Blade Runner – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

What more can be said about a masterpiece science-fiction epic that hasn’t been said before. With a new 4K restoration be prepared to see what has been unseen for 35 years.

1982 was a perfect storm of ‘classics’, John Carpenters’ The Thing, Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, and the monumental Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan from Nicholas Meyer. Also lost among these films was Ridley Scott with his masterpiece Blade Runner, a sci-fi art film, based on a Philip K. Dick story.


Much can be said for the movie and having previously been released in DVD box set and Blu-ray gift sets – each with five versions of the film – we are now offered the ultimate in home entertainment formats, 4K. A near perfect presentation onscreen and in its ‘Final Cut’ form favoured by director Scott but maybe not necessarily the Blade Runner fan. With the special features leaving you, sadly, feeling short changed.

On its release in amongst the aforementioned classic films, Blade Runner was seen as a box office failure. Coming from the brainchild behind the original Alien film, it was a shoe in to be a hit but with a rushed schedule, production issues and internal conflict at studio level, the film was heading for disaster. Seen now with 35 years worth of clarity we can now see the masterpiece that the film actually is.

Set in 2019 what strikes me here is how wrong we predicted the future. Here we are in 2017 and we are not in perpetual, rain-soaked streets with flying cars. The world of Blade Runner is in a parallel universe all of its own, a world meticulously crafted by Scott from his art school background. The film has a warm, fuzzy, dream like quality, somewhere between a dream and nightmare, constantly keeping the viewer in a perpetual sense of disorientation, making you work to uncover the narrative.


The Final Cut of Blade Runner has come from a multitude of digital sources including a high resolution scan of the films camera negative as well as effects that have been sourced entirely from digital compositions. For this new 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded UHD, Warner Bros has returned back to that 4K Digital Intermediate, with no more digital meddling other than the requisite application of HDR encoding.

Moving from DVD to Blu-ray was a step up but moving from Blu-ray to 4K HDR is mind blowing. One aspect of the move from DVD to Blu-ray was dark, modern cityscapes and how the lit squares of office lights showed onscreen. A more modern scene utilised this well in Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight when Batman is above Hong Kong. Here as the Spinners float across the decaying city below them feast your eyes on the Tyrell building as it comes into view. You can see every single window, every ledge, everything. Throughout the film as you gaze upon the model work you can almost forget these are models.


With all the previous release over the years it seems a trick has been missed with the neglected extras on the disc. Disappointingly, we only get a trailer and three commentaries, one by director Ridley Scott and two others. The commentaries are always golden when they include Scott but it seems a lot more could have been included with the extra space on a Blu-ray disc.


With the exclusion of most of the extra features from previous releases, here is where the overall package falls down. We do get the director introduction with Scott clearly reading off an auto-cue and the commentaries are fine and worth a listen but what we don’t get speaks volume. No feature length ‘Dangerous Days’ making of, no making of The Final Cut, no previous versions of the movie, which aside from the 4K presentation, just makes this Blu-ray release all rather disappointing.


Updated: Sep 21, 2017

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