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Blade Runner: The Final Cut

As we continue to enter the new realm of media known as streaming, I have heard many people say that theaters will eventually disappear. From high priced concessions, to the struggles of getting a family to the theater, to ticket prices; it is hard for me to rebuke their reasoning. But it is sad too, since there are some movies that you need to see on the big screen. Most are certain summer blockbusters which require the biggest screen possible to get the full effect. The Avengers, Pacific Rim, and The Dark Knight are just so much better when you see them on the big screen. Certain epic style movies need to be viewed on the big screen. Ben-Hur and Gravity are great films in their own right, but there is a world of difference watching the chariot race or the space debris collisions on the big screen as opposed to just a large flat screen TV. And sometimes certain films are enhanced, because the bigger screen simply enhances the art. Film masterpieces like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Taxi Driver, and The Godfather are brought to new peaks when the screen is big, the room is completely dark, and you are listening via a theater sound system. Blade Runner is another example of such a masterpiece. And is another film I was fortunate enough to see on the big screen.

Blade Runner takes place in Los Angeles in the year 2019. The Tyrell Corporation has invented beings called replicants; artificial humans used for interstellar labor and space colony details. They were made to be without emotion. But it was found that after a few years, replicants could be able to develop their own emotions. To counter this issue, they were then programmed to have a 4 year life span and they are banned from Earth. But that did not stop replicants from developing emotions and some would go rogue and escape to Earth. New police units were made to hunt down these rogue beings. These new policemen were called blade runners. And their job was “retire” replicants that escaped to Earth. Rick Deckard is a retired blade runner forced back into the game by his old boss. He is charged with retiring four “skin jobs” who have come to Earth. They are led by a highly advanced Nexus 6 replicant named Roy Batty. Batty and his company seek out the president of the Tyrell Corporation that made them, in order to solve the issue of their short life spans. And Roy is willing to do anything, and kill anyone in order to reach his goal. Deckard now hunts the four replicants with the occasional help of a disabled cop named Gaff and a young mysterious woman named Rachael. Whose role in this case is revealed later in the film.

I LOVE this film! It combines a lot of what I love in movies. You have a run down and sleazy urban setting, lots of shadows and neon lights, religious imagery and themes, a fantastic score, beautiful imagery and cinematography, more than a few Noir tropes, and to top it off it is a sci-fi film with Harrison Ford; one of my all time favorite actors. But this film is one that I admittedly had a very rocky start to. So I want to discuss my evolution with the film. Blade Runner is one of my brother’s favorite movies of all time; right up there with Dark City and Secretary. He raved about it and even had the Collector’s DVD set that had a brief case, five discs, a figure of the flying police car, a figure of the origami unicorn at the end of the film, and tons of extra literature. So he suggested I try it out. I tried watching the film twice before and did not like it either time. Then again I was watching the Theatrical Cut, so I was already setting myself up for failure.

Many years passed, and it was not until I came to our fair Movie Forums that I figured I would try again. So many MoFo’s here have Blade Runner in their top ten. Holden Pike, Guap, Swan, and Iroquois have it in their top ten; and Sci-Fi Slob, Lucas, and Sedai have stated that it is their favorite film ever. So I figured I would try again, only this time I would watch the Directors Cut. And it was a million times better. A lot of my favorite films do have voice over narrations in them. Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Terminator 2, The Wolf of Wall Street, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a lot of Film Noir. But dammit does it SUCK in the Theatrical Cut of Blade Runner! Granted Harrison Ford was half-assing it (because he thought it was a stupid idea) but still the film is perfect without it. If you just allow the film to speak for itself, and tell the story visually then the film really becomes this beautiful piece of art. And since I really liked the Director’s Cut, I then wanted to see the Final Cut. This is the cut that Ridley Scott said is the true director’s cut. The one he as the director put his stamp of approval on. And when I first saw it on DVD about a year ago I thought it was brilliant. It added a few changes here, fixed some continuity errors there, and used a little CGI to add some more neon into certain shots. Don’t get me wrong, this is not like when George Lucas added CGI dewbacks and Han stepping over Jabba’s tail changes. All the practical effects remain the same. This was a director correcting the film that he lost control over in the early 80’s, instead of trying to add more CG flair to an already perfect film. And the film is enhanced by it; creating an even more enthralling visual experience.

But it did not stop there. When I moved back out to Texas, I got TV. I was no longer in the damn barracks, so I wanted a big flat screen for my apartment. So I opted for a HD TV and Blu Ray player set up. Now I bought the Taxi Driver Blu Ray before I even got the TV (just because); but when I first got my Blu Ray Player there were two films I felt I needed to buy on Blu Ray next. One was Apocalypse Now, and the other was Blade Runner. And yeah, Blade Runner in Blu Ray is amazing! The visuals are crisper, the colors are better, so much more definition to a film that was already a visual wonder.

Which brings us to July of 2015. As you know here in Dallas there are a lot of small independent theaters. And these theaters like to bring old movies back for special screenings. One such theater is The Magnolia in the Uptown neighborhood. A sort of hip/preppie/yuppie part of town. High rent, lots of bars, restaurants that are not chains, lots of Starbucks, and crap for parking. But as I discovered this little theater brings in an old or foreign film to be viewed every Tuesday night. And they have a long list of these movies on their website. And when I saw one of those films was Blade Runner, I jumped at the chance to see it. Bought my ticket online on the spot and waited for the magical day to arrive. To sit in the back row and see the lights go down and watch the opening of the film on a giant screen was breath taking. To see the fire reflected in Batty’s eye was hypnotizing. The sunset lighting in the Tyrell Corporation offices was incredible. And the sci-fi version of LA’s neon slime was all the brighter on the big screen. And the Vangelis score reached new peaks when it is pouring out of the cinema sound system. That mix of synth and occasional saxophone jazz sound really added to the sci-fi and film noir mix this film created. But the best scene was at the end when Roy Batty delivers his famous “Tears in the Rain” speech. I almost cried; ending in one of the best theatrical experiences ever. Not as good as Taxi Driver mind you, but damn close.

You do not need to see this film on the big screen. You DESERVE to see this on the big screen! It enhances a film that is already a masterpiece to something otherworldly. I will be regularly checking out The Magnolia’s website in the future for what films they bring in next. I already have my ticket for Blue Velvet. Now the next film I REALLY want to see on the big screen is Apocalypse Now. And I have three theaters that could help me in that department. Hopefully I do not have to wait too long.