For 35 years, Blade Runner fans have been examining and re-examining Ridley Scott's iconic sci-fi film for even the most microscopic clues about who may or may not be a Replicant—and what could happen in the even further future.
With the original dawning on a rain-smudged L.A. in 2019, it’s pretty safe to assume there still won’t be any flying cars or giant hologram ads two years from now, and there might not even be in 2049, but that has in no way dampened the anticipation for a sequel that has been gathering like the reddish dust in that vast relic of a desert that silently broods like Ozymandias.
So did director Denis Villeneuve live up to the godlike standards set by Ridley Scott with his sequel Blade Runner 2049? With the film currently sitting at a stellar 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the answer seems to be yes.
Here are some hot takes from critics who checked out the film:
Esquire raves that Villeneuve “absolutely pulled it off” because he “captured Scott’s style and expanded on it” with a technologically advanced L.A. that isn’t the antiseptic version of the future trending in most sci-fi movies but a beat-up relic of some past future that lights up with holograms and zooms with flying cars.
Entertainment Weekly calls it a “ravishing visual feast,” noting that “2049 reaches for, and finds, something remarkable: the elevation of mainstream moviemaking to high art.”
Variety delves into something deeper with a more psychological observation:
“Just as Villeneuve did with his previous feature, 2016’s 'Arrival,' whose piercingly emotional core elevated its pulp alien-invasion premise, in 'Blade Runner 2049,' he subverts the genre in favor of a rich inquiry into the nature of the soul itself.”
Wired agrees in that “2049's greatest power … lies in the way it manages its own scope. This is a $150 million franchise film with huge movie stars and no small set of box-office expectations; yet it's also a considered, empathetic story that, like the original, forces you to rethink what it means it be alive.”
In the same vein, Rolling Stone believes 2049 is an “instant classic” which is “on its own march to screen legend, delivers answers – and just as many new questions meant to tantalize, provoke and keep us up nights.”
USA Today praises the re-emergence of a world that that we thought had all but disappeared into the desert until now:
“2049 is the rare sequel that exceeds the original and honestly could be more important in the long run. It’s a moving, masterful movie that demands a rewatch and will wow geeks and mainstream viewers alike — so much so we probably won’t have to wait 35 years for another one.”
The Verge’s Bryan Bishop is slightly more skeptical about how relevant the sequel will stay in the future (possibly by 2049):
“Villeneuve’s film is every bit the original’s equal when it comes to breathtaking visuals and design, and Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as K, the newest blade runner on the hunt for renegade ‘skin jobs,’” he acknowledges before adding that “The film ultimately doesn’t have the resonance and pure invention of the original.”
In the realm of sequels, you need to be aware that the original is always going to be revered, but that doesn’t mean Villeneuve doesn’t display an immense amount of vision in this cyberpunk reboot. The “sequel curse” doesn’t necessarily apply, and for fans holding their breath, this seems to have turned out even better than could be expected.
Plus, even if it flops, remember that Ridley Scott’s original crashed and burned at the box office back in the 1980s.
Blade Runner 2049 soars into theaters October 6.