Blade Runner 2049: Brilliant, astounding and everything it needed to be
This might be the most difficult review I've had to write.
Partly because it requires... no... it demands that I keep this spoiler free. Once you see Blade Runner 2049, you will know why.
The other reason is that my internal conversation - even hours after viewing - is more like trying to get some sense from a seven-year-old fuelled by a candy floss and cola sugar high who has just experienced his very first rollercoaster.
Everything is at full strength, and while it is by no means an action film, it is thrilling.
It is brilliant. It is astounding. It is utterly beautiful. And if you are a fan of the original, it is everything you hoped it would be.
The acting (ace), the sets (stunning), the sound (other-worldly), the fashion (want it), the look, the colours, the script, the questions it raises, the... everything.
There is just so much going on - and yet it is not bloated.
There is an immense amount of skill at work here.
Okay, the basics.
The world was bad enough in 2019 (when Ridley Scott's 1982 original is set). Crowded, polluted, joyless. But it's Disneyland compared to the vision of 2049.
Ryan Gosling is Officer K - a Blade Runner who hunts down bio-engineered humans known as replicants. He makes a discovery that puts him on a dangerous path that brings up ghosts of the past and threatens the status quo of an already fragile world.
If that seems vague, this is a case where knowing just a little will detract from your enjoyment.
While it has its core DNA in the original, it is still a sci-fi noir. It is still a detective story. But thankfully, this is also a new beast.
Director Denis Villeneuve and writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have taken what could have just been a series of fan service moments and winks to the 1982 film and created a story that builds on the events of three decades ago.
It's almost as though this is part three, and there's a whole second act we did not get to see.
Considering it is a very quiet film in places (talkers and texters should stay home) during its two-and-three-quarter-hour running time, it is never dull.
Villeneuve knows how to use silence as a weapon of tension.
It says a lot of Ridley Scott that he agreed to hand over the reins of (arguably) his greatest film to another director.
Villeneuve's work contains the best of visual maestros like Kubrick and Tarkovsky, but like Scott's best work, he remembers to put the human first.
If you find the runtime daunting, be prepared because this film stays with you. It haunts you (in a good way).
If you aren't recalling the lush visuals, the plot will keep you thinking long after you ditch your popcorn.
This is a film where everyone involved brought their A+ game.
While it's arguable that Jared Leto's approach (as a sinister rich genius) is a tad obvious, it brims with great performances.
And it is great to see Harrison Ford visibly invested in a film again.
As for the visuals, you can only hope that there's a version of the film that is a walkthrough of the different locations.
And then there are the sounds. The original's iconic music by Vangelis makes some appearances, but the new... noise?... by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer blurs the lines between diegetic alien-industrial horns and score.
Also if Roger Deakins does not get the Oscar for cinematography this time around, the Academy will have effectively declared itself useless.