10:36am PT by Meena Jang
'Blade Runner 2049': What the Critics Are Saying
Decades following the release of Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Blade Runner, the reviews for its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, are in — and most critics are lauding the film as just as good as its predecessor (though perhaps without the shock factor).
Little is known about the plot, but Blade Runner 2049 picks up 30 years after Scott's 1982 original, and introduces Ryan Gosling as K, a detective tasked with tracking down artificial lifeforms known as Replicants. Along the way, he also seeks out Deckard (Harrison Ford, reprising his role from the original).
The Denis Villeneuve-directed film currently boasts a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and is expected to open to $40 million or more at the North American box office when it hits theaters Oct. 6.
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy commended the "entrancingly immoderate work" in his review, saying the highly anticipated sequel "achieves something very close to the same narcotic effect with a voluptuous mood bath that's impressively sustained from beginning to end."
He noted that "what Blade Runner 2049 inevitably lacks compared to its progenitor is a sense of the shock of the new, perhaps the principal factor that made the original so important to its fans at the time." In place of that, the film offers "the shock of the old" in the re-emergence of Ford, who "really delivers with a ragingly physical performance that bursts the film's exquisite languor."
In terms of audience reception, McCarthy pointed out that the film's whopping 164-minute runtime will likely have viewers wondering where the storyline is heading and "how long it's going to take to get there."
Rolling Stones' Peter Travers called the sequel an "instant classic," praising "every minute of this mesmerizing mindbender" as "a visual feast to gorge on."
Travers predicted the underlying theme of 2049 may have new meaning in Trump's America: "The film takes on a resonance that is both tragic and hopeful. It turns out that the theme of what it means to be human hasn't lost its punch, certainly not in a Trumpian era when demands are made on dreamers to prove their human worth."
USA Today's Brian Truitt shared similar sentiments about the "super-stylish and deeply human" movie, which he dubbed "the best film so far this year."
"The spectacular follow-up takes the detective story of the first film and turns it into a grand mythology of identity, memory, creation and revolution," Truitt's review reads. "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."
Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote the film "offers a similarly ruminative pace" as the original, though he notes that it's "a little wobbly and synthetic on story."
Phillips noted that "there are times when Villeneuve could’ve taken care of some basic storytelling and rhythmic needs while establishing the peculiar, suffocating, brilliantly imagined visual universe on screen," but in the end, "a moviegoer can forgive a lot in a movie, when the movie offers so much to see."
Forbes' Scott Mendelson had differing views on Villeneuve's followup, saying it "takes forever to go nowhere special" and was underwhelming in comparison to Scott's original. Pointing out the film's overly long runtime as a deterrent, he explained, "The picture, filled with intriguing sights, low-key performances and a few interesting ideas, is drawn out to the point of self-parody."
2049 doesn't measure up to the "visual imagination of Dark City or Ex Machina," he noted. "Blade Runner showed us things we wouldn't believe, which in 1982 was enough to make it a must-see movie. But 35 years later, showing us the incredible is par for the course, meaning that even a visual delight must justify itself in terms of story and character."