Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Oldie Movie Corner.......ie: Blade Runner (Warner Bros., 1982)

Released in 1982, Blade Runner was based on the novel by Philip.K Dick 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' which was released 15 years earlier, and has become somewhat of a cult hit. When it was first released in the cinema, it didn't fare well. Some critics lambasted it while some loved its pacing and story line. Not only that, but there was trouble behind the camera before, during and after the cameras rolled. Ridley Scott got fired just after the film was completed and Warner decided to add a voice over to the start and the end of the film, the producers were fired for being over budget, but they were just the icing on the cake. The complete story can be found in the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner as they go into more detail, and is a highly recommended read indeed.
The plot of the film (and indeed the book) is based around Deckerd, who is a Blade Runner: A cop who hunts down rogue Replicants (human-like cyborgs) and 'retires' them. Four Replicants have hijacked a shuttle off world and have come to Earth. They are trying to find Elden Tyrell, to try and prolong their life, as they have been programmed to only have a 4 year life span to stop them developing emotions. Deckerd is hired to find them and retire them as the other agent, Holden, is put into hospital by one of the replicants, Leon (Brion James) during a screening at Tyrell Corp,all the while being taunted by Gaff, played by Edward James Olmos from Miami Vice and BSG.

The film differs from the book significantly, but its not too much because it keeps the core storyline, due to rewrites before and during filiming and also because Scott never read the book before taking on the project. Thus, many themes were trimmed or removed altogether. Some still remain, like mortality (which is shown by the game of chess by Batty and Tyrell halfway through the film), life and death. The future noir of Decerd being the 'detective' in a future world is remenisent of the '30s detective movies, notibly Casablanca, as both Sam Spade and Deckerd both wear long trench coats, which is also the other reason for the voice over, to give it that '30s detective style (which in my eyes works.)
The effects still look impressive, even by todays cgi standards. Due to Douglas Trumbull's stellar work and Syd Meads conceptual designs, it gives the movie a future past look, with over-crowded, gritty, neon streets, intersperced with towering building of grand design, and sky cars speeding through the smog-filled air, which is one vision that has, unfortunately, nearly come true.

The cast do a top job with the script, with Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) saying one of the most memorable quotes in  history, even Joe Turkel has some great lines in the movie, like explaining to Batty about the dangers of changing the programming of a replicant. But, althroughout, the movie has one underlining theme which, to this day, I still can't work out, and that is Is Deckerd a Human or Replicant?
The movie is still relevent to this day and is as of technological importance as it is a landmark in moviemaking. It is a compelling story, an enjoyable movie and Ford's portayal of the Blade Runner Deckerd is believeable on all levels, both moraly and humanely.
I belive this is one of the best sci-fi/detective noir movies of the 80's and is a cult classic that should not be ignored by anyone and should at least be given a go.

5/5 - JSW's Movie Magic award