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‘Blade Runner 2049’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

Reviews of director Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” are flooding in, and they are (almost) all glowing.

The follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic “Blade Runner” has earned an impressive 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics claiming that “2049” may even surpass the original. Variety‘s Peter Debruge raves that the film “delves deep into the existential concerns suggested by the earlier film, as screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who also co-wrote the original) and Michael Green raise evocative questions about human-android relations and the nuances that will one day be used to tell them apart.”

Check out what the critics are saying before the movie hits theaters Oct. 6:

Variety‘s Peter Debruge:

“Whereas it took five different versions for Ridley Scott to satisfyingly answer the question raised by Philip K. Dick’s speculative-fiction novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (four of which suggest the director himself didn’t quite recognize what was most fascinating about his own film), Villeneuve gets it right on his first attempt, operating from the premise that when androids dream, their innermost desire is to be human. Following that thread to its natural conclusion, Villeneuve has crafted a slick, 21st-century Pinocchio story, in which a replicant yearns to be a real boy — although that’s just one facet of the film’s many dimensions. Make no mistake: Whereas the original ‘Blade Runner’ was (eventually) embraced for its unrealized potential, its sequel ranks as one of the great science-fiction films of all time.”

IndieWire’s Eric Kohn:

“The imagery’s poetic intensity extends to the effects, most notably in a sex scene involving a hologram, but it also comes into play with a callback to the earlier movie too remarkable to spoil here. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s low, ominous score works in congress with a stunning sound design that regularly steals the show: Every gunshot, explosion, or abrupt assertion pierces the air like a crescendo in this movie’s constant build towards the menacing possibilities that lurk at the end of every scene. As much as it registers as an indictment of technology, those same forces transform the movie into a whole new world.”

Entertainment Weekly’s 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.”

Rolling Stones’ Peter Travers:

“When K and Deckard finally meet – Gosling and Ford are double dynamite together – 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. ‘Blade Runner 2049,‘ on its own march to screen legend, delivers answers – and just as many new questions meant to tantalize, provoke and keep us up nights. Would you have it any other way?”

Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips:

“Like the first one, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ doesn’t conform to usual action beats or audience expectations of science-fiction thrillers. It’s a workmanlike screenplay at best. Most of the female characters could be described (as my editor did) as mere apps, and 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.”

Consequence of Sound’s Clint Worthington:

“As much ballyhoo will (and should) be made about ‘2049’’s brilliantly realized futuristic world, the care and attention taken to its roster of tightly-coiled, emotional performances should not be ignored. Gosling acquits himself well as Ford’s effective successor, carrying himself with a similar world-weariness toward his job. Over time, as the progress of the mystery has unexpected effects on his understanding of the world, Gosling imbues K with a trembling vulnerability. In a world of concrete, steel, and neon, it’s positively electric to begin seeing the cracks of humanity forming in Gosling’s otherwise ‘Drive’-like stoicism. Ford, meanwhile, makes the most of his limited screen time, giving us an old Deckard not unlike his old Han Solo from ‘The Force Awakens’ – worn down and more than a little grumpy, but made more earnest by the miracles he’s witnessed in the intervening years.”

Still, others didn’t think the film matched the grandeur of the original.

“Careful, dutiful, and beautiful, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ cannot achieve the sublime slipperiness of Scott’s masterpiece. Whether it even needs to is up to you.”

Vulture’s David Edelstein:

“I imagine most audiences will like the film, though it has nothing as striking as Hauer’s morbid majesty or the screaming-dervish demise of Daryl Hannah’s Pris. There’s nothing close to the shock of seeing ‘Blade Runner’s’ Tokyo-influenced futuristic dystopia — a dismal mix of high-tech and corrosion — for the first time. I thought it was okay.”

The only “rotten” review currently on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page comes from Forbes.

Forbes’ Scott Mendelson:

“‘Blade Runner 2049’ takes forever to go nowhere special. The picture, filled with intriguing sights, low-key performances and a few interesting ideas, is drawn out to the point of self-parody. Like the first ‘Blade Runner,’ it masks a thin story and little in the way of momentum with towering visuals and self-seriousness. But the filmmaking world has changed in 35 years, and the mere ability to put incredible sights and sounds onscreen is no longer in itself a pass for deficiencies elsewhere.”

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