Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Blu-Ray Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Chris

Read Amber Wilkinson's film review of Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Blade Runner: The Final Cut

The tortured tale of finding the most ‘authentic’ version of this Eighties classic seems almost like a mirror of the story itself. Clones upon clones. Even the Director’s Cut, it seems, was not the last word.

Thankfully, Blade Runner – The Final Cut, has more than just resounding conviction. Digitally restored and re-mastered, the set incorporates new footage and special effects, re-mastered sound, an introduction by Ridley Scott (who says he’s finally happy with this version – phew!), three filmmaker commentaries including Scott’s, and a three and a half hour ‘definitive’ documentary, Dangerous Days: Making Of Blade Runner (Dir: Charles de Lauzirika) which features outtakes, deleted scenes, new interviews, screen-tests and an intelligent examination of the movie’s creation and controversial legacy.

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DVD ‘commentaries’ have cynically been described as entertaining but endless rambling. This set is no exception, and the trivia they include often duplicates that revealed in the accompanying professionally polished documentary. So it all depends on your choice of style as to which you will prefer.

The documentary is well above standard offerings. In analysing the film from many angles (including pre-production, art department, casting and scripting, controversies over the story and versions, and its chequered history) it illustrates the enormity of the task in creating an iconic, futuristic urban film-noir world in the days before CGI. Another interesting irony for a movie that champions reality over the human/replicant abyss. Years later, of course, the interest in the ‘real’ is being revived, from Tarantino’s ‘reality stunts’ in Death Proof, to Carlos Reygadas’ preference for authenticity over CGI in Silent Light.

Major disagreements on set are not skimmed over – even one where the crew take to wearing rebellious T-shirts in defiance of Ridley Scott’s bossiness, and the measures he takes to handle the situation. Profound gulfs separating the approaches of various scriptwriters are discussed in a mature and enlightening fashion. Perhaps enough time has passed to put passions into perspective. David Peoples and Hampton Fancher explain their writing methods and we can appreciate how the practicality of the former balanced the zealous vision of the latter. The documentary allows a viewer not involved with the industry to appreciate the complexity of talent that when in to making the film.

Purists may say that a film such as Blade Runner should only be appreciated on the big screen. I am firmly in that camp, with most films made for cinematic release. But several things argue for the purchase of this set.

Firstly, if you can watch it on Blu-ray and on a suitably large wide screen, the amount of visual and aural detail will blow you away. If you are new to Blu-ray, you could do much worse than make this your virgin purchase. You get enough quality viewing on this set to hold your attention for several evenings. Secondly, you can appease your cinephile conscience by noting that the film’s cult following and place in history was largely assured through small screen viewing.

Tip: switch the English subtitles on as you listen to the commentaries. Even they are well done, intelligently placed, moving to the top of the screen when they might otherwise obscure an important detail.

But if your curiosity needs to review the now ‘retired’ versions, there’s also a five-disc Ultimate Collectors Edition with the original cuts, another full disc of extras and a bonus of the long-missed Workprint edition. This version is sadly not available in these new high-definition formats in the UK, although it is available on standard definition DVD.

If you want the five disc high-definition version, you can import it from your usual US supplier (the Blu-ray version is region-free), just don’t make any illegal copies or we’ll have to retire you...

Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2008
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Blade Runner: The Final Cut packshot
The final cut is the deepest for Ridley Scott's remastered sci-fi epic.
Amazon link

Product Code: BDY18469

Region: 0

Ratio: 1080p High Defninition 16x9 2.4:1 encoded in VC-1

Sound: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Introduction by Ridley Scott, three commentary tracks, Dangerous Days documentary, interviews

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