Early reviews for Blade Runner 2049 praise the sequel as a modern classic that lives up to the standard set by its iconic predecessor. Released in 1982, the original Blade Runner initially garnered a polarizing critical response and struggled at the box office. However, the film's reputation has improved exponentially over the last several decades. Now, Blade Runner is considered one of the best sci-fi films ever made, becoming an instrumental cornerstone of the genre that has inspired a plethora of other works in one way or another. For this reason, many were curious to see how the followup would shape up amidst the anticipation.
With Oscar-nominated Arrival director Denis Villeneuve leading a talented cast that includes the likes of Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, the pieces were in place for something special. Fortunately, it appears Blade Runner 2049 very much lives up to the hype. Following the first press screenings, reaction on social media was through the roof, with some calling it a masterpiece. Viewers will be happy to hear that the full reviews match the enthusiasm of those earlier tweets, and by all accounts, Villeneuve has delivered one of 2017's best.
We have assembled a collection of SPOILER FREE excerpts from published reviews below. Those interested in reading the full reviews can click on the corresponding links.
IGN - Scott Collura
Villeneuve (along with his screenwriters Hampton Fancher, back from the original film, and Michael Green) has made the kind of movie that seems almost impossible to pull off these days: a $100-million-plus extravaganza that’s more art film than cookie-cutter action spectacle. Shot by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, every image in 2049 is gorgeous and dripping with color, life, and feeling. Indeed, the film’s nearly three-hour running time may seem daunting to those going in, but it’s mostly earned, allowing the director to fully realize the mood and atmosphere of the piece.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde
Villeneuve is one of the rare commercial filmmakers who’s not afraid of stillness and silence, and if anything, he goes a little overboard with his lugubriousness at times; the film runs just shy of three hours and could stand to lose a few moments of moody staring. Not that the filmmaker, working once again with editor Joe Walker, doesn’t craft many moments of breathless tension; the early scene between K and Morton ratchets up suspense merely by having a simmering pot on the stove, making us wonder what’s in there and whether it might be used as a weapon.
EW - Leah Greenblatt
Villeneuve, one of the few filmmakers working today for whom the word auteur doesn’t sound like an unearned affectation, may have fallen a little too in love with his own creation; at two hours and 40 minutes, aesthetic shock and awe eventually outpace the narrative. But how could he not, when nearly every impeccably composed shot — a surreal six-handed love scene; a shimmering hologram of Elvis, hip-swiveling into eternity; a “newborn” replicant, slick with amniotic goo — feels like such a ravishing visual feast? Even when its emotions risk running as cool as its palette, 2049 reaches for, and finds, something remarkable: the elevation of mainstream moviemaking to high art.
THR - Todd McCarthy
All manner of superlatives can and will be bestowed upon the fabulous design and technical hands who contributed to the film's spectacular look, which is consistent with the original just as it expands upon it. In addition to the extraordinary work of Deakins and Gassner, special citations are warranted for Renee April's keen-eyed costume design, which is persuasively more rooted in the real world than in some sci-fi universe, and John Nelson's gargantuan visual effects.
Variety - Peter Debruge
Together with DP Roger Deakins (in the most spectacular of their three collaborations) and a gifted team of design artists (led by “Spectre” production designer Dennis Gassner), Villeneuve offers a bracing vision of where humankind is headed, iconically lit in amber, neon hues and stark fluorescent white. Those are not necessarily the colors one associates with film noir. But then, “Blade Runner 2049” could hardly be considered a conventional example of the style, using its obligatory blaster-pistol shootouts and gymnastic hand-to-hand combat (nods to the original) to lend excitement to its more profound philosophical agenda — aided by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer’s atmospheric score, which features a few nice synth jazz stretches, but leans more on bass-vibrating Dolby flatulence than what might typically be called music.
IndieWire - Eric Kohn
Blade Runner 2049 may not reinvent the rules for blockbuster storytelling, but it manages to inject the form with the ambitions of high art, maintaining a thrilling intensity along the way. It also addresses many of the questions posed by the first movie, even as it dances around complete explanations, ending with a degree of closure while leaving the next phase of the story open-ended. It poses endearing big ideas — who’s real, and what’s reality, anyway? — without landing on any firm answers. The brilliance of Blade Runner 2049 is that it makes the questions worth asking, positioning them in a menacing universe that’s nevertheless a joy to revisit.
Den of Geek - Ryan Lambie
How miraculous, then, that Blade Runner 2049 emerges not only as a film that complements the original - and arguably deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Ridley Scott’s seminal masterpiece - but also stands as a spectacular story all by itself. Denis Villeneuve, who previously directed the likes of Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival, is again on career-best form here; he’s joined by a group of actors and filmmakers who are all operating at the height of their own creative powers.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Blade Runner 2049's technical merits were universally praised. One look at any of the trailers or TV spots illustrated the production design and visual effects were state-of-the-art, fully immersing viewers in the futuristic - yet practical - world. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins received high marks once again, crafting breathtaking imagery that perhaps only he could achieve. No doubt, many cinephiles will be hoping this is the year he wins his long-awaited Oscar, cementing a career of incredible work. From the sound of it, Blade Runner 2049 brings plenty of substance to complement its impressive style with a story that's as thematically rich and compelling as fans would expect. Plus, the cast is said to be in excellent form, including Harrison Ford - who delivers another compelling performance as one of his classic characters.
The only real criticism that could be found in these write-ups is that the 2.5 hour runtime can feel a little long at times, but many are in agreement Villeneuve earns it with a film that's a wonder to behold on the big screen. With this kind of acclaim, it will be interesting to see if Blade Runner 2049 can make any kind of noise on the awards circuit (aside from the tech categories, of course). It wasn't that long ago works like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian earned Best Picture nominations, and Villeneuve's own Arrival was embraced by the Academy as well. In a wide open Oscar race, anything is possible, and Blade Runner could find itself as one of the ones to beat.
Sources: Various (see links)
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) release date: Oct 06, 2017
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