Blade Runner 2

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

br

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982) – Science Fiction | Action

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer

How I Watched: Blu-Ray

Best Line: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

The first time I saw Blade Runner, it was playing on cable in standard definition and it was the spectacularly underwhelming theatrical version. For those unfamiliar, Blade Runner has had a tumultuous history, and seven versions exist that we know of. I really enjoy Ridley Scott’s films, but after seeing that cut of Blade Runner, I had no real intention of watching any other version as it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. What I did take note of though, was the world that Scott had created as well as the incredibly cool Vangelis score. So when I heard that a sequel was being made by a director that I really respect (Prisoners‘ Denis Villenueve), I thought I’d give The Final Cut a try. And god damn, I’m glad I did.

Perhaps it is not fair to dislike a film for something as minute as voiceovers, but when it comes down to it, this is the main culprit behind my disdain of the theatrical cut of Blade Runner. Harrison Ford’s narration is cheesy and comes across as condescending, as if we’re too stupid to follow the storyline. It almost reveals too much about Ford’s character Deckard, and strips away the natural mystery that Scott intended for the audiences. It’s a ham-fisted approach and honestly changes the tone of the entire film. Luckily in The Final Cut, this narration has been completely removed.

It’s obvious how much influence this film has had on the genre of Science Fiction. The neons and electronic score, flying cars, cascading skyscrapers, hyperrealistic androids and dystopian future are all on full display throughout Blade Runner. It’s easy to see why many consider this the peak of Sci-Fi film. Truth is though, this movie is more closely related to noir fims like L.A. Confidential or Chinatown.

The themes that Blade Runner address are deeply philosophical and grow exponentially larger once the film’s antihero Roy Batty (a ridiculously good Rutger Hauer) is introduced. Like many throughout history, Roy is consumed by the philosophy of what it is to be alive and those limits we must all face. I have a feeling that Ridley Scott underestimated Hauer’s acting chops and there is tragically too little of Roy Batty by the time the credits roll.

The set design is perhaps, Blade Runner‘s greatest cinematic achievement. The slow zooming aerial shots are incredibly breathtaking, and though at times you can tell that these shots feature scaled models, the detail is amazingly unbelievable. Scott created a world (with the assistance of H.R. Giger) that was almost revolting in Alien and a good amount of that carried over in Blade Runner. I’ve always been impressed with the dreamworlds in Terry Gilliam’s movies (none more than Brazil) and I get the same feeling from the set design in Blade Runner.

The score by 1980’s electronic virtuoso Vangelis, is one of the most important additions to the movie. I cannot imagine any other score than this synthesizer-soaked soundtrack sweeping over the shots of the dark dystopian metropolis. The neon-lit rain and absolute darkness are accompanied perfectly by the music and it gives a feeling of such wonder, that you can’t help but want to visit this insane landscape.

I’ve heard that “The Director’s Cut” version of the film is the next best way to go if you can’t get your hands on The Final Cut. Unfortunately, this version was not actually supervised by Ridley Scott and instead was rushed out to the public by the studio in 1992. I picked this version up on Laserdisc a few years ago, but did not watch it in fear of being let down by what was left out compared to The Final Cut. All I can say is, if it’s your first time seeing this movie, be safe and make sure it is this Final Cut. The theatrical version is relatively terrible to this and if you enjoy Science Fiction, you owe it to yourself to see The Final Cut.

Final Score: 4/4

_____________

Similar Films: Looper, Total Recall (1990), Brazil

Prisoners

prisoners-film

Prisoners (2013) – Thriller | Drama

Directed by: Denis Villenueve

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman

How I Watched: DVD

Best Line: “They didn’t cry until I left them.”

I don’t know what it is, but Jake Gyllenhaal does a wonderful job slipping himself into fantastically creepy films. From Donnie Darko, to Nightcrawler, to Villenueve’s own Enemy, he always seems to be somewhere on the bill in these type of films. Now, if you saw Enemy, you might be expecting Prisoners to be REALLY weird. It’s not, but it’s got enough of that Lynchian, otherwordly line-walking to make you want to turn on the lights.

Prisoners is not a feel good movie. I will tell you that now. It’s dark as hell, mostly brown and grey throughout and the characters are permanently scared and/or yelling the whole movie. But holy shit, is it vicious. From the onset, Hugh Jackman quietly utters the lord’s prayer as a deer takes its last breaths and it does not let up from there. Every scene seems to be bathed in a perpetual dusk that the entire cast seems trapped in. It’s a very claustrophobic film that is precise in its efforts of making you feel like shit. I can really see a lot of people not being able to handle some scenes in this one.

If you watch the trailer for Prisoners, you can tell what this story is about, so no worries about this spoiler. Two families lose their daughters in the middle of the day and Gyllenhaal investigates their disappearance. Hugh Jackman is Hugh Jackman in this one, and you get about what you expect from an ‘unsettled Jackman’ performance. However, Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano are magnificent and really carry the film. Dano does his best “creepy guy in a van” at the beginning, but as time passes, he becomes so much more than that. His soft-spoken demeanor is terribly discomforting beneath those wire glasses that are so typical in child-kidnapping films.

Gyllenhaal, though is really the barometer of the film’s emotion. From the beginning, the viewer is challenged to make a choice between Jackman’s outbursts as a frantic father and the situation that Dano finds himself in after the girls disappear. Gyllenhaal is always there, dividing the two parties, testing your limits as a viewer. It’s not a simple choice to make and the movie does everything in its power to throw your emotions into a blender.

The rest of the cast is just kind of there, though. This is perhaps the film’s greatest flaw. Both Jackman’s wife (played by Maria Bello) and the other mother in the film (Viola Davis) are understandably grieving the whole film, but that’s really all they do. Terrence Howard attempts to show emotion, but it’s not very convincing. Melissa Leo is pretty good as Dano’s aunt, but again, Dano and Gyllenhaal really steal this one away from everyone else.

At times, Prisoners really rides the line of the supernatural. Not ghosts and witches, but more like the end of the first season of True Detective; that awful feeling that I know you got when the detectives entered Carcosa in the finale is present in a few scenes in this film. It does not really stick to that, but still, Villenueve definitely has some skill in discomfort.

I feel bad about this, but I did not see Villenueve’s 2015 Sicario. Trust me, I really want to, I just have not gotten around to it yet. Seeing that he is taking the helm for Blade Runner 2 (due out 2017) makes me really excited, though. Enemy was an awfully creepy little story full of doppelgangers and Kafka-esque suggestions that will fit into the Blade Runner universe perfectly.

While I definitely would not suggest Prisoners if the kiddies are around or you had a rough day at the office, it’s perfect for those nights where you want to watch a scary movie that’s not that kind of scary movie. The performances from Gyllenhaal and Dano are excellent and while the story was a few hairs away from being epic, it’s a moral brain-twister that will have you talking when the credits roll.

Final Score: 3.5/4

_____________

Similar Films: Mystic River, The Lovely Bones, Zodiac