There is no talking about a sequel to a sci-fi classic without bringing up its roots. The original Blade Runner was science fiction come to life in the form of a noir movie. The plot was paper thin but the world was as deep as the ocean. The iconic music, sound design, cinematography, and world building cemented that movie as a science fiction legend. I watched Blade Runner before seeing its sequel and the artistry holds up but is obviously dated. For all the clamor about it being spectacular, I did not see all of it. The music, the tone, the world building was there, but not its commentary on humanity. Instead, I saw its message about life, not just about being human. But the scraps of philosophy did not redeem that movie in my eyes. I didn't see how Deckard could even be considered a replicant and I couldn't see the heart that everyone said the movie had.
This disconnect might be attributed to the original Blade Runner having three different cuts for people to watch. There is a theatrical cut, director's cut, and a final cut. I personally watched the final cut so my perspective of the first movie stems from that. The theory that Deckard is a replicant himself manifested from the director's cut and the theatrical cut is very famous for having a voice over that is absent from the other cuts of the movie. The voice over being a point of contention for the fans of the original movie. I believe that some of the things I liked about the first movie might have been ruined if there was a voice over.
So now that the groundwork is set, let's get into Blade Runner 2049. To start off, the movie is a visual and audio masterpiece. Like I said before, the audio was great in the first movie and that fact continues here. It had a soft and loud quality that really embedded itself into the movie. I don't think it was as great as the original but still good in its own right. The cinematography was amazing. Every frame could not have been a still photo but could be a short gif that you could watch on loop for hours. These qualities had to have been in the movie because it wouldn't be a Blade Runner movie without them. Something that wasn't in the first movie that is in this one is good acting.
Ryan Gosling is amazing in this movie. The movie really pulls you in and Gosling is a big part of that process. He holds the movie so well and is very reminiscent of Harrison Ford's ability to hold the first movie. He is, like Ford was, very alone. It almost feels like the Ryan Gosling show in the best possible ways. His performance fits so well with the pure artistry on display. Every other character and actor just doesn't compare, or pretty much not matter at all. This for me was great to see but might bother others that were excited to see actors like Ford or Jared Leto get to show off their acting chops.
There are a ton of problems that other reviews are having with the movie. Some well-founded and others I didn't even notice. The only things that jumped out at me were two very specific things. The first being that there is a scene in the movie that is almost exactly the same as in Her. Her is a beautiful sci-fi movie that came out in 2013, but Blade Runner 2049 takes a scene from that movie and copies it almost one to one. The second thing that jumped out to me was the dedication taken to make sure this movie followed in the footsteps of the original.
Blade Runner 2049 is built on top of the first Blade Runner. The sprawling city, the music, and atmosphere are all there. The moral ambiguity is held strong. No one being a good guy or bad guy. All the characters have goals and they want to achieve them. It gives no definitive answers to old questions and is probably the best sequel you could have asked for.
Overall Blade Runner 2049 is a visual and audio masterpiece. It went from the first movie reveling in the atmosphere and foregoing story, to the sequel focusing more on character but still making sure the world was as deep as possible. I loved it from an art standpoint but as an enjoyable movie, it just wasn't there for me. I can't point to something specific but the problem stems from the last third act. Basically, when Deckard shows up, the movie slowly descends into not being as enjoyable. Still really great to be a part of though.