Review: Blade Runner

4k Blu-ray: Blade Runner (1982)

After a very checkered past Blade Runner is now universally accepted as a classic. Ridley Scott’s future-noir fantasy (from a novel by Philip K Dick) massively flopped in 1982, dismissed by critics and with the studio fiddling non-stop with the finished product. Late-in-the-day recuts, adding an explanatory narration and adding a stupid ‘happy ending’ following negative test screenings. The film was lost, until the advent of Video.

It was only when Blade Runner was released as the 1992 Director’s Cut, and later Scott’s definitive Final Cut, that its masterpiece status was assured, and now adding to the many different releases, we have a HDR 4K 35th anniversary release.
The 2 disc version has the 4K Final Cut Film and the Blu-ray of that film, while the ‘deluxe’ version boasts the 4K final cut, original theatrical cut, international theatrical cut, director’s cut and the much sought after work print, along with 3 commentaries and Dangerous Days; the amazing documentary about the making of Blade Runner. Phew!

This transfer for this new 4K version is sourced from the same one Warner Bros. used for its Final Cut in 2007  and this was re-worked under the supervision of Ridley Scott himself.  The Blu-ray was good for 2007, but this 2017 4K Blu-ray absolutely blows it away. It’s sharper and more expressive, the colours not just brighter but more intense and solid. The advertising lights really are Neon, the plumes of fire that dominate the Los Angeles landscape at the film’s beginning are more defined and more vibrant, and you can see the skin pores in every close up. It’s a much clearer image, with more detail on offer, nothing is allowed to hide in the shadows making this almost like seeing a new film.

The scene where M. Emmet Walsh’s Bryant talks Deckard through the various replicants is bathed in a rich blue tone. On Blu-ray there’s a lack of sharpness to the faces and the scene seems drenched in blue, the Ultra HD Blu-ray is more distinct and strikes a better colour balance. You can detect multiple shades of blue, the lighting feels more natural and defined, and aspects of the picture that appeared fuzzy on the Blu-ray are now rendered with startling clarity. Blacks are now inky deep on the 4K. This is a richer, deeper and more expressive image that makes you appreciate the production design and aesthetics of this film even more.

The sound is amazing, from the booming opening, this Dolby Atmos track makes its presence felt, whether it’s the room-shaking heft provided by a Spinner or the explosions that resonate during the opening scenes, there’s a real depth and dynamism to the soundstage. The panning of effects is excellent, the Spinners whoosh past from right-to-left and vice versa and the positioning of those effects is perfect. You’re never in doubt where a sound is coming from.

Vangelis’ score has never sounded so emotional and engulfed my living room. This Atmos track is great example of what Dolby’s object-based surround sound format can bring, immersing you with a vibrant, busy, detailed and accurate soundscape.
A really top-notch release and absolutely essential for any Blade Runner fan.

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity.