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City of Angels
All We Are Not
The Human Condition
The Doll Hunt
The Persistence of Memory
The Davis Report
Clair de Lune
All The Best Memories
Sola Digital Arts’s 2021/22 homage to the 1982 Ridley Scott classic is certainly one for any Blade Runner fan. There is not much here to dislike but it has a lot to live up to. Director Kenji Kamiyama is best known for directing several anime “Ghost in the Shell” spin offs whilst co-director Shinji Aramaki is known for such titles as “Halo Legends”. Together they have recreated the Blade Runner universe in great detail and populated with characters we know from Denis Villeneuve’s 2017 “Blade Runner 2049” including Doc Badger and Niander Wallace Jr. Set some time after the death of Tyrell and the “black out” it is Wallace’s father Niander Wallace Sr who has taken over the business. They are illegally creating replicants for a “doll hunt” that takes place in the desert outside of LA. However, one of these replicants is different. Her name is Ellie and she survives the sadistic hunt and heads into town to seek revenge. There she meets former Blade Runner called Joseph who agrees to help her. It is action packed, violent and seems at times to be one long love letter to the 1982 movie. The animation is all CGI with core characters having their movements mapped in by the motion capture of real actors. However, many incidental characters in street scenes do not enjoy this level of detail. The manner in which these other characters move can seem quite unnatural at times so you know you are watching a compromise. The other visual disappointment is that this Los Angeles is simplified and just a little too clean in comparison to the universe Ridley Scott and Denis Villeneuve created. On the plus side there are many set pieces created in sets lifted from the original movie. You will get to see the classic interior of the Bradbury Building again as well as the room in which Deckard performs his Voight-Kampff test on Rachel. Room interiors look exactly like Deckard’s apartment and you get to see the Tyrell building in its full glory in the final episode. This is all somehow very comforting but is a reminder of just how good the Denis Villeneuve movie was in managing to avoid these obvious homages in creating entirely new interiors embedded in Ridley Scott’s universe. Whether these recreations from the 1982 movie make you more comfortable with Black Lotus or irritate you is largely a matter of taste. We enjoyed this all immensely but it does make you sentimental for the original. The soundtrack is great and is very reminiscent of the Vangelis original. Black Lotus does veer quite close to being a fan-flick but manages its own brand of originality. The familiar scenes stand out but they are exceptions so don’t drag the show down to any extent. This is a true slice of the Blade Runner canon. The animation style may not be to everyone’s taste and diehard fans may well reject it out of hand. Yet it is an enjoyable show and supplies us just a little back story behind Niander Wallace Jr. Is it quite as ‘culty’ and chic as the original? That is a tall order for any movie. There is a sub-plot involving a love affair between replicant and Blade Runner yet there is no hinted ambiguity that any other character may/may not be quite human. Black Lotus inevitably cannot capture some of the magic of the original as it was a one-off and much of its evocative mystery evolved long after it stopped showing in theatres. This show deserves credit for being as good as it could be given its constraints. Give it some of your time. It won’t be wasted.
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