(Posted this on the O/T section of board, was not aware of this discussion going on so reposted over here)
Finally got around to catching Blade Runner 2049 and since we are debating The Last Jedi thought I'd throw down a few thoughts.
Will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, there is at least one really good curve ball I did not see coming!
My initial thoughts are the movie is a worthy successor to the original.
The actors were all outstanding, who knew Gosling could be a serious actor? The supporting cast was superb; Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks even Dave Bautista all turn in outstanding performances. As far as the acting goes my only question would be in regards to Harrison Ford whom I'm not sure if he is actually channeling the character Deckard or is just playing typical grumpy Harrison Ford. Still a good turn for him in a role he hated, he does manage to put some emotion on screen time to time. Again, not sure if playing stoic Deckard or grumpy Ford.
Edward James Olmos return as Gaff was a welcome surprise. Leto and Ana were captivating and always a treat when on screen. Some genuinely riveting moments is all I'll say. Sylvia Hoeks role was interesting and well done. If I had a quibble with casting it would have been nice to see Rutger Hauer in a cameo in some capacity. He was a replicant after all and as far as I'm concerned pretty much dominated every scene he was in the original movie. A specific nod to "Roy Batty" would have been awesome since he contributed so much to the original.
The plot- The plot is a little bare in spots but moves right along, too much luck in some chain of events IMHO and some of the plot points were slightly weak. Still for current Hollywood fare it was fairly solid and a second viewing might make me revise that opinion. Like the original you might spot something you missed the first time around and pick up additional subtext with a repeat viewing. There is a lot of subtle stuff going on at times! Action scenes were well done and dialogue was generally good with only one or two odd lines.. by Ford. Intentional to reflect his situation? Perhaps.
One measure I use to tell if a movie has lost pacing or grip on the audience is if I check my watch during viewing, I can recall only doing so once and the 2.5+ hours moved smartly along. Some surprises were in store.. all I'll say is the proffered bribe to a character towards the back half of the movie was outstanding, totally unexpected and well done.
I can't say if the movie stands alone without the prior entry, I'm all too familiar with Blade Runner (1982) after at least a half dozen viewings to offer a really objective opinion. I'd like to say yes as they do a foreword explaining some prior events, but not sure if it is enough for new audiences. I'd say watching the first would improve the experience, the movie has a lot of subtext going for it.
The music- Very evocative of the original movie while not a direct copy, it was well used and well done.
Visuals- The world of Blade Runner 2049 has a futuristic dystopian look to it much like the original but something is missing. Again, as a stand alone movie without prior viewing of the first movie I think a new viewer would find it acceptable but compared to the original there is some element of atmosphere and visuals that are missing from the picture.
The special effects are crisp and well done but they can't hold a candle to the overall visuals in Blade Runner. Ridley Scott for all his current failings as a weak storyteller (Prometheus and Covenant for example) his visuals are generally SUPERB and BR:2049 while evocative of the original just doesn't pull it off in my honest opinion. There is just something missing I can't put my finger on. The sets and props were great reflecting the worn and battered world of BR:2049 but some aspect of visuals was just not there as the original. Denis Villeneuve does an decent job directing here but I see nothing in his fairly short list of 9 movies that jumps out as spectacular or even memorable.
Well worth viewing if you enjoy a movie with some meat on its bones or a fan of the original.
Trivia- The Millennium Falcon makes a cameo in the original movie.