Blade Runner

1982, The Ladd Company et al

Enumerating all of the things that make Ridley Scott's Blade Runner so magnificent—and significant—would be redundant, since there's already been copious analyses of it. So, I'll keep it simple. This film not only envisioned the future in unsettlingly accurate ways, it also influenced countless films and filmmakers to follow (how many films have you seen that felt "Blade Runner-esque?). And it spawned its own new film sub-genre: sci-fi noire.

Consequently, even those who don't like it are forced to acknowledge its greatness. How many other films have seen so many re-issues on home video, in a myriad of variations? How many other films have been subjected to so much analysis (outside of, say, Citizen Kane)? I bought an original Betamax release of Blade Runner and literally wore it out from watching it so many times. Granted, I'm something of a student of film, so I've spent quite a bit of time scrutinizing it with nearly obsessive intensity. Blade Runner has a permanent slot in my all time five fave films.

       

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CRAP

MEH

WOW

Blade Runner 2049

2017, Bud Yorkin Productions et al

I had such high hopes for a sequel to my all-time favorite sci-fi film. It seemed like a good mix of talent was involved; in particular, I was most encouraged by the fact that Ridley Scott wasn't directing—his work on the Alien prequels was almost as bad as Lucas' Star Wars prequels. The box office reception didn't spook me much—the original bombed, too—and the reviews were glowing.

So I was most excited when the disc finally arrived. By the end, I was quite stunned—not because the film was so overwhelming, but because it was so underwhelming. Visually stunning, unquestionably. Flawless, memorable effects and jaw-dropping sets. Really solid performances. A decent story that "works" in the Blade Runner universe. Great sound design. And those spinners... just, wow.

But like Interstellar, it nearly collapses on itself from the weight of overtly self-conscious style. We spend entirely too much time contemplating characters who spend entirely too much time contemplating whatever. And we must endure entirely too many lofty yet obscure utterances by Jared Leto. It could have been a half-hour shorter and not lost an ounce of impact. Plus, quite a bit of the dialog is muffled—I had to watch the film again with captions turned on.

Finally, I must also deduct points for a soundtrack that makes a few too many Vangelis-like references; in particular, I think K's death would have been much more poignant in silence, rather than accompanied by a musical Valentine to fans. And the predictable Deckard-meets-his-daughter scene was vaguely reminiscent of the studio-mandated "happy ending" of the original; would have been far better to just cut to black after K dies. The end.

So, while 2049 is undoubtedly great, it's not as great as I'd hoped.

     

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CRAP

MEH

WOW

Blade Runner 2049: the DKS Cut

It bothered me long enough that I finally went and did it: I re-cut the film. I'd watched it enough times that I felt confident I could make an improvement—at least in my opinion. The biggest change was totally eliminating Joi (notice the altered poster art). All that's left of her is one brief shot of a giant hologram standing beside a building. I've felt all along that she didn't really add anything to the story, and instead was simply a vehicle for unnecessary exposition to help keep clueless audience members filled in. I also cut way back on Wallace's pseudo-philosophical mumbling, tightened up a few of the action sequences, and shuffled a few scenes around. Plus, I revised the music for the shot of K dying, and altered the ending slightly. All told, I made several hundred cuts, some as short as a half-second. The result is almost exactly 120 minutes long (versus 163), less the closing credits.

I'm not about to review it myself, as that would be silly—naturally I think it's better than the original version, else I wouldn't have spent a week and a half working on it. If any reader is interested in seeing it, ask me I'm happy to provide the film on CD, gratis of course. (I would post it on YouTube, but then I'd rightfully have the copyright police all over me.) Just know it'll be low-resolution out of necessity.

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