Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Overrated Part 1 Blade Runner
The purpose of this list is not to give a critical lambasting to what a great number of viewers consider to be cinematic treasures. What I would like to provide my readers with is an alternative and admittedly more critical perspective to consider, one that hopefully will not detract from a person's appreciation for the films under review. At the same time, I'd question whether these motion pictures really deserve the high accolades bestowed upon them by the critical community in general. Perhaps it's like this: Instead of "The emperor has no clothes," I'm saying "He's just not that well dressed."
The critics I grew up reading such as Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael, Vincent Canby and Charles Champlin all provided additional insight into looking at our shared passion. They increased my enjoyment of all types of films regardless of whether their views were in agreement with mine. I'm hoping therefore that my comments are taken in the same spirit and have a similar effect. These notices are meant for viewers familiar with the following motion pictures.
The Top Ten Fool's Gold will each be reviewed separately and are listed in alphabetical order:
1. Blade Runner
2. Blue Velvet
5. Doctor Zhivago
6. The English Patient
7. Gone With the Wind
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
9. The Shining
10. Silence of the Lambs
#Edit: As of October 26, 2014, #'s 1 - 4 have been reviewed. Each of the rest will be posted on the blog when completed and archived with the others under Top Ten Treasures.
Blade Runner (1982, U.S.A.)
Director: Ridley Scott
The Director's or Final Cut without the clumsy, intrusive narration and juvenile "happy ever after" ending are certainly an improvement over the Theatrical Version. They allow the stunning visuals and unique environment to "breathe" and further enable us to place ourselves in the main character's shoes. An added dream sequence involving a unicorn adds an element of mystery which ties in nicely with these Director's and Final version's last scene. The contribution made by the amazing set designs, special effects and musical sound-scape cannot be faulted in creating this most awe-inspiring vision of a futuristic city sprawl.
There is however a giant void at the centre of its universe. All the king's horses etc. cannot bring the main character to life. Harrison Ford's performance as Rick Deckard (the "Blade Runner" of the title) is not the problem here. It's the overly simplistic narrative: From beginning to end, this guy's just doing a job, hunting down and terminating human-like replicants and from what we see, not doing it very well. Each encounter with his quarries sees him caught off guard and rather surprisingly incompetent, at odds with what his superior (M. Emmet Walsh) says when he somehow talks Decker out of retirement. Decker doesn't seem to care for the job either, or for anything else really. He does express some feelings for the replicant Rachael (Sean Young), a secretary at the Tyrell Corporation where the replicants are designed. Yet these emotions seem rather superfluous since she's saved his life during an encounter with an adversary and according to Deckard he "owes her one" (which means he won't be coming after her but "somebody will").
In search of some motivation or emotional depth one might turn to the replicants like Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) the rebels' leader. He's certainly motivated to increase his short life span and cares for his fellow androids. One senses his betrayal and anger toward his "maker" Tyrell (Joe Turkel) after confronting him and discovering that his short time left is scientifically inevitable. Even though Batty kills Tyrell one can understand this action; after all we have somewhat similar story references like Frankenstein and Island of Lost Souls. However, any empathy he might have gained is quickly lost when we hear that he's also inexplicably killed J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), an acknowledged "friend" of Batty's whom the storytellers have gone to some effort to build sympathy for. Plus Sebastian helped him find and meet Tyrell. None of the other characters are given enough time to register much interest including Sean Young's Rachael and that's sad because this film is beautiful to look at, contains some fascinating symbolism, as well as a few poetic lines of dialogue, but it's all in service of an overall, un-engaging and dramatically flat motion picture.
Next Time: Top Ten Fool's Gold #2 Blue Velvet
Blade Runner can be best appreciated on Blu-ray and purchased here:
Its Final Cut is also available as a digital download for U.S. residents here:
The film also sports an evocative and sensual score by Vangelis that is available here: