If the original Blade Runner has been looked upon as a prime example of postmodern soul searching with a dash of relativism, then how to classify 2049, a sequel that is bigger/everything/more! than its precursor but also, at long last, a quality bookend? Even if the new film doesn't send viewers away with an impossible list of engagingly ponderous questions, it stirs the existing pot as well as anyone could hope, and leaves audiences fat and happy on its own particular aesthetic world building and a dour presupposition of tomorrow's U.S. West Coast.
Most years-after-the-fact sequels tend to ultimately flail in the shadow of their originals, usually becoming pesky little footnotes. (See Tron: Legacy or Texasville). Blade Runner 2049 has a better shot at canonization than most. It asks the big questions, maintains the genre-mashing tone established by Scott, and directly revisits bits and pieces from Blade Runner. It's a film for the here and now, in that it projects the question about which lives truly matter in a culture built on overt consumption and blatant exploitation.
Despite minor criticisms (and all of my criticisms are indeed minor), Villeneuve has delivered what is an undeniable visual and aural smorgasbord, something that absolutely must be experienced cinematically, and without distraction. That the latter comment must follow the former is its own sad commentary on mankind. The lonely architecture, the perpetual landscape of video walls, the persistent background droning sounds, the hum of Hans Zimmer's score, the arbitrary colors popping through it all ... it's a beautiful nightmare of a possible future, one not all that far off.
(Excerpts from Jim's full review.
Also, you can hear Jim and friends discuss the film for over 90 minutes on his YouTube show for the site ZekeFilm here).