Blade Runner is, undoubtedly, a hugely important and iconic piece of cinema. It’s visually both dazzling and visionary, has never quite been matched and deserves its place in the technical annals of film history.
Sadly, the first time I watched it was on a 14” portable televlsion, where I was left a little nonplussed by it all. Nonetheless, I did appreciate it was a big screen experience, and so I watched it again. On a 20”.
This, clearly, was not going to plan.
Then the Director’s Cut turned up. And with it, a cinematic reissuing for a film which, by this point I was determined to see on a big screen. I was equally determined to see what I was missing about the film itself that hadn’t clicked with me before.
The answer? Nothing. While the Director’s Cut undoubtedly improved the film, and while it looks quite brilliant up there on a big screen, the film itself remains a hollow shambles. A vacuum. And, if you put the technical issues to one side, a dull, dull film. The sci-fi equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes, if you will.
Over the years, I’ve been castigated for daring not to like Blade Runner. I must have an aversion to proper sci-fi (not true). I must hate Philip K Dick work (not true). I must have some kind of problem with Ridley Scott as a director (er, we’ll come to that in a minute). It seems it’s simply not possible that someone, by the end of it, was disinterested to the point of not caring whether Deckard was a replicant or not.
I’m not alien to the film’s qualities. Harrison Ford aside, I thought the performances were fine, and there were some nice scenes in there. I also appreciate that it’s a hugely influential film, and do believe it deserves respect for that.
But, and I’ve watched it again since, after four goes I just feel it doesn’t gel, is bogged down by its ideas, and fails to deliver as a piece of filmed entertainment. Harsh, perhaps, particularly because I always admire something ambitious that doesn’t quite work. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.
I even appreciate that it’s a fairly shallow argument I’m putting forward, that one person’s dull is another person’s favourite film. But few films I’ve been shouted at more for disliking than Blade Runner, and while I’d gladly admire the photography over and over, the chances of me attempting again to hunt for the genuine, well-rounded and strongly executed substance of the film are remote.
And let’s quickly deal with Ridley Scott. I’m not a mad fan of a lot of stuff, Alien aside, which I think is his best film by some distance. Thelma & Louise was okay, Gladiator was good, Black Hawk Down was atrociously dull, Hannibal was embarrassing, Matchstick Men disappointing, and G I Jane insulting. He doesn’t like my work, either.
But back to Blade Runner. Appreciating there’s an inevitable tidal wave of people about to tell me I’m wrong – again – there’s a comments option down at the bottom there.
I will be waiting…
Meanwhile, I’ll start work on why Terminator 2 is rubbish if you like?