Why Fans Are Right to be Concerned About Blade Runner: Black Lotus

by Beef Pickens

As someone who has seen “Blade Runner 2049” countless times and the original a few less, I was ecstatic to hear that a Blade Runner anime was going to be produced this year. Blade Runner fans had already received a magnificent taste of what an anime could look like with the “Black Out 2022” short film that was released alongside “2049” in 2017. The director of “2049,” Denis Villeneuve, asked his friend Shinichiro Watanabe to animate a brief film in 2D detailing an important event between the original movie and his new film. Although short in length, it was nothing short of beautiful and left fans wanting more. After all, there isn’t much Blade Runner media content to go around (“2049” came out 35 years after the original).

“Blade Runner: Black Lotus” was announced a year after the release of “2049”. It is a collaboration between anime company Crunchyroll and television channel Adult Swim, aptly deemed “a Crunchyroll and Adult Swim original.” Previously mentioned director Watanabe will be serving as a creative director for the project, and it will have both Japanese and English dubs. Around the period of the initial announcement, information about the anime was obviously quite scarce. Nevertheless, fans were sure to keep their ears open for any new information about the project; however, incredibly long stretches of time passed without even a word. Eventually, on July 23rd of this year, the Adult Swim YouTube channel released a 2 minute and 6 second trailer for the show that finally gave the ravenous fans a look at what they could expect later in the year. According to the video’s reception, their hopes were squandered.

One of the first things that someone would see while patrolling the comments of the video is a multitude of complaints regarding the choice to switch to 3D animation. Viewers made no efforts to mince their words, going as far as to compare the animation to that of a Playstation 2 game. The sentiment is a valid one; quality 3D anime are few and far between. It is even more confusing considering the extremely high quality of “Black Out 2022.” Essentially, 2D animation, which comprises the majority of anime, has been proven more than effective in portraying the “Blade Runner” universe. In an interview with show directors, it is revealed that 3D CG was chosen because it was the best way to portray the city, and seeing the characters against such a backdrop would be “entertaining.” I can’t help but think, though, (especially after looking at the quality of the animation in the trailer) that it was more cost-effective and thus was ultimately the required direction. It most certainly does not instill confidence in the quality of the show when it doesn’t seem to have enough genuine care and concern behind it for a proper animation budget.

Although there is clearly talent within the team responsible for the project, the content we have been exposed to has been rather concerning nonetheless. A second point of contention within the original trailer was the music choice. “Blade Runner” is known in large part for its atmosphere, and its soundtrack contributes heavily to this. The stunning synth and saxophone soundscape created by Vangelis for the first film perfectly matched the tone and what was happening in “Blade Runner’s” cyberpunk cityscape. Although “Blade Runner 2049’s” soundtrack did incorporate the synth heard in the original movie, it had a much different, heavier, bass-reliant sound that complimented moments of touching connection and heart-pounding chases. 

With this being said, the music chosen for the trailer clashes significantly with the tone established in the “Blade Runner” series. “Feel you Now” is a pop song that feels too commercial and out of place in the series universe. One would have a very hard time guessing the property from the soundtrack alone. In another video revealing the opening released by Adult Swim, the song was confirmed to be the opening theme. While this could just be a poor decision that doesn’t actually reflect the soundtrack of the show, it is yet another major reason for concern.

Despite seeing the familiar cityscapes that fans have come to know and love, the trailer doesn’t feel very “Blade Runner” at all. A large effort was made to have a focus on action and combat scenes, which clashes with the films’ more meditative and thoughtful tradition. The “Blade Runner” franchise has always been focused on what it means to be human more than fast-paced fights. Although there were moments of heart-pounding action, they were very clearly not at the forefront of what the movies were trying to portray. Admittedly, this could be an attempt from the creators of the trailer itself to have it appeal to a wider audience, but it still creates yet another reason for skepticism. It is my hope, of course, that these doubts are ultimately unfounded. I want nothing more than to have a quality “Blade Runner” anime, and we will hopefully know soon whether the show is worth giving a shot.

Oscar Predictions

Despite the insane year the film industry has had, the Academy Awards are upon us. Whether you think that the Oscars are a celebration of cinema that puts true art into the mainstream, or if you think they are an overrated hoax made so that Hollywood executives can pat themselves on the back, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: it’s fun to bet on the Oscars. But you know what’s even more fun than entering an Oscar pool? Winning your Oscar pool.

But with such a strange year for movies, this year seems harder than ever to predict the winners. Luckily for you, the team here at Moviehouse has done the work for you. Our crew of collegiate movie nerds has put in the hours of research so you don’t have to. Without further adieu, here are the Moviehouse predictions for the 93rd Academy Awards

Best Picture: Nomadland

“Nomadland” is without a doubt the safe choice here. It’s swept award season, winning at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, and the PGAs. While it’s worth mentioning that there have been many years where a movie has swept these categories and still missed the Oscar, those years were always a close race. Take last year, when “1917” swept award season but “Parasite” won, or when “La La Land” was the favorite in 2017 but lost to “Moonlight”. In both situations, it was a close race between one or the other. This year, however, there isn’t another contender that can really go toe to toe with “Nomadland.” Because of the preferential ballot, this gives “Nomadland” an edge that those other upsets just didn’t have.

Directing: Nomadland

After winning the DGA, Golden Globe, and BAFTA for best director, Chloé Zhao’s Oscar win seems like a given.

Actor in a Leading Role: Chadwick Boseman

The passing of Chadwick Boseman this past year was felt deeply by the film community. His final performance in “Ma Rainey’s” was just one of many outstanding performances in a career that ended too soon. After winning the SAG and the Golden Globe, it is hard to imagine this Oscar not going to him, deservedly so. Rest in power, Chadwick Boseman.

Actress in a Leading Role: Carey Mulligan

Actress in a Leading Role is certainly the hardest pick to make this year. The case could truly be made for any of the nominees. Viola Davis gave us another incredible performance in “Ma Rainey’s,” and while we’d love to see her get it, it’s hard to picture the best actor and best actress coming from a movie that doesn’t get a Best Picture nomination. Frances McDormand’s last win feels too recent for her to get it again. While a case could certainly be made for Andra Day, Carey Mulligan’s bold performance that drives “Promising Young Woman” seems more likely.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Daniel Kaluuya

Another actor that has swept in this category during award season so far. Kaluuya better have space for this Oscar next to that Golden Globe and that SAG award.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Youn Yuh-Jung

Youn Yuh-Jung might be the best part of “Minari,” which is really saying something. While there are plenty of great nominees, it is hard to see them giving this award to anyone else. 

Cinematography: Nomadland

Film Editing: The Trial of the Chicago 7

In recent years, the Oscars have preferred films with more obvious and more stylistic editing choices. “Chicago 7” intercuts two different people giving accounts of the same scene, as well as shots from the scene from different perspectives, all while telling the story in a non-chronological order, and still manages to make sense. This is a movie with a lot of editing, and it does it well. If “Chicago 7” has any chance at bringing home an Oscar, it will be in this category.

Adapted Screenplay: The Father

Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman

With recent winners of this award including “Parasite” and “Get Out,” it seems that the Academy not only looks for which original screenplay is the best, but which original screenplay is the most original. The revenge thriller about rape culture seems to meet both of these categories comfortably, which is why we think it is going to take home the gold trophy.

Animated Feature Film: Soul

While “Wolfwalkers” certainly has a chance, it is really hard to beat a Pixar movie, and even harder to beat an original Pixar movie. If Pixar had dished out another half-assed sequel then this would probably go to “Wolfwalkers,” but “Soul” is far from Pixar nostalgia bait. The film feels like Pixar is back at their A-game, and it doesn’t seem like “Wolfwalkers” can really compete with that.

Sound: Sound of Metal

Duh.

International Feature Film: Another Round

As the only international film with a nomination for directing, “Another Round” is the easy choice. Not to mention, did you see Mads Mikkelsen’s dance scene in this movie? That part alone should win an Oscar.

Original Score: Soul