I never would guess that a sequel to Blade Runner starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford would make the original look like some kind of masterpiece by comparison. The deeply flawed original, at least, had some compelling narrative elements and methods, and a unique design sense. The sequel has a lot of great visuals and impressive loud bassy sounds (at least in my Dolby 7.1 theater), and even a few entertaining scenes.
But mostly, it’s a lot of conversations that amount to nothing — much like P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Like the Anderson flop, almost nothing happens in 2049.
Without those visuals and dynamic audio — the ambience of the film, and a little fun dramatic wrangling, we’re talking 2/10 and at nearly 3 hours, a colossal bore. As-is: 4/10. Still boring, but not as bad as nails on a chalkboard.
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A couple more comments about this movie. First, it’s another one critics swung and missed at. Same incompetence which would lead to panning Oldboy or the English version The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I reckon.
Now the whole thing about Replicants being some evil force, without ever depicting, and indeed barely explaining, why they’re such trouble. With The Terminator, you know the cyborgs are bad. In Alien, the robot is out for corporate interests at the expense of the crew. In The Matrix, humans have been enslaved by the machines. But Replicants don’t seem like much of a threat. That is the utter failure of both Blade Runner and its sequel.
One more thing: I appreciate slowness. A movie taking its time. David Lynch can just hold the frame whilst holding the audience in his grip. Kubrick, with his slow scrolls and pans, kept you enrapt. 2049‘s director Denis Villeneuve is no David Lynch, and no Kubrick. You see, that only works if you are already in the midst of compelling tale. And if you are a competent director. I liked Prisoners, but boy Villeneuve is in a slide. To the abysmal Sicario, and lame Arrival, add 2049 to the growing pile of overrated claptrap by Villeneuve.