If you've ever been to Comic-Con, you know that "activations" have become a thing. Generally categorized as "experiences", activations are basically interactive displays that allow you to wander through - or, yes, experience - a piece of an upcoming film or television show. As is the case with any studio-sponsored bit of nerdery, these experiences tend to be either really cool or really lame. I'm happy to report that SDCC's Blade Runner 2049 activation ("The Blade Runner 2049 Experience") falls into the former category.
The entire thing starts out with a VR demonstration: you strap on a pair of VR goggles and a set of headphones, and suddenly you're in a Spinner, playing the role of Blade Runner 2049's Detective K (Ryan Gosling). The VR's immersive and somewhat eye-popping: as the Spinner glides through (future) downtown Los Angeles, you can look around at whatever you want - the buildings, neon signs, holographic displays, and other airborne vehicles. It's convincing and very, very cool.
The storyline, as it were, finds you tracking a rogue Replicant in another Spinner. There's a chase through the LA skyline, some stomach-turning dips between buildings, and eventually you end up crashing the Spinner you're in pursuit of. A notification pops up telling you to remove your VR goggles, and when you do, the curtain that was previously hanging in front of you has been lifted to reveal...the very same Spinner you just helped take down.
Lemme tell you, standing next to an actual Blade Runner Spinner was something else: you could look through the window at the futuristic dashboard, see how the whole thing functioned. We were also encouraged to take our photo with it.
That, obviously, is not me.
Nearby, a garbage-sweeper was parked, lights flashing.
Beyond this room was an alleyway, lined on either side with Blade Runner 2049 props, costumes and a replica noodle bar. I did not attempt to order noodles, but the soy sauce set up on the counter indicated that I could have, if I'd wanted to.
Here's a look at some of the props and weaponry they had on display. Everything was highly-detailed and, yes, very kick-ass-looking.
At the end of this alleyway was an entrance to Bibi's Bar, apparently a location from Denis Villeneuve's upcoming film.
Nearby, Ryan Gosling's Blade Runner 2049 jacket. My requests to try on the jacket were, sadly, denied.
Upon enterting Bibi's Bar, we were confronted by a long table stacked with vials of Johnnie Walker Black. We were, of course, invited to take as many as we wanted (I pulled three, one each for me and my booze-loving BMD associates).
If you're at SDCC this year, I really can't recommend the Blade Runner 2049 Experience enough, especially if you're a fan of the property. The VR's convincing, the props are cool, and the chance to stand next to a real-live Spinner is not to be passed on. Definitely stop by if you're in the neighborhood, you won't regret it!
Stay tuned for more Blade Runner 2049 coverage out of SDCC! I may have an interesting interview for you in the next few days...