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8/29/11

BLADE RUNNER: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT - REVIEW


Famously a flop upon its initial 1982 release, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner was based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and, although it was rather different from the book in many ways, it captured the look, feel and spirit of the writer's dystopian future.

The Director's Cut, released 10 years later, removed the voice-over, shortened the ending and hinted at the main character's true nature. Although some did miss the extra touch of noir the voice-over provided, it's frankly not necessary looking back plus Ford's monotonous read takes away from the stunning visuals. As for the twist ending, I'm not saying it makes perfect sense and far surpasses the original's optimistic take but it certainly makes more of an impact dramatically. Neither ending truly "gets" Philip K. Dick's point but for the film specifically, The Director's Cut feels more appropriate. Visually, this movie looks amazing: the cityscapes coupled with Vangelis' unique score make the already impressive visuals actually beautiful whether it's during the sunny spinner rides above buildings or down on the darkness-shrouded, rain-drenched ground level. The odd practical effect here and there hasn't dated terribly well but on the whole this is still one of the best looking sci-fi films ever and there's always The Final Cut if you're looking for something even more polished.

The cast is about as spot-on as it gets with Harrison Ford doing his moody private detective schtick with more heart than most and making his hitman/cop anti-hero completely likeable despite the inherent cruelty his job demands and his occasional cowardice. Sean Young has never been better as stylish love interest Rachael and neither have Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer whose relationship in the film is cleverly underplayed yet remains very powerful throughout. They play two of the replicants that Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Ford) is tasked with "retiring". Even the secondary characters are iconic from dodgy replicant creator Tyrell to his rapidly ageing assistant J.F. Sebastian, origami-making cop Gaff (Edward James Olmos), and James Hong's eye maker. The story is quite subtle in how it's told but even if you haven't read the book, an appreciation for the various metaphors and details the film has to offer should give you everything you need to understand it fully. Blade Runner is one of the most influential science fiction films out there and, although many have tried to "replicate" its style and mood, none have matched it.

Don't expect space battles or laser beams flying across the screen: just sit back, grab a drink and immerse yourself in this beautifully created, dark, uniquely miserable world in which androids are more human and far more poetic than humans themselves.

Masterpiece.

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