Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FLG Doesn't Get It

FLG has said before and will say it again, he doesn't get the infatuation with Blade Runner.

Throughout his teens, FLG began the movie several times, but invariably turned it off. Then, in college, his roommate loved the damn thing, and made him watch it. First, the theatrical release. Then, when FLG still didn't like it after finishing the whole thing, the superduper extended with extra sugar on top director's cut. FLG's roommate assured him that this would win him over. No dice.

Look, there are a ton of movies that FLG probably likes purely out of sentimental value because he liked them when he was a kid or teenager, but in reality they suck. That's the only way he can explain the infatuation with Blade Runner. FLG pretty much feels the way Ebert does:
Seeing the movie again, even in this revised version, I still felt the human story did not measure up to the special effects. Ford is always good when surrounded by amazing visuals, perhaps because he keeps cool and does not seem to notice them. Sean Young and, more briefly, Rutger Hauer, are effective as replicants who want only to live the lives they seem to have been given. But the character of Tyrell, the evil billionaire, has never been convincing, and the way he is murdered doesn't say much for his security measures. And the love affair between Ford and Young, though properly bittersweet, seems to exist more for the plot than for them.

And since by the time FLG saw it the years hadn't been kind to those special effects, all you're left with is a b-movie.


Andrew Stevens said...

I'm not a huge fan of Blade Runner, but you're wrong about its visuals being dated, except to the extent that it has been copied several times, so you'd probably seen a few Blade Runner knock-offs before you saw Blade Runner itself.

It is easy to say about special effects films that they date badly because it's true of so many of them. But Blade Runner, like 2001, went heavily toward realism in its special effects rather than whiz-bang moments, so it hasn't really dated at all. If you were making it today, you wouldn't do anything differently (except maybe including whiz-bang moments with CGI which would date badly and look really fake and cartoony).

Withywindle said...

And greatest background SF detail of all time: it's raining all the time in Los Angeles!

It's a bit slow. I liked it well enough, although I wasn't in ecstasies.

The Maximum Leader said...

Well... I feel compelled to comment. I believe that Blade Runner is a great film. The visuals are not dated. I was just watching them they are still great. Better than other films of its day - and still comparable to films of today.

As for the human elements of the story, I'll admit that they aren't for everyone. I think that the weak link in the cast is Sean Young. I have to disagree on Ebert's comment of Tyrell being evil. Tyrell, like everyone else in the story, is morally ambiguous. (He is also a huge ego maniac - but not evil.) If there is any single factor to many people disliking the movie it is that the ambiguity of the story can be off-putting. I should write more on this later.

George Pal said...

Am not a BR cultist but agree with Maximum Leader here - though I liked Sean Young and thought her portrayal of the replicant well done - appropriately confused and unsure as to how much to invest of herself for such a short life span. Everything else worked just fine.

Alpheus said...

I too am with the Maximum Leader. It's a great film. The plot has holes, but as a dream-meditation on humanity I think it would be hard to beat. To anticipate the M.L., it's probably not a mistake that the human characters so often seem puny or inhuman.

Jeff said...

I like the movie, but I think one of its biggest flaws is that you need to read the novel to tease out the implications and suggestions, even though the movie isn't a very faithful adaptation of the book. A good SF movie should include some weird, inexplicable stuff to help suggest a lived-in world, but there's an art-film aspect to the way it's all presented in Blade Runner that screams "Study this! This is all deep and symbolic!"--even though it's kinda not.

For me, the most frustrating Blade Runner side phenomenon is the Conversation with Someone Who's Never Read the Book But is Deeply Invested in Arguing That It's Just Like the Movie, which ends up sounding an awful lot like FLG discussing a news story with his coworker.

Kate Marie said...

I've always thought Blade Runner was a great movie, and that opinion has survived repeated viewings. I agree with Andrew that the effects aren't dated precisely because Scott went for realism rather than whiz-bang CGI. My experience with watching visually striking films is that if the film is visually striking enough, I care less about character development (see Days of Heaven), or maybe it's that the visuals start to provide some of the development that would ordinarily be provided by the writing and the acting.

As Jeff points out, the movie is not very faithful to the book. When I read the book for the first time recently, I was surprised by the depiction of the replicants (they're called something different in the book, I think, but I forget what), since one of the most memorable "hooks" of the movie's story -- sympathy for the replicants and their "humanity" -- was largely absent from the book. I was rather surprised at how much I ended up liking the book, anyway.

FLG said...

Katie Marie:

I get your stunning visuals point about Days of Heaven, but I just can't see it with Blade Runner.

Andrew Stevens said...

Riffing on the theme, one of my favorite movies is 2001 (which, come to think of it, did have one whiz-bang moment in the light show after David Bowman enters the monolith and that has dated very badly). Some people complain about the dreadfully dull characters and slow pacing and both of these are valid criticisms, but when a film looks and sounds like 2001 does, I can't honestly say I care. (And, of course, the characters are meant to be dull; it's part of the point.)

I do not personally have this same affection for Blade Runner, but I sympathize with those who do.

FLG said...


Again, I get 2001. Can't understand BR.

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