A stylish cult classic with spectacular visuals, the original “Blade Runner” (1982) is one of the most important science-fiction movies of the last 40 years, influencing the look and, in some cases, the tone and themes of such films as “Brazil” (1985),“Total Recall” (1990), “12 Monkeys” (1995), “Strange Days” (1995), “Gattaca” (1997) and “Dark City” (1998).
At long last, “Blade Runner” has begat a sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” opening in theaters across the country this weekend. Here are 20 things you need to know before seeing this much-anticipated addition to the futuristic franchise:
1. Based on Philip K. Dick’s landmark novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968), the original “Blade Runner” stars Harrison Ford as a former cop (a “Blade Runner”) named Rick Deckard, who is recruited to track down and “retire” (i.e. kill) four replicants who have come to Earth illegally.
2. Now a part of pop culture vernacular, “replicants” are humanoid bio robots with superior strength and agility. Their degree of intelligence depends on their programming.
3. When “Blade Runner” hit theaters in 1982, noted critic Leonard Maltin derided the film for its “muddled script” and characters with “no appeal whatsoever.” The late, great Roger Ebert wrote that it was a “failure as a story.” However, both acknowledged its impressive production values.
4. “Blade Runner” director Ridley Scott tinkered with the movie several times when bringing it to home video. Most fans agree that “Blade Runner: The Final Cut,” which dropped the Philip Marlowe-like voice-over narration by Harrison Ford (among other changes), is the definitive edition, so you should watch this version before you go see the new film.
5. “Blade Runner” takes place in Los Angeles in 2019, meaning the real city has about two years to look like the L.A. in the movie, which Ebert called “a futuristic Tokyo, with gigantic billboards showing smiling Japanese girls drinking Coca-Cola.”
6. As you can tell by the title, “Blade Runner 2049” is set 30 years after the original. Ryan Gosling plays Officer K, a new Blade Runner who discovers a dark secret that leads him to Deckard, who had been missing since the events of the first film.
7. To help bridge the gap between “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049,” you can watch three short films on YouTube: “2048: Nowhere to Run,” “2036: Nexus Dawn” and “Blade Runner Black Out 2022,” the last of which is an animated short directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (“Cowboy Bebop”).
8. In “Blade Runner 2049,” Ford reprises his role as Deckard. Combined with his appearance in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) and the announcement of a fifth “Indiana Jones” movie, this makes him officially the coolest action hero eligible for an AARP card.
9. Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Daryl Hannah, each of whom played a memorable character in “Blade Runner,” aren’t in the sequel. However, Edward James Olmos returns as Eduardo Gaff, a mysterious figure who works with the LAPD.
10. Mega-stars Robin Wright and Jared Leto also appear in “Blade Runner 2049.” Wright plays Lt. Joshi while Leto is Niander Wallace, an intriguing figure who introduces a new replicant, the Nexus 9.
11. While “Blade Runner 2049” is the first movie sequel to “Blade Runner,” it’s not its first sequel in general. K.W. Jeter, known for his “Star Wars” books, wrote a trio of novels continuing the storyline: “Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human” (1995), “Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night” (1996), and “Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon” (2000).
12. There have also been “Blade Runner” computer games and comic books, including a two-issue adaptation of the original movie published by Marvel in 1982.
13. “Blade Runner 2049” merchandising is in full force, including those cartoonish, ubiquitous Funko Pop figures with the big heads and round black eyes. Look for them in a comic book store near you.
14. Sadly, “Blade Runner” cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth passed away in 1996. Fortunately, Roger Deakins, working with director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), has ably recreated the atmosphere, noir-ish look and vivid coloring of the original for the new movie.
15. While Ridley Scott didn’t direct “Blade Runner 2049,” he’s been a hands-on producer during the filming of the movie, and he’s been contemplating ideas for the sequel since at least 2011.
16. Despite successful collaborations in the past on “Prisoners” (2013), “Sicario” (2015) and “Arrival” (2016), Villeneuve released composer Jóhann Jóhannsson from “Blade Runner 2049,” cutting his work and replacing him with Hans Zimmer.
17. Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original “Blade Runner” with David Peoples, scripted “Blade Runner 2049” with Michael Green. An executive producer for STARZ’s “American Gods” series, Green co-wrote “Logan” and worked with Ridley Scott on the script for “Alien: Covenant.”
18. As of this writing, Warner Bros. has done a good job of keeping a lid on spoilers and many plot details, so we don’t know if “Blade Runner 2049” will reveal if Deckard is actually a replicant.
19. “Blade Runner 2049” clocks in at a hefty 163 minutes, so if you’ve got a small bladder, you may want to resist the temptation to get a large soda. (The original theatrical version of the first “Blade Runner” ran 117 minutes.)
20. “Blade Runner 2049” is rated R for “violence, some sexuality, nudity and language,” so younger viewers wanting their sci-fi fill should probably stay home and watch a movie like “Forbidden Planet” (1956), “The Time Machine” (1960), “The Last Starfighter” (1984) or “The Martian” (2015).
Brett Weiss is the author of “Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films.”