I'm a huge fan of the original '82 Blade Runner. I missed it in the theater when it was first released (too young), but have seen it multiple times since the early '90's. I also saw the 2007 cut theatrically, and it was one of my greatest theatrical movie experiences (though I preferred the '82 cut, with the HF voice-over).
So, I wasn't sure what I would think of BR 2049, but decided to give it a chance. I just saw it last week on Blu...and felt it was an amazing sci-fi film. It both paid homage to the original & at the same time has a completely unique story. I liked how it was a sequel to the original, but at the same time wasn't a re-make (like some sequels are).
Visually, this film was also amazing & sublime...and, like the original, does an incredible job in fully creating an obviously futuristic & grim world - with some familiarity to our current one.
Making the Ryan Gosling character in 2049 a replicant himself - who is hunting down & destroying other replicants - is quite compelling.
Going along with this, the theme of what it means to be human was the underlying element in both BR films. I.e., can humans create something that has just as much - or more - human emotion/humanity/empathy than humans themselves?! This has been examined in other sci-fi films/TV series over the years (2001 ASO, the Terminator movies, AI: Artificial Intelligence, The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica TV series, etc.) but is explored very differently in these BR movies.
The idea that replicants can breed & have children - just like humans - was an interesting idea as well. And, that being the case what truly separates the robots from the humans?! Nothing (or almost nothing) as far as I can tell.
Also, I thought it was clever to try to sync up (as much as possible) the original to the 2049 sequel in "real time". I.e., the original BR took place in 2019, and 2049 is 30 years later. In "real time", the original came out in '82, and 2049 was released in 2017 - so, 35 years later - which isn't that far off (i.e., it's not like it's ten years off).
What's still unclear to me at the end of the film is whether Deckard (Ford) and Gaff (Edward James Olmos) were replicants. Gaff was in a nursing home & had aged appropriately - as had Deckard. However, we did see older replicants in BR 2049 - i.e. the Dave Bautista character in the beginning of the film.
In the original '82 BR film it was slightly implied that both Gaff & Deckard were, given that their eyes shone a certain way in some scenes - like the eyes of the replicants.
I especially thought Deckard was a replicant in the '82 film after the scene when Rachel (Sean Young) asked him if he had ever taken the Voight-Kampt?! test himself, and he didn't answer.