A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blade Runner envisions a bleak 2019 Los Angeles that's dark, oppressive, polluted, steeped in fear, and features genetically engineered organic robots called replicants that look just like humans. It's a very violent film, with multiple fights and killings, some gruesome and disturbing. Characters are killed by gunfire at close range and in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Characters dangle over the side of skyscrapers; multiple fingers are broken graphically; people are gagged and choked; a man's eyes are poked out (how much is seen depends upon the version of the film). There are repeated close shots of bloodied corpses and dying characters. While there's no overt sex, it's implied, and there's some partial nudity (breasts), passionate kissing, and several scenes that border on rough or nonconsensual sex. Smoking is pervasive; multiple scenes show characters drinking, and the hero often turns to alcohol when he's under stress. Editor's note: Families should avoid the earliest version (1982) of the movie; instead, go with Ridley Scott's 1992 "Director's Cut" or 2007's "Final Cut," a remastered version by Scott with few changes from the 1992 release.
What's the story?
BLADE RUNNER is set in dystopian Los Angeles, circa 2019. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former Blade Runner, is recalled from retirement to exterminate a gang of rogue replicants (a type of human android). Replicants were invented to perform slave labor on off-world colonies. Law forbids them to live on Earth. Despite their artificial intelligent makeup, a glitch has allowed them to develop human emotions and a lust for life. The longer they live, the more powerful their emotions. Unofficial replicant leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) leads a pack of them to Earth to find and convince their maker, Tyrell (Joe Turkel), to invent a way to extend their five-year lifespan. As they become more desperate to find Tyrell, they grow weaker. Grappling with an intense love for model replicant Rachael (Sean Young) but bound by his duty to uphold the law, Deckard must rethink his views on what it means to be human, as he hunts down and kills his android nemeses.
Is it any good?
Based on the short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, this is a deeply philosophical yet violent picture. While it may come across as an action/adventure science fiction film, the movie is, in actuality, very slow-paced and visually dense. Constant tension, sad music, bloody visuals, and menacing sound effects add to the dystopian mood. When it premiered in 1982, Blade Runner bombed at the box office. Critics decried its unnecessary voice-over and inconsistent Hollywood ending. Audiences were alienated by its lengthy pace. As rumors circulated of studio interference, a cult following emerged seeking director Ridley Scott's original ending. The director's cut confirmed their suspicions in 1993 when the film was rereleased, this time without its original voice-over and cheesy finale. After well-deserved acclaim, Blade Runner is now considered one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.
Families considering viewing this film should avoid the first-released version like the plague; instead go with Ridley Scott's original vision. In 2007 Warner Bros. released a 25th anniversary digitally remastered by Scott "Final Cut" version that played in theaters and is available on DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Children in their mid-teens with a strong interest in the science fiction genre are more likely to enjoy this film. However, it is not appropriate for teens under age 15.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ethics of replicating humans. Replicants look and behave exactly like humans, but should they be treated as such?
How does Blade Runner's bleak urban vision of the future differ from that in other dystopian books and movies?
What do you think about the violence in Blade Runner? Is it effective? Artful? Over the top?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.