When a sequel to "Blade Runner" was announced, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone outside of the entertainment industry who thought that was a good idea.
The original had become such a classic science-fiction film that a sequel - especially a sequel at a time when sequels already saturate what Hollywood releases - was an affront to fans. There were simply some movies that fans deemed off limits to both sequels and reboots.
Even when Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival") signed on to direct, there was still reticence.
Those worries proved to be all for naught.
"Blade Runner 2049" is the rare kind of sequel that honors the original source while still offering something more - something new - without having to rely on nostalgia.
You're also unlikely to see another film quite like it this year.
I'm also assuming, by the meager box office weekends for the film, that most people have yet to see "2049." The studio seems focused on changing that - Warner Bros. has increased its social media and TV presence to tell viewers what critics and bloggers have to say about the film.
And what they're saying is wildly positive.
I won't be going against the grain in this review, either.
Villeneuve found success in crafting what could have been a rather involved story in "Arrival," and he has the same kind of pace and atmospheric storytelling in "2049."
This means the pace may be a little slower than what audiences are used to in big budget flicks. It clocks in at almost 3 hours for a runtime, though that's hardly rare among blockbusters nowadays (and you don't feel it as keenly as when you watch ... let's say ... any of the "Transformers" movies).
In writing a spoiler-free review for the film, it's easy to see why studios may have a hard time with marketing it. It's clear that "2049" is a feast for the eyes, with the type of visuals and atmosphere that you simply can't find in movies anymore.
At the same time, you can't reveal the bulk of the plot without getting into spoiler territory.
A Blade Runner (Ryan Gosling) is once again investigating a case, and his era of work comes years after a rebellion in which replicants fought for autonomy. There's quick enough exposition in the beginning of the film to set the stage, but what comes after that reveals too much of the story.
While I can't say I was as astounded or surprised by the story in "2049" as I was in "Arrival," the film keeps a steady guesswork to keep you invested in what happens. It may keep you preoccupied enough that you won't realize Harrison Ford doesn't make an appearance in the film until rather late in the game, despite his name being top billed with Gosling's.
The film is not without its flaws - the "villains" aren't quite fleshed out, and their purpose for their Terminator-like pursuit seems too simple for a movie that tries to make you question everyone's reality. But for a movie that had to tackle the question of how to proceed after "Blade Runner," "2049" answers in a way that feels like a natural progression without ever losing the goal of being its own film.