A New Life Awaits You in the Off-World Colonies!

science fiction 7 comments

You know what? I don’t hate the fact that Alcon Entertainment/Warner Bros. are poised to get the rights to produce material based on the situations and possibly characters in Blade Runner. In case you didn’t know, the deal is very close to being signed, which means that it is very likely that in the not-too-distant future, there will be Blade Runner prequels or sequels.

Don’t get me wrong, if I had heard that they were re-making the same story as the original, this post would be a lot different. I’m entirely sick of seeing so many classic (and not even classic) films being remade, and would much rather that more financial investment be made in emerging writers and filmmakers instead of rehashing what’s been done. But enough has been written about that, and it’s not even the case here. In a move that seems much wiser than many in Hollywood, the proposed deal excludes the right to remake the original, but does allow material to be developed that is based on the original story. I’ve long dreaded the day that someone would try to remake my favorite movie of all time, and I’m glad to know that it’s not happening, at least not yet.

Understandably, those of us who are drawn to science fiction and the (good) books, movies and television shows that speculate what our future or alternate realities could look like are quite gun-shy of prequels and sequels. But the truth is, they aren’t all as appalling as the Star Wars prequels or the Highlander sequels. Consider Mad Max: I’d opine that The Road Warrior sequel was a better film than the original. (I’ve opened myself up to possible criticism here, but you can’t argue that The Road Warrior’s production values aren’t better.) Another example of a sequel that doesn’t sully the memory of the original is Aliens….beyond that one, my argument breaks down for that franchise, but my point is, sequels don’t have to be bad. Prequels don’t either…take the recent Star Trek prequel. There was quite a bit of trepidation in the fan community when that was announced, but JJ Abrams and co. got it right, in most people’s opinions. I’m doubtful they can do it twice, but I’ll stay open until I see more.

So, there is a precedent for decent sequels and prequels that respect the original, and build on it rather than destroying what made it great. I will admit that it’s possibly the hardest job in entertainment to try to make something based on another well-loved story that fans will accept, but it can be done. So let’s wait and see what they do with the rights to the characters and situations in Blade Runner before going berserk. Of course there are lots of ways that this can go wrong, and the chances are high that there will be at least a few elements that hardcore fans of the original will hate, but I bet that’s how fans of Philip K. Dick’s writing felt when they heard that “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was being adapted into a screenplay. As much as I love the movie, I have to admit, it is much different from the story, so who am I to say that adaptive works are never good?

In a way, even the most original work derives some themes or elements from other things that came before. As long as it isn’t plagiaristic, there’s nothing wrong with taking creative inspiration from stories or films that already exist. For some of us, the reason we want to create is to have something we made become a part of the universe that our idols inhabit. I know my enjoyment of movies like Blade Runner is a big part of why I wanted to get involved with a science fiction story like Causality. Glynis and Montoure are not trying to be Philip K. Dick, or screenwriters Hampton Fancher/David Peoples, and I’m sure as hell no Ridley Scott, but we’re not trying to be. We are creating our own story, with it’s own unique tone. The finished product may have some elements that are derived from stories and directors that inspire us, and that’s ok. Just as it will be ok if any upcoming Blade Runner sequels/prequels draw on the work of the original and make something new within it’s universe.

I will give the potential Blade Runner stories a chance, and hope that science fiction fans all over the world will give Causality a chance. Now the task for us, and those attempting to make a franchise out of Blade Runner, is to reward those who keep an open mind. It won’t be easy, but with love of the material, it can be done.

Posted by   @   March 4, 2011 7 comments
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Mar 4, 2011
11:41 am
#1 Glynis Mitchell :

I have lots more to say on this topic, and maybe it could be on the podcast — good post! — but I’ll start with positing that Alien and Aliens are two different genres, which is why they both work.

Mar 4, 2011
2:47 pm

Well said. I’m definitely not trying to be the next Philip K. Dick — I’m much too busy working on being the first Michael Montoure.

Mar 4, 2011
5:04 pm
#3 Elizabeth :

Really liked what you had to say. I agree with you that film adaptations of well loved books are a huge challenge to take on. Ditto for people who attempt prequels/sequels to well-loved films.

Mar 5, 2011
9:55 am
#4 Ralph Fontaine :

Thanks Elizabeth! Appreciate the comment. I hope the powers that be approach the story with the respect it deserves, and that it’s not over done with unnecessary effects or (shudder) 3-D.

Mar 6, 2011
6:15 pm

Blade Runner as a film still holds up. There is no need for a remake.

Mar 6, 2011
6:21 pm
#6 Ralph Fontaine :

100% agree. That’s why I’m glad the rights to remake the original are off the table. I don’t mind the concept of a sequel/prequel if it’s done right, but I hope the original is never remade.

Mar 8, 2011
9:24 am
#7 Glynis Mitchell :

If you all haven’t seen the Blu Ray version, go forth and consume it. It’s like watching a totally different film. It’s THAT GOOD. Fucking beautiful.

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