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
A- Sound: B+
Extras: A- Film/Final Cut: A-
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:
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.
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
It was a
big-enough budget A-movie, they treated it like that and launched it as
such. So what happened?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
all are must-see films.
films in this category, try these links:
2001: A Space Odyssey (HD-DVD)
Alien (DTS DVD)
Logan’s Run (1976/Limited Edition
- Nicholas Sheffo