Blade Runner set the standard for the bleak, ugly, rainy future so popular in movies. The vision of 2019 Los Angeles is the film’s strongest suit, an amazing array of special effect styles flawlessly merged into engrossing imagery. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the storyline, which is impossibly dull and tough to sit through.
Depending on which of the five versions of the film you watch (this review is based on the new “Final Cut” which warranted the new DVD), where the film leaves you is completely different. The original “happy” ending is something like a awful joke, while the popular one leaves the entire story open to the viewer's interpretation. Given what you have to sit through to make it that far, the least the audience deserves is some clarification.
Harrison Ford takes on yet another popular cinematic role as Rich Deckard. He’s tasked with taking out four “replicants,” extremely human-like robots/clones/androids/cyborgs/insert favorite term here. Deckard is a stereotypical heavy drinker, disgusted with his work and tossed into a situation he doesn’t want to be in.
Character development is plodding, much like the overall pacing, and in this new edition the narration has been removed. It’s obvious some scenes were intended to have it, as they drag on with no real purpose well past the point of being useful to the story. Deckard’s relationship with a replicant feels forced, awkward, and rushed. It’s a mildly interesting attempt to make a non-human human, but it falters in execution.
Deckard’s encounters with his foes are equally flawed. Each has an obvious chance to kill him, yet lets it go. In the case of the final fight with Rutger Hauer’s character, this is especially annoying and apparent. It destroys the mood and tone.
Despite all the film's story flaws, the scenery is stunning. Giant multiple-story-high video screens, wonderfully designed vehicles littering the sky and ground, and sharp-edged towering skyscrapers all sell the futuristic feel. Numerous shots ensure the audience can appreciate the vistas in all their crowded glory. Certain aspects of life in the future are intriguing, too, though they are never fully explored.