13 Oct

Blade Runner

“More human than human is our motto.”
Hate reading? Listen to us talk about Blade Runner on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Setup

With Blade Runner 2049 having just come out in theaters, we knew it was time to do a post on the original Blade RunnerBlade Runner is a dark, gritty, cyberpunk movie created in the 80’s during Japan’s technological boom, which sets the scene for the future we see in the film. Set in 2019, Blade Runner imagines that boom continuing and Japanese culture seeping into Los Angeles. The crowded streets and open-air noodle bars are lit by the neon glow of kanji characters on signs all over. We loved that setting and wanted to recreate that same feeling with our meal while being cognizant of the fact that the film presents Asian culture as a monolithic whole.

The Meal

We decided to cook a simple Japanese meal, similar to the type that Deckard (Harrison Ford) might grab in one of the open-air restaurants in the market. Our meal is also vegetarian in reference to the environmental collapse that is hinted at in the film. To start off, we served chilled tofu topped with minced ginger, soy sauce, green onions and katsuobushi. Simple and tasty.

For the main course, we knew we had to do noodles. We decided to try something different than what we’ve done in the past and made dipping noodles, served cold. After being dipped in a simple mentsuyu sauce, the somen noodles took on a salty and savory flavor, and we found them to be quite addicting. We don’t know if we’d want these cold noodles while being soaked by the ever-present rain in Blade Runner, but they’d certainly be nice on a hot day.

Finally, we ended with mitarashi dango. Served on a stick and drenched with a sweet, soy-sauce-based glaze, these gooey treats would make a nice filling snack on the go while you chase down leads. But you could really eat this whenever, though. They are really simple and good.

The Drinks

We knew we had to create something that speaks to the copious amounts of whiskey Deckard drinks in the film and also wanted to lean into the amount of smoking that happens in the film, often at equal levels. The Smoked Thyme Fall Rye Sour fit the bill and offered a nice fall twist that was satisfying to all of us. With a persimmon puree, this drink transcends your typical sours and was a delight.

The Rules

  Drink whenever you see a recognizable brand.

💬  Drink when you hear the word “replicant”

☔️  Drink when it rains on Harrison Ford

The Movie

We went into Blade Runner not knowing too much about it other than the fact that whether or not Deckard was a replicant was a hot topic.

What is most astounding about this movie is how far it stands out against other science fiction movies of its time. It’s a serious, high budget, high concept, (relatively) low action science-fiction movie. It came out in the midst of the first Star Wars trilogy, but it couldn’t be more different. While Star Wars focuses on a bipolar good and evil spectrum, true to the Noir genre, everyone in Blade Runner falls somewhere on the grey scale. Star Wars is your classic Hero’s Journey, while Blade Runner is a dystopian projection of the anxieties of the 80s. Blade Runner might have stuck out like a sore thumb when it was released, which would explain its commercial failure, but it paved the way for the think-piece sci-fi movies of today, like Her, Ex Machina, and The Fifth Element.

Blade Runner posed some serious philosophical questions about humanity, like what makes a human a human? And what makes a machine a machine? It explores existentialism, fatalism, and humanity’s relationship with the divine. It demands that you to pay attention and think hard about what all of this means, and it is impossible to leave Blade Runner without some heavy questions on your mind. Luckily, the slow, deliberate pace of the film gives the viewer time to chew on these questions as the story progresses, rather than bombarding its audience with jokes, explosions, and special effects constantly, like many other sci-fi movies do (not that there isn’t a place for that).

The other area where Blade Runner really stood out was in how it structured and built a believable and lived-in world. The culture, technology, architecture, and characters blended together into a cohesive, conceivable, dystopian future. Sure, some parts stood out to us as modern viewers, like the presence of flying cars and video phone booths in 2019, but for the most part, it was easy to buy into Ridley Scott’s vision. Take that, blend it with some smooth special effects, moody lighting, and excellent cinematography, and you have a stunning looking film on your hands.

Blade Runner is certainly worth your time. And while this review isn’t about the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, we think it is fair to say that if you liked the original, you’ll probably like the new one just as much. We left the theater with just as many questions as we had after Blade Runner and are certainly interested to see whether it has the same lasting impact.

Want to hear more about Blade Runner or hear us talk spoilers in our special Blade Runner 2049 episode? Listen to us talk about Blade Runner on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Reviews

André: Excellent. While I was watching Blade Runner, I was thinking that this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, while at the same time recognizing how many of my favorite sci-fi movies were clearly inspired by this one. I loved the methodical pacing, finding it hypnotizing, and was enraptured while I watched the mysteries unfold. I can’t believe it took me this long to watch Blade Runner, and I now I understand why it’s thought of as a classic.

Leanna: I now understand why this movie is a classic. I loved the world presented in Blade Runner. Although I totally understand the lack of details presented in both the original and the sequel, especially around the science of creating replicants, I found myself so caught up in trying to rationalize and figure out the way things work that I was often distracted during the film. This could be because of my recent obsession with hard sci-fi novels like Seveneves and The Three-Body Problem which take known technology and explain in precise terms how it advances to a new and (mostly) believable level (at least for someone like me without a scientific background). Regardless, the world presented is captivating and makes for a good conversation piece if watched in good company.

Ben: 80%. Maybe it is the passage of time, maybe it is all of the pieces of media that have been influenced by it, maybe it is me, but Blade Runner didn’t have the impact on me I thought it might. It is an expertly crafted tech-noir thriller that paints a realistic seeming world and has a vision and sense of style that is often not seen in movies. Blade Runner is a movie that succeeds on its strengths allowing you to forget some of the other moments that inhabit it. Blade Runner was simply a good movie, and I view that as separate from the world it created and how it has shaped some of our vision of what cyberpunk is.