By Chris Campo
I have put off watching Blade Runner for many years. Ever since my young eyes were blessed with the sight of Ridley Scott's Alien for the first time, this has been on my must see list. Why have I waited until days before the sequel arrives to see it, other than numerous threats and insults from Jack, is because it's a pretty daunting movie to watch. No, not because of its rich, heady themes and layered story, but just from the fact that there are like a billion different cuts of the movie on the market. However, after some reserch, I went with the Final Cut. So now I am proud to say I have seen Blade Runner.
Fresh off his instantly iconic turn as Han Solo, Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a blade runner. "Whats a blade runner?", you may ask. Well, a blade runner is a cop, specializing in eliminating replicants, or highly advanced androids, who have become illegal on Earth. Just as Deckard is ready to be done with the force for good, he's pulled back in after a small group of replicants manage to steal a ship and come to Earth to find their creator. Along the way, Deckard questions the world he lives in and dares to ask what it means to be human.
The main chunk of the story is easy to grasp; four bad robots, retired cop needs to stop them. But there's a lot more depth and meat to it than you might imagine. This is not an action film, it's not Star Wars. Its story is simply a template for questions and thought provoking ideas within a fictional world. No, it's not the life changing cinematic experience some have implied I would experience, but I did quite enjoy my time in Los Angelos 2019. I feel, actually I know, that the more I watch this film the more I will grow to appreciate it, but for now, I really like it. This wasn't like Alien, where as soon as Ripley signed off, the film skyrocketed to the tippy top of my favorite films list and I was foaming at the mouth to get my hands on all footage and knowledge available. But I do plan on watching the film once more before the sequel, '2049' arrives at the cinema.
What I can say was mind blowing about this film is its visuals. This is one of the nicest looking films I think I have ever seen. From cinematography to editing to the visual effects. My god, the effects in this thing. It's hard to believe this film is all practical and hands-on effects work. They're the nicest looking pre-digital effects ever. Some of it is truly arresting in every sense of the word. Even when the effects aren't present, the film remains pleasant to look at. If you took a frame from any section of the film and hung it on my wall, I'd worry that you just spent millions of dollars on a precious piece of art work, but no, it's just this movie.
My main complaint with the film is not rooted in the film itself, its the fact that you have too many options of cuts of the film. But the film is not without its problems, even if most of them are just annoyances and barley worth mentioning. There's a bit of a romance sub-plot where Deckard falls in love with a woman, a replicant woman to be exact, and I get why it serves the story, but it grinds the film to a halt at times. It's just not that interesting. I get it. I get the implications and what the film is trying to ask when a human character is falling in love with an android, but still, its dry. I also feel in these scenes the acting is always off, and there's no chemistry between the actors.
Overall, the film is less engaging but more evoking. The film is hard to truly get into and fully embrace, or at least upon first viewing, of course. I feel the most interesting aspect of the movie, character wise, is the antagonist android, Rutger Hauer's Roy. His journey and ambitions are far more compelling and thematically richer than Deckard's. Sure, this may sound negative, and I guess it kind of is, but it's really just a compliment to the writing and performance behind the character of Roy. And the ending of this film is... it's just damn good. Not much more to say. The climatic scene with Roy is the best scene in the movie.
Overall, sure, Blade Runner is a classic. To some, it's one of the finest films ever made. To me, I like it. My score is as high as it is simply out of respect to the legacy of the film and my understanding that it needs more time in my mind for me to truly, fully appreciate the film. It's a visually arresting sci-fi think piece that I am glad I finally sat down and watched. Now, bring on Ryan Gosling.
4 1/2 Stars
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