Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' was released 35 years ago to an audience that didn't fully appreciate it. It took years for the film to gain the following it has today. It was ahead of its time, and has since been labeled a science fiction masterpiece by many critics and fans of the genre. Regardless of personal taste, it's impossible to not give the film the credit it deserves for inspiring generations of filmmakers and effectively rewriting the visual language of the dystopian future setting seen in movies for the last three decades.
'Blade Runner 2049' is a direct sequel to its predecessor- not a reboot or a remake. It stars Ryan Gosling as LAPD Officer K, a blade runner hunting replicants, which are bioengineered androids that look exactly like humans. Once stumbling upon a long-buried secret, he tries to find a former blade runner played by Harrison Ford to help him solve a decades-old mystery.
Long-gestating sequels like this always give me hesitation. Is there really a need to return to a story more than 30 years after the original? However when it was announced that 'Blade Runner 2049' was to be directed by Denis Villeneueve, the same man behind 'Prisoners,' 'Sicario,' and last year's 'Arrival,' I got very excited to revisit the grungy, dirty futuristic world of 'Blade Runner.' And I can genuinely say that this film builds on that incredible world and absolutely justifies its existence by having a new story to tell.
Villenueve proves he's one of the most talented and visionary directors working today. He creates a dreamlike, haunting atmosphere of a world consumed by technology. Despite the cold and clinical approach to telling this story and keeping character's motivations and desires at a distance, as we learn more about Gosling's character, we dive deeper into some very ambitious themes and concepts that have permeated sci-fi filmmaking over the years. So while it lacks the blazing originality of the first film, it makes up for it by being a technical marvel- a sensory masterwork of sound and visuals that create something that will likely suffer the same fate as its predecessor by simply going over the heads of many viewers. Much like the work of the late Stanley Kubrick, 'Blade Runner 2049' is so epic in scope and purposefully ambiguous that it may rub some moviegoers the wrong way.
It's shot by Roger Deakins, who is the cinematographer on some of the best films ever made. He's been nominated for 13 Oscars and has never won and if he doesn't win for this one, it may be a travesty. This is the best looking film of the year so far. While I couldn't help but marvel at the technical expertise on display here, I also felt that 2 hour and 45 minute runtime a bit. This is a long film that takes its time immersing you into this world. Ultimately I left the theater a little confused but wanting to see it again. I'm a little cold on it right now, but I feel like after repeat viewings, I'll begin to appreciate the smaller details and reconsider my opinion of the film, much like I did with the original. So for now, I give 'Blade Runner 2049' a B+.