How much Blade Runner is too much Blade Runner? Warner Bros. ponders this question with yet another packaging of Sir Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, forcing fans to peer into their Replicant souls (and their wallets) to decide if this collection belongs on the DVD shelf.
Honestly, at this point, what’s left to say about Blade Runner that hasn’t been said?
Set in a distant future, where mankind has figured out a way to clone humans, specially skilled officers known as Blade Runners track – and shoot to kill – renegade Replicants. When four deadly Replicants return to Earth, former Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is ordered out of retirement to bring them to justice before their identities are learned by an unsuspecting public.
Ford has countless iconic roles on his resume, but the mysterious Deckard ranks as one of my favorites, allowing him to mirror Bogart in a neo-noir mystery (a genre that plays to Ford’s rugged strengths as an actor). Blade Runner’s essentially a potboiler, though the sci-fi wizard living in Scott’s heart inspires him to build breathtakingly visual (and digitally frozen) worlds that look better and better every time they are upgraded for Blu-ray. More on that in a moment.
Blade Runner notoriously flopped upon release, polarizing critics and alienating audiences who probably wanted Scott to return to the thrills and chills of his previous feature, 1979’s Alien. Of course, Runner reversed its fortunes over time as intelligent viewers warmed to its meaty discussions about identity, mortality, morality, and the existence of crippling paranoia in a dystopian future. The rich mystery surrounding Deckard’s true personality also prompted millions to return to Blade Runner over the years, only to discover new cuts, edits and repackages of the movie they’d come to love.
Yes, the trouble with Blade Runner lies in Scott’s incessant tinkering: When opting to honor the anniversary of the movie, which version do you choose? And now that Runner exists in so many different formats (even on Blu-ray), which is worth your time? Because we’ve already dissected the film in countless articles over the decades, let’s dig into the latest release of Scott’s film and see what’s what.
The first question that needs to be asked is, “Do you already own Blade Runner on Blu-ray?” Because if the answer is no, then it becomes that much easier to simply say, “Buy this version, and soak up one of the greatest Blu-ray movies you’ll ever own.” Scott’s brilliant work on the dystopian Los Angeles of the future converts amazingly to Blu-ray, and each new release of the 1982 film floods more light into Jordan Cronenweth’s cinematography--to the film’s benefit, as it somehow improves the clarity of the imagery without taking away from the grim and grit of Scott’s depressing motif.
However, if you plunked down cash for the 2007 set that Warner released in an effort to bundle all of Scott’s Blade Runner cuts into one handy-dandy package, then it becomes a little more complicated. As in the 2007 set, this new collection offers the five known versions of the finished film, from a Final Cut to a 1991 Director’s Cut that, legend has it, had no input from Scott. Voiceover track? No voiceover track? The choice remains yours.
What sets the new collection apart from the 2007 version – as visual, audio and supplemental transfers all appear to be identical – are the physical toys and gifts you’ll find in the new box. There’s a die-cast Concept Spinner Car (which my four-year-old loves playing with), a double-sided hardcover collectible book on the Art of Blade Runner, and a Lenticular Print that shows the Spinner Car flying in front of a digital billboard.
Slide Disc Three into your Blu-ray player and you’ll also be able to boot up the last original feature in the new Blade Runner set: More than 1,000 archival images from the production of the brilliant film. Die-hard fans will thrill at each shot, just as they’ll want that Spinner Car on their shelf as a collectible.
Casual fans, however, either already own Blade Runner (probably thanks to that comprehensive 2007 set), or they never planned on owning Scott’s movie in the first place. You decide then, Runner fans, if you’ll run right out and grab this set that’s undoubtedly excellent, but possibly irrelevant if you’ve already pulled the trigger on Scott’s movie in the past.