"Blade Runner 2049" takes place three decades after the events of the first film. A new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. (Gary Reber)
Special features include 11 featurettes: "Designing The World Of Blade Runner 2049" (HD 21:55), "To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049" (HD 17:15), "Prologues : 2036: Nexus Dawn" (HD 06:31), "Prologues: 2048: Nowhere To Run" (HD 05:49), "Prologues: 2022: Black Out" (HD 15:45), "Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners" (HD 01:33), "Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution" (HD 02:07 ), "Blade Runner 101: The Rise Of Wallace Corp." (HD 01:50), "Blade Runner 101: Welcome To 2049" (HD 02:04), "Blade Runner 101: Joi" (HD 02:21); and "Blade Runner 101: Within The Skies: Spinners, Pilotfish Ad Barracudas" (HD 01:23); upfront preview; and a Movies Anywhere digital copy.
The 2.40:1 1080p MVC 3D picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa XT camera systems at 3.4K and sourced from a 4K Digital Intermediate format. The 3D Blu-ray edition is derived from a 3D conversion by Stereo D. This is tour de force for the cinematography of the legendary Roger Deakins, who personally oversaw the film's post-production on a 4K digital intermediate. Deakins also oversaw "Blade Runner 2049"'s formatting in two aspect ratios, 2.39:1 for standard venues and a "taller" version for IMAX theatres framed at 1.90:1. As well, Dennis Gassner's haunting production design creates a mysterious world of apocalyptic ruins and vast interior spaces, which is visually stunning. Resolution is precise whether with respect to facial features, skin pores, beards, clothing, or object textures depicting the vast futuristic environments. The fine detail is spectacularly visual and imaginative in its rendering of a frightening future. HDR contrast is excellent throughout with deep blacks, revealing shadow delineation, and specular highlights. While the color palette is generally subdued, the wider color spectrum delivers finer shades of hues. Fleshtones retain naturalness throughout, even during stylized lighting segments. Vivid greens of a forest environment are lush and vibrant. Deckard's living quarters are cast in a haunting orange haze. There are numerous WOW! segments, beginning with the opening scene at the quarters of the protein farmer (0:04:50 to 0:10:30) with the play on light and dark and the steam from the boiling pot of worms, K's living quarters (01:17:10 to 01:20:30), the morgue (0:24:00 to 0:26:32), the files labyrinth (01:30:36 to 0:33:50), the city streets (0:43:05 to 0:46:26), the memory carved wooden horse segment (01:52:30 to 01:53:28), Deckard's daughter's green earth prison (01:16:02 to 01:16:54), and Deckard's isolated living quarters (01:47:56 to 01:51:08). This is an intense visual experience that is spellbinding and reference-quality throughout. As good as the 4K Ultra HD picture is related to spatial dimensionality, the 3D is far, far better. Spatial perspective is superb with excellent character and object depth. The 3D effect is primarily rendered to enhance depth and perspective, with reserved out-of-frame projection. While the 3D is not always dramatic, some of the best 3D enhancements occur in the kinetic sequence where K's spinner crash-lands in the acres of rubble outside the metal reclamation operation run by Mister Cotton, after which K is attacked by nomadic hordes. Cavernous interiors tend to also benefit from the 3D enhancement, most notably in Mister Cotton's vast facility with its hordes of child laborers and in the abandoned factory where K goes searching for a vital clue. This is another way to experience "Blade Runner 2049," with incredible depth and perspective that is absent from the two-dimensional editions, though, sharpness and detail is somewhat less revealing. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is spectacular, casting a compelling sense of suspense. The soundtrack was remixed specifically for the home theatre environment, achieving impressive levels of intensity and bass extension. Driven by an exceptional deep bass foundation that extends strongly to sub-25 Hz, bass energy can be system threatening. The bass-heavy score composed by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer is powerful and well recorded with a wide and deep soundstage that extends aggressively to the four surrounds, extending to the height channels. The opening and closing segments are the deep bass drum and synthesizer segments by Vangelis. The soundtrack is impressively dynamic, with powerfully loud segments contrasted with quieter sounds ripe with nuance. The sonics span the entire soundfield with all manner of atmospherics and sound effects, such as buzzing bees in an apiary, distant piano sounds that suggest memories, the cacophony of voices/billboard advertisements/street noises, downpours, and rushing waters. Throughout, dialogue is intelligible and effectively spatially integrated. Panning of sound effects such as aircraft is directionalized back to front, front to back, and side to side.
As for the Immersive Sound element, the height capabilities of Dolby Atmos are effectively applied throughout. The score is aggressively extended to the height channels, which provides a fully enveloping sense of spatial dimension. Other elements include sound effects such as aircraft panned overhead, gunshots, a voice in a testing lab, moving talking billboards, raindrops, an echoed woman's voice, talking video billboards, male echoed voices at the orphanage, underwater air bubbles and swishing water, and other low-level ambient sounds. While the music is certainly powerful and predominant as an overhead element, the sound designers did not fully realize the potential as depicted in the imagery.
Still, this is a credible holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack that is exceptionally dynamic with an effective Immersive Sound component that creates an effective spatially dimensional reference-quality experience. (Gary Reber)