Blade Runner Reviews
Blade Runner is a very odd film to talk about. This film is often hailed as a classic piece of cinema. If you look on a list of the best movies of all time it's likely to appear on there. However a lot of people either think of Blade Runner as average or even bad. It's weird, opinions on this film are really split. Blade Runner is in my opinion a great movie, it's not perfect but I do really like it and think the gold out-ways the bad. I think the biggest positive is the look of the film. This movie is over 35 years old and yet it's still a visual masterpiece. The cinematography is excellent as every shot looks beautiful. Some of the effects may be dated but a lot of them still really hold up, especially the designs of sets and characters. The film also sounds amazing. A lot of the scenes are enhanced by the beautiful synth score which perfectly fits the atmosphere the film builds. The sound design and mixing is all amazing, some may not pick up on it but all the vehicles and machines sound distinct and unique. Ridley Scott really did a fantastic job directing the film, it's a technical marvel and one of the best looking sci fi movies of all time. The film is a noire sci fi and I think it creates a good atmosphere and sense of mystery throughout. The world of the film feels like a classic noire with plenty of sci fi elements, but it isn't a squeaky clean futuristic world it's gritty and harsh, filled with consumerism and dodgy machines. While Blade Runner does have brilliant direction a lot of people complain about the performances. Harrison Ford is often criticised for his performance but personally I think he's really good. It's a different role for Ford as he isn't playing a charismatic character like Han Solo or Indiana Jones, he's a broken and sad character that has a very negative approach to the world. Ford does a really good job and while at times he sounds bored he's still really good. Sean Young stars as Rachel and she's good also. I can't admit I've seen her in much else but here's she's good and does a good job at selling her emotional scenes. Rutger Haur plays the villain Roy Batty and he gives easily the best performance. He's really creepy and menacing performance throughout, he's a great villain but at the end he gives a surprisingly emotional performance and you can't help but feel sorry for him. The problem with Blade Runner is that while it's really good the first 30 minutes are rather slow paced. They are interesting but very slow paced which can put people off. Also there's a very controversial scene of Deckard forcing himself on Rachel that is very uncomfortable and a scene I wish had been taken out of the film. Without a doubt the most talked about element of the film is the question of whether Deckard is a replicant or not. For being such an infamous question of cinema it's weird that the film doesn't really address it. The final cut of the film gives the somewhat conclusive answer that he is, due to Gaff leaving Deckard an origami unicorn as he knows that Deckard dreams of the unicorn. Also there's a scene in which Deckard is talking to Rachel and while he may be out of focus you can still see his eyes flash yellow, which is something the eyes of the other replicants do. I'm interested to see whether Blade Runner 2049 answers this question. Blade Runner is a really good film, it's very flawed but it's really great. A-
Another issue is the plethora of movie sequels, which I call "sequela" ("a condition that is the consequence of a previous disease or injury"). Despite this, I look forward to the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. It prompted me to go back and take a fresh look at the original director's cut of Blade Runner, which is set in fast-approaching 2019.
Although it's one of my favorite films, I find Blade Runner difficult to watch. It's got a classic themes (the quest for immortality, what it means to be human), a love story, and is solidly in the film noir genre. Despite sweeping cinematography of futuristic night vistas and the megapolis of LA in 2019, there is also a mood of sepulchral opacity: settings are dark, rainy, crowded, smoky and harsh. Pauline Kael noted "we're never sure exactly what part of the city we're in, or where it is in relation to the scene before and the scene after (Scott seems to be trapped in his own alleyways, without a map.)". The spectacular visuals don't seem to be bound by an animating force. Completely opposite is a film like Triumph of the Will where the spectacle is in support of an idea, or in that case an ideology. And even though that ideology is odious, from a purely cinematic perspective the brightly-lit, symmetrical scenes are visually appealing and in that sense pleasurable. Whereas when immersed in Ridley Scott's world, you end up feeling like you are on dark north wall in Game of Thrones, longing for the sunlight of the Dothraki kingdom.
What's the idea behind this juxtaposition of beautiful structures with roiling ghettos of would-be 2019 Los Angeles? Perhaps it's a more nuanced take on the idea of the destructive effects of technology. Technology-fueled apocalypse is well-explored territory in film: I am Legend, 28 Days Later, Brazil, Logan's Run, Planet of the Apes, all the way back to Metropolis. Today in the news we hear Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warning us to prepare to bow down in obeisance to our artificial intelligent overlords. In Blade Runner the apocalypse has been partial. There are gleaming palaces and flying cars, but for most it's dirty, dark, and dusty. Humans have not been exterminated or enslaved, but live as scurrying ramen-eaters and goods-hawkers. In this sense Blade Runner is closer to Bong June-ho's Snowpiercer than it is to most post-apocalyptic movies.
Given this grubby existence where everyone is looking out for themselves, the love story between Sean Young's Rachael and Harrison Ford's Deckerd should gain significance and perhaps be redemptive, but the characters are hampered by the blind loyalty to the close-mouthed film noir style. Not much is said, and not enough is felt.
Despite these flaws, Blade Runner is an immersive, imaginative, well-acted, impeccably cast, patient film. I disagree with Kael's assertion that Rutger Hauer stops the film every time he appears, and should win the "Klaus Kinski Scenery Chewing Award." As the doomed prodigal son he deserves some scenery to chew and I found him energizing. Harrison Ford is at his peak but underplays the role, he always seems to have just woken up.
Blade Runner is painterly and demands a suspension of the audience's desire to cede a portion of their critical responsibility to predictable filmic memes: buddy movie, gang of lovables, guy gets girl, righteous revenge, or what I see a lot of lately: "togetherness overcomes evil" (Guardians of the Galaxy, It). No comedy relief, no wisecracking Bruce Willis-in-Moonlighting character. It's my favorite movie to see once every 20 years. Let's see if the sequel leavens the bread.