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Blade Runner 2049
by yo go re

Time to dip back into the Toys "Я" Us well.

Blade Runner 2049 was visually on par with its predecessor, but the story was lacking; it was long and plodding, and full of characters who reacted emotionlessly to every situation, giving audiences nothing to latch onto/care about.

A prime example of the movie's flaws can be found in Niander Wallace, Jr.: the Wallace Corporation is designed and lit to literally weaponize the idea of sunlight against visitors who (living in the ultra-poluted Los Angeles of the future) never get to see the real thing, disorienting and overwhelming them, smartly exploiting a weakness of nostaligia in a way to which the blind Niander can never himself be subject; the character, meanwhile, is boring, shallow, and eventually just disappears from the narative without any sort of resolution to his arc, a forgotten piece of set dressing. He's built up like he's the major threat to the replicants, but he's never dealt with or even mentioned after a certain point.

Denis Villeneuve's original plan was to have Wallace played by David Bowie, but he died before that could happen. So the character was shifted to be a "Junior," and Jared Leto was brought in. You can see traces of the Bowie DNA in his performance, brief though it is. The first series of figures - Deckard and Officer K - had some really poor likenesses, but there was a huge improvement by the time Series 2 was made. Trevor Grove really captured the slicked-back hair and the blank eyes (something that may be a spoiler for the end of Blade Runner: Black Lotus, since he's perfectly sighted there), but the beard should be bushier and not as neatly groomed. Hey, at least this time Leto just wore opaque contact lenses and hung out with the Junior Blind of America organization, rather than anything stupid.

The sculpt below the neck is credited to Thomas Gwyn, who didn't have much to work with. Being a rich eccentric who thinks of himself as God, Wallace wears a comfy-looking black kimono inspired by Marlon Brando's clothes in Apocalypse Now. The actual movie costume had a white layer under the black that this one is lacking - a change in costume during production, or simply a skipped paint app? The few wrinkles there are on the clothes are fine, and this is one of the few action figures I can remember that's wearing sandals, but overall this is a boring look for a toy. And where's the blue light on the implanted receiver that lets him "see" via hovering drones? That should be sculpted/painted on his jawline.

The articulation is honestly better than the character needs. He moves at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The elbows are the double-swivel/hinge style, which looks fine when it's on a dark, loose-fitting garment like this. It does feel like he should be able to look up more, but the long hair in the back prevents that. Still, he didn't do much more in the movie than stand around, so you can match that well. He has no accessories; not even his drones.

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner pretty much single-handedly created the "cyberpunk" aesthetic as we know it today, so it's a bit unfair to say 2049 had as much visual impact - not everything can create a subgenre, you know? Still, the sequel's visuals are far stronger than its writing, a series of beautiful images projected behind a series of impenetrable conversations. I only got Wallace as a companion to Luv, the other Series 2 figure. He's far more interesting in Black Lotus (and Nexus Dawn) than he was in his "real" movie, and is so dull that he makes even Valerian and Laureline seem like fun toys.

-- 01/23/22

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