- Movie Rating -

Blade Runner (1982)

| June 25, 1982

I saw a screening of Blade Runner the other night at a small dinner theater here in my town surrounded by several of my friends who are absolute devotees of this movie.  They’ve watched the film countless times, analyzed every shot and found a meaning in just about every word of dialogue.  I admire their enthusiasm, I really do.  I just wish that I could share it.  The movie, for me, is kind of a hot and cold experience.  Let’s begin with the hot.

Blade Runner is one of the most breath-taking visual experiences that I have ever had.  It creates an Orwellian future that gave me the kind of thrill that I had the first time I saw Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  The cityscapes here are as beautiful as they are oppressive with their prison-like skyscrapers, massive video billboards and foundries that belch flame into the air.  The board rooms are vast, strangely colored and have an oddly robotic feel to them, as if they were designed for human function without any attention paid to human comfort.  The streets are dank and dirty, pressed to the ground by the weight of the wealth that prospers above.

I wish I had that kind of love for the story or the characters.  I find both to be strangely empty.  This is a futuristic movie that takes place at a time when robots have become such an afterthought of to our day-to-day life the line is becoming blurred.  The technology has become so convincing that we aren’t actually sure which are robots and which are people.  The robots are called Replicants and they are engineered off-planet by one of those soulless mega-corporations.

The story gets going after a group of these Replicants have escaped to Earth and are causing problems.  The assignment to hunt them down is given to burned-out L.A. detective Deckard (Harrison Ford).  But first he has to find them.  They’re so convincing-looking that he has to do his detective work to even figure out who might be a Replicant in the first place.

I wish I were more invested in this.  Blade Runner is one of those movies in which you greatly admire the craft but you kind of stand 10 feet away from every character.  No one here is really developed into a fully-realized soul.  Ford is fine as always but there is a curiously flat quality is odd for Ford who made Han Solo and Indiana Jones into full, robust characters with lost of personality.

But what really pulls the film apart for me is that its ideas don’t match its execution.  The theme at the center of the film questions what really makes something worthy of being allowed to live.   The Replicants are so advanced that they can’t be detected at first sight.  They fear for the lives and question the natural of being sentient.  What makes a person a person?  Yet the Replicants are so flat as characters that it hardly matters.  They hardly have a moment to question themselves, their plight or their own identity.  It’s not here, save for one brief moment at the film’s conclusion.  This is a movie with a great look, a lot of passion, and a lot of creativity but its basic themes are lost in the shuffle.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty