HOW do you go about revisiting a cult classic that is considered a neo noir masterpiece?

Along with Alien, Blade Runner was one of the films of the late 70s and early 80s that announced British director Ridley Scott as a major new talent in Hollywood.

But Scott’s recent obsession with delving back into his glory days with the quasi Alien prequels, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant has led to patchy results at best. So fans of Blade Runner have been holding their breath for some time – especially since it has been a good 35 years since the original Philip K. Dick story was released.

Thankfully fans had nothing to fear because Blade Runner 2049 is not just a solid sequel but one of the most stunning movies of the year that ties in with the 1982 story – based on Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – in interesting and unexpected ways.

The real coup here was having Denis Villeneuve in the director’s chair whose reputation as a filmmaker has been rapidly growing since the release of Sicario and last year’s Arrival. Many frowned when Blade Runner 2049’s runtime of two hours 40 minutes was announced but the masterful pacing and the way the plot unfolds keeps you absolutely immersed throughout.

The way the film looks is also a staggering accomplishment – arguably one of the most visually arresting films of 2017 enhanced by an intense soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.

Set 30 years after the original, the film takes place in an oppressive, post-apocalyptic world where bioengineered humans called replicants have been integrated into society and workplaces to ensure humanity’s continued survival. But they are nevertheless looked down upon as lesser beings.

K, a newer model replicant, works as a ‘blade runner’ for the LAPD, hunting down rogue replicants who have gone off the grid. But a grim discovery threatens to plunge what is left of society into chaos and leads K (Ryan Gosling) to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who has been missing for three decades.

The story plays out – in both style and substance – in the best tradition of detection fiction and film noir...only set in a dystopian future LA. And although some parts of the plot are too neatly sewn together, the film’s potent themes about what it means to be human, prejudice and control will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

RATING: 9/10