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Better Late Than Never: BLADE RUNNER

The Film: Blade Runner (1982)

Age at Which Author Finally Saw It?: 26

How Could You Have Missed It?: When I was about 19 I actually did try to watch this movie. The failed attempt went something like this: I was at a buddy’s house one rainy afternoon in Maine and we decided to pop in that “weird sci fi movie with Harrison Ford” that we’d both never seen. About 2 minutes into the movie we realized it was about 10X darker (in tone and picture) than we expected. That would have been fine, but at right about that 2 minute mark the clouds broke outside and the sun came out. Since the Maine summer lasts about a week and a half, we thought it was worth putting a dystopian 2019 Los Angeles on hold to go outside and experience a 2006 utopian Maine.

Impressions: Maybe the omnipresent Harrison Ford is influencing this comment, but I felt like the entire movie took place in the Cloud City’s carbon-freezing room. Keep in mind here that I’m simply not a dark movie guy. It took me a few rounds to sweeten up to There Will Be Blood and I will stand by my Jedi over Empire stance to the death. All that being said – I enjoyed to movie from start to ominous and head-scratching finish

What I loved most about this movie was simply the concept itself. The idea of robots who might not be so emotionally distinct from you and I is one that never gets old for me. Any movie deserves a lot of credit the second you start empathizing with its machines. The empathy tests used to identify replicants were also philosophically stirring and I couldn’t help but put myself in the test taker’s position while they were underway. I found myself wondering how I’d react if a little kid were to show me his butterfly collection and soon thereafter the killing jar. I loved the irony that the one way to determine somebody’s humanity is to assess their empathy for animals.

The other thing I love about this movie is the grunge. Sci-fi settings that aren’t clean and shiny always really excite me and Blade Runner’s 2019 Los Angeles pulls this off masterfully. To the decrepit building interiors to the grimy street eateries, this film nails the notion that the future isn’t necessarily going to be a spotless gray and white wonderland of technology.

Are You A Convert?: I’m a convert, but not a particularly devout one. There is a very specific condition under which I’d be more enthusiastic about my conversion and that is if I could watch a sequel, or even a whole trilogy. The concept of this movie is so dense and interesting that I found myself wishing I could see it explored further. Without subsequent installments its hard not to feel like I saw only a fraction of what I wanted to see. I want to see where the replicants work, I want to see a more diverse set of social structures between these semi-emotionally capable beings, and I don’t want to just hear about a hear about a mutiny – I want to see one. And yes, I know there are vague talks of a sequel in the works, but I think it’s too late to create a fluid transition. The newer installments would naturally be too modernized for me to feel like they had much to do with the original. Oh yeah, and Rick Deckard is 71 years old now.

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  1. Mark says:

    The Alien movies may take place in the same universe. So…there’s some exploration.

  2. CJ says:

    I was 13 (in 1982) when I 1st saw BLADE RUNNER (& yes I read the original Phillip K. Dick story before seeing the film)… I wad 21 when I saw the 2nd version in theaters (minus Harrison Ford’s awful narration)….I was 40 when the 5 versions were released onto disc (guess you can say I am a fan of this film)… I don’t know about a sequel – we had a so/so video game – but I’m fine with a PK Dick adaption from his other stories that takes place in the same general future setting …..

  3. tom says:

    yes, like skanboot mentioned, this movie is from 1982 and it still holds up. i’m also lucky that my parents thought i was too young to watch it when it came out, so i just read “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” instead–which introduced me to Philip K Dick at a formative age and warped my pre-teen brain more than any film could have. missing the theatrical release as a kid and then getting to see it on the big screen in the 90s when the Directors Cut came out was worth the wait, and made it even better i think. i’m not sure there’s any film that has impacted me in the same way.

    the fact that there are no sequels is better too. its better to want more than to see a concept played out. bruce sterling built up his shaper/mechanist world over a few stories, wrote Schismatrix, and then said no more and he was right to do it–it too still stands

  4. zodconvoy says:

    @mikedudez: Geneticly tailor-made artificial life forms are by definition artificial intelligences. They are programmed genetically for their functions.

  5. mikedudez says:

    im still not sure they are robots or androids i think they are augmented or artificial people using genetic cloning. from all their talk i heard more along the lines of genetics instead of artificial intelllegence. somebody prove me wrong

  6. ian says:

    My thoughts are pretty much same as Skanboot. Lenny, I can’t blame you for not totally loving it. You’ve seen an extremely influential 30 years after the fact. Blade Runner was the blueprint for practically every dystopian movie after. Glad you were able to dig it on some level. If not with the same reverence as I do.

    I show the girlfriends 12 year old a lot of movies. And he asks why I won’t show him my favorite, Blade Runner. I tell him he’s not ready yet. Then we watch Robocop.

  7. Skankboot says:

    No one has commented on the fact that Lenny watched Blade Runner for the first time in 2013, more than 30 years after it first came out. Take almost anything from 30 years ago, that you’ve never seen or used before, and try to give it a good review. Kudos for liking it for what it is, and not bashing it too hard.

  8. Anthony says:

    @DanCasey — Rabble, rabble, rabble? Dem are trolling words. Lennys opinion sides with movies which are 80% eye candy made with many artificial ingredients. In contrast , those nerding out on Blade Runner probably find it fairly split between cerebral concepts and eye candy, with many implied natural ingredients. Damit, my analogy made me hungry. Anyways, there were definitely things left for the imagination to fit the movie format, and IMHO the choices what to cut were very good. The acting, the atmosphere, the music, and the vibe that were left in made it fantastic. If you want a backstory of the Nexus models, just imagine the movie Soldier (with Kurt Russell) merged with the Island of Dr Moreau.

  9. Phil says:

    For some reason, this never quite did it for me. I saw it about a year after it came out on TV, then a year later on VHS (which claimed on the cover “more graphic violence”), then 10 years later as the Director’s Cut which was slightly better than the VHS version. I have the so-called Final Cut, but never got around to it–especially when I read Ridley Scott prefers the workprint version.

    There are things I like about the movie though, but it just never entirely won me over. I don’t know about this sequel/prequel thing he’s got in mind though. Rumor has/had it that he was going to merge an ALIEN prequel with a BLADE RUNNER sequel using the replicants as bridges.

  10. Dan Casey says:

    Yeah, how dare Lenny have opinions that differ from our own. Rabble, rabble, rabble.

  11. vismund says:

    Blade Runner is a masterpiece it has the greatest ending of any movie. get over your i dont like dark movies garbage and watch this beautiful movie with out a bias.(although you lost credibility with the jedi over Empire comment which is preposterous i could understand a new hope but Jedi? come on dude)

  12. Anthony says:

    I’m having one of those get-off-my-lawn moment with your review. Blade Runner is the best movie ever because it masterfully placed SciFi within the Film Noir genre within a veiled religious context (meeting your maker to ask for more life, and can life be reduced to things you make in a lab and programmed). The rooftop ending scene is about understanding and acceptance of the inevitable. The origami being stepped on represented a temporary reprieve from danger. As far as a follow up, there could always be a series via a reboot, but it would simply be a watered down version of the original. Maybe HBO can make it work? Now depart from my lawn you skin job.

  13. Matt G says:

    I have to STRONGLY disagree with the sequel part. Sequels are what is mostly wrong with Hollywood. Great stand alone movies are few and far between. Obviously, some stories have the proper previous material to make strong sequels (I’m looking at you, The Godfather 1 + 2 and LOTR), but most are simply manufactured storilines, stretched out for money. The fact this is a one and done flick is a lot of the appeal for me. It is packed with so much that multiple viewings are required. This movie is perfect.