I watched the original Blade Runner for the first time the day before seeing the sequel. Initially, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I ended up enjoying it tremendously. It was a visual marvel and it was incredibly revolutionary for 1982. The sequel, which was made 35 years later, is an interesting companion to the original, even if it can’t top what the original started.
In terms of visuals, Blade Runner 2049 looks and sounds just like the original. For many sequels, that would be a demerit, but here it helps to immerse us back into a world that many of us fell in love with. While the visual effects show just how far technology has come in the past 35 years, it also somehow manages to create the feeling that no time has passed.
Although, by the end of the movie, you will be feeling that a lot of time has passed. This movie needed to be edited down significantly. It may not be the longest movie I’ve reviewed, and the pacing didn’t really bother me too much in the first two thirds, but by the time we got to the final act of the movie (which, incidentally, is the part when Harrison Ford shows up) it was dragging pretty heavily. Luckily, the visuals kept me entertained.
Now, that’s not to say that the movie is all style and no substance. Much like its predecessor, this film explores what it truly means to be human. Denis Villeneuve was the perfect choice to direct this movie, though the film can’t quite reach the same height that Arrival did. Ryan Gosling gives a solid performance as the leading man and the rest of the cast does a good job, too.
But make no mistake. The true star of this movie is Roger Deakins. After 13 Oscar losses, he throws everything he has into this movie. Every shot is beautiful. The use of color is inspired and the composition is just sheer perfection. If this doesn’t win him the Oscar, I don’t know what will.
Blade Runner 2049 might not be quite as good a film as its predecessor, but it is a very well put together film that’s a little bit smarter than your typical Hollywood sequel. I think if it had been a little shorter, it could have been a masterpiece, but as is, it’s a fine sequel that expands upon the ideas of the original.
*** out of ****