Friday, December 14, 2007

Sci-Fi Noir

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain...Time to die."

With a little help from a new and improved final cut, Blade Runner has the chance at impacting another generation of minds. With it's utterly impressive ahead-of-its-time special effects, brilliant screenplay and stand-out performances, it's no surprise that Blade Runner is one of the greatest films in Hollywood history.
A bumpy first release of Blade Runner will forever plague it's brilliance. Originally released in 1982 with a dense, overbearing voice over by Rick Deckard and a crappy tacked on ending, Ridley Scott quickly was unhappy with the way his film was released. A few years later, he released a Director's cut which polished it up, took away the crappy ending and voice over and was considered the definitive edition. Now in theaters for a short time and on an intense 5 disc collector's series, the "Final Cut" is being released. The Final Cut only polishes the film more making the transitions clearer, the effects sharper and some small differences that even most fans can't tell.

Why re-release Blade Runner now? That's what I'm thinking. It may be the 25th Anniversary of the film's original release, but it might be because the dystopian epic is just as relevant today is it was in the 80's during the technology revolution and the impending doom of the Cold War.

For those unaware, the film is based (only loosely) on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The film takes place in the future. A race of Artificial Intelligence known as Replicants were created basically as Slave labor on outer world colonies. These replicants start an uprising as they have some emotive responses and are almost human. A group of replicants escape their slavery and head back to earth, which is illegal. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner taken in to hunt down the replicants and "retire" them before they can cause any harm. The plot runs thicker when a new model of Replicant is able to have memories, true human emotions and even learn their own emotive responses. This poses interesting ethical issues and shows the danger that replicants can now face.

There is a lot more to it, but delving much further is unnecessary in this post as it would give away what's so special about Blade Runner. The most important thing in this film is it's central characters. Deckard, modeled after your typical noir anit-hero is brilliantly played by Harrison Ford. He gives the character a strange demeanor that shows a dark past and an interesting question that fans have wanted to know for years. It's these kinds of roles that really show the true extent of Ford's ability as an actor. Usually getting these brute, tough-guy roles would type cast the actor (Han Solo, Indiana Jones, etc.) but Deckard has a lot more going on beneath his tough guy attitude that makes it a truly unique performance.

The real acting triumph is in the demonic/heroic Roy Batty. Rutger Hauer, a fallen angel of sorts, poured more than everything into this role making it one of the most stirring and brilliant performances, if not the best, of his career. Batty has the kind of scary maliciousness that offers not only an edge of your seat villain, but in the long run, a sympathetic hero for the replicants. His goal is to extend his life and that of his four comrades. Isn't it the goal of every human to live as long as they can? With only a four year lifespan, it's harder for a replicant. This sympathetic side shows true depth to these characters.
Edward James Olmos plays the most strange and elusive character in the entire film. His brilliant line "It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?" is the whole point of the film. More existential then most would assume, Blade Runner is a film ahead of the pack. It's an action sci-fi film with film noir elements and a deep subtext about identity, life and the struggle to stay alive. The Final Cut of Blade Runner is a great big-screen experience and a fantastic classic that deserves a new generation of fans.

No comments: