Harrison Ford — Returns for Blade Runner 2049 
Herald Photo / Warner Bros. Pictures
Harrison Ford — Returns for Blade Runner 2049 Herald Photo / Warner Bros. Pictures

In the pantheon of classic science-fiction films, if Blade Runner is No. 1, as some would argue, there’s an argument that Blade Runner 2049 just might be 1A.

This remarkable sequel — mysterious and mind-blowingly gorgeous, lyrical and haunting — arrives 35 years after what may have been the best film of 1982 and which is, to this point, the best picture of 2017.

In a film that makes us question our perceptions of what we believe to be reality and the ways in which we judge other people’s authenticity, this movie is the real deal.

Part of that greatness comes in the success it has in honoring its preceding classic and then upping the depth of storytelling and the wow factor to stand alone as a truly exceptional work of original art and entertainment.

In that sense, it is much like Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Is this a golden age of science-fiction at the movies or what?

It is, and Blade Runner 2049 confirms director Denis Villenueve as its current master following up his Arrival last year with this masterpiece.

There is so much to talk about with this film — and so much film, at 2 hours, 43 minutes to tell its tale — and there are so many secrets that it’s best to speak in specifics about the filmmaking and in abstractions about plot points.

Not to mention that immediately following my screening, a studio representative showed me a talking-points memo on this matter: Don’t reveal this, please don’t elaborate on that and so on regarding a half-dozen other points.

The film is a mystery at its core, and it can be spoiled in many ways, so beware those who would do so on social media.

It may be best to let the film’s official synopsis speak for it: “Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos.

“K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.”

To get up to speed, Deckard was played in the original film by Harrison Ford as a pseudo-policeman charged with finding violent, rogue “replicants” — extremely life-like biorobotic androids — and “retiring” them.

Ford returns, but the film’s focus is on the blade runner played by Ryan Gosling as K, who must “retire” a long-AWOL replicant in the opening moments who reveals a deep, dark secret.

Now it is Gosling who plays detective in the same neo-noir fashion as Ford in the first film, like a sci-fi Humphrey Bogart running up against dead ends, dames with ulterior motives and a collection of characters with violent agendas who don’t want certain truths exposed.

Like bioengineering industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto in a creepy-good mogul-as-Godlike figure performance) and his female No. 1, Luv, with Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks in a breakout performance as a lethal, intelligent, sexy and devious enforcer that is unforgettable.

The narrative is more complex this time, but it’s as easy to follow as it is to watch Gosling grind his way through this mystery set against the astounding cinematography from the eye of Roger Deakins and the stunning art that is Dennis Gassner’s production design.

We may never forget our first view of a Japanese-inspired Los Angeles fused with hardcore sci-fi urban decay as it looked in the first film, but future generations will also long marvel at the visual elements dreamed up by Villenueve and his artists here.

This is one of those game-changing films, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, that you could watch with the sound off and still spend considerable time saying “wow” out loud while you watch.

But don’t do that or you’ll miss Ford playing Deckard as a cranky veteran of life’s disappointments.

And the degree to which Gosling’s K will go, bloody and beaten for much of the film, to get answers.

And the tone that the Benjamin Wallfisch/Hans Zimmer score sets amid the unfolding twists and thrills.

Embrace all facets of Blade Runner 2049. This is true movie magic with a soul that cannot be easily replicated.