Watch An Old ‘Blade Runner’ Favorite Come to Life in this VFX Breakdown

Sean Young’s Rachael, impeccably rendered, graces the big screen once more in ‘Blade Runner 2049.’
By  · Published on January 8th, 2018

‘Blade Runner 2049’ continued a current visual effect trend in Hollywood.

Spoilers Below

Some Blade Runner 2049 secrets are revealed in a new video uploaded by Moving Picture Company. Denis Villeneuve‘s sequel to Ridley Scott’s influential 1982 sci-fi extravaganza is as much a present-day experience as a throwback to its roots. One of the main components emphasizing the formative nature of Scott’s initial Blade Runner blueprint is the inclusion of Rachael, played in the original by Sean Young and who appears in likeness in Blade Runner 2049. And what a likeness it is.

Making an actor looking older at the movies using special effects is common practice. However, films in recent years have increasingly begun to regularly employ de-aging technology in a bid to introduce younger versions of characters for whatever reason. Blockbusters obviously make the most use out of this, namely for world-building and maybe an over-indulgence in flashback sequences. Whether or not these younger iterations of older actors end up looking like a bothersome trip to uncanny valley certainly depends on the narrative, as well. For example, Captain America: Civil War de-aged Robert Downey Jr. for the express purpose of creating an in-story simulation, so it still worked. However, The Hobbit movies created a rather plastic version of Orlando Bloom as an non-aging Elf, which came across more conspicuously despite the fact that those films are set in a wholly fantastical Middle-earth.

The practically flawless digital personification of Rachael really exemplifies the stellar visual effects work done in Blade Runner 2049. Of course, it didn’t have to look irrevocably real, as the Rachael in the sequel is a mere copy of the original replicant. But the combination of aesthetic feats such detailed skin textures (layer upon layer of them!) and the microexpressions in Loren Peta’s performance, as well as Young’s actual scenes in the original Blade Runner, created a perfect balance that affirms the unsettling suspense of Rachael’s appearance. Blade Runner 2049 purposely skirts around the character right until the moment she is revealed and the end result is far from disappointing.

Neil’s review touts Blade Runner 2049, overall, to be “the most magnificent technical achievement we’ve seen in cinema in a long while” and I absolutely agree. Watching the film is like drinking in the perfect representation of every dystopian story I’ve ever loved. MPC’s video merely shows us how it’s done, trusting the work to stand on its own without any voiceover accompaniments. Watch it for yourself below and prepare to be amazed.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)