It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years since Ridley Scott introduced us to the revolutionary Philip Dick adaptation of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” that has gone on to establish one of the strongest single-film sci-fi cult followings in history.

Fast-forward to a new generation of science fiction. Set 30 years after the original, we find a new Blade Runner named K (Ryan Gosling) hunting down Replicants (genetically engineered slaves who are superior to humans in many ways) and enforcing the law in the dark, dystopian setting created by Ridley Scott so many years ago. It’s challenging to summarize the plot without spoiling critical revelations, but essentially K is slowly unraveling a long-kept secret that could change everything the world knows about humanity and the role of the Replicants.

Director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” “Arrival”) is a visionary master of film. He teams up with Ridley Scott to recreate the original world, while injecting a coolness and modern beauty to the narrative. Roger Deakins, the finest director of photography not to win a cinematography Oscar, captures in mesmerizing fashion the hauntingly bleak landscape with a nuance that can only come from decades of experience. At nearly three hours, “Blade Runner 2049” seems as if every shot is deliberately stretched out for a few extra seconds, and for the first two-thirds of the film, it is magical and entirely appropriate to capture the mood. Throw in Hans Zimmer with yet another brilliant and chilling score, and you have what might be the best sci-fi film of the year (hold your horses, a little George Lucas flick is coming in December).

Your first question may be, “Do I need to have seen the original?” Well, to that I say not exactly, but it may be slightly confusing if not. The film does a fine job of standing on its own two feet, and pays beautiful tribute to the original, but it’s mostly in source recognition and not storyline. The world of the original is the context required to enjoy the film thoroughly, but you won’t get lost.

Screenwriters Hampton Fancher (“Blade Runner”) and Michael Green (“Alien: Covenant,” “Logan,” “Green Lantern”) weave some depth into what might be an otherwise standard tent-pole sequel. They don’t linger too long on any particular sequence, and deliver in the end what is quite satisfying and tidy. Philip Dick would be proud.

Where “Blade Runner 2049” excels exceptionally is in its austerity and subtlety. Manipulation of color hues, deliberately long and sometimes uncomfortable pauses, and sound editing that builds suspense all create a majestic vision of a future that, frankly, I don’t want any part of.

There are elements of futurism that are incorporated, but the tone remains gritty, dirty, dark and almost retro-technological. Massive metal buildings, corroded and sun baked. Sterile building interiors with emotionless and depressed people mingling with Replicants and holographic companions. It’s all very imaginative, yet grounded in the loneliness and lack of human connectivity that is a growing fear in our own society.

“Blade Runner 2049” is an outstanding creation that does not disappoint. My only real gripe is that it goes on a bit longer than maybe it should, but I can appreciate Villeneuve’s vision, and although epic in length, it works pretty well. By the end, the visual and audio journey makes the traveler a bit weary, but ultimately it is the coolest film of the year thus far.