The original was -- at the time -- a fresh look into a broken future where the sunlight didn't penetrate. Where the old -- cars, buildings, city streets -- were patched and repurposed and everything was gritty and compromised outside of the headquarters of the dominant corporations.
This new sequel is confused. There is sunlight in the opening scene. Maybe a mildly positive note that quickly is subsumed into a dreary, murky world without joy (except the artificial kind). Sure, that's true to the 1982 film and the source story, but the scenes take place above & away from the teeming streets that provided so much eye candy in BR.
Another big shift is that while the police were a somewhat equal force to the Tyrell Corp in BR, the Wallace Corp seems the ultimate authority in BR2049. This makes for a certain inevitability in the plot development.
I like Villeneuve as a director. I like his slow pacing and drawn out scenes. I like the producers' choices in casting - two particularly beautiful-to-look at artificial women and a tough, jaded police captain The leads are good. No surprise. When is Leto not great? Gosling plays a blade runner written as more jaded and less emotional than Ford's original character, and our lack of resonance with his character is distancing. It keeps us at — not in — the film.
The Vangelis score of the original was full of regret and loss in synthetic tonalities. It was a thing integral to the film and something that stuck with you long afterward. Here, the score just didn't make much of an impact - it was recycled themes.
Sequels don't have to tick all the boxes that made the original so special, but they have to bring something of significance to the party. In the original, Deckard was tracking 5 replicants and peeling back onion layers in classic noir style. In BR2049, it's a single mystery that is said to be linked to something profound, and we kinda get that on an intellectual level, but where's the emotional resonance?
In other words, there is nothing remotely like the Roy Batty death scene.
And perhaps the message of BR is just too big an idea to permit a worthy sequel. So we end up with something that - to me - was much like my experience with Prometheus. Many of the parts were there; the craft was there. The scope and budget were not compromised but the emotional hook that makes the "big idea" truly profound did not develop. 7/10