Blade Runner 2049 is a visual stunner. It draws you into a futuristic world of dystopian cityscapes and crazy colors, where flying cars, angry androids and giant naked holograms jostle for space in the sooty smog and torched environment.

Director Denis Villeneuve and crew have lovingly embraced the weird, neo noir, sci-fi vibe of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner from 1982 and extended its bleak conception of the future to the mid-21st century. It’s a time when people and “Replicants” (exceedingly human-like robots) co-exist and you’re never quite sure which is which.

In terms of its look and tone, Blade Runner 2049 is a jaw-dropper. Pencil it in for Oscar nominations for cinematography (Roger Deakins), production design (Dennis Gassner), sound editing and visual effects. The hyper-talented Deakins, who worked with Villeneuve on the taut thrillers Sicario and Prisoners, creates a master class in light and shadows. He juxtaposes pulsating yellows and ambers with stark whites and the sorrowful grays of an industrial wasteland.

Coming 35 years after the original film, fans have three basic questions: Is it a suitable sequel to the mind-blowing original? Does Harrison Ford make more than just a cameo appearance? Is it a sci-fi masterpiece?

Yes. Yes. And not quite.

No. 1: Blade Runner 2049 is exceedingly faithful to Scott’s original, with nods to key story lines and characters.

No. 2: Ford, does indeed make more than a passing appearance as Rick Deckard, the beleaguered ex-cop who chased down Replicants back in Blade Runner’s world of 2019.

No 3: The one area it comes up short in is dramatic payoff. There are not enough propulsive moments to get hearts beating, and it can be somewhat lumbering during its extended two hours and 43 minutes.

Although screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who also co-wrote the original) and Michael Green weave an intriguing framework for a detective-story puzzle, there are so many moving parts that we don’t dive deep enough into any one character.

We do, however, have an excellent guide: Ryan Gosling.

Gosling stars as K, an LAPD officer and blade runner who reports to Lt. Joshi (a no-nonsense Robin Wright). K stumbles upon a discovery that could change the whole humans-Replicants equation, but as he digs deeper, he incurs the ire of Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), head of the corporation that has “perfected” Replicants to make them more compliant. As the trail heats up, K must elude Wallace’s top assistant and henchwoman, counterintuitively named Luv (an icy Sylvia Hoeks).

With the help of his own loyal assistant, Joi (Ana de Armas), Officer K travels to San Diego, now a trash dump for Greater Los Angeles, and eventually Las Vegas, where the strip has been stripped of its color, but holograms of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra occasionally flicker to life as staticky reminders of the city’s glitzy glories.

The film artistry is remarkable at times, but Villeneuve also stumbles with moments that are cruel to or exploitative of women that don’t really serve the story. I should also mention the score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch: It is not so much music as seat-rattling power blasts, like being inside the horn of an 18-wheeler.

In the film’s much anticipated future-meets-the-past moment, K connects with Ford’s Deckard, a hard-edged man with a grizzled face and a cadence to match. He is a man of few words, and yet conveys a lot.

It’s an interesting mix of coolness and stoicism. Ford is the definition of big-screen gravitas, and as K, Gosling is in slow-burn, no-burn mode.

Will they solve the mystery of the Replicants? Will Deckard’s actions in the first film come back to bite him? No spoilers here.

In a throwback to the “Don’t give away the ending!” pleas of Broadway whodunits, Villeneuve sent out a personal request to critics, a copy of which was read by a woman representing Warner Bros. before the press screening I attended. He asked that we not give away a lot of plot, then listed seven bullet points of character secrets and twists that he was especially concerned about.

I have played along with that request (though I’m wondering how many critics will). So call me or email me after you see the film if you want to break down the seven secrets. There’s a lot to talk about.

Clint O’Connor can be reached at 330-996-3582 or Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.