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Despite predictions that it will struggle to find a large audience unfortunately becoming a reality – reflected in its underwhelming opening weekend take – there’s no denying this is still a sci-fi masterclass.

Maybe it’s the limited niche demographic of the cult original, the sometimes too artistic tone, the lack of general female appeal, or the nearly reaching three hour run-time that will ultimately hamper this sequel in becoming a box-office success – but it could ultimately become as beloved as the first film.

In fact, it’s actually superior in a lot of ways.

There’s definitely no doubting that esteemed director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario and Arrival) has done his homework by providing a breathtakingly stunning visual masterpiece that really encapsulates the very essence of Ridley Scott’s (who executive produces) dystopian 1982 classic – complete with sensational musical score.

He retains the neo-noir (Los Angeles crossed with Tokyo) setting – and a strong leading man in Ryan Gosling’s police officer K – as this follow-up takes place some thirty years after the events of the original, with bioengineered humans, called Replicants, being integrated into society.

K – under the tutelage of Robin Wright’s (Forrest Gump) lieutenant – is a newer ‘obeying’ model who works as a ‘blade runner’ in hunting down older model replicants, which leads him to the farm of Dave Bautista’s (Guardians of the Galaxy) rogue version early in the piece.

But what the young officer unearths is a long-buried secret – which piques the interest of Replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace’s (Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto) enforcer Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) – that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos.

This discovery sends K on a quest that leads all the way to ‘missing’ former blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford’s lead from the original), and also puts in jeopardy the life he knows – including the romantic entanglement with his beautiful female holographic companion Joi (Knock Knock’s Ana de Armas).

But even though the slow and methodical plotting won’t serve everyone’s tastes, Villeneuve does a top-notch job of intertwining 2049 seamlessly with a relevant story which superbly ties into Scott’s vision – and there’s even a cameo from Edward James Olmos to boot.

The acting is simply first class – take a bow Gosling, de Armas and Ford (we could be talking a best supporting actor nom here) – and if you’re patient and get engaged in every facet of this smart slice of filmmaking, there’s so much to enjoy here.

But a ‘date’ movie it isn’t.

There’s no doubting that Villeneuve is becoming an auteur of his craft – and one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood – with the impressive personal stamp he marks all over this film, as this undeniably runs to the top of the mountain as one of the year’s best.

Hardcore film purists need to apply.

Gavin Miller [youtube id=”dZOaI_Fn5o4″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana De Armas, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi, Edward James Olmos & Sean Young

Running Time: 2 Hrs43 Mins

Director: Denis Villeneuve

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