Bunny and I just saw “Blade Runner 2049” and I have to say, I'm conflicted—I don't know if I liked it or not. Don't get me wrong, the movie is just as visually stunning as the original Blade Runner, the cast and script are just as good if not better (exposition is handled much better than in the original).
And as a sequel, it works. There are two major versions of “Blade Runner”—the happy human Deckard and long living replicant Rachael ending, and the ambiguous, maybe human, maybe replicant Deckard and replicant Rachael with short replicant lives ending. And “Blade Runner 2049” works as a sequel to both versions. Ridley Scott, director of “Blade Runner,” has stated that he considers Deckard a replicant, while Harrison Ford, who plays Deckard in both movies, says that Deckard is not a replicant. “Blade Runner 2049” calls out that dichotomy and it's still ambiguous whether Deckard is a replicant or not.
And it's not like it's missing iconic scenes—there's the scene between Deckard and Wallace (this movie's possibly evil captialist overlord played by Jared Leto; I'm sure Deckard's saying “Her eyes were green!” will go down as a quotable moment). Then there's the scene between Lieutenant Joshi (played by Robin Wright) and replicant Luv (played by Sylvia Hoeks as this movie's Roy Batty) showing why it's not a good idea for a human to go up against a replicant, and finally the love scene between the main character “K” (played by Ryan Gosling) and his holographic girlfriend Joi (played by Ana de Armas)—that scene was completely mind blowing for how it was done.
So if the movie is so good, why am I still so conflicted? I think it comes down to mismanaged expectations. Contrary to what others may believe, I don't think “Blade Runner 2049” is even close to being neo-noir. The original “Blade Runner” was very much noir (or neo-noir if you will) with a dark tone and (in at least one version) an ambiguous ending. “Blade Runner 2049?” Not so much. Yes, it's bleak with it's post-apocalyptic feeling but the ending isn't quite so ambiguous (Deckard notwithstanding) and in fact, does have (in a way, if you squint just right), an uplifting ending (but to say more would be to spoil the movie).
So neo-noir, I don't buy.
And it doesn't feel like the type of story Philip K. Dick would write. His book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the basis for “Blade Runner” and it shows to some extent the themes that PKD writes about, there's even less of that in this movie, in my opinion. The story in “Blade Runner 2049” just doesn't seem very Philip K. Dicksian to me.
And it's those two things that have me conflicted about the movie, and they're both about my expectations of what a “Blade Runner” sequel should be.
So, it it worth seeing in the theater? Yes, if just for the cinematography alone.
Also, if you have some forty minutes to kill, there's a discussion of the movie (with spoilers! Oh are there spoilers!) with Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame), where he gives in movie evidence (using both “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049”) of why Deckard is a replicant (which works for either version of “Blade Runner”). I think it's worth listening to.