Review: Blade Runner (1982)

blade_runner

I’m thinking, well hoping, that this wasn’t the version to see and that one of the other versions is the much talked about great Blade Runner!

Screenplay By: Hampton Fancher, Roland Kibbee & David Webb Peoples
Directed By: Ridley Scott

After many years of hearing about Blade Runner, the excellence of the movie, how it was science fiction personified, I am forced to be a voice of dissent. Although I did my digging after watching Blade Runner and I may not be a voice of dissent. I saw the original theatrical cut, and from everything I have read most people viewed it the same way I did, full of great visuals and some interesting ideas but not a good movie. For that reason I look forward to someday seeing either the director’s cut or final cut of Blade Runner and maybe then I will get what the big deal is!

But, I can only go off of what I witnessed in this version of Blade Runner, and what I witnessed wasn’t all that great. While I enjoyed the overall noirish vibe of the movie, I couldn’t stand Harrison Ford’s bad, oh so bad, voice overs. There was far too much bad exposition. The scene with Ford and M. Emmett Walsh where Walsh spells out everything the audience needs to know about the Replicants was so, so bad. Deckard has been a cop/blade runner for years, he should know all of this already. Probably the worst part of the film, that can’t be fixed unless the scene is removed altogether, was the obvious male stunt double for Daryl Hannah in her fight with Ford.

Where Blade Runner is most interesting is possible interpretations and philosophy. But, this is also where hopefully future versions will help to enhance the experience. I could see where the story was trying to go with ideas of humanity, life versus death, and what constitutes life? However, none of these ideas are fleshed out enough in Blade Runner. They are surface ideas, no more than that. A few changes and some added scenes could make the themes/ideas behind Blade Runner more powerful and more worthy of deep discussion, but in this version they are more a passing moment than something worth detailed thought.

There were areas that Blade Runner got down pat. Future LA looks amazing and combined with the cultural mixing creates a future that is extremely exotic yet also seems very possible based on humanities current path. Blade Runner is full of unique imagery that never ceases to be interesting. I also very much liked the gritty look of the film. Blade Runner didn’t create the dystopian future, but it helped to visually push what the dystopian future should look like.

Where a better version would come in most handy is the story (this also ties into its philosophy and interpretation). There is an interesting story, but it also doesn’t feel fully fleshed out in any way. The ending is another area where the story and the movie feels false. The entire movie has been oppressive and yet the ending is full of mountains and clear blue skies. If those places exist and the world is that free then why the heck are people living in the acid rain controlled cities? I know there is a good story in there, it just needs to be brought out.

For those Blade Runner fans about ready to lynch me, just remember I watched the theatrical version. Hopefully my opinion will be changed by the two “better” cuts. I hope my opinion will be changed, because I was looking forward to Blade Runner, it’s the type of movie I usually like. But, not this Blade Runner, this Blade Runner was a series of missed opportunities and empty themes.

Rating:

**

Cheers,
Bill

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9 responses to “Review: Blade Runner (1982)

  1. I would highly recommend getting your hands on the Final Cut. It really is the tightest edit of the movie in my opinion and it fixes a lot of the problems that the rest of the edits have. Also, it completely removes that god awful voice over narration.

  2. The issue of the voice over is a contentious one for fans of the film. Dissenters of often said that Ford just didn’t like doing them and that’s why they come off as so flat. I seem to remember Ford himself saying that that was not the case at all. The quality of the voice over was exactly what they were going for. Personally, I don’t like it too much, regardless of what the intent was.

    As for the film overall, I like it quite a bit. It’s a zany mish mash of film noir, action, sci-fi and philosophy. None of those elements ever takes over the film completely, and I think that’s why I like it. It never goes too far with any of its ideas, so it’s left to the viewer to think about them, or enjoy the story, or enjoy the visuals, or enjoy whatever it is one might take away from the movie.

    The ending…ah I think I remember which version you watched. Yeah, that’s not the one I tend to watch myself. Agreed: a weird ending that doesn’t fit with with the rest of the movie. The ending in the version Iike (which also doesn’t have the voice over) is ambiguous, dare I say rather dark. I won’t give it away (unless you want me to, but that would spoil the fun), but it’s way, way better than the theatrical ending.

  3. Bill Thompson

    Rick – Maybe some day I will get around to the final cut.

    Edgar – As usual, thanks for your thoughts.

  4. I REALLY THINK YOU ARE CLUELESS ABOUT THE GREATNESS OF BLADE RUNNNER. THE WHOLE POINT OF THE MOVIE IS THAT HUMAN BEINGS CREATE THEIR OWN VERSION OF HELL-IE THE CITIES. I LIVED IN LA IN THE EIGHTEIS WHEN THIS FILM WAS MADE. I HAD TO LEAVE WHEN THEY STARTED SENDING THE MORGUE VAN TO THE FREEWAY TO PICK UP THE BODIES BECAUSE PEOPLE WHERE SHOOTING EACH OTHER OVER A CUT OFF ON THE FREEWAY. I TOO FLED TO THE MOUNTAINS TO ESCAPE. FOR SOME REASON HUMAN BEINGS CONGREGATE TO THE CITIES TO SCRATCH OUT AN EXISTANCE AND FIGHT WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS FOR EVERY INCH OF SPACE-IE NEW YORK CITY. WHY WE DO THAT I HAVE NO CLUE. I MEAN THE WHOLE MOVIE WAS ABOUT ESCAPING TO THE OUTER COLONIES TO GET AWAY FROM THE HELL ON EARTH-ONLY TO HAVE THE REPLICANTS WANT TO COME BACK TO SEEK LIFE LIKE ALL OF US. I THINK YOU NEED TO SEE IT AGAIN AND PUT ASIDE THE TRIVIALITIES SUCH AS A STUNT MALE DOUBLE WAS USED(I DID NOT KNOW THAT UNTIL THE MAKING OF FILM CAME OUT). I LOVE THE NARRATION-1 BEACUSE IT IS A FILM NOIR AND FILM NOIRS OFTEN HAD NARRATION AND 2 IT SIGNIFIES HOW BURNT OUT HARRISON FORD WAS WITH LIFE AND THE FACT HE HAD TO KILL TO MAKE A LIVING. IT IS TRUE THAT SOME OF IT CAN BE CUT OUT BUT WHEN HE APPROACHES THE BODY A REPLICANT HE HAS JUST KILLED AND SAYS “THERE IT IS AGAIN-FELLINGS” THAT IS JUST PURE POETRY. I COULD WRITE A BOOK HERE SO WILL STOP. TAKE A DEEP BREATH, WAIT TILL A RAINY NIGHT AND SEE IT AGAIN.

    P.S. Ridley Scott dosn’t even appreciate the beauty of the original ending but I love Ridely Scott!!!

  5. Tyler Durden

    I stop reading after the first sentence. You have the right to not love this movie, it doesnt make you stupid or intelligent if you do or do not. But you are so clueless about its intention that’s for sure. You should stop making review, you sometimes look like a teen trying to figure out what is great about Mona Lisa painting. You lack culture, historical knowledge, art history lessons and movie knowledge. Being a movie critic goes much more deeper that saying clueless stuff like :

    If those places exist and the world is that free then why the heck are people living in the acid rain controlled cities?

    In order to go live in those cities in the out world colonies, you need to be physically fit, those not fit, like JF Sebastian, have to stay on earth. Have you read anything about Philip K. Dick for that matter ? You don’t have a clue about a movie, cannot understand its greatness perhaps it’s because you need to get inform a bit first. Furthermore, the acid rain is because the world has had a nuclear war, the same reason why animals are all dead, extinct, or expansive if still alive…

    The movie has so much depth, you didn’t understand its message. The more the movie advances, the more robotic Deckard becomes. And the more Batty becomes human. Ridley Scott questions what it is that makes us human. It’s about dehumanization and what is the underlying idiosyncracies of a human being.

    Clueless indeed pal.

    At least there’s Roger Ebert in this world…

  6. Andy – Paragraphs breaks and laying off the caps button are your friend.

    With that out of the way, I have seen it again since I posted this and all my complaints still remain. The base vision is all that remains, the narration is still tediously bad, there are too many obvious gaffes in production quality, and the narrative of the film does not in any way jive with the visual fulfillment that the ending tries to give off. I’m glad it worked for you and so many others, but there are just as many people from whom the film still fails to work to this very day.

    Tyler – If you want to be a tool then post like a tool, you have mastered that my friend. Honestly, I would break down what you have said, but there’s no point, I don’t respond to ignorant and trollish behavior in a respectable fashion.

  7. The final cut is a waste of time as it contained at least and extra 10 seconds. The narration by Harrison Ford was used because of the heavy cuts the film had prior to its release date in 1982, ford’s character in the film explains that he is a replicant with a long life compared to that of Roy (Rautger Hauer) whose life was only four years. The narration in the 1982 international version is longer than the 1982 usa version and longer than the 1992 & 2007 director’s cut and overall I am sure that Ridley Scott will have the chance and right to release the full version that the critics seen in 1982 through a private showing. Stanley Kubrick back in the 1970’s was writing his epic sci-fi movie called Ai and when he seen Blade Runner, kubrick said oh well I won’t make it now and he eventually gave the rights to Spielberg to make Ai which is an early version of Blade Runner which about a throw-away society on the brink of collapse where humans were slowly being replaced by Replicants who are so close to the human form.

  8. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: Your Taste Is Unacceptable! | Bill's Movie Emporium

  9. I knew about AI, and most what you wrote actually. As much as I believe in giving every film its due, there comes a time when one must ask, how much is too much? There have been how many versions of Blade Runner now, five or six? There are a lot of films out there that I still need to see, so why should I keep giving Blade Runner and it’s endless versions a chance?

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