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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > Robots > Blade Runner – 5-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray + HD-DVD)

Blade Runner – 5-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray + HD-DVD)


Note: This set has also been issued on low def DVD-Video and in a Limited Edition faux metal (read hard plastic) briefcase (a duplicate of the Voight-Kampff Machine) with a lenticular card, plastic imitation of the spinner car with opening doors, silver painted origami unicorn and file with illustrations form the production of the film.  Also, some early versions of the Blu-ray release repeated one disc while omitting another.  Be sure to check your copy if you have it and/or when you get it just in case.  To receive a correct replacement Blu-ray disc Number 5 to have the Work Print versus Final Cut mislabeled as the other, you can call Warner Home Video at 1-800-553-6937.



Picture: A-     Sound: B+     Extras: A-     Film/Final Cut: A-



So after 25 years, a quarter century, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) finally gets its due in a Final Cut that fixes just about every problem the film ever had.  Its limited release was highly celebrated and even expanded a bit to meet high demand.  It was made towards the end of the last golden period of Hollywood filmmaking, when risks were being taken al the time that had nothing to do with selling tie-ins and the lack of a final version drove interest in the film higher and higher until this moment a quarter century later.  For more on the multiple-versions, you can start with the link to this essay when the re-release occurred last year:





We’ll try not to repeat ourselves, but there is much to be said about this film.  Before getting into the story directly, we should consider some of the reasons it died quickly at the box office besides having the unfortunate luck (like John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, reviewed on HD-DVD elsewhere on this site) of going up against Steven Spielberg’s then-surprise hit E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial.  That Spielberg would do A.I. two decades later where nothing worked is one of cinema’s great ironies.


One thing no one can say is that Warner Bros., did not go all out to promote and release the film.  They co-licensed some toys, made 70mm blow-up prints, pushed a soundtrack that rival record label Polygram issued, played up Harrison Ford as the lead having just hit it big outside of the Star Wars films with Raiders Of The Lost Ark, let everyone know this had the same director as the big hit Alien and hoped everyone would show up and enjoy it more than they did their excellent Science Fiction underperformer of the year before, Peter Hyams’ Outland.


It was a big-enough budget A-movie, they treated it like that and launched it as such.  So what happened?


One, some prints were not being projected well, giving the film a bad reputation for being too dark as if it was ineptly shot.  We all know better now.  Then there was the opening explaining the difference between replicants and the title character’s job in getting rid of them.  Originally, the makers were going to go for a definition of replicant and leave it at that.  They should have, because most who read the blade runner/replicant dichotomy thought they were being sold a dimmed, rehashed variant of Logan’s Run (1976, only eight years old at the time and a moderate hit everyone knew at that) and being conned.  As a result, when bad voiceovers, sometimes bad projection, some shots that did not make sense and an ending phonier than anything Logan’s Run could be sited for surfaced, audiences who were smarter than many remember from the time rejected it in reactionary fashion.  If the replicant definition remained, that might not have happened and this would have been a bigger hit as far as this writer is concerned.  Fortunately, another smart audience saw through this and the film lived to survive.


After various home video versions (especially from Criterion) slowly salvaged the reputation of the film and people forgot Logan’s Run as it become more dated and unintentionally amusing (despite having many things going for it, like its great Jerry Goldsmith score) parts, Blade Runner suddenly became this art film that became hip with a generation who like Scott grew up on Stanley Kubrick and awaited his next films as eagerly as anything.  Sure, Blade Runner may have overplayed its Kubrickian hand, which is more obvious than ever, but it was one of the first and best to do so and got away with it as a result.


Now the story as sold in 1982 with the Logan’s Run-like cat-and-mouse thriller set-up made audiences think Ford’s Deckard would be going around and knocking off genetically engineered super-killers because he was maybe the only individual skilled enough to identify, stalk, hunt and (with a license) kill them all with his blaster or any other weapon at his disposal.  Of course, Scott and co-writers Hampton Fancher & David Peoples were out to subvert that resulting in a much more interesting film.  Unlike most films that would be identified as Film Noirs, tried to be them or vaguely imitated their misunderstanding of them, Blade Runner knew what Noir was and also knew it could only be a Neo-Noir at best, but would not have had it any other way or the deconstructions in the film would have never worked.


The details are a separate essay, but as a clue, Film Noir is a historic period from 1941 (Citizen Kane and even The Maltese Falcon) to 1958 (Touch OF Evil) that is not a genre invented by Hollywood, was coined by French film theorists and happened in opposition to the studio system among other things.  Detective films are not automatically Noirs either, as demonstrated by the hundreds of such films since the silent era.  Blade Runner owes more to Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye than anything else, all part of the Neo-Noir cycle of the 1970s that end with this film.


Deckard is called in by a police captain (M. Emmet Walsh) and his right hand man (Edward James Olmos) to come ‘out of retirement’ to “retire’ a dangerous new series of replicants on the loose from the Nexus 6 series, one of whom already killed one of their testers and all of whom are said to have escaped a space labor colony run by one of the corporations in conjunction with the Tyrell Corporation that created them.


As the cat/mouse scenario kicks in and Deckard is contend into doing this dirty work, he meets a replicant named Rachel (Sean Young) who at first he thinks is human.  They actually fall for each other, while he goes on the hunt for the dangerous Nexus escapees on the loose.  From there, it becomes a deeper story with some good twists and with the happy ending excised, the best that can be expected despite Scott having some misgivings about how it ends just the same.


Of course, as much as Fancher does not want us to dwell on the possibility, what if Deckard is a replicant?  Maybe Nexus 5 or 4 because for a supposedly great blade runner, he is very bad at fighting them or finding them, despite the temptation to say he is “rusty” or the like.  If he is a Nexus 6, than he developed differently than the Rachel or the other models on the loose.  However, how did the other models become so automatically evil that the needed to be hunted to begin with?


We are told they killed their way back to earth, but never actually see any of them come from space and even when Pris (Daryl Hannah) hides in the garbage, it is not because she just escaped form a space colony, but to help Roy (Rutger Hauer) find their creator so they can live longer if possible as they all have self-destruct codes programmed into their organic compositions, yet they still need to be eliminated because they pose a threat?  Is that threat simply because they want to live and are self-aware, or because they are bad?  William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, James Hong and Joanna Cassidy also star.


Robin Wood certainly discusses this in his book Hollywood From Vietnam To Reagan… And Beyond (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and this new Final Cut already makes that updated 2nd edition from 2003 dated.  However, it remains one of the most vital, key analysis of the film and  is a must read in either version, examining the Blake quote, Roy & Pris as possibly representative fascists, compares it to the book and talks about it as dark parable of corporate capitalism holding on no matter how bad things get.  It also notes how Asian immigrants were bought over here and in combination with more docile replicants, fill in for the many native humans who are dead from whatever environmental/industrial (and maybe military/war) disaster ruined nature and this world to the point that day is like night and night worse.


1970s audiences that were enjoying the counterculture movement also rejected this film as a vote against such a thing happening, not knowing what the Reagan Years would set in motion.  They knew things could go into a better direction and did not want to face the ugly and real possibility of the opposite in a way that was not to stay in denial or in the clouds, but top simply reject the real thing from happening.  But the film is about more than that, or a shallow reproduction of Noir or some shallow (as misinterpreted by too many) film about what it is to be human.  When you eliminate the way posers have tried to hijack the film, you discover a truly great film that in it Final Cut can speak for itself.


Another thing about this new cut is that is liberating is to see just how excellent the performances of the cast and the chemistry the problems of previous cuts ruined now work out here.  Ford and Scott did not always get along on the shoot, but that actually helped the film, as Ford wanted him to turn out to be human, while Scott wanted him to turn out to be a replicant at the end.  It is a one-of-a-kind production because of the circumstances and ambition of so many talented filmmakers and producers all around.  It could only have come out of a Hollywood at its peak form, even if that was about to go into decline.  Most of all, it bears out Scott’s vision as the filmmaker who has become the most commercially successful and often critically successful British director of all time.


Blade Runner – The Final Cut answers all the mysteries it can, leaves the questions that need to be left in the air and is able to shine in all of its purely cinematic glory once and for all.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD comes from a 4K HD master made from a huge number of sources, including various plates, 35mm materials and 65mm materials from the visual effects work.  Originally issued in 70mm blow-up prints with a 4.1 mix, the Final Cut adds new sound work to fix and improve missing pieces or even work that Scott never got around to doing the way he wanted.  Scott approved all changes from a painstaking list compiled by restoration producer (and mega-fan) Charles de Lauzrika from compilations of Internet texts, published works, archival sources and unpublished works to make the film that was intended back in 1982.


Needless to say this looks amazing because the work was seriously put into the bringing the film into brand new shape.  Though some shots can be soft due of the age of the materials, most of the 35mm Panavision work and 65mm effects work is amazing, finally putting to rest the myth that this film was shot too darkly.  The alternate cuts show how bad printing and aged materials undermined the look of the film versus how a great print should look.  All the 65mm effects work and most of the 35mm work is demo quality more than enough to challenge any HD system.


Production design and costumes show their full detail and the depth and color range will be a revelation for even the most diehard fans of the film.  The lack of fidelity has sabotaged the film for decades, but now, The Final Cut delivers the film in all of its post-modern glory.  Fans may be interested to know that once Francis Coppola’s One From The Heart (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was done, Coppola began to recoup the losses on the film by selling the sets to this production.  If you look closely enough, you’ll see them very well integrated into the sets.


Director of Photography Jordan Cronenweth, A.S.C., expanded on the idea of the post-modern world and post-modern architecture (a mix of older styles for starters) that Scott began in Alien and changed the look of so many films from the clean modernist lines that ran from 2001 to Logan’s Run and the first Star Wars.  Debuting on no less than Robert Altman’s Brewster McCloud (1970) as the main cameraman, moving on to a short but significant career that also included Altered States, several films with Francis Coppola and the grossly underrated Phil Joanou thriller State Of Grace (reviewed elsewhere on this site) before his untimely passing.  His work is some of the most distinct in film history and this Final Cut honors his legacy as well, though I hope it drives fans to see his other films as well.


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for The Final Cut is a remarkable restoration job, with the only weak points being some of the dialogue showing its age in parts.  When restoring the film, some of the original audio could not be found and secondary sources (no mater how good) had to be used.  The 70mm 4.1 had the voiceovers and when Criterion did their 12” LaserDisc, they took a copy of that mix, broke it into 24 tracks, then remixed it for older Dolby Pro Logic.  Until now, that was the best mix you could get of the film at home.  Finally, we have a mix that does justice to the film and is in keeping with the usually remarkable sound mixes you will find on Scott’s films like Alien, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Legend, Kingdom Of Heaven, American Gangster and Gladiator.  It is not just about being state of the art, it is about using multi-channel sound in an advanced, integrated way to add not just “animated radio sound enhancement” to make noise, but to expand the cinematic space of the screen to create a full narrative experience.  Few filmmakers seem to know how to do this, while Scott has been doing it since 1979.


Vangelis seemed like an odd choice to do the score for this film and the last minute rearrangement of his music for the original 1982 release abused his work to the point where everyone thought it was a mistake.  However, the following for the music grew and if anything, Vangelis fits perfectly in the tradition of getting unusual composers of distinction who might do something experimental in the great tradition of Science Fiction.  The score was placed back where it belonged in the Director’s Cut and for the Final Cut, it really shines and makes total sense in intent.  The Dolby TrueHD mix really shows it off in a way no other format it has been issued in to date can.  Maybe it is time for an audiophile SACD!


Extras are numerous, even without the briefcase.  Now, the question is, do you count the other four versions of the film included?  You could, or you could just think of them as variations of the film without considering them as extras.  Either way, they break down as follows, with lesser Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mixes only:


Rough Cut with a few minutes less footage, alternate titles and different editing in sound and rhythm that was used to sell the film to begin with.


Original 1982 Version with the voiceovers by Ford he did not want to do and the sudden phony happy ending where sunlight and forest are suddenly found despite all indications to the contrary that the earth has been decimated with (again) a terrible environmental/industrial (and maybe military/war) calamity that limits sunlight.


European Cut with more graphic violence that still has the voiceover and phony ending, but was still more effective than the 1982 version, which seemed lite by comparison.  This is the cut Criterion issued in the 12” LaserDisc format, becoming the biggest selling disc in their history with that format.


1992 Director’s Cut which is really a half-hearted version that never did work, but pleased fans who wanted the voiceover and phony ending removed.  This is the debut of the unicorn sequence and never looked good in its DVD or 12” LaserDisc editions.



Of course, there are many other cuts of the film, some of which only made it to VHS and Beta, whole others existing are speculated about.  Those five cover most of what you’ll see in those various versions, though another extra here offers other excised footage you may have seen on older video formats or even TV.


Disc One has an introduction and three excellent audio commentary tracks, one by Scott, one by Executive Producer/Co-Screenwriter Hampton Fancher, Co-Screenwriter David Peoples, Producer Michael Deeley and Production Executive Katherine Habe and one by Visual Futurist Syd Mead, Production Designer Lawrence G. Paull, Art Director David L. Snyder and Special Photographic Effects Supervisors Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer.  Disc Two offers the expansive, multi-part Dangerous Days documentary with 80 interviews and tons of archival stills and clips.  Disc Three has Scott introducing the other theatrical versions.  Disc Four is dubbed the Enhancement Archive and features three subsections.  Inception includes The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Philip K. Dick, Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel vs. The Film and Philip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews.  Fabrication includes Signs Of The Times: Graphic Designs, Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling, Screen Test: Rachel & Pris, The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth, Deleted and Alternate Scenes.  Longevity includes the 1982 Promotion Featurettes On The Set, Convention Reel and Behind-The-Scenes outtakes, as well as Promoting Dystopia: Rendering The Poster Art, Deck-A-Gap: The True Nature Of Rick Deckard, Nexus Generation: Fans & Filmmakers and the following trailers: 1981 teaser, 1982 final, 1982 TV spot, 1992 Director’s Cut, 2007 Dangerous Days and 2007 Final Cut.  Disc Five with the Work Print version has a terrific audio commentary by Future Noir: The Making Of Blade Runner Author Paul M. Sammon, another into by Scott and All Our Variant Futures featurette about it.


Remarkably, all are must-see films.



For more films in this category, try these links:


Metropolis (1926)



2001: A Space Odyssey (HD-DVD)



Alien (DTS DVD)






Silent Running



Logan’s Run (1976/Limited Edition CD soundtrack)



Event Horizon



Sunshine (Blu-ray)




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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