It’s November, which means we’re in Blade Runner territory. One of the most visually-stunning movies ever made, the 1982 noir sci fi classic may be set in November 2019, which is now in the past, but its legacy shall live forever.
If you’re into mind-blowing visuals, minutely-crafted environments, and more atmosphere than Jupiter, then Blade Runner counts as a textbook must-watch. Home cinema projectors should be the ultimate way to enjoy this seminal work, especially if you opt for the Final Cut Blu-ray version, which outputs native 4K and HDR for spectacular viewing.
While Blade Runner was influenced by earlier works and possibly the cyberpunk style wasn’t exactly invented when the movie came out in the spring of 1982, it’s certainly true that Blade Runner cemented a specific look we think of as cyberpunk. Neon-lit megacities with towering skyscrapers that pierce highly polluted skies, what appears to be a never-ending night, and of course rain. There’s also the intimate link with 1930s detective noir, as a lone cop (Harrison Ford) gets tasked with hunting down rogue synthetic humans known as replicants. The replicants are played by Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Brion James, and Joanna Cassidy. They all do marvelously in their respective roles, and clearly enjoy the lavishly-crafted costumes, sets, and even elaborate makeup in many cases.
Blade Runner has an essentially very basic plot, but its look has helped shape entire generations. This is a genre-defining movie that we can’t recommend enough to anyone interested in cinematic evolution. Even before the advent of 4K HDR editions, Blade Runner proved extremely resistant to aging. While not a success on launch, the movie became a cult classic and standard bearer over the last 40 years, and during those decades never felt aged or obsolete.
Thanks to the brilliance of director Ridley Scott and cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, not to mention hundreds of hard working crew members, Blade Runner is a masterclass of visual splendor. To countless people who watched Blade Runner at a young age, the film offered a portal into an alternate version of Los Angeles. It’s so well-made and detailed, feeling at home in the overly-populated, ultra-commercialized landscape of Blade Runner becomes second nature, especially upon multiple viewings, which are a given for fans.
Blade Runner was inspired by a Philip K. Dick novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The name Blade Runner comes from a separate story by William S. Burroughs. However, neither of these influences actively shaped the unique look of Blade Runner, which is more akin to that of 1927 classic Metropolis by Fritz Lang. In any event, once you sit down to watch Blade Runner on a proper HDR-capable 4K projector, you’ll be smitten with the constantly contrasting visuals on display during its modest two hour run. Overall very dark in tone, the cityscape of Blade Runner is punctured by massive neon signs, animated billboards, endless lights from towering structures, flying cars, a gigantic blimp, and lively street scenes apparently inspired by 1970s Hong Kong.
Blade Runner offers such a palpable, almost tactile feel, it’s hard to describe. But you’ll definitely enjoy the play of light and darkness as they do battle for attention on-screen. That tension manifests most beautifully in the bookends of the picture. The opening sequence, with future LA sprawling to the horizon, has become legendary. Likewise, the final act with its rain soaked rooftop chase and monologues stands out in moviemaking history as singularly compelling.
There have been so many versions of Blade Runner over the years, it’s become somewhat of a drinking game to keep track of them all. However, the Final Cut version should be the definitive edition for the foreseeable future, especially since it comes loaded with special features. Most importantly, this rendition has all the editorial fixes that Blade Runner so desperately needed on release in 1982. While a brilliant film, Blade Runner did suffer from some glaring gaffes in the editing department, including poor lip syncing and bruises on Harrison Ford’s face that appeared before he got into the fight that left his character with said markings. There was also an otherwise marvelous scene with Joanna Cassidy that managed to involve snow in LA – sort of. Problem was, Joanna was played by a stunt double in that scene that looked nothing like her, and it was painfully obvious. This has been digitally corrected for the 2007 release, and is still here in the Final Cut.
All of these anecdotes are more than like tears in rain. They’re an indication of the lore, love, and learning that Blade Runner has to impart. It’s so much more than a movie, having helped shape too many movies, books, TV shows, games, and concepts to even begin to count. There’s also the almost unbelievably good soundtrack by Vangelis, which warrants an entire series of articles on its own. So you really should have good speakers or headphones for your Blade Runner experience.
There’s no other way to put it. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner yet, go for it. And if you have, what are you waiting for? Watch it again.