Blade Runner 2049 Reviews: The Rare Sequel That Might Surpass the Brilliance of the Original
The early social media reactions to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 before the review embargo was lifted were stellar. To get that kind of immediate positive reaction doesn’t guarantee a film’s success, but, it’s almost always a very good sign. The pre-review social media reactions are a fairly recent phenomenon (consider it wasn’t that long ago we’d have to wait for the actual reviews to find out what those paid to have opinions thought about a film), and they’ve become a decent barometer on whether that the film in question will generate the critical praise necessary for awards chatter and help foster that crucial word-of-mouth interest that can change a film’s fortunes from merely successful to a juggernaut. Way back on June 20, we had written about how Villeneuve had said he’d made his peace with the enormous expectations greeting his film. A sequel to a successful film is hard enough, but what’s even more difficult is following up an iconic film like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, one that, after some early bumps and two additional, director-approved re-cuts, became one of the most influential sci-fi films of all time.
Now that the review embargo has been lifted and critics are unleashing their full-throated appraisal of the film, we can start asking ourselves if Villeneuve has achieved the rare feat of creating a sequel to an groundbreaking film that surpasses the original. Currently sitting at 94% fresh on RottenTomatoes (the film review aggregator has been in the news lately, if you haven’t heard), critics are following up those initial social media reactions with lavish praise on Villeneuve, his cast, and the work of his ace crew, including cinematographer Roger Deakins. We’ve brought together a few teasers from those reviews to give you a glimpse at what the top critics are saying. We have edited out any potential spoilers, and are providing links in case you’re the type of person who likes to read a full review before seeing the film yourself.
Slate’s Dana Stevens writes that “this new Blade Runner dazzles the audience with plenty of staggering sights.”
The New York Times A.O. Scott writes about how Blade Runner 2049 offers something to think about, to feel, and even more to see.
Entertainment Weekly‘s Leah Greenblatt says that “2049 reaches for, and finds, something remarkable: the elevation of mainstream moviemaking to high art.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy calls the film “a voluptuous mood bath that’s impressively sustained from beginning to end.”
RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico writes that the film is “one of the most deeply philosophical and challenging sci-fi films of all time.”
The Washington Post‘s Michael O’Sullivan says that “the special effects are impeccable, and include sequences that blur the line, evocatively, between what’s real and unreal,” and that the sequel “honors—and surpasses—the original.”
It seems as if Villeneuve’s met the enormous expectations for the film. You can’t please all the people all the time, of course, but this kind of reaction to a film with this much pressure on it to live up to the original is remarkable. Blade Runner 2049 opens a midnight tomorrow, and it is a film you’ll want to see, whether you adored the original or are just a casual sci-fi filmgoer interested in what all the hub-bub is about.
Featured image: Ryan Gosling in Blade Runer 2049. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures