For years now, film geeks have hyperventilated at the increasingly likely prospect of Ridley Scott making a new Blade Runner. Now, the addictive film blog Twitch has posted the rumor that Harrison Ford might be returning as well. The Guardian sprinted with it, claiming "Harrison Ford is lining up to make a surprise return to the role of Rick Deckard"—which isn't exactlythe case.
As a lifelong fan of Blade Runner and its neo-noir storyline, I wonder: why touch a classic? Or, if one dares revisit a film as ingrained in film-lovers' psyches as Blade Runner, what constitutes a "good" sequel (or—cringe—prequel)? The way I see it, there are five key factors:
Original director. Blade Runner isn't the only cult classic Scott's revisiting: Prometheus, framed as a prequel to Alien, hits screens this summer. Scott is the only director I trust with these films. Pro: Could anyonebut Peter Jackson have made three epic installments of The Lord of the Rings, plus forthcoming "prequel" The Hobbit? Con: You can't touch Richard Donner's quintessential buddy cop classic Lethal Weapon. But by the third episode, Donner added Joe Pesci and Mel Gibson shed his '80s mullet for increasingly bloody historical dramas. We're all too old for that shit.
Different director. Pro: Oren Peli achieved something singularly scary inParanormal Activity, a rare gem in the fulminating "found footage" franchise. Yet Paranormal Activity 3—set 18 years prior to the original and directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman—is even scarier. And Alfonso Cuarón's darker touch to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sealed it as my favorite from the inflated series. (J.K. Rowling loved it too.) Con: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s atrocious 2011 prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, beginning with flash-frozen dialogue and culminating in a shitshow of sucky CGI.
"Same world." Scott says Prometheus shares "strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak." Pro: Whether or not the xenomorphs appear, H.R. Giger's characteristic design most definitely will. Con: That drippy, green-grey palette mildewing the Wachowski Bros' sequels to The Matrix got foul fast.
Recurring characters. A sticky wicket for Blade Runner 2 (or Blade Runner Reloaded, as one Twitch commenter cheekily calls it) if Ford really does return. Pro: Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro needed scene-mugger Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo's rough-housing ronin) to ramp up the ass-kicking quotient. Con:Tron: Legacy did itself no favors recasting Jeff Bridges (acting "like a weary cyber version of the Dude", burns Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman), let alone creepily de-aging his CGI clone.
Totally different characters. The "retrofitted" world of Blade Runner is so vibrant, do we even need a Deckard? Take the Final Destination franchise. Spreading three directors and nearly unique casts over five gory films didn't blunt its box-office success. Evidence: part five has the best Rotten Tomatoes average (61% fresh) and part four grossed the most money. Besides, I loathed the original (Devon Sawa…beurk!).
For now, the “Harrison Ford returning to Blade Runner” scoop remains speculative. But Scott's direction gives me confidence that it'll be dope, no matter who dons that trenchcoat.