Blade Runner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Released in 1982 to very little fanfare, Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER couldn’t compete with some of the other sci-fi classics of the era, like STAR WARS, ALIEN, or even E.T. Thankfully, fans have kept the film alive and now BLADE RUNNER is considered a classic, rightfully taking its place among the best of the genre. I’ve seen BLADE RUNNER several times now and every time I watch it I’m reminded of how good a film it really is.
The year is 2019 (yep, we’re only two years away from colonizing other planets and full blown A.I.) and four replicants have escaped their colony and returned to earth to track down their maker. Replicants have a four-year lifespan and their goal is to find a way to extend that lifespan. Since replicants are illegal on earth, the Los Angeles police department has enlisted the help of Deckard (Ford) to track them down. Deckard is what’s called a “Blade Runer”, which is simply a policeman that specializes in hunting down replicants.
There are many things that make BLADE RUNNER a great film, but for me, I always thought it was the fact it’s a crime noir first and a sci-fi film second. That brings the audience into the world of BLADE RUNNER by giving them a relateable story for them to get behind. We’ve seen movies of cops hunting bad guys before, but never in a world as eerie and unusual as that in BLADE RUNNER. The other aspect working for the film is the cast. By 1982, everyone knew Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but here he shows a more sophisticated side to himself and proves he can carry his own film. His likeability helped carry a character we don’t really know anything about. Of course, Rutger Hauer steals the screen as the tormented villain just trying to survive.
In between slick storytelling and city chases, Scott introduces some morality questions for each of the characters. We get the sense that Deckard isn’t convinced it’s okay to “retire” replicants without judgment, which comes to a head as his relationship with Rachael (Young) progresses. Then there’s also the question of whether or not Deckard is a replicant. I feel like every time I watch BLADE RUNNER, I pick up on more clues that open the possibility Deckard is a replicant (I don’t think he is, but I guess we’ll find out in BLADE RUNNER 2049). I think the story is great either way, but it’s an interesting thing for the writers to propose.
I would have loved to write a positive BLADE RUNNER review back in 1982, defending it from the low box office haul and lack of recognition. In 2017, it feels like BLADE RUNNER has received the credit it deserves. Thankfully, Warner Bros. recognizes what they have as they continue to deliver the film on each new format, each time besting their prior efforts.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 35 year-old films can only look so good, but I’m pleased to report that BLADE RUNNER looks surprisingly great. It’s a bit of a tale of two transfers. The first aspect is every scene that takes place outside. These scenes look spectacular, with details and colors popping at every turn. The main Tyrell building has added details that I’ve never seen before. Likewise, the scenes with Deckard in the rain have details and color depth that hasn’t been present on any home video transfer to date. The other aspect is the inside scenes and these only offer minimal improvements. I was disappointed in the scenes in Deckard’s apartment, where small details like the colors in his jacket and shirt didn’t look any better or have any improvements. In general, I’d say the video transfer looked a little “cleaner”, but the inside scenes didn’t offer too much in terms of added clarity or color. But again, this is a 35 year-old film and I feel confident in saying BLADE RUNNER will never look any better. The 4K is a no-brainer for fans of the film.
Audio: Likewise, the Dolby Atmos track is as good as this film will ever sound and it sounds wonderful. This is a clear improvement over the DTS track from the Blu-ray.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include three of the Blu-ray discs from the 2007 Collector’s Edition.