Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written By: Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 57 min
After re-watching Blade Runner for the umpteenth time, I had to wonder, how on Earth did this film not win the Oscar for best art direction? This film is absolutely stunning to look at from beginning to end. From the rain-soaked streets of Los Angeles, to the incredible detail on display in J. F. Sebastian’s (William Sanderson) toy filled apartment. Each and every set and scene has this fantastic lived in quality you don’t experience often in films. Well, films that are not directed by the visual maestro Ridley Scott anyway. Checkout Alien, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise, or even The Counselor for more evidence of Scott’s incredible talent as a visual director.
The visual effects too haven’t aged at all. The design and function of the flying cars fits perfectly into this world. As does the other technology. Weathered, but functional video phones and photo scanners. Everything has been carefully thought out and beautifully assembled.
Story wise, Blade Runner is pretty simple. Mostly a cautionary tale about the dangers of people playing god. Treating their Replicant creations as second class citizens and using them as slaves in colonies on other planets. Replicant’s are pretty much human, but blessed with superior strength and intelligence. Tragic characters really. Abused from their first waking day, and unable to process emotionally what’s happening to them. In addition to that they are also cursed with a limited life span. It’s no wonder they seek out their creator for answers, and a way to be free. It’s pretty potent stuff, and while Harrison Ford does a great job in the lead role. It’s Rutger Hauer that turns in the most memorable performance as Roy Batty. The leader of the Replicant group that escapes to Earth in search of their creator.
If you have somehow not seen Blade Runner before. Expect a slow but steady pace, and some darkly stunning visuals. Science fiction noir is the best way to describe it.
After several tweaks over the years, Ridley Scott finally released a version of the film he was happy with – The Final Cut. I hope so, because I’m tired of buying it! I suggest you watch this version. It’s similar to the directors cut in that the pointless narration is gone. But it also fixes some faults in the original film. The big one for me being the Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) chase scene. It’s one of the best scenes in the film, but it was always let down by a really obvious stunt double for Zhora during the scenes closing moments.
If Blade Runner: The Final Cut were playing at your local theater. Certainly do what you can to make that show. At home a HD viewing is absolutely essential. Don’t try to watch a regular DVD or streaming quality show. You’ll be doing yourself and the film a disservice!
Best element for me:
The Zhora chase scene is pretty special. But the absolute best scene is during the closing moments with Roy Batty. Which also got improved in The Final Cut!