DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Blade Runner, 5-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray (1982-2007)

A sci-fi classic perfect for HD display; comes with nine hours of extras!

Published on January 25, 2008

Blade Runner, 5-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray (1982-2007)
Blade Runner, 5-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray (1982-2007)

Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Studio: Ladd Co./Warner Bros. 118574 (5 discs)
Video: 2.4:1 enhanced for 16:9 widescreen color, 1080p HD
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby 5.1, Dolby 2.0
Subtitles on feature: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese
Extras: 9 hours worth! (too many to list all) Disc 1 is the Final Cut in Blu-ray; Disc 3 uses branching techniques to provide on one Blu-ray disc the 1982 U.S. Theatrical Cut, the 1982 International Theatrical Cut, plus the 1992 Director’ Cut; Disc 5 is the Work print in Blu-ray; Discs 2 & 4 are standard DVD and contain all the other extras – including the new documentary “Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner,” Outtakes, Deleted scenes (80 minutes worth!), New interviews, featurettes on costumes, special effects, casting, design, the different versions of the film, bio of Philip K. Dick with vintage footage, vintage promotional materials from 1982, trailers, Ridley Scott’s short intro to the film, and more
Length: Work print – 110 min.; All others – 117 min.
Rating: *****

With the Blu-ray and HD DVD versions, plus the deluxe Ultimate Collector’s Edition $99 5-disc version that comes in a metal briefcase, there are now seven different editions of Blade Runner.  [First a warning about certain of these Blu-ray 5-disc sets: In some cases the fifth disk which is labeled Work Print is not that but another copy of the same Final Cut that is on Disc 1. My copy of Disc 5 looked washed out and didn’t have the snap of Disc 1 so mine was obviously correct. If yours is not you should call Warner Home Video to receive a replacement. I did wonder why on the extras there is talk about the original four-hour work print and yet this one is seven minutes shorter than the Final Cut.]

This has to be one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made but the initial release left many viewers confused about what was  going on, and turned off by a corny voice-over from Harrison Ford as Deckard and an even cornier happy ending tacked on.  Ridley’s Scott’s own cut of 1993 and the recent refurbished version just shown theatrically are so much better and should make the story clear even to first-time viewers.  Extensive interviews with both of the screenwriters involved in the production fill in many details about the film,  which was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”  – yet departs from it greatly as well as leaving important things out. Instead of android the term replicant is used for the artificial beings which have illegally run away from the “off worlds” where they are slaves and which Deckard is supposed to track down and kill.  If you’re seen the film at all, I would advise viewing the featured documentary “Strange Days” (the original working title of the film) and some of the extras before seeing the Final Cut.

Director Scott, who with a background in art and design did all of the storyboards for the film and envisioned the rainy nightmare metropolis of Los Angeles, talks about wanting to show a different sort of future from sci-fi films full of pristine modern costumes and “white hallways.”  Everything was shot at night with continuous rain and fog, with searchlight-like lights cutting thru the gloom.  The streets are the chaotic underbelly of the city, where only the poor and outcasts are; the wealthy live in luxury in immensely tall towers, have flying cars and don’t venture to the lower levels. The story has several levels: it is a film noir detective story, a murder-mystery story, and adds the mystery of figuring out which people are genuine humans and which replicants – including even subtle suggestions that perhaps the detective is one himself.

One of the new pieces of footage Scott has included in the Final Cut is the brief unicorn footage, which comes when Deckard is musing over various old photos and thinking about the bogus memories which are implanted in the replicants.  Scott speaks in the extras about this short clip and how the unicorn shakes his head at the end of it and then he cuts to Deckard at the piano shaking his head. However, Deckard does not shake his head in the shot that follows it in the Final Cut – leaving me wondering if there’s yet another version!

Blade Runner is a perfect film for hi-def display.  It’s entire world is a chaotic one of dark, misty, and foggy detritus of a society that is barely functioning. The added detail makes one feel more a part of this distopic world than has been possible in past DVD versions.  The Dolby lossless 5.1 audio helped too, and presented the compelling score by Vangelis better than I’ve ever heard it before. There’s some good LFE channel material as well.

 – John Sunier

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