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Is Blade Runner 2049 even better than the classic original?


Prepare to take another mind-blowing trip into the future this Thursday as Blade Runner 2049 engulfs screens and scorches your eyeballs.

Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi sequel extends the mythology of Ridley Scott's influential 1982 classic, pitting Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford against an oppressive futuristic landscape in which the line between man and machine has become increasingly blurred.

So what have the critics made of the movie? Settle in – the responses are rather good...

Better than the original?

Simply measuring up to Scott's movie is an impressive achievement. To beat it is quite extraordinary, yet that's the opinion of Bill Bradley who raves in The Huffington Post: "There’s not a lot you can say about the new Blade Runner, except that it’s even better than the original, which is considered one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time. What Ridley Scott built in the first movie, director Denis Villeneuve turns into another masterpiece. You can shuffle through whatever phrases you’d like: tour de force, pièce de résistance, the Ford Awakens."

That's a strong start, and even though Geoffrey Macnab's review in The Independent isn't quite as definitive, he says the movie holds a candle to Scott's: "We’re in an era in which Hollywood mass produces superhero movies and every success is immediately turned into a franchise. Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 doesn't feel opportunistic at all. Like The Godfather Part II, it’s a sequel to a very celebrated film which may actually be better than the original."

Evoking the second Godfather movie is a lofty claim but it seems Villeneuve's movie justifies such comparisons. And the raves don't stop there.

World of wonder

The movie is bathed in astonishing waves of orange, pink and incandescent blue, all courtesy of remarkable cinematographer Roger Deakins. Nominated 12 times for an Oscar yet denied every single time (this is the guy who has lensed the likes of The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo and No Country for Old Men), many critics are declaring him the true genius of the movie.

Writes Peter Debruge in Variety: "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…Villeneuve and Deakins outdo themselves in depicting the topography and skylines of a vastly transformed western United States."

Says Empire's Dan Jolin: "That vast screen will swallow you up and draw you deep into an impeccably envisioned black-mirror reality that you’ll not want to leave, for all its deadly and unsavoury peculiarities. It’s so sensually impressive, it’s hard not to gush. If Deakins doesn’t win an Oscar for this, then the universe is clearly broken."

And The Telegraph's Robbie Collin says the movie's visual style opens up a whole new vista of eye-widening entertainment: "Roger Deakins’ head-spinning cinematography – which, when it’s not gliding over dust-blown deserts and teeming neon chasms, keeps finding ingenious ways to make faces and bodies overlap, blend and diffuse. I felt like I’d just seen the last blockbuster ever made. But like “Mad Max: Fury Road: before it, it shows you just how much further this medium has to go."

Star power

Ryan Gosling's enigmatic turn as new Blade Runner (named K) has also drawn raves. The actor channels his Drive moodiness in the service of a story that asks deep questions about humanity, says Brian Tallerico on "Gosling... gives one of the best performances of his career. Gosling is perfect for this part as he’s always had a vulnerability underneath the handsome façade, and he allows fear and confusion to become operating forces on K’s arc without ever overselling the deep emotion of the piece. It’s a fantastic performance, and Villeneuve draws great ones from Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas as well."

Enthuses A.O. Scott in The New York Times: "Mr. Gosling’s ability to elicit sympathy while seeming too distracted to want it — his knack for making boredom look like passion and vice versa — makes him a perfect warm-blooded robot for our time. He is also, in 2017, something close to what Harrison Ford was 35 years ago: the contemporary embodiment of Hollywood’s venerable ideal of masculine cool, a guy whose toughness will turn out to be the protective shell encasing a tender soul."

Even so, save some praise for original Blade Runner veteran Ford, returning as Rick Deckard. Deadline's Pete Hammond argues that he's the beating heart and soul of this engrossing new movie: "I wouldn’t dare talk about where K finds him, or what iconic pleasures Villeneuve and screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who wrote the original) and Michael Green have dreamed up from Philip K. Dick’s initial inspiration that led to the first film. These scenes are surreal delights, and Ford proves every inch the movie star he is. He also is a fine actor and his presence in scenes opposite the coolly effective and brooding Gosling (back in Drive mode) are there to be relished."

Book now

It's almost time to make up your own mind. Click here to book your tickets for Blade Runner 2049, opening this Thursday and don't forget to send us your immediate responses @Cineworld.

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