Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Let’s obsess over the cityscapes of Blade Runner 2049

Judging by the reactions online over the weekend, people seem torn on whether Blade Runner 2049 is good or great, long or too long, a box office failure or only kind of a box office failure. Pretty much everyone who loved the first film, though, at least very much enjoyed the long-awaited sequel, in part because of how well it played to nostalgia. The most unshakeable moments in Ridley Scott’s 1982 original are still its haunting trips through a rainy, neon cityscape, full of glowing neon advertisements and maundering gothic ruins, and, boy, does Blade Runner 2049 deliver on that front. There are quick car rides in the new film that’ll be fun to puzzle over for years.

The above video from Looper ostensibly focuses on Easter eggs within the new movie, but really details small elements from the production design that work as links to ideas and visual elements from the first film. The original movie’s massive, iconic Coca-Cola advertisement was there in part because Scott thought that even in a post-apocalyptic future, some brands would be “everlasting,” though the movie’s other advertisements proved slightly less permanent. Atari and Pan Am ads both make reappearances in 2049, even though in the years between now and 1982, the latter was absorbed by Hasbro and exists as a shell of its former self while the former went defunct in 1991. (The video also makes a quick case for Niander Wallace somehow having designed the Engineers from Prometheus, or something, which is some shit let’s not even get into. Ever.)

Bloomberg has a very Bloomberg-ian but still-fascinating look at the speculative branding of the movie, which comes to an interesting conclusion: It’s essentially a future where Apple never happened.

Instead, director Denis Villeneuve took the original film’s vision of the future and thrust it onward. Society shunned sleekness, choosing retrofitting and pragmatism over glamour. Everything feels descended from the Walkman, not the iPod—and perhaps that’s in part why Sony Corp. is evident in the brand landscape of Blade Runner 2049, while Apple doesn’t get so much as a fleeting nod. Another explanation: Bloomberg News reported that Sony, which is distributing the new movie outside of North America, also put up $90 million of the $150 million budget.


A world without the Apple Watch? No iPad? No Face ID? Now there’s a dystopia.

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