'Blade Runner 2049' brings a cult hit back to the big screen

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News stars for a new decade

Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young: Those were the "Blade Runner" stars of 1982. "Blade Runner 2049" features Canadian Ryan Gosling and Cuban Ana de Armas in the leading rolls (pictured above in a spaceship). The new film links back to its predecessor, though it enlivens the story with new elements in hopes of attracting a new generation of movie-goers that is not familiar with the original.

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The cult classic from 1982

Surprisingly, "Blade Runner 2049" is even gloomier than its predecessor. Despite its dark setting, the 1982 version also featured noticeably bright colors, such as in the above scene with artificial humans and puppets. The 2017 version is radical in its cool-toned visual construction. Pale yellows, blues and grays dominate, and there are many foggy and nighttime scenes.

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The bleak world of 2049

The plot of "Blade Runner 2049" picks up 30 years after the events of its prequel. In the intervening years, the world was struck by atomic catastrophes and nuclear fallout. The viewer once again meets a Blade Runner (Gosling) – an officer who hunts artificial humans known as replicants. And, as in the 1982 film, the same question arises: What is the value of a human? And of a replicant?

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Denis Villeneuve in the footsteps of Ridley Scott

The stakes are high when filming a movie sequel some 35 years after the original cult hit that, meanwhile, has earned millions of global fans. But in this instance the gamble paid off. The producers of "Blade Runner 2049" chose well in picking world-renowned French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve to make the film. Ridley Scott, director of the 1982 original, served as an executive producer.

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Humans of the future in the Future Museum

The story that "Blade Runner 249" tells is as complex as it is simple. Complex, because the story picks up plot threads from the old film, varying them and developing them further. But also simple, because the new film fundamentally addresses the same questions as in 1982: How do humans deal with artificial intelligence? And how humanely do they interact with replicants?

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'Blade Runner 2049': a darker and more dangerous world

In 1982, "Blade Runner" set the standard for artistic design and special effects, primarily through its imaginative vision of a near future set in global super cities. Far less of human life in such cities can be seen in the new film, in part because environmental pollution and nuclear catastrophes have wrapped the earth in an impenetrable fog.

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Harrison Ford is back

Harrison Ford was at the pinnacle of his career in 1982. Five years before "Blade Runner," the American actor starred as Han Solo in "Star Wars," and in 1981 he played Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The producers and director of "Blade Runner 2049" placed a visibly older Ford once more before the camera, giving him a perfectly tailored role that leaves behind a strong impression.

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Ryan Gosling on the side of Ford

However, the lead actor of "Blade Runner 2049" is Canadian Ryan Gosling, who is some 40 years younger than Ford. The two have to flee side-by-side more than once in the new film. Gosling most recently showed off his acting chops as a sensitive musician in the worldwide hit "La La Land." He gives a similarly convincing performance in "Blade Runner 2049" through reduced, sparse expressivity.

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A successful sequel

Over the past years, many experts and film connoisseurs warned against a "Blade Runner" sequel. Hollywood's attempts at new film installments often ended up as artistic shipwrecks. But the new "Blade Runner" is anything but the typical, heartless sequel spawned by the commercial machinery of Hollywood's biggest studios. It qualifies as a singular artistic cinematic work.

For many film fans, "Blade Runner 2049" is the most anticipated release of 2017. But the new movie's roots go back to 1982, when director Ridley Scott created the original science fiction cult classic.