Beyond the Stars is a series of Science Fiction related posts where I discuss different aspects of the genre and the many tropes and plot lines associated with it. Today, I talk about the first Blade Runner film in a series of posts focused on the Blade Runner Universe.
Beyond The Stars: Blade Runner Overview (1 of 4): Blade Runner (Final Cut Version)
So this month is going to be different than usual. I mentioned before that I went to see Blade Runner 2049 a few weekends ago. It was an amazing film and while I’m not sure it’s in theaters anymore, it’s still worth seeing if it comes out physically. Since it’s a sci-fi classic, I’ll do something special and review pretty much everything related to Blade Runner. So I outlined my plans for this month, but if you need a refresher, here’s how we’re doing things:
- Today, I’ll review the final cut version of Blade Runner.
- Next week is the review of Blade Runner 2049.
- The week after I talk about the short anime film, Black Out 2022.
- And finally, I’ll talk about its source material, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick.
It’s sure to be an exciting month, so let’s kick things off with the first film.
Basic overview of the plot
The story takes place in 2019 in Los Angeles. In the future (or more accurately two years from now) we’ll have androids that are so close to humans it’s scary, flying cars and space travel (which is referenced but never shown in any of the films). The year is worth mentioning alone since we’re so close to that now, we can actually imagine what it’s going to be like, and I can safely say it won’t be anything like Blade Runner.
We don’t have flying cars (yet), our robots are functional and have slight AI capabilities, but many of them are reserved to electronics rather than actual humans (we’re nowhere near close to Blade Runner, which is a one to one exact replica) and we’re not anywhere close to space travel yet (maybe a few decades off?). It’s interesting to see what people in the eighties, and heck, even the forties and fifties thought of the future.
I mean sure, we’re pretty futuristic now. As I say this, I’m typing on a keyboard attached to a screen that’s stronger than any modern computer and is as portable as possible. I can speak physically to anyone in the world and I can even have online gaming matches against them. And before you mention hoverboards…no. Those things aren’t hoverboards. Sorry.
When I saw the date, I was surprised by it. The year 2000 was a fascination for people back then. 2000 meant “future,” “high tech” and all sorts of things. Personally, I think 2049 might be a stretch also, but if we can have all of this just in the span of a decade, it might not be that far off.
But back to the plot. It’s about a police officer named Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) who is part of a force called Blade Runner, designed to hunt replicants, these androids who are exact copies of humans. Replicants have become “illegal” and Rick’s job is to “retire” them. A group of Nexus-6 model replicants have escaped and are now on the loose. Along the way he uncovers a plot by three replicants, one of them being Roy Batty, the villain, and the police decide they’re too much of a threat, so Rick must seek them out to retire them
The whole movie is almost like a cop-style movie that has that sci-fi feel to it. It’s a different contrast since many of the sci-fi films back in the 80s were action focused (Terminator, RoboCop, etc.). Blade Runner has a different mood and atmosphere to it.
Rick meets one of the replicants, a young woman named Rachel (played by Sean Young), a clerk of the Tyrell Corporation. He tries a special test designed to expose replicants, but she’s an experiment by Tyrell. She has fake memories to suppress her emotions. Rick doesn’t realize that he develops feelings for her. Towards the end, the main antagonist, Roy Batty and his friend Pris encounter a man named J.F. Sebastian, who can lead them to the CEO of Tyrell corporation, and promptly kills him. I thought Roy was a great villain. Sadistic and cunning to the end. Towards the end, Rick and Rachel are together and his partner Gaff suggests that the two escape while they have the chance. He warns that she won’t survive.
“It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” -Eduardo Gaff
A Sci-Fi Classic?
The film itself was great and really holds up. It had a traditional cop-style film feel mixed with science fiction. I’d love to see more films like this, which doesn’t have shootouts in space and dystopian countries. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but more variety within the Sci-Fi world isn’t a bad thing.
Compared to other films in the 80s, this is hard to say. Even after seeing it, I don’t feel it’s truly on the same level as films like Terminator or even Back to the Future, which both have universal appeal, but as far as the film went, it aged pretty well. I do think this is the unsung classic of the 80s and while most people think 80s sci-fi as unrealistic and very…80s…it’s a reminder that not all films have to follow status quo to be good. Some mindless entertainment is fine in moderation, but as far as a true story is concerned, this is a good movie. It’s dark too. One scene shows the main antagonist squeezing someone’s head in through his eyes. I’m very sensitive towards that. I can handle blood, dismemberment, but things like this are a little too much for me.
So as far as the movie is concerned, it’s becoming one of my favorite sci-fi films and as far as the sequel is concerned, maybe sci-fi series. It’s got a dark and gritty universe that doesn’t feel like end times are upon them and has a close possibility of being real, even if the years were off. I feel maybe in a century or so we’ll have this level of technology become mainstream, but only time will tell.
Next week, I’ll talk about the sequel and I think compared to the original, it’s a winner. So stay tuned for that.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.