With Blade Runner 2049 out now and under a new director, Rising East decided to get two reviewers to watch the original and review it. George is a long-time fan of the film, while Marc has never seen it.
Blade Runner is a timeless classic. Ridley Scott’s nuanced blend of science fiction and noir thriller sits alongside Alien in the pantheon of films that refuse to age.
Yes, Philip K. Dick’s story may seem conventional now, but I’d chalk that up to the influence it’s held and the tropes it has created. A focused, intimate narrative and memorable characters are what make Deckard’s journey so tense. It’s also a very thoughtful film, weaving Nietzschean philosophy and Christian allegory into both the story and its aesthetic
The entire film is further elevated by Jordan Cronenweth’s expert cinematography and Lawrence G. Paull’s set designs. Rays of light through windows, the use of the bokeh effect and a shallow depth of field to exaggerate dirt and dust result in a both claustrophobic and isolating atmosphere.
That atmosphere is accentuated by the epic Vangelis soundtrack—a simple but carefully-crafted blend of heady synths and slow jazz.
This is a grand film, in every sense of the word. From the writing to the set design to the lighting, it’s a pleasure to behold. Ridley Scott’s more recent efforts may not be so amazing, but he was once top of the genre.
I did not believe that I would care for Blade Runner all that much. Die-hard fans’ constant insistence that it is a cinematic “must-watch” and essential to the history of the medium alienated me.
Having now seen it I can say that I did enjoy Blade Runner, but more as an example of a film that has influenced future films, rather than in and of itself. In retrospect, that’s perhaps a little unfair on the movie, but it failed to really grab me in the way I had been led to believe it would.
But I did really enjoy the moments when I could look at Blade Runner and recognise exactly how it had influenced and impacted later work — which was one of the benefits of waiting so long to see it!
But as far as the film itself, I must admit I was bored. I can attribute this mostly to the fact that the movie’s whole premise was built on a story in which the stakes were too low. Instead of the dystopian robot Armageddon I had been hoping for, the movie focuses only on a small group of Replicants who want nothing more than to live a bit longer. This reduced the movie to what should have been a side plot within a much bigger project.
Moreover, there’s a dead haziness within the movie’s aesthetic that — although it may have appeared novel at the time — has since become the archetype of dystopia. So I constantly found myself torn between enjoying the familiarity of this vision, and being bored of it because it was so familiar.
So, two very different opinions on the film then. Marc’s expectations had already been spoiled by what he saw as the over-hype of fanboys and in the end he decided he didn’t like the film. Whereas – perhaps unsurprisingly – the avid admirer George still loved it.
So can Denis Villeneuve both win doubters like Marc lover, and manage not to disappoint fans like George. Stay tuned for our review of Blade Runner 2049.