Before Denis Villeneuve’s blockbuster sequel “Blade Runner 2049” was turning heads, a few lesser-known short films were already building on its predecessor’s grim sci-fi universe.
In early 2017, Villeneuve selected directors Shinichiro Watanabe and Luke Scott (son of original “Blade Runner” director Ridley Scott) to create three shorts that would interpret the events that took place during the 30-year-gap between “Blade Runner” (set in 2019) and this year’s reboot. The resulting films — “Blade Runner Black Out 2022,” “2036: Nexus Dawn” and “2048: Nowhere to Run” — serve as prequels that provide additional context to “Blade Runner 2049.”
Set three years after the original, the animated “Black Out 2022” depicts a bleak future in which replicant androids have been enhanced in order to live a natural human lifespan, prompting widespread revolt and violent attacks from humans. Directed by Watanabe, who is known for his work on the anime series “Cowboy Bebop” and “Samurai Champloo,” the film follows a replicant named Trixie and a defector soldier named Iggy on their crusade to destroy the Tyrell Corporation’s database of replicants, so as to prevent androids from being identified as such.
Luke Scott’s contributions to the series of films, “2036” and “2048,” showcase the meeting that spawned the use of replicant slave labor and offer some illuminating background on Sapper Morton, a former android combat medic who is a key supporting character in “Blade Runner 2049.” Despite the films’ brief run times, both feature appearances from renowned actors such as Jared Leto, Benedict Wong and Dave Bautista.
Whether it’s to fill time before catching “2049,” or to answer any lingering questions, all three shorts are sure to give fans their dystopian fix.