Every person I know who is a sci-fi nerd has seen Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, it's become a right of passage viewing for anyone wanting to make a science fiction film. I for one felt underwhelmed by it, again like many films it felt over-hyped for me. I loved the visuals and atmosphere, but I wasn't as engaged in the story.
Now the sequel is finally here and the buzz is almost deafening, which is why I avoided all reviews before seeing this film. Denies Villeneuve is one of the most praised filmmakers in Hollywood right now and rightly so, with the likes of 'Arrival' and 'Sicario' to name a few, he has made some of the most intelligent blockbusters of recent memory, multiply him with the talents of Ryan Gosling, returning Harrison Ford, a Hans Zimmer score and the cinematography of Rodger Deakins? I'm in.
This film is visually astonishing and I don't use that word lightly. Deakins cinematography is so good that it's hard to even believe a human being can achieve it. The use of colour, the use of shadow and the framing not only looks impeccable, but also fits the atmosphere beautifully. Deakins, Villeneuve and Zimmer are all working at the top of their craft, creating one of the most atmospheric films to date. The visual effects are some of the most impressive you will see in any film, it's honestly outstanding. I could not even tell you most of what is practical and what is CG in this film. The best asset this film has is the display of pure talent that from it's filmmakers.
However, despite the impressive technical aspects of the film I found it quite hard to engage in the story of the film, there are points in the story which completely drew me in, however more often than not I felt uninterested in the events going on. This may be due to the films pacing, as the film has to do a balancing act between the story, themes and characters. If the film had a simpler story, but had a larger focus of the themes and characters then I feel like I would be more engaged. The film does make a good effort to be more thematic and character based in the second half, which is the parts of the story I felt more engaged in, however I wish the film was almost entirely thematic and ditched the heavy handed plot. I know that wouldn't please most people, but for me it's difficult to be invested in a plot which feels rather uneven.
Overall Blade Runner is a sequel that I mostly enjoyed and think clearly succeeds as it is true to the original, while exploring it's world further. For me I like it as much as the first. Both films I have a lot of respect and admiration for, however I am not blown away by either of them. Underwhelming? maybe, but very far removed from disappointing.