Friday, November 30, 2007

Blade Runner: The Final, Special Edition, Unrated, Uncut, Directors Cut, Definitive, Multi-Disc, Collectors, all time greatest DVD release. For now.

Remember when home video was just the obvious choice between Beta and VHS? Even when things got a little complicated with Laserdisc, only video geeks went for the ride. Well after VHS won out over Beta, the complications of building a home video library still only got as difficult as understanding "letterbox", happily now simply referred to as widescreen. And even in these days of HD DVD, Blu-Ray and standard DVDs, choices are all about content and what kind of TV you own.
But the surge of DVD popularity gave Hollywood Hucksters a new medium in which to ply their trade in another way, that has next to nothing to do with improved technologies or technical specs. Go down the studio hallway to the door marked "marketing", pass by the glass walled "luxe" offices and take a right around the coffee makers... ahh, there would be the cubicles for the think-tank that dreams up ways to resell old DVDs.

The latest (and maybe greatest for Sci-Fi fans) to be headed to store shelves this season is Blade Runner, the Five-Disc Ultimate Collectors Edition, packaged no less, in a limited edition briefcase, styled on the one Deckard (Harrison Ford's character) carried in the film. (Of course the packaging is numbered, so it must be limited to only as high as those marketing guys can count. And if there's one thing marketing guys can do, it's count.)
The Ultimate Collectors Edition joins The Four-Disc Collectors Edition, and The Two-Disc "Final Cut" Special Edition, which when added to the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray versions brings the total of new Blade Runner DVD packages to a total of 8. And just to keep things in perspective, that should be added to the "Directors Cut" which has been the "definitive" DVD since it was released in 1997. All the fanfare is justified by the fact that Blade Runner, the regular, old (apparently seriously flawed) original theatrical version, was released in 1982 and is thereby celebrating a 25th Anniversary. Well at least that's the marketing angle.

The hype is that none of us has really seen Blade Runner the we were supposed to have seen it, you know, without all of the technical mistakes, while telling the actual scripted story (all the way to the real, not inexplicably-studio-imposed, ending). Finally, the movie that director Ridley Scott somehow made, while everyone in the evil movie studio was changing his hard work and just screwing things up, can be yours to own by just coughing up 19 bucks (or 60, if you really want to see everything).

I have to say, I'm feeling like a bit of a schmuck for buying a ticket to see the damn thing back in '82. How about making the special edition really special and deducting the cost of our original tickets, since it seems by the director's and the studio's own admission, that we got ripped off all those years ago? How about at least including, say packaged between the toy car and the origami unicorn, a singed letter of apology from Ridley for not standing his ground as an artist while still taking a paycheck? And by the way, how does a movie achieve such fan status to be "celebrating" a 25th anniversary, if the fact is that we've never seen the movie in it's intended and definitive form? Curious? Yes. Hype? Freakin' A.

Though I parted with a few bucks when Blade Runner was first released, I was younger then and all that Sci-Fi babel about replicants and societal collapse whizzed past me in the blur of the video billboards and "spinner" cars. Now, well settled into middle age, perhaps I'm ready for some meaning to my adrenaline surges. Maybe I'll finally figure out why it's so telling to have a suspected replicant answer questions about tortoises. Maybe I'll care. But the truth is, I haven't seen Blade Runner in years and of the last times I've seen it, well, obviously I was getting the watered down, mistake filled, badly budgeted and technically flawed, shit version. 

So I can at least hold my head up high and brag about not getting sucked into that Director's Cut crap that Ridley signed off on ten years ago. I played it smart and when I cough up my bucks now, it'll be for the real deal. Well, that is till the marketing cubicles light up with building the buzz for the 35th Anniversary Absolute Edition with full storyboard comparisons to every inner thought Ridley Scott ever had during production. I swear to you here and now, I'm not buying it. Unless it's got really cool packaging.

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