Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir science fiction film that was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, the film is a loose adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. It tells us the story of a dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. Those that escape and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by special police operatives known as Blade Runners. The story focuses on burnt-out expert Blade Runner Rick Deckard (played by Ford), who agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt down a group of recently escaped replicants that are led by Roy Batty. During his investigations, Deckard meets Rachael, an advanced young replicant who causes him to question the replicants’ humanity.
The film was initially polarized by film critics; some were displeased with the pacing, while others praised its thematic complexity and visuals. It underperformed in North American theaters, but has since become a cult film. The year following its release, the film won the prestigious Hug Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Hailed for its production design, depicting a “retrofitted” future, it remains a leading example of net-noir cinema. The soundtrack was composed by Vangelis, and it was critically acclaimed and nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score. The film brought the work of Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several later films were based on his work. Ridley Scott regards this film as “probably” his most complete and personal film. Im 1993, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and is now regarded by many critics as one of the all-time best science fiction films.
Seven version of Blade Runner have been shown for various markets as a result of controversial changes that were made by studio executives. A director’s cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to test screenings of a work print. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first movies that were released on to DVD — a basic production with mediocre video and audio quality. In 2007, Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th anniversary digitally remastered version, the only one on which Scott had complete artistic freedom. This version was shown in selected theaters and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray. A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is scheduled for theatrical release in October 2017.
The Film Itself (4.5/5):
Blade Runner is a film that I personally have to be in the mood to watch before I can really enjoy it. The movie itself serves a perfect blend of science fiction and noir detective fiction; a combination that work out pretty well when combined. Since its introduction into the film world, the work and presentation that’s gone into this film is what a lot of people would consider to be game changing; offering an entire world of possibilities for filmmakers to now explore. While I’m not too familiar with the tellings of the book, this movie should be seen at least once by everyone who enjoys a science fiction film; and if you didn’t quite enjoy it the first time that you gave it a chance, wait some time and give it another go because the pacing of the movie can be considered unsettling among those who really aren’t in the mood to watch a film of this caliber.
Picture Quality (5/5):
I just have two words to share about the overall visual representation of the 4K UHD release of Blade Runner; Holy Shit! Even with the beautiful 2007 release of the film on Blu-ray, the use of the 4K Digital Intermediate allows for this film to really shine in 2160p with HDR. The improvements that have been made to the video quality are immediately noticeable with the films opening credits, specifically where the tree that represents the Ladd Company comes across the screen. The aerial views of 2019 Los Angeles really look astonishing as they play out on this release. The finer details of this film are made much more prevalent with the 4K UHD release, such fine dertails that include the vertical striping on the bow tie that is worn by Dr. Tyrell during his meeting with Deckard or the individual strands of hair on Rachel’s oversized fur coats. This release is one that would serve as a perfect showcase element in one’s 4K home theater setup as it’s one of the most beautiful releases I’ve seen thus far.
Audio Quality (5/5):
Included with the extremely impressive visual presentation, Blade Runner comes packaged with a freshly remixed Dolby Atmos audio track that is simply beyond words impressive and helps bring all new levels of immersion to home theatrics. Giving audiences a beautifully blended musical score and sound effects that are blended so well among the films dialogue, one can’t help but feel as if they were right there in the middle of dystopian Los Angeles 2019. Even during the outdoor sequences, particularly the scenes that offer the more ambient sounds, like rainfall, the sound does an absolutely fantastic job at making the audience feel like they’re right in the middle of it. If you’re setup with an Atmos system, Blade Runner on 4K UHD with its use of Dolby Atmos is certainly a showcase piece that you should own to help show off your home theater system.
The Packaging (1/5):
In the copy of Blade Runner that I received from Amazon, there were four discs in total. According to the notes on blu-ray.com, this appears to not be the case with the standard retail version of this release as “contrary to Warner’s assurance, the error in review screeners that was not corrected before the street date. Retail copies from Amazon and Best Buy contain the same incorrect set of discs that were sent to reviewers.” In reading the reports further, this release is missing disc 3 and disc 5 of the original 2007 release. Both discs being Blu-rays; disc 3 is supposed to contain three previous cuts of Blade Runner, including the 1982 theatrical release in both domestic and international versions while disc 5 was to include a “workprint” copy of the film as well as an audio commentary from expert Paul Sammon. Disc 5 was also supposed to include a documentary titled All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut.
Other than that, the 4K UHD release of Blade Runner comes packaged in what appears to be a two-disc amaray case. Within that case are the four discs, with two discs stacked on top of each other on each side of the case. The 4K UHD release does include a digital copy redemption pamphlet as well as a slipcover that’s been made available in the initial pressing of the release.
- Disc 1: This disc includes the Final Cut on standard Blu-ray. This is the same exact disc that was released in 2007 on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD. It includes the same exact audio commentaries and director’s introduction as the UHD.
- Disc 2: This disc is a DVD that contains the Dangerous Days documentary. As with the Final Cut in standard Blu-ray, this disc is a reprint of what was released in 2007.
- Disc 3: This disc is the 4K UHD release of the Final Cut.
- Disc 4: Another DVD that includes a collection of featurettes, trailers, deleted and alternate scenes as well as other supporting material. Another reprint of what was originally released in 2007.
Special Features (3/5):
Blade Runner is one of the few 4K UHD releases that includes additional content on the included UHD disc. Included on the UHD disc are:
- Movie Introduction by Ridley Scott
- Audio Commentaries
- Blade Runner: The Final Cut – 4K Remastered Trailer
More special features are included on one of the included DVDs of the set. Included on that disc is:
- The Electric Dream: Remember Philip K. Dick
- Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel vs The Film
- Philip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews
- Signs of the Times: Graphic Design
- Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling
- The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth
- Screen Tests: Rachel & Pris
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes
- Vintage Featurettes
- Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art
- Deck-A-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard
- Theatrical Trailers
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: 4K (2160p)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
German: Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1
Note: Spanish 5.1 = Castilian; 2.0 = Latin
English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Turkish
Note: Spanish = Latin & Castilian; Portuguese = Brazil & Portugal
Original Film: 118 minutes
Overall, I’m definitely glad that I picked up the 4K UHD release of Blade Runner. Having previously only owned a DVD copy of the film as well as the Criterion Laserdisc; I was definitely excited to get this release to see what offerings the new release had. The overall visual and audible presentation of this release are absolutely fantastic. If you are set up to make use of the full benefit of 4K with HDR, you should pick this release up. If you have 4K with HDR and the ability to make use of the included Dolby Atmos track, then hands down you need to own this release. Sure there are some issues with this release that are awaiting the attention of Warner Bros. – but at a minimum, the Final Cut UHD disc is worth the investment for your collection. I just hope Warner Bros. will make it right for those of us who have already spent money on this release.