What to make of Denis Villeneuve? I've now seen six of his movies, loved one (Incendies), liked three others very much, and didn't care for two of them, including Blade Runner 2049. I'd start with the length of his films ... Blade Runner 2049 is the longest at 163 minutes ... except I also didn't like the shortest one (Enemy, 91 minutes). So it's probably not the length, but recency bias steps in here ... Blade Runner 2049 is way too long. Don't take my word for it ... Ridley Scott said he would have cut out half an hour (of course, he would have subsequently re-edited it several times) (that's a joke, son), and Villeneuve agreed that it was too long, adding that he had made "the most expensive art house movie in cinema history". Honestly, that's what I liked best about Blade Runner 2049, that someone had given Villeneuve 150 million dollars and he came up with this movie. I can only imagine what the studio must have thought when they saw the final product.
Blade Runner 2049 moves so slowly it's like a Hollywood version of a Tarkovsky film. And not one of his good ones. There are a couple of plot twists that wake up the audience, and it's nice when Harrison Ford finally turns up. The film looks great. The legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins won an overdue Oscar on his 13th try. Having just finished binge-watching Halt and Catch Fire, I enjoyed the brief appearances of Mackenzie Davis. I'm running out of good things to say.
One thing that always disappointed me about the original Blade Runner was that I thought it missed a lot of what Philip K. Dick brought to the novel. I don't know if this is a good sign or a bad one, but I never gave any thought to Dick while watching 2049. It's point of reference was always the Ridley Scott movie, not Dick's book.
I admire Villeneuve's willingness to make an expensive art house film. I just didn't care much for the result. Critics disagree ... it's currently #692 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.