Blade Runner has re-spawned quite a bit since it originally limped out to mixed reviews in 1982. Such is the pull of this extraordinary SF parable; it’s no surprise to find that Warners have now upscaled 2007’s Final Cut to 4K digital for home release. This is the version where Ridley Scott had, for the very first time, total creative control over the edit. And now it looks even more astonishing.
Although this release comes in a variety of formats, including a steelbook edition and 4-disc box set, all the extras have been ported over from the 2007 Final Cut release bonanza, so don’t go looking for anything new on that front. Mind you, if you’ve never sat through Ridley Scott’s commentary (one of four re-included here) now’s a good opportunity because it’s wonderfully insightful (he always saw Blade Runner as being in the same universe as Alien and imagined the crew of the Nostromo hanging out at that noodle bar where Deckard chows down). He’ll also have you re-winding scenes where he’s just revealed some sleight of hand, such as the early bit of old-style detective work Deckard does in a bathroom where the actor isn’t even Harrison Ford, but his regular double Vic Armstrong, shot in profile and half-light.
But for most fans this purchase is all about the 4K ultra HD transfer. With original 35mm elements scanned at 4K and the 65mm effects shots scanned at 8K (before the final 4K mastering), you can die happy that there won’t be a better visual representation of the film, ever. Probably. The colour spectrum and blacks are heart stopping and the Dolby Atmos soundtrack renders those swooping Spinners and that entrancing, diaphanous Vangelis soundtrack all around your head like a mad symphony of crystal clear noise. The whole thing will make you tingle in places you’d forgotten existed. That’s our impersonation of Home Cinema Choice over with.
As great as the film looks in 4K now, it is only serves to enhance the scale of Scott’s achievement in 1982, not least his collaboration with FX guru Douglas Trumbull (he of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running) filming those insanely detailed miniatures. As Scott tells it in his commentary, the challenges involved in selling the futuristic model city - including achieving the right depth of field, aerial perspectives, lighting and smoke effects - were massive, but the results were and are so jaw-dropping that in 2017, Blade Runner in 4K stands as the ultimate middle finger to CGI.
Points off for expecting us to pay for extras we already own, but if you have the kit to experience Blade Runner in 4K you’ll not be passing this by.
BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (4K ULTRA HD) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: RIDLEY SCOTT / SCREENPLAY: HAMPTON FANCHER, DAVID PEOPLES / STARRING: HARRISON FORD, RUTGER HAUER, SEAN YOUNG, EDWARD JAMES OLMOS, DARYL HANNAH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW