Blade Runner (1982)

“It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again who does?”

Justin’s Rating: The flashbacks begin again [whimper…]

Justin’s Review: Blade Runner. I thought it was behind me forever. A year ago I chose this film to cover as my final project in Advanced Film class. I thought, “Hey, Harrison Ford, Sci-Fi, Action, Ridley Scott. Better choice than Chinatown.” Sounded good at the time, but I assure you after ten detailed viewings of this movie, I freak when I hear of this film, kinda like Alex does after he’s conditioned in A Clockwork Orange. Do you have any idea what it’s like to watch a semi-okay movie over and over and over while trying to dissect it to death? Draining every last drop of joy out until all you see are camera angles, symbology, and strategic placements for props? It’s the second-to-worst level of movie hell!

The best way to give you an idea of what this unusual movie is like is to compare it to a dream. It’s cool, stylistic, and very involved; yet the pace drags on then speeds up momentarily; the sound and soundtrack make the characters seem like they’re talking from beyond the void; you’re never quite sure where the plot is leading; and there’s some gratuitous nudity. It’s interesting, but doesn’t hold much replay value. Harrison Ford seems lackluster and depressed (particularly after his hich-octane role in Star Wars).

It’s a fairly simple bounty hunter story from pulp scifi writer Philip K. Dick. Bounty hunter Deckard (Ford) is given the task of tracking down a handful of rogue replicants (androids) who might or might not have stumbled upon true sentience. While the plot isn’t anything great, the grim dystopian future gets a big thumbs-up, particularly for the era in which this film was made. It’s just not quite as good as it could have been, and I kept thinking about how it could be improved. If Ford had more emotion, if the editors had tightened things up a few hundred notches, if Daryl Hannah had crashed through at least three more glass panes… If, if, if.

The Director’s Cut of Blade Runner restores the original depressing and uncertain ending, along with cutting out the voice-over narration. I think it’s the better of the two, and if I wasn’t feeling so sick, I’d be able to give you a detailed analysis of symbolic meaning in this film.

PoolMan’s Rating: 2 broken thumbs up! (take that, Sissy & Egghead!)

PoolMan’s Review: When you say the words ‘science fiction’, most people immediately think of staple ‘Star Trek’ type stuff, like spaceships, aliens, and planets where everyone dresses in exactly the same outfit. You think cheesy actors, odd sets, and space battles. Personally, I think the sensationalistic side of sci-fi has given the serious side a bit of a bad name. I think the very best sci-fi is the simpler stuff, the stuff that uses science and technology to tell stories about humanity, not just science and technology. Stories like 1984, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001: A Space Oddysey, and Blade Runner.

But you yell “Ah HA, PoolMan! Isn’t the cheesy stuff what Blade Runner is all about? There’s flying cars, artificial people, futuristic cities!” Well, yeah, that’s true. But if that’s all you get from it, shame on you. Blade Runner is what I think good sci-fi is all about; using the future as a medium to tell a story about ourselves, you and me, right now.

In the year 2019, the earth is a very different place, largely for two main reasons. First off, the entire human race doesn’t live on it! Mankind has started to ship out to new worlds in colonization missions, and live as far away as “the shoulder of Orion” (which might be taken as Betelgeuse… they live in a Michael Keaton movie?). What’s more, we’ve learned a lot about artificial life and intelligence. So much, in fact, that we’ve learned how to create artificial humans, called replicants, so realistic that to set one next to a human, you couldn’t tell them apart. Only deep psychological testing exposes them if they don’t want to get caught. The replicants are manufactured with great physical strength and agility, but in most cases a limited emotional range, and to top it off, a very short life cycle (about four years). Their primary use is as slave labour. Naturally, life isn’t too sweet as a replicant, and a handful of them choose to violently rebel. After this point, they are declared illegal on earth itself, relegated to a slave’s life in the interstellar colonies.

Enter Deckard (our hero, Harrison Ford). He’s a Blade Runner, a special ops policeman who specializes in locating, identifying, and “retiring” replicants (i.e., he kills them). He is hired to track down a small group of replicants currently on earth who, unbeknownst to him, are merely trying to extend their own life expectancy, no more. At first he takes the job with the cold steel a bounty hunter requires, viewing the replicants as objects to be destroyed. But once he falls in love with one and falls to the mercy of another, he realizes there are much deeper values to these people. The questions of what rights “different” people deserve are the main issue here. In other words, he realizes he has become a tool of a racist regime. This movie’s story could be lifted up and transferred into a tale about the holocaust, and it would still be great.

Whoa. Pretty deep.

This movie is a cult classic, hands down. Admittedly, I’ve only ever seen the Director’s Cut, but I’ve been told that Deckard’s voiceover from the theatrical release (missing from the DC) is something to be heard, and the ending is different. Perhaps I’ll check out the original release and rereview it. But do yourself a favour; in either form, watch this movie. The commentary it makes on mankind’s attitude towards love, hatred, and our future are intense, and well worth the watch.

DNAError’s Rating: Entering Film Geek Move, Please advise.

DNAError’s Review: Justin is gonna kill me for this. I’m abandoning all the “zaniness” typical of this site to kneel down and worship a movie he gives lukewarm attention to. Ready to pick it apart and get inside it’s fingernails making the following review about as fun to read as having midgets attack your shins with brillo pads.

When asked my favorite movie, Blade Runner always comes up, next to Empire Strikes Back. It’s an uberflick, with everything I’d want from a great movie. Great ideas, great sets, great performances, romance, violence, philosophy, and at least one obscure poem. Blade Runner has it all. Coming off the cyberpunk tales of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, I took to Blade Runner’s rainy dystopia like a fish takes to a watery substance (yikes, these metaphors are coming up all wet).

I’ve been a huge fan of film noir and scifi..and along comes a movie that combines them! Two great looks that look great together! Sean Young decked in thick makeup and inside a huge fur coat is burned into the back of my cortex forever. Amino Way is now outdated, far more grander and technolusty areas exist in the world, but my mind always go there when I think of “the future”. Ridley Scott’s visual sense is at it’s best here, drawing inspiration from Mayan temples to microchip design. It makes sense that almost every sci-fi movie/TV show has used Drecker’s apartment background at one point? (Think I’m kidding? Check out the tile patterns in the set, I caught Farscape using it three times.)

Since my unadulterated lust for this movie is obvious and annoying, I’ll go into the smaller details. Voice over or no voice over? I’m a bit torn on this issue. The VO does help you move along with Drecker’s investigation and give you more details (seriously, who caught the snake thing the first time? It’s obfuscation city!) but Ford’s narration is hopelessly dry and boring. It takes you out of the wonderful mood and atmosphere created. Without the VO, you’re left suspended in this dark, detailed dream world. I still don’t get why he’s called a “blade runner” though, it’s not in the book and makes no real sense.

Oh well, Blade Runner sounds cool. Compared to the book the movie is another creature. Dick’s book is much more detailed about the world in 2020 and the movie drills into a single aspect of the book: Could you tell an android from a human? Luckily, the movie is able to keep the book’s moody philosophy about a dying society and totaliantain regimes. Whoohoo.

The best scene in the movie, the one I could watch over and over (and I have) comes during the chase in the crowd. Everything about the scene seems to click, the huge crowd, the omnipresent “go, stop, go, stop” the sense of frustration and urgency, the neon-lit nighttime, all the way up until the bloody glass ending. I guess this whole sprawling review can be summed up with “I like Blade Runner,” but I really, really do.

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