked this more than the live-action shorts, partly because I just naturally love anime. And I think, perhaps because of the longer runtime, it works better as a standalone story. Still not great, as such, but... you know... it's freakin' anime. Of course it's cool. Which makes it that much more frustrating that, unlike the characters in the live-action shorts (which are set closer to the time of the feature), it's unlikely that we'll see Trixie or Iggy or Ren in 2049. And I'd really like to. I kind of hate the idea that this short is the only appearance they'll make in the Blade Runner universe. (But I dunno... I suppose they could show up in the feature film, or maybe they'll be in some comics- which I'd almost certainly never read, if such a thing is made.)