Golden Oldies On the Big Screen Golden Oldies On the Big Screen



For, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: As mentioned in the blog above I reviewed two earlier theatrical versions of the R-rated ‘Blade Runner’ in the Deseret News, the original in 1982, and a ‘restored version’ 10 years later. So here are those reviews, in honor of the ‘Director’s Cut’ being revived for a two-day run in local Cinemark Theaters, kicking off a new ‘Classic Series.’ ‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. and again on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 2 and 7 p.m.

July 6, 1982: “Blade Runner’s” special effects are of the kind that one can watch with fascination but Ridley Scott (who also directed “Alien”) pushes our tolerance level to the limit.

The effects are wonderful, but after an hour it becomes clear that the effects are just about all we’re going to get.

Harrison Ford stars as a ’40s Bogart-style detective in futuristic Los Angeles. The idea of placing the old film noir style in the future is an interesting one and it’s milked for all it’s worth, with dark lighting, window-shade shadows across faces, a voiceover narration by Ford, etc.

The opening sequence, panning across L.A., with ethnic groups — particularly Asians and Hispanics — having taken over the streets (there’s a real New York City feel to this Los Angeles), which are constantly drenched with humid rain, is a brilliant beginning.

But what follows is ultimately letdown. Ford is a former police officer, reluctantly recruited to track down four “replicants,” human-like androids — so much so that they have begun to think they are human, especially the love interest, played by Sean Young. And now it seems that several have gone on a killing rampage.


        Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, 'Blade Runner'

Ultimately there is a “Frankenstein” confrontation between the replicant leader (a stunning performance by Rutger Hauer) and his maker, but in and around that the very thin tale drags at a snail’s pace and is filled with uninteresting characters — not the least of which is Ford’s. His limited acting range really damages “Blade Runner” (the title refers to those assigned to kill replicants) and the narration is a major mistake.

Still, there is much to admire visually, with stunning effects by Douglas Trumbull (“2001 – A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”). It’s just that you might fall asleep after the initial dose.

“Blade Runner” also boasts a quality music score, a moody conglomeration of several themes by Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”).

Sept. 11, 1992: When Ridley Scott turned in "Blade Runner" in 1982 it was rejected by the studio, which went forward with a number of changes.

This "restored" version, released for the film's 10th anniversary — and because Scott has gone on to even greater success, especially with last year's multiple Oscar-nominated "Thelma & Louise" — is merely Scott's return to making the film represent his view.

"Blade Runner" is based on a Phillip K. Dick story and has Harrison Ford as an assassin of runaway androids in the future, which is seedy, rainy 2019 Los Angeles. The special effects and production design remain astonishing and there are several supporting actors who have gone on to greater fame — Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos and Joanna Cassidy.


          Harrison Ford, Sean Young, 'Blade Runner'

The most noticeable change is the removal of the original film's obtrusive voiceover narration by Ford, which always seemed redundant with the action. It is not missed.

Scott has also added a fantasy image of a white unicorn that ties into the film's final moment, as Ford picks up a paper unicorn shaped by Olmos' character. And he's lopped off the "happy ending," which had Ford and Young flying off into the sunset, allowing a more ambiguous tone in the end. The biggest surprise comes in the moment when Hauer confronts his maker. Scott has toned down the gore, virtually eliminating the gushing blood that was in the original version.

All of these elements do improve the film, but it remains a very dark and far too long thriller, with many dull moments that would serve the film better by moving along a bit faster.

The most enjoyable aspect, however, is seeing all those astonishing special effects on the big screen. If you want a front-row example of how much movies lose when they go to video, watch "Blade Runner" on TV then go see it in the theater. There's no comparison.