In case you were wondering which newspaper would win in a contest to see who can come up with the most offensive headline regarding the Olympian Oscar Pistorius (aka Blade Runner) being charged with his girlfriend’s murder, it’s a tie. The New York Post and the New York Daily News will both be receiving gold medals.
I suppose there’s plenty of room in hell for both the News and the Post.
NOTE: This review of Blade Runner contains spoilers.
When I say, “Blade Runner movie review,” it sounds as though I know exactly which movie I’m reviewing, but I don’t. Why is that? Because Blade Runner has been released and re-edited more times than Star Wars… I mean, “A New Hope.” Both Harrison Ford movies, that’s interesting… In any case, there are no less than 7 versions of Blade Runner.
Anyway, Ridley Scott directs a lose adaptation of the the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. That’s some title, huh? Can you imagine a punch of producers sitting around at able, having a conversation about the film’s title? “Hmm, if we keep the original title, maybe that will help bring in the audience from the novel,” on executive says. Then another says, “You think someone actually purchased and read a book called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And how are we going to fit that on a poster?” So yeah, they went with Blade Runner… that’s probably how it happened.
The movie feels a bit like a Stanley Kubrick film. There are long establishing shots of the locations as the camera moves toward a building, lots of wide shots, stark moments without music, and so on. I wouldn’t say the movie has a fast pace, but it moves along well enough, aided (especially during those long establishing shots) by a great soundtrack by Vangelis. It’s sort of a Noir movie, but the version I saw includes no narration, which I feel to be an essential requirement of Noir, although I understand there is a version with Noir.
The movie opened in what might be referred to as the ultimate sci-fi summer against The Thing, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and takes place in Los Angeles, circa 2019, which seemed far away in 1982. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop who gets strong armed into going back to his old job; that is, tracking down biologically engineered humans who are banned from earth and killing them. Deckard must specifically find Leon (Brion James – trust me, if you’ve seen any action movies in the 80s, you know who this is), Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah – yep, bet you didn’t see that coming). To make a long story short, Zhora goes down pretty easily, Leon is only ‘retired’ (that’s what they call killing the ‘replicants’) when Deckard is assisted by Rachael (Sean Young), a replicant who believes she’s human until Deckard tells her the truth, and Pris and Roy’s final moments make up the climax of the movie. The detective angle to the story is a lot of fun, especially in the first act as Deckard tracks down Zhora. The futuristic version of LA is gritty and crowded, and extremely culturally diverse in both the ethnic population and the languages heard throughout the city. Rachael’s story is one of the more interesting parts of the film, as is Leon’s failure of the Voight-Kampff test, or a personality profile that distinguishes humans from replicants. Leon fails the test in just a few moments, but it takes Deckard over 100 questions to learn that Rachael is a replicant, meaning she is of a much more sophisticated generation of replicant than Leon, Roy, Zhora and Pris.
I have narrowed down the version I’ve seen to be either 6 or 7, given that it features the unicorn scene. Yep, the unicorn scene: because the movie just wasn’t trippy enough with J.F. Sebastian’s (William Sanderson) weird apartment full of little fake people walking around. If you’ve only seen the version without the unicorn scene, then Deckard is simply a gritty ex-detective with one last job to do (killing 4 replicants) before he runs away with a replicant. You see, Deckard’s old partner, Gaff (Edward James Olmos) gives him an origami unicorn, which could mean that Gaff is aware of Deckard’s dreams, because Deckard himself is a replicant. He dreams of a unicorn galloping in a field; is this because there are genetically engineered unicorns running around in 2019 and this is someone else’s memory implanted in Deckard (the movie does relay that it is common practice to implant human’s memories in replacants) OR would he only dream about unicorns because they’re not real and neither is Deckard? Or maybe because his old partner used to constantly gives him origami unicorns? Based on what information the movie provides, I have no idea what the answer is.
There it is – Blade Runner, in all it’s cult classic, 7 version glory. It’s an fun movie, despite anyone’s feelings on the pacing issues and subject matter. And you can’t go wrong with Harrison Ford and a strong supporting cast, so check it out if you haven’t already, and if you have, there’s bound to be a version of the film you’ve never seen that completely changes your perception of Ford’s character.
Solo shot first!