Short Films Bridge the Blade Runner Gaps

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Catch up on the events between Blade Runner films before Blade Runner 2049 hits the big screens!

Short films in anticipation of big films – we saw it happen earlier this year with Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant when Fox released Prologue: The Crossing online, and now we’re seeing it happen with Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Blade Runner 2049, the many-years-later sequel to Blade Runner (another Ridley Scott film).

But in this case, Warner Bros. has released a whole series of shorts. The three films function as prequels that bridge the gap between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. Luke Scott (Ridley Scott’s son, fittingly) directs the first two live-action pieces, while the third one throws us for a twist, as it’s actually an anime directed by “Cowboy Bebop” legend Shinichiro Watanabe.

2036: Nexus Dawn

The first film revolves around Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who you probably recognize as the villainy guy from the trailers, as he attends a meeting in order to introduce his new line of replicants, which are super powerful humanoids that obey every command of their master. Taking place in one room, tension broods and moody lighting sets the stage as Wallace eerily waxes philosophically. “What we decide here today will polish or crack the firmament...” There’s definitely an ominous aura about the guy. It all ends quite abruptly, leaving us wanting more, yet also giving us an intriguing taste of the dystopian chaos and evil to come.

2048: Nowhere to Run

Dave Bautista (WWE, Guardians of the Galaxy) plays Sapper Morton, the focus of the second installment. Morton appears to be a brawny and violent replicant on the run, and he has a surprisingly compassionate heart. This short also possesses a major sense of setting, as Morton navigates a strange and seedy underworld, giving us a glimpse of the dark places that society has turned. Morton quickly establishes himself as a very interesting character, which makes us wonder exactly what type of role he’ll play in the grand scheme of things.

Blade Runner Black Out 2022

Now here’s where things really switch up. Not only is this last piece animated, but it’s also by far the longest and most expansive of the shorts, clocking in at about 15 minutes. And let me tell you, those 15 minutes are well worth it. Shinichiro Watanabe’s action-packed film introduces a kickass replicant named Trixie (voiced by Luci Christian) and it depicts the events leading up to a global blackout (hence the title). It’s a drab world, but the animation shines, rapidly shuffling through various cyberpunk settings and aesthetics that make your eyes dart all over the screen—the meticulously detailed lines and use of color shading is stunning. Experimental producer Flying Lotus (who’s worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat) lends an intense musical score that escalates the stakes. Safe to say, this thing is awesome.

What better way to build hype for a high-concept blockbuster flick? Not only do these short films tide fans over and give them something to chew on while they eagerly wait for Blade Runner 2049 to hit the big screen, but they also provide some extra background into the characters while conveying bits of world-building and story history that you might not get otherwise. It’s impressively great supplementary content, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see studios use this tactic more and more in the future. I mean, if you get excited about the quality of these short films, then you must be really be pumped for what the feature-length has in-store, right? I know I am.

Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters on 10/06/2017