After tampering with his sci-fi noir masterpiece in a defining way back when he put together his "Director's Cut" which scrapped a moody voice-over and changed pretty much the entire meaning of the film's ending, some would say for the better, others not, Ridley Scott then felt confident enough, many years later, to deliver his "Final Cut".
Was it worth the wait?
Was this the cut we were all asking for?
The short answer is not exactly.
Which is not to say that Blade Runner: The Final Cut was a complete waste of time or ruined a cult classic in any way but if making a definitive version of the film which would truly stand the test of time was the plan then this is only half a victory. Sure some inconsistencies are "fixed" from that shot at the end where the dove flies off into a bright blue sky when it's meant to be the middle of the night to the strings on those departing spinners. A key line from Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is changed completely: "I want more life, f***er!" has become "I want more life, father!", something I don't personally agree with as I feel Batty would attempt to intimidate his so-called father by using a very human word, a swear word to show him how much he's evolved emotionally in such a short amount of time. That line did always stand out but that was a good thing, changing it in that way, I would argue, negates its impact and makes it blander. One of Bryant's (M. Emmet Walsh) lines is also changed but this alteration is much more seamless and serves the accuracy of what he's saying.
A scene is reshot pretty much entirely, the one where Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) crashes into some store windows, and what used to look like a stunt-person suddenly looks like a CGI'ed version of the now much older actress playing out the same scene. An imperfect sequence that always worked fine regardless has now become an imperfect sequence that still works fine regardless so this was predominantly a waste of time. Strangely, the film is now bloodier and more brutal which makes some of the harsher moments that little bit darker: Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) death scene was already rather gruesome but now the shot lingers on his demise just long enough to make you feel really uncomfortable. Otherwise you see a little more of the city streets, some moments are extended for the better and the film's visuals have never looked better. Blade Runner, thankfully, remains a gorgeous, unparalleled cinematic vision of the future.
The ending is no different than in the Director's Cut so don't expect an electric sheep to pop up just yet, the changes made here working mostly to polish a gem we all know and love further. To be fair, some of the alterations help the movie breathe a little bit more and give us more in the way of beautiful visuals, plus some minor errors are skilfully ironed out. Those, however, were always nitpicks and never truly hurt the film, in some cases they even gave the film an abstract quality. This Final Cut is a mostly unnecessary exercise but it's one which allowed me to revisit what is quite possibly my personal favourite movie minus those pesky strings and wonder at Philip K. Dick's (and Scott's) dystopian vision of 2019 L.A. on the big screen and, for that, I'll always be thankful.
If you've never seen Blade Runner, I'd start with the original then build up to this one, frankly. To truly appreciate this Final Cut, you'd probably need to know Ridley Scott's classic pretty well prior to that. The film is still a sci-fi masterpiece, of course, and, though The Director's Cut remains possibly the best version of it in my eyes, I'd check out this cut, especially if you're a fan.
Repli-can't go wrong with this one.
Yes: I just made that awful pun.