Blade Runner: The Final Cut Ultra HD Review

Making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Ralph Potts reviews Director Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, about a blade runner assigned to pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

94

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 1982
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 117 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @ 4000 NITS
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Joanna Cassidy, Edward James Olmos, Dsryl Hannah, Brion James, M. Emmet Walsh
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Music by: Vangelis
Written by: Hampton Fancher & David Peoples based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 5, 2017

“The Final Cut Gets the Ultra HD Treatment”



My Take:

I reviewed Blade Runner’s 2012 30th anniversary Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for the film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound mix are below.

Blade Runner was adapted from the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by acclaimed science-fiction author Philip K. Dick. The story takes place in the year 2019 and revolves around genetically manufactured beings called “replicants” that were designed to do dangerous and degrading work on Earth’s “Off-World colonies.” Physically identical to adult humans, yet much more powerful, a group of mutinous replicants hides in Los Angeles while searching for answers that can ultimately only be found from the man that created them. Heading the all-star cast, many in career-expanding roles, is Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a special police “blade runner” assigned to hunt down and kill the escapees. Also starring are Sean Young as Rachael, Deckard’s replicant lover; Edward James Olmos as Gaff, a mysterious fellow policeman; Daryl Hannah as Pris and Joanna Cassidy as Zhora, two beautiful yet murderous replicants; and Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, the replicant leader who challenges Deckard’s ideas of what it is to be human.

Blade Runner is a classic American film that made its first appearance in U.S. theaters on June 25, 1982, dazzling audiences with its stylish, brooding look into the future. From its intelligent, provocative story line to its stunning camera work and state-of-the art special effects, the film opened the door to a new view of tomorrow in addition to prefiguring important concerns of the 21st century, such as globalization, urban decay, global warming, over-population and genetic engineering. Set in a multi-ethnic, overcrowded, high-tech city of the future, Blade Runner was also a benchmark in costume and production design and helped spawn a new genre/lifestyle – neo noir cyberpunk which has flourished in today’s mainstream society and is reflected in all facets of entertainment, design and fashion trends.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut features restored and remastered original elements, added/extended scenes, added lines, new and improved special effects, and director and filmmaker commentary.
Upon its original release in 2007, director Ridley Sir Ridley Scott said: “The Final Cut is the product of a process that began in early 2000 and continued off and on through seven years of intense research and meticulous restoration, technical challenges, amazing discoveries and new possibilities. I can now wholeheartedly say that Blade Runner: The Final Cut is my definitive director’s cut of the film.”

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blade Runner: The Final Cut comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 45 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.

Warner Brothers fully restored Blade Runner: The Final Cut from the original 35mm negative, and Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate. It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Blade Runner has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This is a rather dark film that strives to recreate the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s vision. The restored video quality looked excellent in 1080p, but this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. Blade Runner is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. It’s not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. Jordan Cronenweth’s terrific cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The opening sequence looks stunning, providing a glimpse of what lies in store.

Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. Shot on 35mm film, using anamorphic lenses, film grain and some innate softening are present. Neither are compromising, even during special effects shots, or those laden with minutia, such as falling rain, smoky, light filled backgrounds or drab interiors lit only by candle power.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of moody visual cues offset by gleams of brilliant light that illuminate the city’s dark streets and smoggy skies. The neon lights on the facia of its buildings stands out in stark contrast to the gradational blacks, grays and sepia, that make up its dystopian world. Primary colors are beautifully rendered. Things such as the multi-colored flashing globes atop the enforcement vehicles, the blue in Roy’s eyes, or the red of Rachel’s lipstick sparkle. The film’s plethora of shadow laden environs offer increased resolve in terms of interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.

The finale featuring the standoff between Roy and Deckard brings all of the presentations best elements together and looks terrific. As impressed as I was with the 1080p rendering of The Final Cut, I found the Ultra HD presentation took it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before.

Like the 30th anniversary video presentation the updated Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mix improved upon the previous 5.1 channel mix and sounded superb. The new Dolby Atmos immersive mix retains the things that make that track so good and raises the bar. Blade Runner brims with atmospherics and this mix uses the entire platform to broaden the soundstage via sounds emanating from both overhead and at ear level. This includes effects such as, hovercrafts moving front to back, out of the frame, and over your shoulder to the rear of the room, falling rain, runners on the street traveling from one point to the next, off camera and back on, and venue replicating ambience that fill the listening area.

Vangelis’ eclectic music score is mixed over the sound field, adding natural depth to its elements while complimenting the story’s thematic details. When the action kicks the level of immersion increases as the sound field comes alive. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized.

I appreciated the fact that the sound designers utilized the freedom of object based mixing, making this a fairly active Atmos track. The soundtrack retains much of its original essence with the mix adding a noticeable increase in scope. Kudos to the sound designer on this terrific Dolby Atmos mix which I found to be spot on.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Blade Runner: The Final Cut Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Blade Runner: The Final Cut Blu-ray
    Disc 3: Blade Runner: Theatrical, International, and Director’s Cut
    Disc 4: Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner DVD
    • Final Cut introduction by Ridley Scott
    • Commentary by Ridley Scott
    • Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner
    • The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Phillip K. Dick
    • Sacrificial Sheep: The Novels vs. The Film
    • Phillip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews
    • Sign of the Times: Graphic Design
    • Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling
    • Screen Tests: Rachael and Pris
    • The Light that Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth
    • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
    • 1982 Promotional Featurettes
    • Trailers and TV Spots
    • Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art
    • Deck-a-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard
    • Nexus Generations: Fans and Filmmakers
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Blade Runner is considered by many to be a classic and groundbreaking genre film. Some fans favor Director Ridley Scott’s Final Cut and some prefer another of its iterations, regardless there is no denying its significance and place in American Cinema. This Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, which includes the 30th Anniversary “The Final Cut” Blu-ray release, from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, see the film looking and sounding its best. Included are previously released versions on Blu-ray as well as legacy supplements. Blade Runner: The Final Cuton Ultra HD Blu-ray is simply a must have for fans that are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/Dolby Atmos immersive sound. Enjoy!

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package