Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Blade Runner.”
The Movie: “Blade Runner”
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Director: Ridley Scott
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89 percent
Brown: Do androids dream of electric sheep?
(REDACTED) if I know. At least we know now that Harrison Ford dreams of unicorns.
Last week, we reviewed the genesis of Fox News with “Network” and this week, we turn our attention to the dystopian wet dream that is “Blade Runner,” which is based off “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick.
And this’ll be a weird review since Froemming and I watched different versions of this flick. He watched the theatrical version while I own the final cut edition on Blu-Ray that had Ridley Scott making all the decisions.
As far as knowing what “Blade Runner” was all about, my introduction was actually a point-and-click PC game my grandma bought me in middle school. You didn’t play as Deckard, instead you were another blade runner that was on an investigation at the same time as our protagonist. It was awkward late-90s fun.
More fun than Harrison Ford had doing narrations for the theatrical version.
Wake up, Froemming. Time to die! Tell me about your initial thoughts before I dig my fingers into your eyes.
Froemming: I had never seen this movie before, which is weird given the countless crap movies I sat through in the 1990s because Video Update had a rent two-, get two movies free sort of thing, and my parents gave them permission to allow me to rent R-rated films.
Hence, why I have seen too many B-horror movies to count.
Now, this review is going to be a little odd, since you have already made a reference which was not in the version of the movie I saw: The unicorn dream. I heard people mention it over the years, yet I sat on my couch watching this, never to see the damn scene until I looked it up on YouTube later.
Did I like this movie? I don’t really know. There was a lot I did like here, but once Ford started narrating like a used car sales salesman, it took a lot out of my enjoyment. He sounds bored, pissed and like he is trying to sell me a Buick all at once, and it is jarring.
Brown: I had never heard the narration before this week. Hearing it now, he is hate (REDACTED)-ing that dialogue.
Froemming: Yeah, and a lot of it is just him pointing out what is going on, which I already knew because my eyeballs and ears work properly.
As I struggle with the internal debate this movie sets forth (should humans bump uglies with robots, even if they look like Sean Young), Brown, why don’t you kick this off?
Brown: For what is a very visually stunning movie, we start out with text and narration. It mentions that in the futuristic world of 2019 Los Angeles, human-like robots called replicants walk among us and do the menial jobs no one wants, which includes mining the moon. West Virginia’s ears are perking up after reading that sentence.
Anyways, blade runners exist to “retire” (see: kill) any replicants that are illegally on Earth.
I could absolutely see Trump saying that we need to “retire” the whistleblower.
In the opening scene, we see a blade runner interviewing a potential replicant using this bulky machine called the Voight-Kampff test that determines replicants by their emotional responses to questions.
Later on, the machine makes no sense when you see replicants with glowing orange eyes but whatever. This blade runner gets shot through a (REDACTED) wall by a replicant named Leon for his efforts.
I mean, the blade runner asked about Leon’s mama. You don’t talk about someone’s mama.
Froemming: If they are making replicas of humans, why bother with pear-shaped loser versions like Leon?
Leon is part of a group of replicants that escaped the outpost or whatnot, a place in space that is not Earth, where perhaps the sun shines unlike here. Why does this LA feel like it is Seattle?
And even though it is raining all the time, there are buildings shooting out fireballs for no apparent reason other than it looks pretty cool. Basically, this movie feels like a Nine Inch Nails video.
And when we are introduced to our grumpy hero, my version had the hilarious voice over, which made me laugh out loud because I couldn’t believe how out of place it was in this movie. Old people like to rag on kids today for not having attention spans, but they were so stupid in the 1980s they couldn’t follow a simple movie like “Blade Runner” without assistance.
Brown: Also, for as much as I enjoy this movie, it’s very slow. It’s not hard to keep up with what’s going on around you when you get past the faux-philosophical way the replicants talk and the disembodied Japanese woman/Coca-Cola billboard that floats around like the head in “Zardoz.”
So Deckard is a retired blade runner who is drawn into duty by his old supervisor, Bryant, to take down four renegade replicants.
Froemming: I think this movie would have been better if Danny Glover played Roger Murtaugh as a retired blade runner who is getting too old for this (REDACTED).
Brown: And the way he explains this is basically like a video game. It’s like, “OK, there’s Leon, he’s a mini boss. There’s Pris and Zhora and there’s the leader, Roy Batty. You’ll have to reach the apartment building to find him. Make sure you find 1-ups in hidden locations on the map.”
Also helping Bryant is Edward James Olmos being a weirdo, which is virtually all his roles. His name is Gaff and he likes to do origami? Sure, why the hell not.
Froemming: He dresses like a stereotype of a 1970s gangster in NY that Brietbart would use to scare people about Mexicans.
Look, Deckard is just trying to get some noodles in the poor neighborhood, where people talk in “gutter speak” which is English to our ears, but to them it is a mix of Spanish, Chinese, ect. Did we mention the casual racism yet? Because there is casual racism in this movie.
But he can’t eat his noodles because he is now roped into the job of hunting down the replicants. Why not use blade runners who are not, you know, retired? The movie makes it seem it is rare for these robots to come to Earth, and when they do, they decide to not use the people who’s one job is to catch them? They need Deckard because he’s better? That is on their shoddy training practises and seems like a waste of money.
Brown: Deckard is a (REDACTED) drunk! This movie REALLY goes out of its way to show how much Deckard drinks. The dude either has a gun or a bottle in his hand. I’d like to think a slightly-above average blade runner could do better than Deckard after a pull of absinthe.
But no, he’s (apparently) the best. And to prove it (??) he goes to the Tyrell Corporation to meet with Eldon Tyrell, the man who has created the replicants to see the Voight-Kampff test in action against the most advanced replicant out there. And it’s here we meet Rachael, who has the hair of Marge Simpson and shoulder pads in her coat that would qualify for use in the NFL.
Also, because it’s too easy a reference: Tyrell Corporation’s motto is “More Human Than Human.”
Froemming: If these things are such a problem, why not make them illegal? Here is Tyrell still making and expanding upon these robots in plain sight, yet, Deckard and the government are hunting them down all the time?
It is time to shut that operation down. It is like arresting drug dealers but letting the manufacturers still make the stuff.
So Deckard sits Rachael down and does the test. She passes, but he still knows she is a robot, because he has whiskey intuition? So Tyrell is making these things have the ability to get around the blade runners’ tests? How is that legal? I imagine if it went to court, Tyrell’s lawyer just uses the Chewbacca defense and wins every time.
But there is a catch: The replicants have a fail safe in which they only live for four years. So if our drunken hero fails to catch them, Father Time will anyway.
Also, this is what I think Republicans think Silicon Valley is like in real life.
Brown: Rachael doesn’t die in four years. Over 10 years after this movie comes out, she’ll return to our lives as Lt. Einhorn/Ray Finkle in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
Froemming: LACES OUT, BROWN!
Brown: Rachael’s parents told me as a child that Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell. I liked Dan Marino so that was jarring.
After the test, Tyrell tells Deckard that Rachael has emotional experience she draws from that are actually from Tyrell’s niece, so Rachael has no clue that she’s a replicant.
… Were the orange eyes during the test not an indicator? Rachael, have you never been doing your hair in the mirror and all of a sudden your pupils look like truck lights backing up? That wasn’t an alarm in your head?
Anywho, we see Leon and our main baddie, Roy Batty, make his triumphant intro to this movie to get info out of a man that makes synthetic eyes.
I love Roy Batty. Rutger Hauer is hamming it up so much, Frank Reynolds would soak him in rum so he could eat his drinks.
Froemming: Not just any man he interrogates, why that is James Hong from “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Seinfeld.” Yeah, I get it. I am a nerd.
Roy Batty, I like this character a lot. He has the platinum blond hair of a 1980s rock star and the demeanor of a 1980s pop star, like Sting or something, but less douchey.
Brown: Also like 1980s/90s pre-”Crow” Sting of WCW fame! Yeah, I get it. I am a nerd.
Froemming: So our baddies learn of J. F. Sebastian, the world’s creepiest doll maker and head off to find him and his apartment full of creatures out of a horror film.
And Deckard searches Leon’s apartment, which raises the questions of why a robot would need an apartment. Why do these robots have skin? Why don’t they just walk around like the cyborgs in “Terminator” so people would know they are robots. The only reason I can think of as to why they make them look human is because in this 2019 sex robots are all the craze.
He finds a scale, a snake scale, here and some photos he will need to examine in the darkness of his apartment while getting hammered.
This does not seem like a good detective at all.
Brown: Deckard is also a jerk who bluntly tells Rachael that she is a replicant since her memories are not her own. Also, isn’t he obligated to shoot Rachael since she’s a replicant out amongst the public and not in Tyrell’s penthouse?
Yeah, I know Deckard somehow falls in love with her (I mean, Sean Young is cute and all) which makes no sense after this scene and a corresponding booty call while Deckard is working/drinking.
Froemming: I didn’t know robots could have a #MeToo moment, but this movie shows they can when Deckard forces himself on Rachael later in this movie.
So Deckard is getting sauced and looking at the evidence and this somehow leads him to a strip club where one of the replicants are working…
There are things in this movie that make zero (REDACTED) sense to me.
Brown: The photo-enhancing technology is the most unbelievable thing in this movie that features replicants, floating Japanese lady heads and floating cars.
This is Deckard looking at the photos he found in Leon’s room that somehow lead him to Zhora.
So yeah, Deckard ends up at a strip club, which, let’s be honest, he would have ended up at some point anyway. I think it may also be an opium bar with how big the pipes are for the patrons and the bartender. And it’s there he hunts down Zhora by posing as an animal rights something or another… I don’t remember what it was, I just remember Ford’s high-pitched voice trying to sell this ruse.
Quick aside: How bummed were you that newspapers seem to be read frequently in futuristic 2019 than they are in real-life 2019?
Froemming: It was the most unbelievable part of the whole movie to me.
So Deckard gives chase to Zhora, which a guy chasing a stripper down the mean streets of LA with a gun and nobody batting an eye was the most realistic moment of the movie to me. At least he doesn’t fire randomly into the crowds too much here. But he does end up shooting and killing Zhora, which if you see the original version, as she is running through the glass, it is obviously a mustachioed man in a bad wig, which is hilarious.
Brown: I was laughing more at how many panes of glass Zhora ran through while getting gunned down by Deckard. It’s like she was a one-woman “Blues Brothers” car driving through the mall.
And if that wasn’t enough of a mess for Deckard, a minute later he runs into Leon, who beats the hell out of him and gives the most baffling line delivery I’ve ever heard in my life before he meets his maker via bullet to the head by Rachael.
I watched this movie almost a week ago and I still don’t know if the delivery of “Wake up, time to die” is brilliant or terrible. It’s so fascinating to me.
Froemming: I think if someone ever asks me how old they are, I will punch them in the face like Deckard does here.
There are just odd bits of dialogue like that which made me laugh so hard. I get it, they are robots, but they are so socially awkward.
Brown: To be fair, they’re not the most socially awkward people in this movie. That’d be J.F. Sebastian. We’ll get to that shortly.
I’ll let Froemming explain the next bit with Rachael and Deckard starting some kind of relationship because my DVD was skipping during this scene. I need to get a new one.
Froemming: I’d rather have the one that skips at this part, because of how creepy it is. If they ever needed a reenactment of a Weinstein moment in a documentary, they could just use Deckard forcing himself on Rachael here, because based off what I learned in the Hulu documentary about the disgusting movie mogul, this was not that far off from what he pulled on a regular basis.
Deckard gets real rapey with Rachael here. She is obviously not into it, but he keeps going and booze is not an excuse. This part really made me question rooting for the protagonist in this movie. Yeah, moments like this certainly have not aged well with our current climate, but I would have found it creepy way before 2019. It was creepy then.
Anywho, back to Sebastian and his creepy dolls and cyber-punk Daryl Hannah (which I did not know until I saw the credits) as Pris, who makes contact with the man who would one day become the mayor of Deadwood. Sebastian has a rare genetic ailment that makes him age faster — hence why he looks 40 but is 25. Raising the question: Is actor William Sanderson like Kurtwood Smith in that he has never been a young person?
This genetic ailment allows him and the robots to have something in common. Also, he has creatures he has made, such as the frightened looking doll with a doodad (technical term) on his mouth at his dining table.
I do not want to know any of that back story. That was haunting on its own.
Brown: In my notes, I put two things:
- J.F. Sebastian’s life is a (REDACTED) nightmare
- Froemming is going to HATE these toys he’s created.
Roy Batty convinces J.F. Sebastian to take him to Tyrell’s penthouse that overlooks LA because it’s dystopian fiction and of course the wealthy live ABOVE the poor.
Through a game of chess, Tyrell decides to let J.F. Sebastian up, only to see Roy Batty has come with him. Roy tries to bargain for a while to have a longer life but Tyrell cannot give this to him or Pris. Accepting his fate, Roy does the rational thing and digs his fingers into Tyrell’s eyes and kills him in very gruesome fashion.
Also, J.F. Sebastian is killed off-screen? It was a weird choice to make a character that was important to the plot up to that point an afterthought. Deckard gets the call and decides to check out J.F. Sebastian’s apartment, but after a pack of midgets try to steal the hubcaps off his car?
And when Deckard gets to the apartment, he’s greeted by a goose-walking midget in a military outfit. I see that, I’m pulling a Grandpa Simpson.
Legit, what the (REDACTED) is happening in this movie?
So now we enter the video game boss ending of the movie, which is funny because when this came out, the most advanced video game was about an Itialian plumber who eats mushroom and shoots fire from his hands. Because, again…
Pris does some pretty nifty fighting here, but her acrobatic powers are no match for Deckard’s whiskey strength!
Brown: Well, Pris’ method of execution is the same as Xenia Onatopp in “Goldeneye.” And she had to do gymnastics before dealing the killing blow. Really, it was bad strategy by Pris when Deckard has a gun.
Froemming: And Roy comes home to find this mess going on, which I mean, he is already having a rough day and now has to deal with this? I don’t blame him or his robot-rage. Not only has Pris died looking like a creepy Harlequin, but now Deckard is smashed and trying to kill him.
And look, we know how action movies of the 1980s end: On the roof of a building and the antagonist falling to their death. We get half that here, which makes it one of the best ending to a movie I have seen in a long time.
But before we get to that, Roy takes out some of that robot-rage on Deckard by breaking a finger for each of his good-time replicants he has killed so far. So, Brown gets his favorite moments of movies when people’s body parts are getting all twisted and broken up.
Brown: Yeah, hearing fingers snapped like chicken bones hurts me to my core. Also, how the (REDACTED) can Deckard climb a rain-soaked building with two broken fingers?
Brown: This part of the movie is such a weird tonal shift with Roy Batty going from a sophisticated psychopath to stalking Deckard in his underwear for reasons and dropping one-liners like a less gory Freddie Krueger that later gives himself a stigmata because of (REDACTED) course he does.
You wipe away the futuristic facade of this movie and it really is a detective noir like a ‘50s movie.
Froemming: I enjoy this ending: Roy has Deckard hanging from the roof and can kill him, but he doesn’t. He loves life so much (and what little he has left) that he spares Deckard the fate he has coming at any moment. What I did not like was the white dove that he is holding flying away, we didn’t need that much symbolism. This isn’t a John Woo movie.
Brown: The tears in rain monologue is pretty amazing. I may not like all the ways we got here but I’m glad we got here.
But yeah, the dove is a bit much.
Froemming: Then Gaff shows up to point out the obvious about Rachael to Deckard, which I mean, he knows so why can’t Gaff just do his (REDACTED) job and figure out what happened.
Back at Deckard’s place, which is a lot like the apartment in “Mitchell,” Deckard united with Rachael and they decide to take off. He sees one of Gaff’s origami things in the shape of a unicorn, which again, that scene was not in the version I saw so it meant nothing to me beyond he knew they were running away together.
I also got the happy ending with these two love birds driving in the sunny, wooded area of LA that nobody has fled to yet for some reason.
Brown: Yeah, my version just ends in a panic in the elevator as they try to Escape From LA.
Brown: But yeah, the unicorn. The argument is that Graf making the origami unicorn is symbolism that Deckard is a replicant because he knew he’d have the unicorn dream he had earlier in the movie.
Now, I haven’t seen “Blade Runner 2049” yet, so I don’t know the canon answer to this. But I like the question of it he’s a replicant. And I can’t answer if he was a replicant or not because I think Deckard is an unreliable narrator due to the alcohol he consumes. Then again, if replicants are built like Bender in “Futurama,” Deckard needs that booze for fuel. So sure, Deckard’s a replicant.
What do you think, Froemming?
Froemming: The version I saw had little to go on with this. No unicorn dream, though at times his eyes did seem red like Rachel’s, but I chalked that up to being hammered.
Why don’t we hop in our flying cars down to recommendations?
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Oh yeah. There’s problems with the pacing and it can be up its own ass but the Final Cut is worth watching.
Froemming: Yes, this was a very good movie. I will have to check out the version Brown saw, because the one I watched was different in many ways that included the terrible voice over nonsense.