Blade Runner is one of the first film adaptations of a Philip K. Dick novel (the book being "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"), and it presents a very noir feel, but in the future. By 2019, the world has taken a very definite downward turn. Los Angeles has become a dark and crime-ridden place, but while that makes for an interesting setting, that isn't exactly the focus of the film. The Tyrell Corporation makes what are known as Replicants. These are machines of blood and bone that are essentially designed to be slaves to humans. When some revolted in an off-world colony a few years back, Replicants became illegal on Earth. In order to track down and "retire" any terrain Replicants, a special police division was created, Blade Runners.
Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner who is being called back into action in order to track down four Nexus 6 model Replicants (the most advanced model) that have made their way back to Earth and seem to be trying to infiltrate the Tyrell Corporation. These particular Replicants, led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), seem to know about a built-in failsafe, a four-year lifespan, and aim to do something about it. But they aren't the only Replicants Deckard will have to deal with. Tyrell introduces him to a stunningly beautiful woman who, when tested, is a Replicant, even though she doesn't know it. Rachael (Sean Young), isn't like other "skin jobs." She doesn't realize she is artificial because she has been implanted with a full life's worth of memories. Deckard soon falls for the beautiful lady, despite the obvious complications, and this unusual relationship does a prime job of countering the intense investigation that Ford's character has to take on.
I have to say though, while I have always enjoyed this movie, it is slow. I was shocked to realize that the film is only some two hours long since it always felt like three to me. There are plenty of scenes where there is a lot of silence (besides the background music) and it really drags the film on. Mind you, while I saw the Theatrical Version when it came out, I don't remember it and I essentially grew up seeing only the Director's Cut version where Ford's narrative is removed. Many of those silent areas in the film used to have a voice over and having that narrative really changes the feel of the film.
While this collection does have all five versions of Blade Runner in it (I'll explain the differences between the versions in a bit), it also has hours of special features. There are tons of featurettes touching on everything from Philip K. Dick, to Ridley Scott's attempt to rework the film into The Final Cut to commentaries and tons of interviews (both new and old) with the cast and crew of the movie. One disc, Enhancement Archive, is three types of features. These features are Inception, which talks about the creation of the movie and book, Fabrication, which talks about the effects, lighting and design of the world and Longevity which has all of the trailers, outtakes and a few featurettes about the people who have followed the film.
For those who hadn't quite realized just what the differences between the five versions are, here is a brief rundown. The lesser known of all of these versions is the Workprint release. This is an early version of the film and was shown to the public in only a limited fashion for focus testing and other similar purposes. This version has slightly different editing and gives the movie a noticeably different feel in some parts, but, as you would expect, feels very rough compared to the rest of the versions.
Both the Theatrical Cut and International Cut are the ones originally released in theaters (depending on your viewing location). The difference between these two are minimum and mostly consists of a little added violence in some of the fight sequences at the end of the film.
In 1992, Ridley Scott attempted to create a version of the film that was closer to the way he originally envisioned the film; this is The Director's Cut. Unfortunately, because of other obligations, while this version was closer to his vision, it still wasn't where he wanted it to be. The major differences in this version are the removal of Harrison Ford's voice over (which gave the film a very noir feel), a dream sequence involving a unicorn and the removal of the happy ending. Why the unicorn dream is important is because at the end of the movie, Deckard finds a small origami unicorn made by his fellow blade runner, Graff (Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica). This suggests that Deckard's thoughts and dreams might be known and hints at the possibility that he is a Replicant and doesn't realize it, much like Rachael.
The Final Cut, released late 2007, is much closer to what Scott intended the film to be and adds to the Director's Cut. Though, I have to say, the differences between this version and the previous are minor and mostly for the detailed-oriented uber-fan. These are changes like better lip-synching when Deckard is talking to the snake manufacturer, or digitally cleaning up scenes so that stunt doubles aren't quite as obvious. In one part, a cut that is shown on Ford's face before he actually gets into the fight that causes it is removed. This version also has the more violent scenes from The International Cut and adding in some of the editing styles and pacing from the Workprint. In a way, The Final Cut is sort of an amalgamation of all of the other versions in order to make the one Scott always wanted to see.
Each version of the film has its own feel and, depending on the type of fan you are, can be good or bad. In the end, the overall Complete Collector's package is mainly for the biggest fans of the film, because I just can't imagine the normal consumer wanting all five versions of the movie and the ton of special features that come with it. But if you are one of those die-hard fans, or someone who grew up with this film (like yours truly), then this boxed set is definitely worth looking into.