Blade Runner: The Final Cut
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UK Blu-ray/Region All pressing. 25th anniversary version, originally released in 2008, of the iconic sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott has gone back into post production to create the long-awaited definitive new version. Blade Runner: The Final Cut is spectacularly restored and remastered from original elements and contains never-before-seen added/extended scenes, added lines, new and improved special effects, director and filmmaker commentary, an all-new digital audio track and more. Special Features Disc 1: Digitally restored and remastered, incorporating new footage and special effects never before seen Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Introduction by director Ridley Scott Three filmmaker commentaries, including one by Ridley Scott Disc 2: Definitive documentary incorporating outtakes, deleted scenes and all-new interviews. The ultimate look at the movie's difficult creation and controversial legacy.
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But to my mind, there's no topping this as far as quality of image goes. The exterior shots of the Tyrell Corp. especially are as sharp as they've ever been - in part because they aren't obscured by Scott's directorial obsession with smoke. The street views come to life in a way I've never seen before, and because the image is so clear and sharp there's so much more detail to be seen.
The one strange issue I had was in the opening sequence, my TV had some dark black spots along the bottom of the screen when the fires flared during the overhead shot of Los Angeles, November 2019. I haven't seen any other reviews that mention this bizarre image problem, and I strongly suspect it may be a symptom of my cheap 4K TV's incompatibility with HDR.
The most important thing though is that this is faithful to the film. It looks like it was shot on film, and it doesn't look glossy and digitized. The whole point of 4K is to get a natural appearance that's as close to the film print as possible. I have a 4K TV that doesn't have HDR, so I can't speak to the HDR elements yet, unfortunately. However, from other reviews I've seen online, the HDR combined with the 4K elements means that this movie will probably never look superior to this version. Assuming the 4K Blu-Ray format never dies, this may be the last version of the movie I may ever buy again.
The only thing missing is extras. There are extras that were included on the 30th anniversary edition (assembled in 2007) that aren't on this one, and that means that there will probably be an "Ultimate 4K Edition" down the road that not only includes the gorgeous 4K version, but all the extras that will truly put the complete Blade Runner experience in one package. Until then, my advice is to hold onto your Blu-Ray version of the 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition.
At one time I owned at least 16 copies in used VHS from AMAZON because I was afraid that I would never see the movie again and the quality of some of the tapes turned out to be damaged. I had missed out on buying them new.
I have seen the Directors Cut at least 7 times in theaters.
I still prefer the original version with the voice over because, for me, I would have missed some of the meaning such as the fact that Deckard was threatened with death if he did not return to the Blade Runner squad.
For me, it is the best movie of all time and Future Noir comparable with the classic Film Noir in black and white such as Maltese Falcon or Murder My Sweet or such color films as Devil in a Blue Dress or Chinatown.
(Deckard is human. As a matter of fact, I don't know how he survived and why he has a reputation of being the best since with every encounter with a replicant, he ends up like a rag doll.)
So BLADE RUNNER had audience appeal as a spectacle film to the some audience theater goers, but to geeky Sci-Fi fans and not-so-geeky movie fans in general, it developed a near cult status over a period of just a decade following its theatrical release. It was not that successful on initial release because Indiana Jones now looked like a depressed Philip Marlowe and the Film Noir narration was seriously lacking even though the dystopian color affected a Film Noir feeling. The cinematic style was a huge leap far and above the actual plot and script, so you had a gorgeous film with rather weak main character delivery. If you are new to Blade Runner you may want to skip the Theatrical Version of the movie right away and save it for later viewing. The film went through several incarnations thanks to some interesting theaters that began showing "Road Show" prints of the film a decade after its initial run, these somewhat rare vault copies energized new interest in the film and what we got resulted in a 1992 "Directors Cut" without the tough guy voice over and without the "happy ending" (it in fact more closely resembles the original Dick story). Also included in this set is a 1982 "International" version which played mainly in Europe and had extended scenes to the Theatrical version.
The main draw here is 25th Anniversary "Final Cut" assembled by Ridley Scott and which is so superior in so many ways to any other version that it makes Blade Runner into a wholly new and absolutely perfect film. Now Harrison Ford seems to fit better and more interesting than before (or maybe it just is a matter of age and the era in which we live, post-911).
There are featurettes in abundance on the 4th disc (The Enhancement Archive), if you are a Sci-Fi geek somewhere on a par with Sheldon Cooper, this will be your pee-in-your-pants bonus disc, but even if you are not, Dek-A-Rep and the two about the novel and the author are very interesting to watch and highly recommended.
The Final Cut took over 10 years to complete by Ridley Scott and one can see how painstakingly meticulous he paid attention to detail, especially if you have the gumption to watch it back to back against the Theatrical version.
Without spoilers, when watching this film, you will find subtly a treatise on what it means to be human and what it means to have a personal identity, in a rough way it ponders (not nearly as well as) the same questions brought up in Steven Spielberg/Stanley Kubrick's classic AI, Artificial Intelligence.
Blade Runner had to work really hard to become a "classic", but when one considers the director and his many masterpieces delivered over the years (still going strong by finishing up the Alien series with finality and about to embark on making Justin Cronin's PASSAGE trilogy into three films), one has to give a big nod to this as a real work of cinematic art and Ridley Scott is truly one of the best directors of modern times.
I purchased this over 7 years ago and have managed to watch everything on the four discs at least once, and the Final Cut about once a year, the other versions at least twice each in that time, so entertainment value versus price is premium!