Blade Runner 4K UHD Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: 21st-century detective Rick Deckard brings his masculine-yet-vulnerable presence to this stylish noir thriller. In a future of high-tech possibility soured by urban and social decay, Deckard hunts for fugitive, murderous replicants – and is drawn to a mystery woman whose secrets may undermine his soul.
Movie Review: There isn’t much to say about Blade Runner that hasn’t been said by someone else. Ridley Scott has had a very long, expansive career that is filled with peaks and valleys when it comes to quality. Blade Runner might be at the top of the highest peak coming right after Alien and right before the Apple 1984 commercial.
Blade Runner remains a classic after 35 years not just because the film is great, or the setting and atmosphere, but because it gives you so much to think about. To wonder about what defines being human, and how would you live differently if your life wasn’t what you thought it was? The UltraHD release is obviously timed to match up with the sequel release this summer, which I only hope I’ll still be watching years after it is released as well.
Technical Review: Blade Runner was originally shot on 35mm with many of the visual effects done on 65mm. The 4K scan of the film was completed in 2007 for The Final Cut release on Blu-ray (and HD-DVD!) and is the source for this release, with HDR added on. The results here are simply stunning. I’ll start with the bad, which with film means that HDR effects can look out of place at times. The opening scenes use HDR on the flames and unlike with modern CGI flames, you can see the HDR highlights moving outside of the flame a bit. It’s OK, but it is certainly not amazing.
With 35mm film, you’re going to have the issue of inherent noise in dark scenes. Some of the darker scenes in Blade Runner do have film grain that is clear to see, but it looks exactly like film. It doesn’t look like compression artifacts or other issues, but just that natural film look. Sometimes you’ll cut quickly from a scene with grain to one with none and it is easy to see the difference.
For the majority of the film, it looks just fantastic. There is tons of detail here pulled out of the original film and almost no damage or grain to be seen for much of it. The visual effects scenes, shot on 65mm, are flawless. Black levels are deep and dark while keeping shadow details, and details are just razor sharp. I’d previously thought the Fifth Element transfer was good, but this shows where Super35 lacks the resolution that this film offers. Transfers like Unforgiven or even La La Land look worse now, and both those films were shot a decade after Blade Runner. For those that wondered how classic films would benefit from UltraHD Blu-ray, you need only show them this disc.
The updated Dolby Atmos soundtrack is well done, making masterful use of all channels to put you into the middle of the film. Dialogue is kept clear from the center channel, while the surrounds and height channels are well utilized to put you into the center of the futuristic world.
Special Features: Included are Blu-ray discs with The Final Cut, the Director’s Cut, the International Theatrical Cut, US Theatrical cut, director’s commentary, Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner, Deleted and Alternate scenes, trailers and TV spots, and a host of featurettes.
Review System: 65” Sony A1E OLED, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.
Fantastic film, flawless transfer with a pristine image, incredible soundtrack.
HDR on film doesn't look as good as with CGI.
Blade Runner is a classic, and deservedly so, and it's never looked better than on this UHD disc. Details are flawless when the film allows, and blacks are deep and dark. The transfer can't make some 35mm shots less grainy, but it can show exactly what is on the film and make it look fantastic.