Everything we loved is getting a reboot these days, from ‘Logan’s Run‘ to ‘Barbarella‘, and the classic science fiction thriller ‘Blade Runner’ is no exception. That’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s look at great science fiction of the past.
*insert grumpy grumbling about original movies*
Why mess with perfection, right? I mean, if they’re going to redo anything, it should ‘Battle Beyond the Stars‘, because you can’t mess that up. I mean, how many times has ‘Seven Samurai’ been? The answer to that is not enough.
But ‘Blade Runner’, originally a Philip K. Dick novel with the name ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, looks like it is going to go under yet another makeover.
Frankly, though, it doesn’t need it. The movie is a gorgeous, and nearly everyone of its special effects stand the test of time.
Admittedly, though, it is full of so many lens flares, I wonder if it where JJ Abrams got the idea…
In any case, for those of you who haven’t really gotten the chance to see this 1982 epic of a movie made by famous Ridley Scott (hence the stunning visuals), it’s sort of your run of the mill android versus human flick done in a completely avant-garde style with questionable acting by Harrison Ford and umbrellas with neon shafts.
Okay, it’s actually not really that run of the mill (but the umbrellas are neon). It centers around the escape of four skin-jobs (androids who think and act like humans) and their quest to live past their sell-by date (they expire after four years). Harrison Ford plays a “Blade Runner”, whose entire job is about finding, catching, and then destroying these androids.
Really, what the movie is, is a two hour –well, the director’s cut is, at least– art film peppered with questions about what constitutes humanity. But it’s the visuals that really give it its distinctive flavor. Yes, we sort of expect these questions in a science fiction piece about androids, and we still get them today (‘Battlestar Galactica’, anyone?), but couching the entire affair in a glam-tastic, neon future scape that avoids the use of green screens whenever possible is a real treat.
The world, no matter how surreal it should feel, always has enough grit that you don’t so much as feel transported but aware that this future could very well be yours. What’s even better is that the world is very rich, and a lot of that has to do with the backstory in ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’. Though much of the storyline from the novel was dropped from the movie, so many of the world building elements remain, such as the rains caused by nuclear fallout, the lack of real animals (a major character development point in the novel), and the exodus to foreign lands if you have a comparably less mutated gene pool. Though the movie rarely indulges in these details, they are there, and it makes for a very rich background that is rarely seen in science fiction.
Instead of saying, “this is the theme, we shall only focus on it”, this movie said “this is the theme, but it’s in this far more complex world”, and that is really its charm and why it still stands fairly well against current science fiction movies. It essentially doesn’t think the audience is stupid or lazy.
Also, it has Rutger Hauer (‘Merlin’) and Edward James Olmos (‘Battlestar Galactica’), so that’s always a plus. Oh yeah, Harrison Ford… he’s there too…. but he’s basically playing Harrison Ford, so it doesn’t really feel all that notable.
All in all, though, its theme may be one we are used to this days. It is gorgeous and highly original in too many ways to ignore. Its only real weakness is a very thin romantic subplot, but that is an article for another day.
As such, I shall sign off this Throwback Thursday the way I usually do:
If you’ve seen ‘Blade Runner’, watch it again. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?