Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(Criterion Laser Disc Collection)
For being such a classic 80s Sci-Fi movie, why is Blade Runner so difficult to connect with?
I first saw the theatrical cut of Blade Runner when my uncle gave me a small stack of VHS tapes that he said were must watch movies. Also included in the assignment was Evil Dead 2, Terminator 1, Mad Max 2, and we had watched The Abyss together on Laser Disc.
All I remembered from Blade Runner was it was a sci-fi detective story set in this rainy city. About 10 years later I revisited the it on DVD by watching the Final Cut .. during that watch it was mostly a blur except for the final battle between Deckard and Roy Batty.
With the new Blade Runner movie out in theaters, I wanted to revisit the original once again to take more of an analytical point of view. Once again I saw the Final Cut since that appears to be most fans preferred option. I think the narration from the earlier cuts gets trashed on way more than it deserves. As I recall it was very common in classic noir stories to get a narration from the main character to let us know what he was thinking.
There is no question the film is absolutely stunning to look at, especially that eye, the billboards, and pyramid building during the introduction. If you wanted to be really picky you could say that the flying cars are not perfect, but that fact of the matter is this vision of the future is one of the most definitive in all of cinema. It inspired so many films ... the one that would top my list would be 'The Fifth Element'.
My next favorite thing about the film has to be the score... right from the opening title cards that subtle futuristic synth music takes ahold of you and gets you in the mood to go on this journey. And it is also used expertly to close the film.
Now to the weird part, Harrison Ford is one of the greats of all time. He is Indian Jones and Han Solo for crying out loud .. and I even love his portrayal of Deckard ... So why is it so difficult to be interested in this story??
Well to start off with, I don't think the way the scenes come together is very fluid. It comes off like.. Deckard is here and now he is there... meantime I was still trying to figure out why. In this latest viewing I was lost about where he got the clue about the snake, so I went back and looked for where that took place and turns out it had something to do with the part were he was zooming up on those pictures.
While the finale is the best part of the film with the most action, it kinda feels like Deckard just stumbled into it and is highly out matched. Actually when I think about it, Deckard is only a bad ass during the chase when he takes out the snake lady.
I think the interactions between Deckard and Rachael where he is testing her are really interesting, but I must admit the love scene is fairly clunky and does not feel genuine.
The look of the two villains Roy Batty and Pris is awesome with their bleach blonde hair, but I wish they had more to do then to just go from person to person looking for Dr. Tyrell. But once we get that encounter between Ray and Tyrell, it is incredible with the sophisticated chattered and ending with the Dr. eyes being bludgeoned.
By far the most memorable part of the film that does connect with me is Ray Batty's final tears in the rain speech which is poetic and emotional. I guess he dies because at this point because his 4 years ran out, but that is left kind of ambiguous. What I did notice more this time was him putting the nail in his hand, which to me would be a Christ metaphor.. but I am not certain how that fits in with the rest of the story.
This leads to the great debate about if Deckard is a replicant. The problem for me is there are only a few hints in the entire film that show that he is one, the rest of the time he totally comes off as a human, since that is how Harrison Ford played it.
But it is hard to argue with the unicorn clues, and the fact that Roy spares his life. Apparently Gaff being a jerk to him is also a clue.
There is just so much subtle and ambiguous nuance packed into this film that makes it hard to connect with and leaves me cold. But just in writing all these observations and thinking more about these pieces I continue to slowly warm up to it, and maybe next time it will finally click.
Every film lover should see Blade Runner at least twice to see if they connect with it. It is a truly a Sci-Fi masterpiece that needs to be experienced!
Happy movie watching... SKOL!