Who’s Badder—Deckard or Bourne?

Blade Runner: The Final Cut Warner Bros., $34.99 It's a sign of this film's enduring power after 25 years that Ridley Scott's ultimate version of Blade Runner filled the Cinerama for three weeks this fall, then had its run extended at the Uptown. This four-disc box only adds to the legacy, and it's very much Scott's own tribute to himself. Among the many featurettes, extras, and commentaries, all three of his grown children appear to gush about the flick's importance—as if it weren't enough to enlist Jonathan Lethem, Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont, and Joseph Kahn (the director of, ahem, Torque). So, OK, Blade Runner is a monument to the filmmaker, who was wildly unpopular with the crew of his first American shoot, but it's also a monument to pre-digital moviemaking—basically the last big effects picture created with essentially the same optical technologies employed in the silent era. (Funny how no one here mentions Metropolis.) Indeed, the three-and-a-half-hour (!) documentary Dangerous Days—Blade Runner's working title—demonstrates how some of the intricate visuals were created. That famous opening panorama of Los Angeles' benighted, fire-belching skyline would fit on your apartment floor. The teeming, smoky streets below were shot entirely at night, Scott says, so he'd only have to dress the lower portions of a generic studio back lot you'd otherwise recognize from TV. And on the subject of smoke, that signature Scott garland—along with whirling fan blades—is used to separate light sources and create the impression of depth on-screen, he explains. Imagine Sean Young smoking in the foreground, lit by neon, then separate strobes of light piercing the haze behind her. If you can't remember what she's saying, or how it pertains to the plot—well, that's another story. In their brief interviews, Young and Harrison Ford recall the arduous shoot with smiling resentment. The two—who never generated any chemistry together—spent endless hours waiting in their trailers while Scott lavished his attention on smoke, neon, and light-reflecting floors. But was that his failure as a director, or a strategy to elevate the city to a character of its own? The polluted, supersized, yet toxically alluring Los Angeles of 2019 is the star of the movie, not Ford. Scott has directed some 2,500 commercials, and he's never been known as a master of script or performance. His best and most complete films (think Alien and Thelma & Louise) have those elements to support his cake frosting. His worst (G.I. Jane, Kingdom of Heaven) do not. And Blade Runner falls in the gorgeous middle. This package includes two versions of the 1982 release, Scott's 1992 re-edit (no voice-over, no happy ending in the sun), and the new version (same unicorn, various digital tweaks and visual enhancements). For another $44, you can also get the still different prerelease "workprint" version in a collectible briefcase. Scott is surprisingly talkative on his dense commentary tracks (there are several more), making one of these box sets necessary for the archives of fanboys who love Blade Runner despite its narrative shortcomings. And, of course, it provides an excuse to buy an even bigger flat-screen TV. BRIAN MILLER The Bourne Ultimatum Universal, $16.99 The final installment in the Bourne-again trilogy is the one in which the CIA assassin's true identity is revealed. It's the origin story in reverse—how brilliant. But solving the mystery (and misery, as Jason Bourne is among the most tormented action heroes of all time) is only half the kick. Paul Greengrass, back for his second Bourne picture, makes the most sprawling yet intricately intimate action movies in cinema history—globe-trotters welcome, but claustrophobics need not sign up. As befitting a film in which you're constantly asking How'd they do that?, there are copious mini-docs on everything from shooting on location (from Berlin to N.Y.C.) to Matt Damon's behind-the-wheel chops to the rooftop chase sequence in Tangier. And the deleted scenes suggest Greengrass excised the political to make it more, ya know, personal. ROBERT WILONSKY Once Fox, $19.99 Easily the year's most perfect pop album—damned good movie, too, the finest "musical" of the past 20 years. The disc's making-of refers to it as a "modern musical," but Once is as old-fashioned as it gets: Boy (Glen Hansard) meets Girl (Markéta Irglová), they fall in love but never consummate their relationship, and instead record an album's worth of songs, even the titles of which are too heartbreaking for words ("Falling Slowly," "All the Way Down"). The collection is awfully restrained for one of 2007's most adored offerings: There are two commentaries, one on the filmmaking and another about the music, along with other Web-related odds and sods. But in the end, all you need is the movie—this timeless, priceless, utterly astonishing piece of work that'll outlast anything else made this year. ROBERT WILONSKY OTHER RELEASES From TV, Bill Paxton continues his polygamous ways in season two of HBO's Big Love, while the confusion continues in season three of Lost. The Ping-Pong romp Balls of Fury scores a few laughs. On many Top 10 lists, including ours, is Eastern Promises, with an Oscar nom likely for Viggo Mortensen. The Kingdom starts out all topical, but turns into more of a Saudi Arabian shoot-'em-up. And again the big joke in Rush Hour 3 is that Chris Tucker will not shut up (related: Jackie Chan is still Chinese). Hilarious. dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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