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'BLADE RUNNER' REVIEWS

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the sequel to ‘Blade Runner’ opening this weekend and the ‘Final Cut’ of the first film reissued on Blu-ray, perhaps it’s time to look back at Ridley Scott’s early ’80s epic, which had no less than three theatrical releases over the years, with three different-edited versions — and when I was the Deseret News film critic I reviewed all three, plus a later Blu-ray release. So here are some excerpts from those four reviews.

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 or so it becomes clear that the effects are just about all we’re going to get.

Harrison Ford stars as the ’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 pans across 2019 Los Angeles, as ethnic groups — particularly Asians and Hispanics — have taken over the streets, which are constantly drenched with humid rain (there’s a real New York City feel to this Los Angeles). It’s a brilliant beginning.

But what follows is an ultimate letdown.

Ford is a former police officer, reluctantly recruited to track down four “replicants,” androids that are very human-like (so much so that they even think they are human — especially the love interest, played by Sean Young) and have gone on a killing rampage.

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 … and the narration is a major mistake.

“Blade Runner” also boasts a quality music score, a moody conglomeration of several themes by Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”). The film is rated R for profanity, violence and nudity.

     

Sept. 11, 1992: 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. …

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.

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 is in the original version.

     

Nov. 2, 2007: During my tenure at the Deseret Morning News, I have twice reviewed "Blade Runner" — once in 1982, when the film was initially released, and again in 1992, when we got the theatrical "director's cut."

So it was with interest that I trekked over to The Gateway … to see the latest version, the so-called "Final Cut." …

With too many companies jointly putting up the film's budget, (Scott) had a number of bosses to answer to. And some of them took issue with the film being too low-key, too visually dense, too slow — and especially its dark, enigmatic ending. …

So the film was taken from Scott and several changes were made — a voiceover narration (by star Harrison Ford) was added and a happy ending had Ford and his replicant (read "android") babe (Sean Young) sailing into the sunset … if they could find it in all that rain. …

Scott was approached about revisiting "Blade Runner" for a "director's cut" — something pretty rare in those days (today, of course, director's cuts are as common as reissued DVDs).

So recut it he did, eliminating both the voiceover narration and the happy ending.

This version of the film received a wide theatrical release, but its box-office earnings were unremarkable. …

Meanwhile, however, "Blade Runner" had amassed a cult following, which only grew when it went to home video. …

But he still can't let go of "Blade Runner," which is currently in a national theatrical run in its "Final Cut." Or so the press material says.

On Dec. 18 this version comes to DVD, along with a five-disc Blu-ray set that has no less than five versions! …

As for whether "Blade Runner" is any better now than in 1992, it's hard to say, and very subjective, of course. I sort of liked it more, the pacing seems better, the special effects still dazzle (and Scott reportedly bolstered those with computer graphics this time around). And it certainly has more power on the big screen than on even the biggest TV.

Or maybe it's just growing on me.

     

Oct. 24, 2012: Yet another “Blade Runner” release is in stores this week, marking the film’s 30th anniversary. …

How have I reviewed thee, let me count the times? Sorry, I can’t keep track. Let’s just call this my umpteenth review of Ridley Scott’s “future noir.” …

Whether the film has worn me down by the sheer number of times I’ve seen it in its various incarnations or whether it has actually improved with both age and filmmaker Ridley Scott’s incessant tinkering is a subjective judgment, of course.

But I did enjoy watching it this time around, as well as some of the voluminous documentaries.