Blade Runner (1982)

Rating: ****
Director: Ridley Scott
Music: Vangelis
Special Effects: Douglas Trumbull
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, James Hong

A beautiful and visually stunning sci-fi adventure in a dark and gloomy future. Humanoid cyborgs called "replicants" are being manufactured to serve humanity, but the latest generation models have become a bit too human. Members of the police force known as "blade runners" serve to track down and "retire" renegade replicants, and the retired Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is the best. He gets called back to duty to take care of a bunch of dangerous replicants that are threatening the company that made them. In addition to the gorgeous effects and tense action, the film also psychologically probes the meaning of what it is to be "human" and forces Deckard to come to terms with his own humanity. Ridley Scott has done an amazing job with the look and feel of this film, and Rutger Hauer has never been better.

Notes on the director's cut: The director's cut of the film (1991) changes the tone completely and raises the question of whether Deckard is actually a replicant, which the original did not. It also removes the hard-boiled detective voice-over and the happy ending from the original, creating a much darker and more atmospheric experience. A much better film, but without seeing the original, the director's cut would probably be confusing and hard to follow.

Notes on the final cut: Much like George Lucas, Ridley Scott can't seem to leave his masterpiece alone. Thankfully, he hasn't ruined it in the process. The final cut (2007) is completely cleaned up and remastered, and has a re-mixed soundtrack so it looks and sounds fantastic. It's nearly identical to the director's cut and pulls a couple of scenes back in from the theatrical cut. It also adds and tweaks a handful of other minor scenes, but the most noticeable and jarring change is Roy addressing Dr. Tyrell as "father" instead of "fucker." I didn't like that, and it completely changes the tone of the encounter.