Top positive review
106 people found this helpful
Probably the only version of Blade Runner you'll ever need to see
on 22 January 2008
By now, most viewers will be fairly familiar with Blade Runner (1982) in some capacity. For example, I'm sure anyone with a passing interest in film has already seen it, if not on video then most probably on late night television or the initial "director's cut" edition from 1991. This new "final cut" attempts to clean up some of the flaws and errors that director Ridley Scott was unable to fix at the time of that last particular revision; finally giving us the film as it was always meant to be seen in shimmering anamorphic widescreen; with a pristine image backed by a beautifully mixed soundtrack and all the embarrassing little schoolboy errors touched up with the magic of CGI.
The actual plotline remains almost identical to that of the aforementioned "director's cut"; with the voice over gone and the more open-ended climax present and correct. I thought Scott might have perhaps been a little more radical and mixed in a few of the alternative takes from the legendary work-print version, but no; this is his idea of what Blade Runner is, was, and always should be... and I'm sure most die-hard fans, and indeed, casual viewers, will find little here to complain about. At a first glance the plot seems fairly routine; a loose re-working of the Phillip K. Dick novella, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, in which a grizzled bounty hunter Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) tracks down and terminates rogue androids (here known as replicants) who might pose a threat to the status quo of this dark and dank dystopian future world. Scott adds a sense of further cinematic depth to the story by juxtaposing the science-fiction elements of the plot with the conventions of film noir in a way that was very much revolutionary back in 1983, having only really been seen on a much smaller scale with the Jean Luc Godard film Alphaville (1964).
It is in part his depiction of the world of Blade Runner that gives the film much of its power and mystique, as Scott envisions a world of densely populated, multi-cultural, consumerist drones lost in a maze of looming skyscrapers, neon strip-lights, darkness and torrential rain; all of which is perfectly realised by his team of highly skilled production designers, art directors, set-decorators and craftsmen. The cinematography too was radical for the time in which the film was created, with Scott building on his background in TV commercials and the work that he had done on his first sci-fi masterpiece Alien (1979) to create a look that is continually dark, dank, distressed and decaying; finding beauty in the most bizarre places and capturing a sense of lonesome claustrophobia that became a staple of subsequent films, commercials and music videos for the next twenty-five years.
The film looks better than ever here, with the re-mastered picture and sound quality and the very subtle use of CGI to clear up things like out-of-sync dialog, support wires on the spinners and the obvious stunt-double for Joanna Cassidy's character Zhora; all helping to maintain the endless feeling of plausibility that the world of Blade Runner presents. Admittedly some fans have complained about Scott changing the glorious shot of the dove being released into the bright blue sky for a more suitable shot of cloudy dusk, but I suppose it does make more sense in maintaining the dark world in which the film unfolds. The only new addition that seemed slightly strange to me was in clearing up the original confusion as to how many replicants were actually missing. Much of the film's mystique revolves around the central question as to whether or not Deckard is, in fact, a replicant; a theory that initially came about due to a dubbing error during Deckard's briefing with Captain Bryant. Given that Scott has been one of the most vocal supporters of this theory, it seems odd to me that he would correct this line of dialog in such a way that destroys any real mystery surrounding the "Deckard as replicant" debate.
Whether or not you buy into the Deckard/replicant theory is secondary to the exotic atmosphere created by Scott and his production team, or the central narrative paradox presented by the replicant characters, in particular, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). The crux of Blade Runner deals very much with the idea of a synthetic human being more human than the humans themselves; with much of Blade Runner focusing on Batty and his gang of robots in arms trying to prolong their limited lifespan by any means necessary. Once again, Blade Runner is radical in the sense that it gives us a villain that is very much exciting, charismatic, and empathetic in their pursuit of life, and in direct comparison to our supposed hero Deckard, who seems bored, tired and completely lost against the sheer strength and intellectual menace of the iconic Batty.
This isn't a film that everyone will adore; without question it has its flaws like any other film, but regardless, remains a visually impressive and endlessly beguiling science-fiction, mystery noir (and more so than ever on this re-mastered, special edition DVD). Others have already explored the wider aspects of the package itself, pointing out how the five-disk box-set is very much for the die-hard obsessive's, while the two-disk set would appeal more to the casual fan who loves the film and wants the version closest to Ridley Scott's original vision. Without question, Blade Runner is a significant work of science-fiction cinema that manages to overcome any such flaws in character or narrative to take us on a trip into a world far beyond anything we've ever seen before.