By Delta_Ass 0 Comments
First things first. Right off the bat, one thing I never understood about Blade Runner was its title. Why is it called Blade Runner? Deckard is a future cop who goes around hunting robots. He doesn't run on any blades, at all. There's no blade running. He drives a flying car. The movie never touches on the topic of blades or of running on blades. I just, I don't understand why the film has this title. Does blade running have anything to do with anything? I can't see it.
Holden, the first blade runner agent goes and tests Leon, and gets blown away by a hidden gun when the replicant reacts badly to a question. Now, wouldn't it have been a lot safer if Holden had searched the suspect for weapons before administering the test? That seems like it would've been a prudent move.
Replicants are artificially intelligent robots, as far as I can tell. Yet, why are they so similar to humans? All movie long, I was wondering why they didn't seem different from humans at all. You just couldn't tell them apart, there was nothing to give away their robotic nature. That's the reason for the Vought-kampf test, after all. But why were they so human? When Roy Batty stabs himself at the end of the film, what looks like blood comes out. It looked just like the blood of a normal person. But shouldn't there be some differentiation between us? Why would we make robots that are exactly like humans? "More human than human" as Tyrell's corporation puts it? Data on Star Trek is a good example of an AI android that clearly appears robotic. He's got golden eyes, and yellow metallic skin. There's a clear sign of otherness. We know just by looking at him that he's an android. Ash from Alien is another example of an android from a Ridley Scott film. Ash on the outside appears human, however his blood is milky white. That's a rather big indicator of artificial design, I'd say.
But we don't get that at all with the replicants. Other then showing feats of superhuman strength, they're just like humans. The Tyrell corporation makes them more human than human, as we've said. But why the hell would they do that? The government has outlawed all replicants on earth, hasn't it? Doesn't that indicate a rather large and serious fear of replicants? Outlawing all intelligent robots on earth seems to me like people are rather afraid of intelligent robots. But it's okay to let the corporation keep making these intelligent robots as human as humanly possible? Completely indistinguishable from people, other then a rather lengthy and laborious empathy test? Doesn't this seem incredibly strange to anyone else? Why not make them look like robots, like Data, so we don't have to worry so much? Then, if they are on Earth, they're easy to spot. Wouldn't be so risky for blade runners, plus you wouldn't need to worry about accidentally retiring a human being. Or program some sort of dye into their body that's easily detectable with a scan? Or have some sort of killswitch in them so you can shut them off when they go rogue, rather then waiting for their four year lifespan to end?
There are a few different models of Nexus-6 robots, we're told. Roy Batty is a combat model, while Pris is a pleasure model, aka a robot prostitute. Now alright, that's fine and well. But the prologue says that "Replicants were used Off-World as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets." Now, why would you so painstakingly try to create replicants that were as human as possible, and as intelligent as possible, if they're just going to be used for slave labor? I can see why a pleasure model like Pris might need to look as human as possible, since nobody who's going to an off-world brothel would want to fuck something that looks like a robot. That wouldn't be so sexy. Dealing with the uncanny valley would also be a pretty big turnoff, I'd imagine. So it makes sense that Pris would look as human as possible. But for others, like Roy Batty... it doesn't really hold up. Trying to make a robot look as human as possible seems like a tremendous waste of time and effort if you're just going to use him for combat or slave labor. Does slave labor really require exceptional intelligence or perfect human likeness? I think not.
And frankly, the world we're shown doesn't even seem capable of creating robots that are perfect facsimiles of human beings. Such a feat would require a highly advanced technological society, wouldn't it? And yet, I mean... this is a world where we see huge smokestacks in industrial pits belching flames. Maybe it's just me, but that looks rather primitive and unsophisticated. There are dilapidated buildings with gothic designs and J.F. Sebastian's home is filled with creepy dolls and androids that seem like they came right out of an 18th century opera. The flying car that Deckard rides in looks rather messy and junky, with wires running everywhere. The overall impression is a startlingly dreary and rundown world, and I just can't believe it'd be capable of creating such perfect replicants.
And by the way, let me just say that the fashion in this film is laughably silly. Zhora dresses in some strange see-through plastic outfit that made no sense at all. Again, this did not convince me that this was some futuristic world, it just made me laugh. Who would think that see-through plastic wear would ever be fashionable? Why would anyone wear such a useless thing? You might as well just walk around downtown in your bra and underwear, right?
Replicants in Blade Runner seem much more like a genetically engineered organic species than artificial intelligence robots. They seem wholly biological, have blood, and when Roy Batty and Tyrell discuss methods of prolonging his life, the scientific jargon seems more rooted in biology and genetics then robotics and technology. "We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent a potent mutagen It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table."
But the prologue says that they're the result of advanced robot evolution. This doesn't make much sense at all to me. Genetic engineering and robotics aren't the same at all. If the replicants are just genetically engineered humans with greater strength, well then... there's no question at all that they're very much like humans and deserve rights and shouldn't be retired.
Also... how the hell would a corporation that only makes replicants exist on earth, if all replicants on earth are outlawed? How would you go about making a product when said product is illegal? That seems like a rather strange business environment, doesn't it? I guess you could just make blueprints and designs and fax them to an offworld mass production facility that actually manufactures the replicants. I guess they could do that. But something tells me they don't actually do that. Something tells me that they create the replicants right there on earth. What tells me this? Well, having Rachael working in the Tyrell building tells me that they probably don't create replicants offworld.
In the prologue text, we're told that replicants became illegal on Earth after a bloody mutiny by Nexus-6s off-world. So why the hell did Tyrell reveal that Rachael was a replicant right in front of Deckard, a guy who's job it is to seek out and kill replicants? Replicants are illegal on earth, aren't they? Rachael is a replicant. And Tyrell just shows her off. She's his pride and joy. But again, we know replicants are illegal on earth. Why the hell does he do this? He deliberately reveals her replicant nature to Deckard. How did he know Deckard wouldn't just shoot her apart as soon as it was revealed? How did he know Deckard wouldn't report him to the police? As the head of the Tyrell corporation, I imagine that having a replicant on earth would be a serious crime, not to mention somewhat of a scandal for the corporation.
The ending speech by Roy Batty is rather moving and poignant. I do like that speech. "All those moment will be lost in time... like tears in rain." There's a universal truth in that speech which was genuinely touching and resonated with me.
But Roy Batty's change into some sort of sympathetic figure at the end didn't work for me. Even though he is dying, it's too much of a direction change in the film. Remember, we'd just watched him brutally murder both Tyrell and J.F. Sebastien a few scenes before. This replicant is a savage murder machine. I can't suddenly brush that off and now see him as some savior who's dying a pitiful death. It doesn't ring true, doesn't make sense. Does someone deserve to die merely because they were born a replicant and forced to work in slavery? Well, no... of course not. But Roy Batty murdered two people in cold blood and has been acting as a crazed psychopath for the last third of the film. I'm not gonna shed any tears for him. He deserves to die, and I hope he burns in hell.
So yeah, I guess I'd say I don't really like this film, which has been hailed by so many as a sci-fi masterpiece. I will admit I slightly enjoy it more now then when I saw it the first time, but the overall impression is not a favorable one. I think Sean Young's performance as Rachael is very good, as she exudes this innocence and vulnerability which is rather endearing and lets you believe that Deckard could fall in love with basically a very well made robot. And as I've said before, the ending speech by Rutger Hauer is great. But I can't say that a film is saved by a speech at the end. Siskel and Ebert also gave Blade Runner a rather negative review when it first came out in 1982, so I'm not the only one.