It's no secret that this year's Blade Runner sequel, titled Blade Runner 2049, is one of the biggest releases coming from Hollywood in years. Not only is the cult classic's story getting extended and we're able to re-enter its futuristic world once again, but it's a who's who of cast and crew that would have us excited even if it wasn't the return of one of our favorite sci-fi films.
Director-of-the-moment Denis Villeneuve is at the helm, with last year's Arrival cementing him as the current king of sci-fi, while the original's director, Ridley Scott, is on board to produce, lending an authentic voice to the work. Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard, while Ryan Gosling joins as LAPD Officer K, who appears to be leading the film's narrative.
All in all there is a lot to be excited about – the film offers strong ties to the original material but also a hearty dose of freshness. It's basically the best of both worlds and a rare opportunity where Hollywood can exercise how to revive older material well. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, the film looks incredible but only time will tell if it's a success.
To get you up to speed, read on for everything you need to know about the upcoming sequel.
When does it arrive?
We're still a little while off Blade Runner 2049's October 6 release date, but with the first full trailer having arrived this week, the buzz is only starting to heat up. The film's fall release means it's well clear of the summer blockbuster release schedule (read: brainless popcorn flicks with explosions) and more in the realm of awards season hopefuls. Which judging by said trailer, could well make it a shoe in for a whole range of categories – including Best Cinematography, thanks to Roger Deakins' stunning vision.
How does it relate to the original?
Plot points are scarce but that makes it even more exciting. What we do know is that the film is set in 2049, 30 years after the original took place, with Gosling's Officer K unearthing something shady that could bring about the end of humanity. He finds Ford's Deckard, a blade runner who has been hiding out that whole time, and that's it.
Nothing else has been revealed, however the first full trailer did bring to light a few things: the looming Tyrell Corporation building at the beginning; Jared Leto creating replicants while eerily stating "Every civilisation was built off the back of a disposable work force – but I can only make so many," suggesting he will be the film's villain; replicants being held in glass boxes for the first time; two new and as yet unnamed characters played by Mackenzie Davis and Dave Bautista; Robin Wright as Officer K's boss; and replicant and K's love interest Joi, played by Ana de Armas, suggesting a possible parallel story with the original. Another nod to the first film which has fans in a frenzy is when Gosling's K says to Ford's Deckard "I have some questions," teasing that the sequel might finally answer one of the original's lingering mysteries.
But that's all we really know. The book that the original is loosely based on, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has a few official sequels, however it's important to note they were written by Dick's friend K. W. Jeter, and released long after the original book and over a decade after the movie. It's unclear if Blade Runner 2049 will include elements from the sequels, which continue the story of Rick Deckard.
New and returning cast & crew
Harrison Ford is reprising his role as Rick Deckard alongside Ryan Gosling's younger Officer K. Besides Deckard, the only other returning character (that we know) is Edward James Olmos' Gaff, while a host of new names are on board including Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista and Mackenzie Davis.
On the crew side of things, Villeneuve takes over directing duties from Ridley Scott, who is on board as a producer, meaning that things won't stray too far off course, but we won't end up in a George Lucas scenario either (thankfully). The one role we are happy is staying the same (besides Ford's) is that writer Hampton Fancher is back, this time partnering with Michael Green, whose credits include Alien: Covenant, Logan, and the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Suffice to say, things are already looking good. Roger Deakins, mister 13-Oscar-nominations-but-never-a-win heads up cinematography, explaining why those trailer visuals look so lush. Dennis Gassner, the man behind the last three Bond films and frequent early Coen brothers collaborator is on production design duties, only adding to the slick look. Finally, revered musician Jóhan Jóhannsson continues his long-running collaboration with Villeneuve as music composer. Which brings us to...
Vangelis' iconic score is going to be hard to beat, with Jóhannsson himself saying it's "an enormous challenge of mythical proportion." Indeed. But if anyone is up to the task it's likely the Icelandic composer, with his collaborative success with Villeneuve already proven itself, especially in last year's stunning Arrival score.
This week's trailer teased a few incredible minutes of music and sound design, making us even more eager for what could be an incredible score that holds the original material close to heart. And that's all we can ask for.
It's still early days and no doubt the summer will only bring more leaks and trailers, which we'll keep you updated on as anything rolls in. In the meantime, those who haven't seen the original (and even those who have) are due to watch the 1982 cult classic, which Scott has described as "probably" his most complete and personal film.
If you want more science fiction with an edge, check out these 10 feminist sci-fi films you probably haven't seen.