Blade Runner 2049 is gonna polarize the multiplex crowd.
At one end of the reaction-spectrum will be those who bemoan it's slow pace and gargantuan running-time; it's emotional remoteness and cerebral preoccupations; it's emphasis on mood and ideas rather than action and melodrama. That last one, I think, will be the real litmus test for many in the audience; 2049 is sci-fi spectacle for viewers who find Hollywood's usual sci-fi spectacles too sensationalized and explosiony.
We, at this other end of the reaction-spectrum, will revel in the film's total commitment to building an alternate reality (to which the pacing becomes integral); the trust it places in the viewer to make sense of that world (including its oppressive sense of human disconnection); and the performances that lend a fragile humanity to the artificial (the emotions are definitely there if only one pays attention).
The overlap between these two camps will be that everyone can agree the film is a visual masterwork. Nobody, I think, will deny that the cinematography, art direction, and special effects are anything less than dazzling. Even if the story does nothing for you, images this supremely crafted demand to be experienced in a cinema, and are worth the price of admission alone. The soundtrack's magnificently brooding rumble, too, is what surround sound was made for.
It's as richly atmospheric as future-fantasy gets, a head-trip to another time and place, a noirish reckoning with our symbiotic relationship to technology. As someone who's always admired the original Blade Runner without truly loving it, I found the sequel both worthy and impressive, a fitting expansion of that classic for a new generation. It'll bore some people to tears and hold others, me included, utterly spellbound.
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