THE FILM | Cassam Looch This classic from early 80s cinema is one of the few films from the era that shows almost no signs of ageing. The visuals are still breathtaking, the downbeat performances and dystopian tone are still in place and above all the director’s ideas still brim with ingenuity and bravado. If this is coming across as a glowing recommendation then you’re spot on, and if you haven’t yet seen this film then it's an order… you must watch this!
Ford plays Rick Deckard a retired "blade runner" who is assigned to track down and terminate replicants from one of Earth’s outposts. Replicants are man-made androids that have a short shelf life and almost perfect human emotions — including the desire for life. When a small group of deadly replicants begin a murderous rampage trying to find the answer to everlasting life, Deckard is called in to track them down. The rogue element is lead by Roy Batty (a never better Hauer) who finds his "maker", but desperately evades the dogged officer on his tail. Deckards own judgement is clouded when he meets and falls for an innocent creation by the name of Rachel, which leads him to ask serious questions of himself.
From the opening shot of an industrial cityscape collapsing under commercial constraints the sheer sense of scale is there for all to see. It is arguably better than the often-feted Star Wars opening shot, and it still looks flawless. Despite the advancements in technology and special effects techniques this is still the most impressive sequence I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the film consistently hits these high marks. One of the film's trump cards is to get the instantly recognisable Ford to seem distant and unfamiliar. Of course this is essential, given Blade Runner's most debated plot twist, but it still makes an impression on even the most casual viewer that this is something the actor has never quite achieved since. Hauer is also imperious as the brutal yet intelligent "man" on a mission.
The Final Cut, as it is billed, may not be much different to the versions you are already familiar with. Sure there are some tweaks here and there (notably the dreary voice-over is gone as is the preposterous neat ending) but the main change here is the cleaning of the print. The film and the myths that have built up around it are movie folklore now from the notoriously difficult shoot (Ford seems genuinely grumpy throughout) to the head-scratching fact that at one point Dustin Hoffman was all set to take the lead role! But this is one that you cannot miss.
THE 5-DISC ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION | Stuart O'Connor ★★★★★ Is Blade Runner the finest science fiction film ever made? If not, then it's definitely in the Top 10; but it's certainly one of the most important, and most influential. Is it the finest film Ridley Scott has ever made? Arguably yes, but some people put Alien ahead of it. Wherever you happen to stand, it's a film that has been discussed, pored over, dissected, admired and analysed over and over again since it was released in 1982. So ... is this Final Cut edition really it, or will Scott return to his masterpiece, perhaps in 10 or 15 years' time, to tinker with it once again? Undoubtably. But for now, this really is the ultimate edition to own, love, fondle and watch over and over again.
Let's begin with the 2-Disc Special Edition. Disc 1 has, of course, Scott's new "Final Cut" of the film. It's been cleaned up, restored and digitaly remastered with some added or extended scenes, new special effects and a 5.1 Dolby digital audio soundtrack. It also includes three commentary tracks: one by Scott, one that includes screenwriters Fancher and Peoples; and one by a gaggle of special effects dudes. Disc 2 is a new 3½-hour documentary called Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner. The cast and crew, critics give a behind-the-scenes, in-depth look at the film. "It was a bitch, says Harrison Ford of the shoot. "Working every night, all night long, often in the rain. So it wasn't the most pleasant shoot." Now on to the 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition. Which is an absolute corker. Along with the two discs mentioned previously, you get another three (plus a few other odd bits and bobs). Disc 3 is the theatrical version of the film, but in three different versions: the 1982 US release, the 1982 International release and the 1992 Director's Cut. Disc 4 is dubbed a Bonus disc, with a whole heap of extra stuff — such as deleted scenes, featurettes, screen tests, trailers, TV spots and more. Finally, Disc 5 is the legendary, rarely-seen workprint — the first cut of the film that Scott ever showed to an audience. And it's certainly quite different to all the others. It has a different opening sequence, no Deckard narration until the Batty death scene, no "unicorn" sequence, no Deckard/Rachel "happy ending", alternate music and much more. You also get an introduction by Scott, a commentary track by Paul Sammon, the author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, and a featurette called All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut. So there you have it. All the different versions of Blade RUnner you are ever likely to want, all collected together in a lovely tin. If you've been waiting to buy this movie, then I reckon this is definitely the edition to get.