Blade Runner (Two Disc Special Edition) – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Ridley Scott

Cast

Harrison Ford ………. Rick Deckard
Rutger Hauer ………. Roy Batty
Sean Young ………. Rachael
Edward James Olmos ………. Gaff
M. Emmet Walsh ………. Bryant
Daryl Hannah ………. Pris
William Sanderson ………. J.F. Sebastian
Brion James ………. Leon Kowalski
Joe Turkel ………. Eldon Tyrell
Joanna Cassidy ………. Zhora
James Hong ………. Hannibal Chew
Morgan Paull ………. Holden
Kevin Thompson ………. Bear
John Edward Allen ………. Kaiser
Hy Pyke ………. Taffey Lewis

The Movie

If there ever was a film that demonstrated that a second life could be found after a film’s release into theatres, Blade Runner developed such a following after bombing at the box office that multiple editions of the film have been released since. Ridley Scott has gone back several times to rework the film, each time trying to come close to the original vision he had of it. Now with the advent of DVD he’s released the final version of Blade Runner, the definitive version he wanted to make in the first place. Entitled Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Ridley Scott has finally brought to bear his version of the film that Roger Ebert has enshrined into his “Great Movies.”

Blade Runner has a fairly straight-forward plot. Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a police officer who’s assigned to take down replicants. Replicants are human-like androids, indistinguishable in appearance from humans, are mainly used for labor but with consciousness comes consequences. Replicants sometimes escape the labor camps they are kept in; this time around several have made their way back to Los Angeles and Deckard is charged with hunting them down in the near future. It’s not a thick plot, as Scott mainly follows a film noir line with a science fiction setting, but the beauty in the film is how Scott effortlessly blends both.

The beauty is how Ridley Scott uses scenery and atmosphere to enhance his story. While the film has become legendary for how he depicts the future because of how it looks, it’s his creation of atmosphere that he’d become known for in future films. His films have always been renowned for how he effectively establishes L.A in the future. It would be his trademark throughout his career but it’s hard to argue that this film wasn’t the best he’s done. It’s a stunning visual landmark that still holds up nearly 30 years after its first release.

The story is also top notch as well; it’s a first rate detective thriller meshed with an environment that is reeking of atmosphere. As Deckard makes his hunt, he explores a lot of deep philosophical and existential issues as well. Scott doesn’t address any on a level distracting to the plot but the film is a fascinating discussion on the nature of artificial intelligence and what sort of status a replicant should receive.

When he made the film, Scott had already crafted Alien and it was early in his career. Blade Runner was proof that Alien wasn’t a fluke and Scott has since established himself as one of the premier directors of his era.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital sound with a widescreen picture, Blade Runner has a revamped audio and visual capability to it. As Scott explains in an introduction, what they did was take the original negative and work from there. It’s obvious the time and effort that went in to the new print, as the film’s audio and visual have been revamped significantly from prior cuts of the film. It’s a wonderful a/v experience to begin with but is much more so on this new cut of the film.

The Extras

The film’s first disc has three Commentary tracks to it,

The second disc has only one real feature, per se, but it’s a spectacular one. Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner, which comes with English, French and Spanish subtitles, follows the film from production to its legacy 25 years later. Ridley Scott initially turned the film down, as he had been attached to Dune and felt that it could be his Star Wars, but the death of Ridley’s brother Frank prompted the legendary director to give the film a second shot due to its themes exploring death and darkness. The piece runs three and a half hours; it’s truly the definitive documentary about the film, incorporating things such as concept art and deleted scenes into the feature itself. Lots of the original storyboards are included as well, allowing us a glimpse into what they thought the film could be as opposed to what it became. The film’s exterior shots, for example, developed from a simple question posed by Scott: “What’s outside the window?”

Scott and the production crew talk about their inspiration, from the comic “Heavy Metal” and others, the film incorporates interviews from everyone involved to talk about the film. While the film was originally written with Robert Mitchum in mind, and had additional actors as “ideas” including Al Pacino, Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Dustin Hoffman and Peter Falk. Hoffman proved to be one that almost snagged the role, but Harrison Ford managed to be the one who impressed them the most.

The documentary doesn’t pull any punches, as well. Ridley Scott’s well-documented stern style of directing, as well as the use of personnel that was unfamiliar to his style, made for an interesting production. The crew that remained kept a list of all the personnel who had quit because of the long hours. Scott is upfront about this with a remarkable candor; Hauer states that it was a tough shoot but that this was a special film.

The film’s struggles with budget and the distributors/financiers of the film is documented as well with a lot of thoroughness. Nothing is glanced over or summed up quickly, which makes for interesting viewing. Right around the finale, once the discussion turns to the narration that was in the first cut of the film, it goes from serious to absolutely hilarious as those involved just tee off on how much of a bad decision and how unnecessary they felt the narration was.

The second disc also has trailers for the theatrical releases of I am Legend and the DVD releases of Invasion, Fracture and Superman: Doomsday.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Blade Runner (Two Disc Special Edition)
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

10.0
THE VIDEO

10.0
THE AUDIO

10.0
THE EXTRAS

10.0
REPLAY VALUE

9.0
OVERALL
9.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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