Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector's Briefcase Edition Blu-ray Review

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

8

Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector's Briefcase Edition Blu-ray Review
SRP: £61.99

Picture

The Final Cut is arguably the most noteworthy amongst the bunch, and its visual representation matches its high profile. The detail appears to be significantly improved from previous versions, and is noticeably better on Blu-ray in High Definition 1080p than on its Standard-Def DVD counterpart. The close-up facial shops are great, showcasing the distinctive characters in all their original glory. There is still some softness, still a little bit of grain, but they have done a hell of a job remastering this major title and the effort does show. For a 25 year old movie, it looks superb. The colour scheme has had a similar going-over, with the distinctive Toyko-esque neon-lit future setting looking like it has never looked before. Skin tones are accurate, blacks remarkably solid providing for decent shadowing (which is plentiful) and night sequences - a good thing considering how most of it is set at night. Much of the movie was shot with a futuristic noir style - plenty of dark, smoky shots, rays of light playing across the room as the fans whirl overheard - and this is typical of Ridley Scott's work, so I was genuinely surprised to see that they did such a good job with material that must be quite hard to work with. The three other main cuts are also surprisingly good, sporting the same positive aspects as the Final Cut (and perhaps having been given the same quality make-over), with the Workprint coming across as the only version that isn't quite perfect and really shows the inferiority of its workprint origins, which is really only to be expected.
Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector

Sound

Similarly to with the video quality, the aural improvement is most significant when you take a listen to the Final Cut's English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround mix. It really does sound amazing - ok so it's not quite up to the standards of many modern big budget productions, but it is not far off, which is astounding when you consider the 25 year old source material. The score is a seminal work by artist Vangelis, and it has never sounded this good, blasting across the surrounds throughout the movie and creating a fabulous atmosphere. Effects - from the blows to the gun blasts, as well as the bustling, crowded city streets, is also fabulously all-encompassing, and whilst there is a slight frontal bias, the surrounds and even the LFE still get plenty to do (check out Pris' death-scream, its hauntingly omnipresent). There is one niggling negative point - the fact that the dialogue, which is generally very well presented, can sometimes be a bit muffled amongst the rest of the track, but overall it is superb effort and we would only hope that most movies this old would be polished up this lovingly. The other cuts sport increasingly lacklustre tracks, with the three integrated cuts coming with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround tracks and the Workprint only getting a 2.0 Stereo mix. They all suffice, considering we are lucky enough to get all of the cuts in the first place, but the real quality comes within the new TrueHD track for the new Final Cut.
Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector

Extras

On the first disc, which sports the Final Cut, we get no less than three Audio Commentaries. Ridley Scott provides his own solo affair, charting the production, with lots of background titbits and his usual contemplative, methodical offerings. The second Commentary is afforded to us by a selection of producers and writers, including Hampton Fancher, David Peoples and Katherine Haber, who give us a slightly more historical affair, which compares the visual interpretations of this tale with the original book, discussing how Philip K. Dick's various ideas had to be ported over to the screen. The final track is much more technical, provided by a selection of Effects personnel, including the Production Designer Lawrence G. Paull, the Art Director David Snyder, the 'Visual Futurist' (whatever that might be) Syd Mead and three Special Photographic Effects Supervisors Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer. Phew, that's a lot of people to cram into one track, and the end result is, whilst packed with information into the filming and presentation of this movie, still quite dry.

The second disc, which is just a SD DVD, gives us the mammoth Documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner. Pitched as 'The Ultimate Documentary on the Making of the Film, Culled from Over 80 All-New Interviews with Cast, Crew and Colleagues and Hours of Never-Before-Released Outtakes and On-Set Footage' it is split into 8 parts: Incept Date - 1980: Screenwriting and Dealmaking, Blush Response: Assembling the Cast, A Good Start: Designing the Future, Eye of the Storm: Production Begins, Living in Fear: Tension on the Set, Beyond the Window: Visual Effects, In Need of Magic: Post-Production Problems and To Hades and Back: Release and Resurrection. The damn thing is over three and a half hours long and there surely cannot be anything else that a fan could ever possibly want to know about this production - it must all be in here somewhere. It's a frank documentary, an honest look at what was clearly a gruelling few weeks, seemingly with none of the involved members getting on particularly well (we all know how much Harrison Ford hated this, and how he states that his character was always meant to be human). It comes packed with interviews - many newly recorded - by almost all of the people that you would want to hear from: pretty-much the entire cast, as well as lots of revealing behind the scenes footage. I remember being quite engaged by the original Jaws Documentary and this is an even more comprehensive offering which should satisfy the appetites of all the movie's fans out there.

The third discs doesn't have any specific extras, per se, it merely houses the three alternate cuts: the U.S. and International Theatrical Cuts and the 1992 Director's Cut. But we do get Introductions to each of these, where Director Ridley Scott gets the opportunity to briefly differentiate between them. The fourth disc has a world of extras, contained within the Enhancement Archive. Again it's just an SD DVD, but that doesn't matter, this will still be one of the big moments for fans out there. The first section is entitled Inception and has three offerings: two Featurettes and an Interview segment. The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Philip K. Dick and Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel vs. The Film are both companion Featurettes, running at a quarter of an hour each and looking at both Dick's body of work as a whole, and how his Do Androids novel was adapted in the movie. Whilst it's clear that they had to drop or change many of Dick's ideas, his overall theme (prevalent in most of his books) was still retained and this is quite a nice little historical look at this aspect of the production. The Interviews segment also fits in perfectly here, as it holds a bunch of rare audio interviews with the late author Dick, who gives us some (often frank) comments on the production (we're talking the original 1980s work here), the cast (in particular Ford) and what he thought of Scott's vision of his work.

The second section is Fabrication, which houses three further Featurettes, Signs of the Times: Graphic Design and Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling both looking at the Production, Costume and Set Design, with details on the various 'futuristic' outfits, the hairstyles, the imaginative sets and the Tokyo-styled neon-sign-lit streets. Considering the grandeur of this futuristic setting, it is well worth the total half-hour-plus runtime to find out more about how they put it all together. We also get Screen Tests for Rachael and Pris, which shows us the tests done for the original actresses chosen for said roles: Nina Axelrod and Stacey Nelkin, respectively. It is interesting to see these contributions and hear recent interviews from the two actresses, and it makes you wonder what would have happened if they had been cast - perhaps their lacklustre film careers would have gone in a different direction. The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth is a twenty-minute tribute to the late Cronenweth, who was the acclaimed Director of Photography on the movie. With many crew members on hand (including Scott himself) to talk about his amazing work, the testament is really the movie itself, which showcases his visual flair at its best. Finally, but possibly most importantly, we get a huge selection of Deleted and Alternate Scenes. I touched on these briefly in the main feature section as they really mark one of the best aspects of this set. Totally an extra 48 minutes, they almost comprise an alternate movie in themselves, and personally I would have loved it if the studios had incorporated them into a truly different cut of the movie. The majority of them have Harrison Ford's famously apathetic narration, which - as I've said - I think actually suits the production, and could have made them movie even more 'classic film noir detective style'. The alternate opening is much more stylised, the extra Rutger Hauer moments are interesting, but it's Ford's narrated segments (and the scene with his wounded blade runner colleague) that really make this worth checking out. Easily the highlight of the set.

The final section, entitled Longevity, takes a look at the promotional side of the production, with three 1982 Promotional Featurettes: On the Set, Convention Reel and Behind-the-Scenes Outtakes (totally over half an hour) which are really only worth watching from a nostalgic point of view, being far inferior in nature and attitude to the more recent offerings. There are also six Trailers, covering all of the different cuts and even the Dangerous Days Documentary itself. Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art takes ten minutes to look specifically at the imaginative poster designs created for the movie across the decades, Deck-A-Rep: the True Nature of Rick Deckard takes ten minutes to give you various different opinions on the big question on every fan's lips - is Deckard a replicant? Whether you prefer Ford's interpretation, Dick's intention or Scott's supposed statement of fact, we get plenty of different views here and it is quite nice that they dedicated a whole segment to it. Finally for this packed disc we get Nexus Generation: Fans and Filmmakers, which looks at the huge multi-generational fan-base that this movie has gained over the decades.

On the fifth and final disc we not only get the 'First-Ever Home Video Release of the Rarely Seen Pre-Release Workprint, featuring Alternate Footage, Music and Voice-Over' but we get an Audio Commentary to accompany this alternate version. I have to say that the Workprint wasn't as extensively different as I had hoped (not as much as, say, the Deleted Scenes would have otherwise afforded) but having the Commentary by the Author of the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, Paul M. Sammon, at least highlights the differences. We also get an Introduction by Ridley Scott and a Featurette entitled All Our Variant Futures: From Workprints to Final Cuts ('Tracking the Fascinating History Behind the Film's Multiple Versions and an In-Depth Look at creating The Final Cut') which takes thirty minutes to dissect and differentiate between all the different incarnations of Blade Runner that we have seen over the last twenty-five years. Scott is at the helm, highlighting some of the often-overlooked minute changes made to perfect his vision and, in this respect, the Featurette is quite valuable. I never noticed some of the clean-up work done, it is easy to fail to appreciate the tiny flaws that were polished up, and perhaps this is the only way to pick up on all of them (although the Commentaries on the Final Cut do offer some information in this respect).
Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector
Well we've had a long wait to finally get a decent Digital Media release of cult classic Blade Runner, but it looks like it was worth it. Blasting to Blu-ray with no less than five different cuts (although, arguably, two of them are fairly redundant), there is sure to be a version of the film on offer here that will please any fan out there, with the others making interesting companion cuts. And even though the Briefcase Edition does not come with a real Voight-Kampff machine, it's still loaded with extra goodies. Possibly the single best (and most comprehensive) release of any movie that I have ever come across on High Definition.
Blade Runner 5 Disc Ultimate Collector

Scores

Movie

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
9

Extras

10

Overall

10
10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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