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.
Blade Runner is one of those glorious films that has gained in popularity the older it has gotten. Ridley Scott's follow up to the critical and commercial darling that was Alien, was by and large considered a flop and damned for not being a science fiction action blockbuster. There was of course some fans who recognised its many many strengths during the initial weeks of its 1982 release, but many who now claim to have loved it back then are surely looking sheepishly in the mirror these days, for the hard-core minority of 82 fans remember it very differently.
Remember the spider that lived outside your window? Orange body, green legs. Watched her build a web all summer, then one day there's a big egg in it. The egg hatched...
Anyway, that's by the by, the point being that a film can sometimes be ahead of its time, misunderstood or miss-marketed, Scott's masterpiece is one such case. Story, adapted in fashion from Philip K. Dick's story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Is pretty simple. It's a dystopian Los Angeles, 2019, and there are four genetically engineered Replicants - human in appearance - in the city, which is illegal. They were designed to work on off-world colonies, any Replicant who defies the rules will be retired by special police assassins known as Blade Runners, and Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is on this case. A case that will prove to have many layers...
A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!
Ridley Scott gets to have all his cakes to eat here, managing to blend intriguing science fiction with film noir. That the visuals are outstanding is a given, even the film's most hardest critics grudgingly acknowledge this to be an eye popping piece of visual class - the mention of eyes is on purpose since it's forms a key narrative thread. That it is awash with eye orgasms has led to critics calling a charge of beauty over substance, but the deep themes at work here tickle the brain and gnaw away at the senses.
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.
Mood is set at perpetually bleak, a classic film noir trait, and paced accordingly. Scott isn't here to perk anyone up, he's here to ask questions whilst filtering his main characters through a prism of techno decay, of humanity questioned to the max, for a film so stunning in visuals, it's surprisingly nightmarish at its core. The emotional spine is ever present, troubled when violence shows its hand, but it's there posing an intriguing question as the Replicants kill because they want to live. And this as our antagonist, Deckard (Ford a brilliantly miserable Marlowe clone), starts to fall for Rachael (a sensually effective femme fatale portrayal), one of his retirement targets.
Tears in the Rain.
As Rutger Hauer (never better) saunters more prominently into the story as head Replicant Roy Batty, the pic evolves still more. Haunting lyricism starts pulsing away in conjunction with Vangelis' rib shaking techno score, while Jordan Cronenweth's cinematography brings Scott's masterful visions to life, key characters one and all. Visuals, aural splendour and dark thematics - so just what does it mean to be human? - Indeed, curl as one in a magnificent cinematic achievement. A number of cuts of the film are out there, and all of them have fans, but Scott's Final Cut is the one where he had total artistic control, and the scrub up job across the board is quite literally breath taking. 10/10
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.
on 12 September 2007
For the price amazon uk are charging for this i say that even if its not precisely the same as following its still worth it and recommend any fan of BR to get this version particularly if it does have the much fabled work print which is worth its weight in gold!
The following detail appears on the USA Amazon site for this same set the 5 disc ultimate edition
By calvinnme "Texan refugee" (Fredericksburg, Va)
Disc 1 - Ridley Scott's All-New "Final Cut" Version of the film - Restored and remastered with added and extended scenes, added lines, new and cleaner special effects and all new 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Also included is commentary by Ridley Scott and a host of others that worked behind the camera.
Disc 2 - Documentary - Dangerous Days: Making of Blade Runner - A feature-length documentary about the film including viewpoints and insights from the cast and crew. Included are details on every stage of production of the film including special effects, casting, and even the film's literary roots and its place in the sci-fi genre.
Disc 3 - 1982 Theatrical Version - The original that contains Deckard's narration and has Deckard and Rachel's (Sean Young) "happy ending" escape scene.
1982 International Version - Also used on U.S. home video, laserdisc and cable releases up to 1992. This version is not rated, and contains some extended action scenes in contrast to the Theatrical Version.
1992 Director's Cut - Omits Deckard's voiceover narration and removes the "happy ending" finale. It adds the famous "unicorn" sequence, which is a vision that Deckard has which suggests that he is also a replicant.
Disc 4 - BONUS Disc "Enhancement Archive" - Eight featurettes, image galleries, radio interview with the author, and screen tests for the part of Rachel.
Disc 5 - Workprint Version - This rare version of the film is considered by some to be the most radically different of all the Blade Runner cuts. It has an altered opening scene, no Deckard narration until the final scenes, no "unicorn" sequence, no Deckard/Rachel "happy ending," altered lines between Rutger Hauer and his creator Tyrell (Joe Turkell), and alternate music.
Also included is commentary by Paul M. Sammon, author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner and a featurette - "All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut".
All of the information on the features comes directly from a press release from Warner Home Video
on 4 September 2004
Not much more can be said about this classic movie itself. The script, direction and of course the acting is faultless and worthy of being voted Best Science Fiction Movie of all time (which it has been). Vangelis's music only adding to the atmosphere.
As far as this package is concerned, you of course get a copy of the Director's Cut edition of the movie, but whether it is worth paying the difference between a basic copy and this package is debatable. If you are into collecting or reading screenplays, then this might be worthwhile. Owning a screenplay for a movie whose brilliance is in what is not said, rather in the atmosphere that is created, leaves me puzzled as to why you would want to. You get a poster, well who pins up posters these days? You also get a numbered frame from the movie and some photographs. Quite frankly unless you are a Blade Runner geek or have more money than sense, invest in the Director's Cut version and save the balance and put it towards buying 2001 or Alien.
on 24 December 2007
I watched this on my 52" 1080p set so I could see the detail and I was continually laughing with delight. It looks stunning now. The production team have completely restored the print and the FX shots such as the opening sequence and the Spinner flight over the Tyrell Corporation building are pure and show a level of detail that I didn't even realize existed in the shot. Bear in mind I've seen a cinema version of this film in the old Director's Cut format and I can assure you that this is order of magnitude from that. All of the FX problems have been corrected: no wires lifting the Spinners, no stunt-woman's face on the dying Zhora etc. It's really interesting seeing that contents of Deckard's apartment for the first time. The clarity of the print reveals objects in his room that I'd not noticed. Some minor dialogue has changed but for the better and only in inconsequential places such as the description of the Nexus-6 team in Bryant's office. The audio is now 5.1 and much improved. The new version of the film is near perfect. It has been adjusted in such a subtle way that it is really just a superb restoration rather than a major change and yet a lot HAS changed. It's a tribute to Scott's team that the casual observer would barely notice.
I'm VERY impressed and delighted.
However, as has been stated by other reviewers there is a 5 disc set easily available from the US, region free and with great extras for little more than this offering. You might want to consider it but be quick because it's limited(ish).
I must reiterate the comments on the previous reviewer - this is truly fantastic film, and any fan of sci-fi, film-noir or indeed films in general will adore this movie - however, this is the very basic DVD which Warner Bros have hurried out hoping that people will buy it immediately, but there is a much better version coming out either at Christmas or very early next year, which will be a lot better. It will have this version of the film, plus the original version, and also a new European cut, plus a lot more special features.
That aside, the film is great, just watch out if you're going to want to buy the special edition when it is released.
on 6 July 2000
Based on the novel, "Do androids dream of electric sheep ? ", by the late and great author Phillip K Dick, Bladerunner, the directors cut is finally given a DVD release. It is films like this that really show off the quality of the format, and give viewers a 'close to cinema' experience.
The directors cut is the restored version of this Ridley Scott classic and no longer has the aweful voice over which the studio forced him to add.
The all important dream sequence has been restored which is the key to the story, in which Harrisson fords character dreams of unicorns. At the close of the film we see the police officer leaving a unicorn made of paper to indicate to Ford's character that they know his most private of thoughts. This inevitably indicates, like the book, that Ford's charachter is also a replicant.
The film ends with the air of uncertainty, as in the book, rather than the ridiculous happy nonsense that was included in the origional release at the studio's request.
The Vangellis sountrack is retained and is as fresh as ever, and if you have a dolby system attached to your DVD, you wont be dissapointed.
In summary this film is a complex journey which can be watched over and over making it collectable. Each time you watch it you will pick up somthing new with either Ridley scott's distopian vision or Phillip K Dicks beautifully crafted story. After so many years this film still has much to offer and has been waiting for DVD to give it the ultimate home presentation.
See it as it was intended!
Despite the plethora of reviews of this brilliant movie I’ve decided to add mine as this is one of my favourite films. “Bladerunner” is one of those films that seems to have passed from being a mere film into something of a cultural icon. Under appreciated on its original release, it is now rightly considered to be a seminal work, hugely influential, not only one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, but one of the greatest films of all time.
I had the pleasure of seeing “Bladerunner” in the cinema on its original release and the outstanding visual impact of the film (Its miniature cityscapes still blow away any C.G.I. Of a similar nature) and its central themes of love and essentially what it is to be human were something I had never seen so poetically approached in cinema before. When the directors cut was released without the unnecessary voice-over and the tacked on happy ending (All originally inserted by a panicking studio) the film was improved. Prior to this it was a very ,very good film. Now it was a masterpiece.
Like all great sci-fi “Blade runner “says more about humanity than any number of romantic comedies and psychological thrillers. The replicants attempts to avert their shortened life-span is a very human reaction and Rachel’s gradual realisation of her replicant origins and the lie of her implanted family history is akin to someone being told they are adopted and have terminal cancer at the same time. These beings like us, indeed like any life form just want to live free of fear and supplication, as free sentient beings. Their struggle is one that resonates through human history but the story’s central premise that we have created a slave race to lord it over is chilling and horribly plausible.
The much debated unicorn dream of Deckard’s is interesting but is irrelevant to the movies narrative, after all no one in the film wants to die wether they are human or replicant.Though it is worth noting that if he is indeed a replicant it gives him a synchronicity with Rachel that could explain why they are drawn so irresistibly to each other.
I’ve watched this film more time than I’ve watched any other and it never fails to impress and fascinate. The acting is uniformly terrific and the casting is spot on, particularly Rutger Hauer as Roy who imbibes the part with a steely moral determination but in the sublime death scene endows him with a dignity and humanity beyond any other character in the film. The ending is now suitably ambiguous, leaving the lovers fate in the air and a further tantalising clue to Deckard’s origins. The Vangelis soundtrack is superb, it could have been a soulless clunking nightmare but like the film it looks beyond the sum of the machine to peer into the heart of the sentient being within and adds another layer of emotional resonance.
The films final message that all of us hold memories that are unique to us and that all life is precious is of universal relevance and resonates loudly down the years as the world continues to crackle with the tragedy of continuing conflict. A must see movie, a stunning DVD.Unmissable.
on 11 December 2007
This five disc edition is quite simply the best DVD set on any single film I own. Initially, I was going to go for the 2 disc version - the film and the 'making of' but went 'large' due to the very reasonable price. I mean, did I really want a load of discs with the same film, that I probably wouldn't watch? No such fears - three versions of the film are on just one of the discs, cleverly 'branched' together. Disc one has an amazing print of the film - words fail me . . . 'definitive' is right. Two discs have superb 'makings of', which truly are interesting, even to people like me who are fatigued by modern 'makings of' which largely consist of guys playing with computers ('Bored of the Rings'). In Blade Runner, we see some great sets, model shots, the lot. The final disc has an early print of the film - a very different take. When you have seen the whole set, you realise that the entire Blade Runner world is within. A bit like Deckard's photo machine that lets you see around corners, nothing is missed - there's even an 'outtake and alternative' version of the movie, which is astonishing and kind of disorientating. No doubt some day a fan will assemble one long six-hour version from all the footage within. I'm not kidding - there's that much to browse through.
I'm amazed that most of the reviews here focus on the packaging (and those 'free' gifts you look at once) - has nobody actually been blown away by the content?? Don't hesitate.