Beyond the Stars is a series of Science Fiction related posts where I discuss different aspects of the genre and the many tropes and plot lines associated with it. Today, I talk about the Blade Runner short films in a series of posts focused on the Blade Runner Universe.
Beyond The Stars: Blade Runner Overview (3 of 4): The Blade Runner Shorts
I’ve already discussed the Blade Runner Movies, but now, we’re moving onto the second half, focusing on the expanded material. This week, we’re talking about a series of short films that serve as prequels to Blade Runner 2049, that bridge the gap between the first and second films. I initially said I’d talk about Black Out 2022, the anime short movie, but seeing as there are two others, 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run, it’d be best if I covered all of them.
So that’s the plan. Let’s start with the anime short.
Black Out 2022
Black Out 2022 is an anime short directed by anime veteran Shinichiro Watanabe. He’s best known for hits such as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and more recently, Space Dandy. He’s very well known in the fandom, so he’s the perfect choice for producing an anime short.
To start, this takes place in 2022, on the eve of Tyrell Corporation’s collapse. Two characters, Iggy and Trixie, are Nexus-8 replicants who have far longer lifespans and rival that of humans. Naturally, this does not go over well with humanity, who seeks to hunt those replicants down. Iggy’s goal is to invade a power plant and set off a chain reaction to bring the city of Los Angeles into a blackout state.
They succeed, along with a spy from within who sabotages a missile launch and causes a massive blackout that brings all of the power down, including the flying cars. It goes into detail how Tyrell Corporation went under. The Nexus-8 models proved to be their downfall. The Wallace Corporation took many years before they could make replicants again.
It’s a great short movie. The animation has a unique mix of 2D and 3D graphics. It’s beautiful to look at. A few moments were jarring, such as a driving scene that is primarily in CGI. Other than that, it’s what I’d expect from an industry veteran.
The story was good, even if it was short. Admittedly, I wanted it to be longer, maybe. Half hour, like a normal anime episode, but either way, this was a good short.
2036: Nexus Dawn
This short film is directed by Luke Scott, who worked on a few movies before finally directing Morgan (which I’m not too familiar with, so I can’t comment on how good it is). It focuses on Niander Wallace and his plea to make new Nexus model replicants. By this point, replicant production is banned and a punishable offense. Niander does his best to explain his case and just show how far he’s willing to go to make replicants slaves, as he intended.
I won’t go too deep into it, since it’s only 6 minutes, and I doubt I’d do this one justice. Seeing this, I’ve cemented the idea that Niander Wallace might be one of my favorite sci-fi villains.He’s heartless, but not to a comedic extent. He’s not cruel, but his actions are questionable. His speech reminds me of the G-Man from Half Life where his voice stops mid-sentence before continuing.
This short explains how the Wallace Corporation came about and how replicants continue to be made. Other than that, it’s shorter than the last one, running about 6 minutes. The next one is also the same.
2048: Nowhere To Run
Nowhere to Run, also directed by Luke Scott, focuses on Dave Bautista’s Character, Sapper Morton (I didn’t mention him since I forgot his name. I tend to be bad with names. I’ll remember in the future. -.-) It takes place about a year before Blade Runner 2049 and gives insight into why Sapper is on the run and why K kills him in the beginning of the movie.
It’s roughly five minutes long, but the most notable sequence is a fight where Sapper tries to rescue a girl and her mother, whom he seems to know prior to this short. A group of thugs try to take them, or at least the girl, away, but Sapper’s heroic deed forces him to kill the men and because of that, he’s a wanted man.
When I saw Blade Runner 2049, there was a brief detail into why K was after him, but didn’t elaborate too much. As a result, I didn’t know why K was hunting Sapper other than that he was wanted. I simply thought he was just another rouge replicant on the run, so I didn’t bother to think. Seeing this short, I had a completely different view on him. A big tough guy trying to be a hero, only to get himself on the bad side of the law.
Of course the guy calling him could be one of the bad guys who got away, but for the most part, I had a different perspective that wouldn’t have occurred to me if I didn’t see these shorts. It’s interesting how that works.
These short movies, while for the most part fun, I believe should be mandatory to understand the film in general. They add so much to the plotline that would otherwise be confusing to non-viewers. I saw the first film prior to this so I could understand the moments of the second.
They’re also very short, so it shouldn’t take too long to breeze through all of them. I know some people don’t want expanded material explaining things that aren’t in the book or the film, but sometimes, that isn’t possible. Things are going to be left out and often are left to the reader or viewer’s imaginations. While I see that viewpoint, I felt these shorts added to the film and really made me understand a lot of the second film more.
So that’s that. I’m glad I did watch the other short films. I intended to just watch the anime short, but I felt watching all three really made sense for the sequel. So tune in next week for the conclusory post, where I review it’s source material. It’s a double book review, as the one for Fiction Friday is still planned.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.