Blade Runner 2049, set three decades after Scott’s film, he has to re-create and expand Blade Runner, convincingly imagining how it might have changed over the years and reaching beyond its all-too-familiar milieu to envision the rest of its dying world.
On those counts, he succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Blade Runner 2049 is filled with mind-blowing images, with cinematographer Roger Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner giving us frame after frame of impossible, forbidding beauty: Overhead shots of a gray, cluttered Los Angeles skyline, with brief, mysterious glimmers of those iconic neon screens below; desolate, dust-blasted orange wastelands; abandoned cities stacked with ornate, neoclassical ruins; even, yes, snow. The first Blade Runner was shot by the late Jordan Cronenweth, who found moments of crystalline precision within the grime and the clutter; its world was visually striking, but also somewhat monotone. Deakins, Villeneuve and team have to stay true to the feel of that classic — the original is too beloved for them to dare reinvent it — and yet still give us something new and exceptional. They have achieved all that, and more.