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Examining Why Blade Runner is a Classic

Maximilian Rivera April 10, 2018

When we look at films like Blade Runner, it’s easy to get lost in the cultural hype around it, instead of focusing on the film as a text on its own merit. But at the same time, it’s cultural conversations about films change over time. This is evident as Blade Runner was not a box office success upon its release, yet is revered by many cinema fans today.

For the first 90% film on our podcast, I chose Blade Runner as my pick for our reviews. We will have plenty of great choices each week, but revisiting this film made the most sense for the kinds of movies Scott and I enjoy dipping into. The film itself has a simple story, but the full world that gets built in the narrative is extremely rich. On top of that, there are some interesting tidbits to discuss in regards to the making of Blade Runner, as well as the source material.

What We Watched

In this episode, we cover a bunch of ground. Here’s a breakdown:

Having just finished a big bout of international travel, I had plenty to talk about this week. Even though I felt little motivation to, I finally sank my fangs into Justice League, and found my bite soured by the boredom that movie presented. I don’t know if it was just a matter of giving up for the filmmakers, but at least even BvS and Suicide Squad made me feel something. Honestly, I felt a whole lot of nothing watching this movie, and I also kept forgetting what the central conflict was.

In brighter news, I also watched XXX: Return of Xander Cage, which was a delight. If you’re in on the first two films, you’ll have an amazing time with this one. It somehow hits all the beats it needs to while presenting an anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist viewpoint, with cool explosions and shit. The return of a major player in the third act also was better done that Superman in Justice League.

Next up I watched Dunkirk  — Christopher Nolan’s much praised war film from 2017. By war film, I mean film about war, more so than a battlefield brawler. Dunkirk is great cinema — and I was happy to see Nolan handle a more straightforward narrative. Even though it is chronologically unique in its presentation, there aren’t twists and turns that we sometimes attach to his name. Dunkirk has very little dialogue compared to most major releases, instead relying on strong visuals to show you what is at hand for these soldiers.  

Finally, I watched Pixar’s Coco. This was my favorite film I watched, as it hit very close to home. If you haven’t seen it, check it out! It’s a sincere, unique film that the whole family can enjoy.

Scott watched a few new releases this week — these include Ready Player One, A Quiet Place, and Isle of Dogs. As these are all fresh movies, we don’t go too far into spoilers, other than giving his instant reactions. What were they? Let’s just say there may be a few Scott Hot Takes flying around this episode!

More Human than Replicant

As for Blade Runner, we both have a blast breaking this one down. Having seen it before, this viewing allowed us to take some fresh perspectives on this one. Most noticeably for me was that Deckard is kind of a dullard, and he’s hard to sympathize with. He’s less human than Roy Batty, and maybe even the other replicants he hunts down. Yet his journey takes him to a point where he can reclaim his humanity — all in a thrilling final act that allows Rutger Hauer to dominate the screen.

An Imperfect But Ideal Cinematic Experience

There are some major pitfalls when it comes to female characters in Blade Runner, as well as its 2017 sequel. If this series were to continue, we ponder how that can be handled with some new plot threads introduced in Blade Runner 2049.

While Blade Runner isn’t perfect, it is the ideal example of an interesting movie with a long lifespan. You can see its influence in almost every gritty, urban science fiction movie and show that came after, even today.

Next episode, we’re tackling David O’ Russel’s 2010 film The Fighter. Also, don’t forget to vote for our third 90% film, the Viewer Selection!

Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.