If you’ve been scanning the internet like Rick Deckard conducting a Voigt-Kampff test on a twitchy-eyed man mountain, you’ll have noticed a short film that’s been made to herald the release of Blade Runner 2049 (out Oct 6th).

Titled 2036: Nexus Dawn, it aims to immerse the audience in the richly-textured world of the futuristic bounty hunter, brought to life back in the Eighties by Ridley Scott and now Denis Villeneuve, with Luke Scott directing the short. It’s part-marketing exercize, part-artistic ambition. But does it fill either quota? Here’s the film so you can judge for yourself…

Villeneuve explains the idea behind the mini-movie (which is the first of three) is to “dramatize key events” that took place between the first film and 2049, as well as providing a “special glimpse” into the upcoming spectacle.

The key objective of the short appears to be introducing Niander Wallace, the villain of the flick, played by Jared Leto. It also briefs the uninitiated about replicants and where the idea of humanoid robots floated by the original film is at seventeen years on. This it does in watchable fashion – the release is far from a classic but then it does have an all-time great to live up to.

Nexus Dawn is the latest bite-sized production to support entries in Ridley Scott‘s director/producer canon, following material for The Martian and a prequel to Alien: Covenant that bridged the gap from Prometheus. This makes perfect sense from a marketing perspective and it’s argued by some that creative shorts could be an alternative to the spoiler-laden trailer glut that dominates major franchises. However those same observers note the views of Nexus Dawn (just over 800, 000) pale in comparison to the Blade Runner trailers, which run into the millions. The studios will be watching these figures closely, determining whether setting up such elaborate promotional films is worth the effort.

So with their effectiveness as an attention-grabber still up for debate, what of the artistic merits? In Nexus Dawn‘s case, I’d say that’s unclear. Not every short has a sci-fi standard-setter to compare to, but on the plus side a raft of accompanying stories for Blade Runner could prove rewarding. It has an intricately-rendered society to explore after all, though I wouldn’t say the Leto-fuelled project makes any profound points or does anything that couldn’t be done in the main movie (which runs to an epic two and three-quarter hours). Perhaps the other two films will have more scope for exploration.

The article that inspired this piece makes an interesting comment in relation to universe-building on the big screen:

Films are forced by their format to be too economical in their storytelling to support our appetite for sprawl.

Here lies the key to the situation for me. From a personal perspective, I prefer movies that are under two hours. If it’s approaching or over three it’d better be worth the time and be packed with content to boot. In relation to the narrative, maybe the original Blade Runner was an artistic smash because it said things visually, the actual drama being sparse and all the more memorable for it. Maybe a welter of additional detail is the last thing it requires.

But hey, what do I know? If Scott wants to produce something, who am I to get in the way? Nexus Dawn represents an intriguing chapter in the way major releases are marketed. Question is, is it really bringing something to the table or is it just garnish? The coming months should reveal the answer…


Source: Short Of The Week