Most fans of Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, “Blade Runner,” will approach the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” with a mix of high hopes and dread. Scott’s stunningly stylish sci-fi noir, which raised troubling questions about technology and humanity, has had such a profound impact on the movies that “Blade Runner 2049” sounds about as welcome as “Citizen Kane 2.” Yet the original film ended with so many ambiguities that it has been fairly crying out for a follow-up. More than 35 years later, it’s here.

“Follow-up” might be the wrong word. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) from a script by original co-writer Hampton Fancher (with Michael Green), “Blade Runner 2049” is determined to create its own world out of the seeds that Scott (a producer here) left behind. As a sensory experience, it’s often overwhelming, with elegant, grandiose and highly surreal visuals accompanied by a dizzying score from Hans Zimmer (“Dunkirk”) and Benjamin Wallfisch. There are moments when the sheer force of Villeneuve’s filmmaking nearly wipes away the original — but not quite. The new film never fully escapes the shadow of the old one.

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“Blade Runner” starred Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a cop who hunted humanoid “replicants” and began to question his own humanity. Thirty years later, Ryan Gosling plays K, who also hunts replicants — and is one. For Gosling, this role is prime territory: the humorless tough-guy who turns tender around his sweetheart, a holographic beauty named Joi (Ana de Armas). When K discovers a box buried by a replicant — its contents suggest something impossible — the wall between man and machine crumbles a little. “Tell the world there’s no wall,” says K’s boss, played by Robin Wright, “you bought a war.”

Villenueve pulls out all the stops here, creating a multi-aesthetic world of Egyptian-scale ruins, steam-punk factories and grim slums that combine the worst of Brazil and Berlin. Chasing K through this ever-changing dreamscape is the ironically named Luv (an excellent Sylvia Hoeks), who seems genetically programmed for both physical violence and verbal abuse. Jared Leto plays her creator, Niander Wallace, an Ozymandias type with a data-enhanced brain but blind eyes.

The reappearance of Ford as Deckard isn’t as emotionally satisfying as we might like, and it marks the moment when this nearly three-hour film begins to lose momentum. Still, “Blade Runner 2049” is the rare sequel that can hold its own next to a bona fide masterpiece.