Blade Runner ★★★★★

Blade Runner is that movie. The one that broadened my horizons and took me away from the world of the action blockbuster, comedy or horror which is all I watched in my early - mid teens. It introduced me to film as an art form instead of just mindless entertainment and changed my outlook on how I view movies significantly, and for that reason alone I find judging it objectively very hard. I used to watch Blade Runner around ten times a year, now it's down to two or three and despite its flaws, I still adore it.

It would be criminal if the first thing I talked about wasn't the intro. That god damn intro. After giving a brief overview on what Replicants are, it drops us into the world of dystopian 2019 Los Angeles. To this day it's my favourite movie setting and it blows me away every time with how great it looks. Even though it rarely stops raining, is very densely populated and heavy on crime, I'd still live there - that's how much I adore the setting. But I digress, the reason the intro is so great is because it immediately introduces elements that are present throughout - the dark and dangerous nature of future Los Angeles, the elaborate and stunning building design, the significance of the eye, and that Vangelis soundtrack. To me, it's a perfect intro - the combination of visuals and soundtrack always provide chills down my spine and get me excited for the events to come, and when the movie is over I skip back to it just so I can watch it again.

Harrison Ford's performance in this movie is a popular subject, and personally I think he's more than sufficient for the most part and is pretty damn good near the end. This isn't a Han Solo or an Indiana Jones, those characters had qualities that brought out his natural charisma and that's why I was so drawn to them. Deckard doesn't have this - he appears to be a loner, he's often drunk, and having quit his job as a Blade Runner he's hardly thrilled to be called back. He doesn't have many endearing qualities, nor is he very relatable, so Ford had to play him as such and I think he did a fine job of keeping the character in a state where the audience can question his status as Human or Replicant.

*START OF SPOILERS*

While Deckard is the protagonist, I see Blade Runner as having two lead characters - Deckard and Roy Batty. The movie itself is a journey of each character in opposite directions and by the end, despite the crimes Batty commits, I always find myself asking who the real hero is. I refuse to take Ridley's comments about Deckard's status as fact, as one of my favourite things about Blade Runner is the hunter becoming the hunted, Deckard realising what it's like to live like a Replicant, and seeing Batty showing more genuine Human tendencies and emotion than Deckard did - if Deckard is a Replicant that goes out the window.

While there are clues that can lead the belief that he is a Replicant, I prefer to take a more straight forward approach - Rachel, Pris and Batty all have the glowing eye effect at some point, Deckard does not, and while it's an interesting element to think about, I think the Human vs. Replicant dynamic works so much better than Replicant vs. Replicant. To me, Deckard is a Human - but I am open to changing my viewpoint.

*END OF SPOILERS*

Blade Runner is one of the more obvious examples of the soundtrack giving the entire film an identity. Vangelis' soothing but meaningful electronic score always enters and leaves at appropriate times whether it be travelling the city in a spinner or a key plot point between two characters. It relaxes, it adds meaning, and it always serves a purpose. It's amazing.

Not many visions of the future leave me so amazed by how fleshed out, realistic and feasible they seem. There was Blade Runner for the first time, 2001: A Space Odyssey and then Blade Runner again on Blu-Ray. It's one of the most visually charismatic films I've seen and the diversity of the city is what is so compelling; from the towering, majestic buildings to the neon lit bustling street level and underworld and even Sebastian's 18th Century themed apartment, Blade Runner is a wonder of design but what really gives it the edge is the outside elements like lighting, rain and smoke. I love how a lot of buildings don't use exterior elements instead of interior to provide lighting, whether to accentuate a character or just make smoke look really cool. This is particularly evident in Deckard's apartment where light flashes in and out every few seconds via a building or ship outside. It's not very practical, but it sure is pretty. I almost get the feeling that if you take one of these things away, the film would lose so much quality - Imagining Blade Runner without the torrid rain or overpowering smoke that build such a thick atmosphere is not a nice thought. The film works so well on a visual level because nothing conflicts, all the elements fit together like a perfect puzzle which would be ruined even if you remove the smallest piece.

In addition, there are so many little details that add to the overall authenticity, such as the usage of slang terms for Replicants and when Deckard drinks after a particularly violent encounter you see blood in the glass. Hell, even the glaring Coca-Cola product placement doesn't bother me, it's like a futuristic Times Square. The only thing that really stands out is the out of date computer displays, but all classic sci-fi movies suffer from that and, in my opinion, it only adds to the charm.

If I view it objectively, Blade Runner isn't perfect. If I view it the way I want to, Blade Runner is perfect, so that's how I choose to do it. A true science fiction classic.

Mike liked these reviews