Top positive review
414 people found this helpful
REVIEW OF 5-DVD SET - NOT ANY OTHER VERSION
on 14 December 2007
At long last, "Blade Runner" gets the definitive treatment it needs. With a release as lavish and enormous as this, there is no possibility of an abusive triple, quadruple, or seventh-re-release : almost everything you could possibly want is here.
"Blade Runner" is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made : a period piece set in an impossible future, a film noir detective thriller that uses the endless possibilities of Science Fiction to explore inner and outer space, a meditation of the nature of humanity, identity, and conscience. It is without doubt the finest film that anyone ever involved with it ever worked on. Given that the people who worked on it were also involved in "Star Wars", "2001", "Alien", and ...um... "Blind Fury"... that speaks for itself. I won't waste words on the film anymore : you either know what it is or you don't. If you don't - watch it. If you do - you know what I'm talking about. It's a classic - and one of the best films ever made.
This DVD re-release features a whopping 5 DVD's of material. Disc 1 contains the "Final Cut" :Ridley Scott's intended version that was sabotaged by brainless studio nincompoops and accountants. Here, Ridley has revisited and completed the film so it is now the way it was always meant to be seen. To the average viewer, these changes are often miniscule and barely noticeable : to the enthusiast they are the final brushstrokes to Scott's masterpiece. It's still "Blade Runner" though. If you liked it then, you'll like it now. If you didn't, you won't. But this Final Cut (the fifth version of the film released) is a film of such merit it deserves to be hung in a museum as one of the greatest justifications for mankinds continued existence.
The first disc is fleshed with three commentaries : Ridley Scott is, as ever, a fascinating orator. The other commentaries are equally interesting. The second DVD contains "Dangerous Days", an enormous, standard-setting, 214 minute `making of' document that covers every element of the films existence in forensic detail. It's a fascinating journey : packed with interviews with everyone who was even slightly involved in the film (including characters cut from any released version), as well as stuffed to the gills with bonus material : whereas some documentaries will use clips from the film to demonstrate the finished product, this chooses (wisely) to show reams of alternate takes, deleted scenes, and unused footage across its length. This is the definitive `Making Of' by which all others must be judged. To anyone who has seen the film more than once, it is an absolutely essential piece of work.
DVD 3 contains the three previously released versions of the film. Including the 1982 International Cut (with a fraction more violence), and the 1991 Directors Cut (which in reality was a rushed studio hodge podge with no actual direct input from Ridley Scott). Each prefaced by an introduction from Ridley Scott, and exist largely for the sake of the completists.
DVD 4 meanwhile, wraps up the remaining material. There are 48 minutes of deleted scenes arranged to create a vignette/montage alternate version of the film - it would have been fascinating to see these alternate trims placed in the context of a entire `deleted scenes' version of the film. The deleted scenes themselves are generally unexceptional (and when viewed it is easy to see why they were not in the finished product) but are essential viewing to see All That Could Have Been. DVD 4 also features two hours of extra documentaries detailing the P K Dick novel, the adaptation process, how the film and novel differ, and a cornucopia of additional material that covers literally everything under the sun from the films influence on cinema, the ethos of poster art, to - in all probability - a documentary about the Kitchen Sinks used in the film.
DVD5 meanwhile, features a remastered copy of the first ever seen version of the film - a rough cut `Workprint' that previewed to a few hundred in 1982 - and this version is undoubtedly the Holy Grail of the Blade Runner world. Seeing this version, when compared to the original cinema release, is akin to seeing two completely different films in tone and style : the violence is harder, the narration and voiceover absent, the film no longer insults the viewer with Vlad The Explainer condescendingly commenting on the events of the film. This version of the film - clearly a work in progress - is as ever an intelligent, sensitive film that explores the basic questions of humanity. The disc is rounded off with a commentary by author (and renowned Blade Runner authority) Paul Sammon, and a final 30 minute look through the torturous evolution - and multiple versions - of the film to its Final Cut. It's a final fascinating glimpse into the process.
Given the sheer wealth of material (I estimate at least 26 hours of stuff spread over the five discs - the largest amount yet compiled for any one film that I know of), it seems almost churlish to gripe about what is missing : original plans were to include the Channel 4 documentary "The Edge Of Human", but the material in that is exhaustively covered elsewhere in this set so it would be almost redundant were it included. Overall, if you have the slightest interest in film or Science Fiction, this is an absolute no brainer Must-Buy and sets the standard as the High Watermark of DVD releases so far in the formats first decade.
Simply put, it's one of the most comprehensive and thus, definitive DVD packages to ever exist. At last Warners have given this great work of art the attention, care, and investment it deserves. Buy it.