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Review: Blade Runner

Vintage Viewings

Will Campbell, Guest Writer

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Think back to all the innovations in films. Lord of the Rings brought about an age of fantasy movies and managed to adapt a book series some believed to be unadaptable. Citizen Kane, heralded as the greatest movie of all time by many, innovated many cinematic techniques still used today. The Blair Witch Project was the first “found footage” film and is still celebrated for its expert use of the internet to lead its audience to believe it’s real. Many of these films are great, and I’m not denying that their influence is incredibly profound, but no film is quite as influential as Ridley Scott’s (Alien, Gladiator) “Blade Runner.”

Photo via blogs.technet.microsoft.com under Creative Commons.

It’s not unusual now to see a movie that features a technologically advanced society, juxtaposed against a crumbling quality of life. “The Matrix”, “Robocop”, “Terminator”, “Total Recall”, and more. But Blade Runner was the first cyberpunk movie, and that’s why I think it’s very important to show it off to the world.

Let me start this whole review off by saying that you will not enjoy this movie if you enjoy, say, the explosive action of the Marvel movies, or the Transformer films. You will enjoy this movie if you enjoy a slow, deliberately paced movie with a thought-provoking story and potential deeper meaning, if you really look into it.

The film was released in 1982 and went through quite the beating from critics. Despite that, it has a respectable 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many of the reviews having turned into positive ones, with a few rotten apples still visible upon close inspection. Not only that, but the film also has multiple cuts (versions) and re-releases, including The Final Cut, released in 2007, which this review will be based upon.

The story follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a retired Blade Runner. Blade Runners are special police units who are hired to hunt down replicants, which are artificially created humans, often used for menial tasks. Before the story of the movie begins, replicants were actually outlawed on Earth. Thus, the Blade Runners were brought in to hunt down any of the replicants still remaining. After a quartet of replicants, led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), escapes from the Moon and jumps a shuttle to Earth, Rick is brought back in by his former superior and has to go on the hunt once again.

Photo via jordanandeddie.wordpress.com under Creative Commons

As I stated earlier, the beats in this film come slowly, heavily inspired by the pacing of a noir story, with Deckard often doing detective work to find his next target. The performances are notable — scenes with Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty often became a treat to see, due to his odd yet charming personality, and Harrison Ford brought a gruff, battle-hardened atmosphere to the character of Deckard. A fantastic monologue at the end of the movie ties everything up well and is often quoted as being one of the greatest monologues of all time.

While the story is great, this movie is most popular for its visuals. Each shot is stunning and gorgeous, each shot has its own story to tell or something to add to the well-crafted setting of L.A. in the not-so-far-away year of 2019. The setting oozes personality down to its very core, thanks to gorgeous set design.

The detail of the movie is astounding. Every little thing is important, from the hulking Tyrell building in the center of the city, down to Deckard’s weapon, the PKD Special. In the movie, replicants are often shown to have glowing eyes at times, a trick employed by Scott using a mirror, which makes for many eerie, unnerving shots.

Photo via openculture.com under Creative Commons

However, despite all my praise for this film so far, there’s only one thing that surpasses the rest, and that’s the music. Composed and performed by Vangelis, a Greek artist, the expertly crafted synth soundtrack is haunting and beautiful, used sparingly enough to elicit an emotional response when heard, but used frequently enough to let it be remembered for generations. The full album by Vangelis is up on Spotify, or even on Youtube, I’d recommend listening to it. It’s far away from Daft Punk’s upbeat, fast-paced synth music, but the slow, relaxing drone of the Blade Runner OST provides a different kind of atmosphere to whatever you’re doing.

Blade Runner is far from the greatest movie of all time. It’s an excellent movie, in fact, it is my second favorite movie of all time, with number one being the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. But it’s easy to see that, despite the occasional flaw, including a rather awkward and forced romance, Blade Runner will always remain with us, through the continuation of the cyberpunk genre, and the love for the film itself.

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Review: Blade Runner