Blade Runner: Director's Cut

Blade Runner: Director's Cut (1991)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah

"Blade Runner" is the film that was surrounded by years of controversy over the studio interfering with director Ridley Scott's vision. Now, the Director's Cut, presenting the film Scott had in mind originally, is once again coming the DVD in a restored transfer but sadly still without extras.

In the year 2018 cyborgs – called replicants – have been created and banned from Earth. When a group of criminal replicants return to Earth, police officer Rick Deckerd (Harrison Ford), a "Blade Runner", is assigned the task to track and "retire" them. But being superior in strength and intelligence to human beings, this is no easy task, especially since all they initially wanted was to be human.

I will be absolutely honest with you, even though I know I will incur the wrath of many readers. I never thought "Blade Runner" was a very good film to begin with and it isn't one still. The last times I saw the movie was many years ago and I thought it was pretty awful, actually, with no suspense curve, no engaging characters and a futuristic vision that is neither interesting nor intriguing. Ridley Scott made a good number of changes in this director's cut of the film and I was honestly eager to revisit it. I wanted to like the film and see if maybe I just "didn't get it" the last times around but in all honesty, the film is still barely able to hold my attention. It is awfully slow, awfully erratic in its narrative, awfully dark and awfully uninspired if you ask me. Considering the fact that the film was originally shot in 1982, I cannot imagine how someone would/could have deliberately envisioned a future a meager 35+ years away that is so different from the status quo. Even worse, as in many other films, I am not sure why the filmmakers show technology and society reverting to ridiculously primal standards. There is not a hint of true progress in mankind or humanity, and yet people have colonized planets all over the galaxy. They are flying through the skies of the towering cities like a blazing LA, and yet, no one seems to ever sweep the floor everyone's walking on. Sorry, but I just don't buy it.
Deckard's apartment, as another example, desperately needs an interior designer and a light switch. Sebastian's house is dilapidated and falling apart – why would anyone want to live in such a place on their own free will? So, as you can tell, apart from the paper-thin story, the newly boosted-up romance, and the bleak surroundings, there is very little I find appealing in "Blade Runner," the film.

Not so the presentation on this DVD, however. Warner has created a wonderful transfer for the film that is absolutely clean and free of defects. A sheen of grain is evident in a few scenes but nothing noteworthy, really. The transfer offers a very good level of detail but the film's super-dark cinematography often throws out the baby with the bath water. While deliberate – and wonderfully reproduced on the DVD – the film is simply too dark for its own good making it almost impossible at times to penetrate shadows or corners. Even interior shots are so gloomy they would scare away trolls let away invite humans to live or work in them.
No edge-enhancement is present and the transfer is free of compression artifacts.

The audio on the release comes as a Dolby Surround track. Surprisingly the film has not been remixed to a full 5.1 channel presentation during its re-cut by the director, which is peculiar. Some of the atmospheric music and the sound effects could surely have benefited from discrete surrounds.

The DVD is entirely devoid of extras. There is absolutely nothing, not even trailer or text information about the genesis of this Director's Cut. Frankly, it feels as if it was just slapped together and thrown out the door to make the director and the fans happy, which is weird given the notoriety this film enjoys.

"Blade Runner" is not everyone's bag – obviously – but for those who enjoy it, this DVD offers up a very clean and good-looking transfer of the movie, allowing Ridley Scott to tell the story his way, finally. Too bad no extras were included to offer some more insight into the controversy and the making of the film as a whole, but such is life. Your mileage may vary with this release.