"Blade Runner 2049" is about global warming or global cooling? Great cli-fi movie, but bad science? Critics are having a field day!
When I lived in Tokyo in the 1990s, one of my friends at the English-language newspaper where I worked, Tom Bradford, who was from the Los Angeles area before flying over to Japan for a journalism gig, kept telling me about how Tokyo at night reminded him so much of the Ridley Scott cult film "Blade Runner." And Tom was right: Tokyo at night was and still is "Blade Runner" writ large.
The film was set in a near future of 2019. We are almost there.
Now comes the latest iteration of the "Blade Runner" meme in 2017 and it's titled "Blade Runner 2049" since it takes place 30 years later -- in 2049.
And this new movie is a cli-fi film, and it gives climate change a starring role. But there's just one problem: while the movie talks about climate change, viewers will see that Los Angeles in 2049 is 30 degrees cooler than today's temperatures and is also hit by strong sub-Arctic blasts of cold air.
''Global warming,'' or ''global cooling''?
Leah Schade, a visionary ''eco-preacher'' who is a Lutheran professor of preaching and worship at the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, recently wrote a very good article on the Patheos website about the new movie, which she headlined "'Blade Runner 2049': Cli-Fi at Its Best."
Her subheadline was telling.
''Blade Runner 2049 is cli-fi (climate fiction) at its best with superb visual effects, an absorbing storyline, fascinating characters, and poignant religious/philosophical themes.''
John Siciliano, writing for the Washington Examiner website, wrote about "Blade Runner 2049," too.
"The sequel to the 1982 science-fiction movie classic "Blade Runner," which [recently] opened nationwide, looks to give climate change a starring role, according to official summaries and timelines released by the film's production house," Siciliano wrote.
He added: "Set 30 years in the future from the original film's 2019 setting, 'Blade Runner 2049' shows an Earth devastated by the ravages of climatic shifts in temperature and sea-level rise, which has plunged large chunks of Los Angeles into the Pacific Ocean."
So with "Blade Runner 2049" hitting the silver screen and social media platforms and YouTube this month and over the next 12 months as the movie fans out around the world, film critics and climate scientists will be left wondering: Was this movie about global warming or global cooling?
Is this "The Day After Tomorrow" all over again? Great movie, bad science?