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Visually spectacular, action-packed and enduringly provocative since its original 1982 release, the stylish noir thriller Blade Runner stars Harrison Ford in the enigmatic role of 21st-century detective Rick Deckard. As he hunts for vengeful, fugitive replicants in a high-tech future soured by urban and social decay, he is drawn to a mysterious woman whose secrets may undermine his own soul.
For more about Blade Runner and the Blade Runner Blu-ray release, see the Blade Runner Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 31, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah
Director: Ridley Scott
» See full cast & crew
Blade Runner Blu-ray Review
Ridley Scott's Sci-fi Masterpiece Finally Gets the Attention it Deserves on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 31, 2007
Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is such an important piece of film history, that it almost speaks for itself whenever being mentioned. The film has sparked so many imitators and has influenced such a wide variety of filmmakers, that it is the very embodiment of a true film classic. That fact is an amazing development for a film that was, by most every opinion of the time, a complete and total failure theatrically. Throughout the years, the film has also generated a fair bit on controversy with its ambiguous storytelling, rumored cut scenes, graphic violence and multiple versions and home video releases. There was the "Domestic Cut," the more violent "International Version," the studio edited "Director's Cut" and even a strange "Workprint" edition that mysteriously showed up at a film festival in the early nineties. All of the versions have their own strengths and weaknesses, but the newly edited, cleaned up and reworked "Final Cut" is now here for the entire world as Mr. Scott's definitive edition.
Blade Runner is set in a dystopian future where synthetic humans, known as Replicants, are used as slave labor on off-Earth colonies. Since Replicants are as intelligent as the scientists who created them, they tend to develop their own special brand of emotions after a few years of life. Replicant emotions tend to veer towards violence and anger. As a precaution, Replicants are given a four year life span. The hope is, that they will die naturally before they start to develop these stunted emotions. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and the events of Blade Runner revolve around a group of four renegade Replicants who make their way back to Earth and seek their creators within the giant Tyrell corporation. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a special brand of police officer, a Blade Runner to be more specific, assigned to the duty of killing any Replicants who make it back to Earth. All is not right with Deckard, however, and this latest assignment might be his last.
Blade Runner succeeds for me as a film on a number of different levels. Initially, I was taken with the film's amazing production design. The world of Blade Runner is about as intricately developed as any film yet imagined. Every nook and cranny is spilling over with set detail of striking, retro-futuristic design. The film's many shots of the future cityscape of Los Angeles, complete with fire-spewing smoke stacks and enough smog to choke a two pack a day smoker, definitely set an intense mood for the film. Everything about Blade Runner feels lived in and completely feasible. It's a remarkable accomplishment and the film's effects still pack an intensely realistic punch to this day. That's more than can be said for just about any other film made in 1982. Additionally, the film's story is the stuff of sci-fi dreams. Based on the book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner is deep, moving, occasionally scary and will stick with you for days. This is science fiction that answers questions and doesn't exist to simply look cool or to be an excuse for blowing things up. Blade Runner certainly does have it's action oriented side and there is quite a bit of intense violence, but it all exists to serve the story and is never tacked on gratuitously. Roy (Rutger Hauer), the film's chief antagonist and leader of the wayward Replicants, gives an incredibly moving speech towards the end of the film that is about as close to Shakespearian as one will ever find in a science fiction film. These villains and heroes are complex characters and don't exist simply to be "bad" or "good". Finally, the music of Blade Runner is also a remarkable thing to behold. Vangelis has created a stunningly futuristic score that harkens back to romance pictures of the forties as much as is calls out to the future. If you've never heard this soundtrack to Blade Runner before, you are in for a real treat.
This Blu-ray edition includes all five versions of Blade Runner. I'll leave it up to the viewer to decide which version of the film is the best, but they all have something to offer. For those of you new to the film, you might start by watching the newest "Final" cut and then work you way back to the original versions. The film's original domestic cut, with its tacked on narration and happy ending, will surely be a surprise if you've seen the "Final" version first. Rest assured, however, that despite any complaints from fans about early cuts of Blade Runner, the film in its original form is still powerful and nothing short of exceptional. Would we still be going over Blade Runner with a fine-toothed comb 25 years later, otherwise?
Blade Runner Blu-ray, Video Quality
Blade Runner has found its way to the Blu-ray format in pristine 1080P transferred from a newly minted 4K master. It's clear that a huge effort was made in cleaning up the film as the source looks as though it was created recently as opposed to twenty-five years ago. The complex optical composites of the film have also been given a major scrubbing and none of the matte lines and optical cut outs that were so prevalent in previous versions are present here. It is worth noting that the new "Final" cut of the film is easily the best in terms of picture quality with each successively older version looking slightly more aged and worse for wear. Ridley Scott's "Workprint" of the film on disc 5 is easily the worst in terms of picture quality, but it stands to reason that there were limited sources to produce this transfer, so we are probably seeing it in the best quality physically possible. I'll focus on the "Final" version for the duration of this section. Colors are spot on with vibrant neon hues leaping from the screen. The many aerial shots that take place over a crudded up Los Angeles are spectacular in their dirty, grimy design. Even some of the older optical shots of models look surprisingly more realistic on this new transfer. Black levels and shadow detail are, thankfully, rock solid and intricate. For a film as dark as Blade Runner, anything less would have been a crime. Ultimately, Blade Runner on Blu-ray looks amazing and is, most likely, the best the film is ever going to look. Like their stunning new Blu-ray version of 2001, Warner has really delivered top notch quality with their release of Blade Runner.
Blade Runner Blu-ray, Audio Quality
In keeping with the high video standards employed on this Blu-ray release, Warner has opted to include a full 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track on this release of Blade Runner. Quite frankly, I've never heard Blade Runner sound quite this remarkable. The film has always been well ahead of its time in sound design, but the Blu-ray production team has really gone above and beyond. Directional effects are scattered throughout the film and there is a wonderful sense of realism and ambience to the many crowded street scenes. Dialogue is crisp and always intelligible and never recedes into breaking up, even in the most quietly whispered scenes. Vangelis' amazing score is crystal clear as well and this TrueHD presentation reveals even more layers of synthesized bass and atmosphere in this revolutionary soundtrack. Like the video, each successive step backwards in the film's version will reveal a little less in the soundtrack department. After the "Final" cut in TrueHD, the remaining versions are presented in standard Dolby Digital with the "Workprint" being in Dolby 2.0 stereo. Clearly the "Final" version is the standout of the set and is sure to give your home theater a nice workout.
Blade Runner Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's What's Included:
-Documentary: "Dangerous Days" (211 Minutes)
-"The Electric Dream: Remember Philip K. Dick"
-"Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel Vs. the Film"
-Philip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews
-"Signs of the Times: Graphic Design"
-"Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling"
-The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth
-Screen Tests: Rachel & Pris
-Deleted and Alternate Scenes
-"Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art"
-"Deck-A-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard"
-"All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cuts"
Setting a new standard for Blu-ray releases and supplemental material, Blade Runner seems to have just about every conceivable extra imaginable in this set. Every aspect of the film's production is well covered here with a huge number of commentaries, documentaries and featurettes. The entire supplemental section is featured in standard definition, probably due more to the age of the film than anything, but that shouldn't detract from the extreme number of quality features in the set. I was particularly impressed with the features surrounding author Philip K. Dick and his impressions of the film as well as the many interviews with other filmmakers who are devout fans of Blade Runner. All told, where supplements are concerned, it just doesn't get any better than this.
Note: This "Ultimate" Collector's Edition of Blade Runner comes packaged inside a special silver briefcase that is featured in the opening scenes from the film. Also included are a metal oragami unicorn, a toy version of Dekard's "Spinner" flying car, production artwork suitable for framing, a lenticular full-motion film element and a special packaging piece signed by Ridley Scott. The content inculded on the Blu-ray discs is identical to that of the 5 Disc standard edition of the film.
Blade Runner Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This phenomenal Blade Runner set from Warner on Blu-ray sets the new standard for comprehensive special editions. Featuring five completely different cuts of the film, stellar audio and video and the most comprehensive set of extras ever assembled for a Blu-ray release, Warner has left no stone unturned. First time viewers of the film will be treated to one of the great science fiction epics of film history and will get to enjoy seeing the film progress in its various edits over the years. Long time Blade Runner fans will surely be thrilled to see Mr. Scott's definitive version of the film along with the long talked about "Workprint" edition of the film. Regardless of your previous experience with Blade Runner, this new five disc set should be required viewing by all Blu-ray fans around the world. Blade Runner on Blu-ray earns my absolute highest recommendation!
Blade Runner: Other Editions
Blade Runner Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray (Updated) - July 17, 2012
In the fall, Warner Home Entertainment is expected to bring the 30th Anniversary Edition of Blade Runner to Blu-ray. Director Ridley Scott's reimagining of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep stars Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones: The Complete ...
• Ridley Scott to Revive Blade Runner - August 18, 2011
Ridley Scott has reportedly signed on to produce and direct another film based on his 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner. According to a new press release, the future installment will be produced by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. As ...
• Blade Runner Single-disc Blu-ray Announced - December 9, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced that, on January 4, 2011, it will release Blade Runner: The Final Cut. This cult science-fiction movie directed by Ridley Scott had been released on Blu-ray in 2007, in two different editions: a 5-Disc Complete Collector's Edition ...
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