“More Human Than Human” runs the motto at the Tyrell Corporation, makers of the runaway replicants in the 2019 Los Angeles of Blade Runner. Indeed, the film’s expiration-date superhumans telescope better than ever a very human struggle with mortality and, through their implanted memories and our tech-fractured existence, with a stable identity. For his 1982 analog classic, former ad maven Scott fused contemporary Hong Kong/New York urban templates and monumental, faded-over architecture to film noir and judicious future shock, continuing the immersion in mood and design heralded by his previous film, Alien (another unconventional sci-fi). In the film’s Asian and cyberpunk street culture, we see replicant-hunter Deckard (Harrison Ford) visit a noodle bar and a curbside electron microscope, and tour the Egyptian-Mayan grandeur of the Tyrell HQ and office, as well as L.A. icons Union Station, the Bradbury Building, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis-Brown house.
Despite the “Final Cut” hype, primarily handsome remastering of the 1992 version defines this release, from the fire-plumed twinkling skyline of the shiver-inducing opening montage to the elegiac murk of its deserted side streets and dwellings, not to mention sumptuous sound for Vangelis’s credit-theme retooling of Kraftwerk’s ‘Metropolis’. Ford, muting Han Solo swagger, is upstaged by the well-cast dystopic gallery (genius Tyrell of the Gates-caliber specs and godplayer fillips, postmodern tinker manchild J.S. Bach) and replicants (Daryl Hannah’s raccoon-eyed Pris, Rutger Hauer’s self-dramatizing Roy, fate-stricken and forever Oedipally gouging eyes). Forget Deckard’s ’80s-saxed teach-me-desire bout with Rachael (Sean Young); notice instead how her empathy test updates the verbal sparring of a noir. A true sci-fi world: flip up your raincoat collar and slouch out under the fallout and air cars.