When ‘Blade Runner’ first hit theaters back in the 80s, it was revolutionary for its visual look and style, and inspired many filmmakers who are out there making movies today, for good and for bad. The bad elements only saw the amount of special effects and nowadays seek to insert and shoot with as much CGI as possible, with a heavy use of green-screen and lack of practical effects that modern audiences are beginning to grow weary of, as no matter how good computer effects may have gotten, we can just seem to sense when actors are just being projected into false environments.
Luckily for us, Denis Villeneuve does not want to take that approach with the sequel to ‘Blade Runner,’ and has stated that ‘Blade Runner 2049’ will be using as many practical and in-camera effects as possible, and will minimize the use of any CGI or green screens. And it is not just a statement to him, it is something he feels very strongly about, as he feels the use of CGI takes something away from a film, from the actors, and that is not something he does lightly.
In Villeneuve’s own words:
“I’m very old school. I wish I had the chance to do my ‘Aliens’ [in Arrival] as animatronics. I hate green screens. It sucks out all my energy. I get depressed. [Cinematographer] Roger [Deakins] was insanely impressive in how he was able to create landscape with tricks. For me it was beautiful. I think I can count on one hand how many times I saw a green screen in all of those months of shooting. There will be CG enhancements, of course, but as much as possible it was in-camera.”
He dislikes green screens and CGI so much that Villeneuve even stated that for ‘Arrival’ he would have preferred a “…gigantic aquarium with gigantic beasts that would be moved by puppeteers.”
Personally, it makes me very happy to hear that Villeneuve is going this direction for ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ and I wish more filmmakers would take his cue and attempt to do their films this way. Understandably it is more expensive, but some of the bigger budget movies could certainly get away with it, and bring their quality back to levels that it should be. Do you like the minimization of computer special effects? Or could you care less about how much CGI a director uses, as long as the film is quality? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.