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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (John Le Carré, 1963)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (dir Martin Ritt, 1965)
A Legacy of Spies (John Le Carré, 2017)

‘Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good.’

From that advance plot summary, I expected A Legacy of Spies to be a follow up to the events of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or its immediate sequels. In fact, it turns out to be a quasi-sequel to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Le Carré’s third novel but the one in which he broke out into mainstream success. I say ‘quasi-sequel’, because A Legacy of Spies revisits, and even to an extent retcons, the events of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and indeed can to a substantial extent be seen as a prequel, setting up some of the important plot points and filling in some key events between that book at Le Carré’s first novel (and introduction of George Smiley), Call for the Dead.

I’d never actually read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, although I’d long ago seen a plot summary that revealed the key twist. (So, by the way, does this review, hence the cut below.) I read A Legacy of Spies when it came out, saw that it referred back heavily to the events of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold so then read that, and then out of curiosity watched the 1965 film, which currently features on Netflix’s list.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (book)

I won’t spend too much time on the original novel; if you’ve read it, you’ll know how good it is. If you haven’t – well, rather than have it spoiled, I suggest that you go and read it yourself. It’s short by modern standards, very readable, and although the underlying plot is complex (as much as I can say without spoilers) everything is clearly explained.

(Spoilers from here)

Discussion of crucial bits of plot )

A Legacy of Spies is highly recommended, although if you’ve not read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold I’d strongly suggest reading it beforehand. And once you’ve done so, look out the 1965 film, which stands up very well indeed.




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Ghost in the Shell 2017 poster

We saw this last night; as warm-up, I'd watched the 1995 anime the previous evening and may watch it again for further comparison.
 

GitS2017 is *not*, despite what might seem from the trailer, a straight remake. It does include several iconic scenes from GitS1995 recreated in live action with astonishing fidelity and detail, but embeds them in a quite different plot (which I understand to take elements from other parts of the GitS franchise, such as Stand Alone Complex, which I've not seen.) That plot - and I'm trying to avoid spoilers here - is one that many genre fans will recognise and be familiar with, although it does get taken in some interesting directions.

Scarlett Johansson's casting is of course controversial. To an extent the cross-racial casting turns out to form part of the plot, although whether that justifies it is another question. Johannson's performance is generally good; if it is at times flat and alienated, she is meant to be a character very alienated from humanity as a whole. Of the other cast, Takashi Kitano stands out as Aramaki, who perhaps translates best from GitS1995. For me, the disappointment was Batou; Pilou Asbæk does his best, but it's hard for anyone to convey the odd combination of physicality, gravitas and quirkiness of the anime version. (I commented to Siân that the only actor who really came to mind who might do full justice to the role would be a somewhat younger Ron Perlman.) Juliette Binoche puts in a good performance as the cybersurgeon who helped rebuild the Major, but again genre fans might find her role seeming familiar, as it is rather reminiscent of Sinéad Cusack's in V for Vendetta

Visually, GitS2017 is amazing, and will join Blade Runner and The Fifth Element - both of which it echoes - as a striking vision of future cities. GitS1995 fans will either enjoy spotting the references and recreations from the earlier anime, or will be driven to distraction by them. 

Overall: worth seeing, but you should avoid having either unduly high or unduly low expectations.

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About 18 months ago I reviewed James Goss' novelisation of City of Death, Douglas Adams' Fourth Doctor / Romana story set in Paris. It had never featured in the Target Books line of adaptations, because Adams would not consent to anyone else turning it into a novel, and the BBC wasn't prepared to pay him anything like his going rate to do so. In the end, Goss did what I felt was a pretty good job of capturing Adams' style, and the result worked very well as a stand-alone book, even if it did have to try to deal with some of the stranger aspects of the plot.

Douglas Adams wrote two other Who scripts. Shada famously fell victim during production to an industrial dispute, although a cobbled-together version exists (I've not seen it). The Pirate Planet, by contrast, is well-remembered for its audacious central conceit and for Tom Baker and Bruce Purchase (as the Captain) engaging in what TV Tropes refers to as Ham-to-Ham Combat.

Well, Goss evidently did a good enough job with City of Death to get the gig of adapting The Pirate Planet, and as he explains in his afterword he was able to visit the Douglas Adams archive at St John's College, Cambridge, which turned out to hold not just the original draft script but also an earlier story treatment by Adams that much of The Pirate Planet drew upon. Goss' novelisation is based to a substantial extent on these, and so whilst it is very recognisably the story we saw on television it is fleshed out and sometimes unfolds a little differently. In some respects this is because the page doesn't suffer the budget limitations of the 1970s BBC, so for example scenes set in Zanak's main city actually feel as if they're in a crowded metropolis where it periodically rains diamonds rather than one small set with half a dozen extras and a few fake gems scattered on the floor. Another scene extensively rewrites and expands the third-episode cliffhanger to give a very different explanation of how it was resolved that gives far more agency to Romana.

Adams wrote The Pirate Planet shortly after writing The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and even on watching the TV series the similarities come across. Goss turns this up even further for his novelisation, adding point-of-view scenes in which characters - notably the long-suffering Mr Fibuli - reflect on the absurdly comic horror around them in a very HHGTTG style.

Goss' novelisation came out last Friday; I downloaded the Kindle version and started reading. Even though I knew how the story turned out, the combination of Goss' respectful pastiche of Adams' style and the new elements of plot was captivating enough that I finished that evening. I promptly wanted to remind myself of the original series so S and I bought it on iTunes and watched it last night. Even with the constrained budget and limited special effects, it still works very well, and the playoff between Mary Tamm (as keen young - for a Time Lord - graduate Romana) and Tom Baker is delightful. On reflection, that order was probably best, as it meant I read the book with only vague images of the TV episodes in my head and so my imagination was unconstrained by some of the more painfully low-budget aspects of them. (As the BBC's own archive page on the story admits, the Mentiads spend a lot of time marching across fields to get from A to B in a rather Pythonesque manner).
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"These violent delights have violent ends."

What this isn't: a tired retread of the 1973 movie.

What this is: the best TV drama about artificial intelligence since seasons 3-5 of Person of Interest, which is hardly surprising as its Jonathan Nolan's next project after PoI.

We watched this as it was broadcast, and then again over Christmas when we did a Westworld marathon over a couple of days so that our guests [livejournal.com profile] cthulie and T could watch it. I'd been planning to do a re-watch anyway as, perhaps more than any other series I've seen, Westworld rewards a second viewing once you've seen the first season through. The reasons for that are hard to explain without spoilers; suffice it to say that everything you see is significant, but much of it is not as it may first seem. In fact, there's a preview of this just in the pilot episode, when viewers familiar with the 1973 movie will think they know exactly what's going on - and then have their assumptions very nicely inverted.

Good as the narrative is, the series is really made by the performances of some of the leads. In particular, Evan Rachel Harris and Thandie Newton give intense and compelling, yet quite different, portrayals of two of Westworld's robotic 'hosts' that are coming to realise that their world is an elaborate artifice. Both have justly been nominated for Golden Globe awards and I'm sure many more nominations will follow.

The cinematography (much in Monument Valley) also contributes much to the series, as does the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi, who also composed the music for Person of Interest and Game of Thrones. An added bonus is the deliberate in-joke that the pianola we regularly hear in the town saloon/brothel plays rearrangements of modern tracks; identifying them, and their relevance to the plot, is another of the pleasures awaiting viewers.

Oh, and you'll get even more from the plot if you've read this:



- the idea behind which forms the basis of a key element of the plot.

The quote I opened with is one that turns out to have particular significance within the plot. As does the one I close with - in particular, when it signposts one of the most stunning revelations of the series.

"It doesn't look like anything to me."
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(Netflix streaming, 8 x 45-min episodes released en bloc.)

Recently we were treated to Deutschland 83, a Cold War spy drama that attracted much praise for its evocation of 1983 Germany in a positive nostalgia-fest of music, fashion and cars for anyone who remembers the era. Now we have Stranger Things, a drama that is a veritable hymn to every horror/sf film, tv series or book set in early 1980s small-town America.

(Odd trivia point: the events of Stranger Things take place over a few days in November 1983, at almost exactly the same time as EX ABLE ARCHER and thus the final couple of episodes of Deutschland 83.)

Stranger Things has been described as very much a homage to the works of Steven King, John Carpenter and Stephen Spielberg, although the work it very much put me in mind of was Dan Simmons' Summer of Night, with a group of pre-teens faced with supernatural horror in a Midwest town. Without giving too much away, Stranger Things sits closer to the sf rather than supernatural end of the horror axis, although it's careful not to explain everything (and there is certainly plenty of scope for a second season.)

Winona Ryder is superb as Joyce Byers, mother of Will Byers - one of the group of D&D-playing proto-nerds the show centres on - whose disappearance drives the plot. Her depiction of someone who's fully aware that her behaviour looks just like paranoid psychosis, but doesn't care because she know's she's right, is as compelling as it is horrifying. Of the young actors, all are excellent; I'm sure many of the show's fans recognise elements of their younger selves in the characters of Mike, Dustin and Lucas, whilst the show's real breakout role is 12-year-old Millie Bobbie Brown as 'El', the near-mute, shaven-headed girl whose appearance is as mysterious as (and quite obviously connected to) the disappearance of Will. Combining an intensity beyond her years with an awkward naiveté, she perfectly conveys a character struggling to cope both with an outside world she has never experienced and abilities she barely understands.

Stranger Things isn't perfect. The sets for the more sf/horror elements of the show vary from impressively well-realised to looking all too much like Doctor Who of the era it's set in, and for a show that is so dense with reference to horror movies of the era you find yourself shouting at some of the characters "Haven't you seen Alien?" But I can forgive Stranger Things that, as I forgave Deutschland 83 its habit of making its central character the beneficiary of some of the most unlikely turns of good luck so as to get him out of the scrapes the plot dropped him in to. Both series are as enjoyable both for the evocation of an era as for their plots, and if I'm in the ideal target audience for Stranger Things then certainly so are many of my friends. If you've got access to Netflix, give it a go - but be prepared to binge, as you won't want to be waiting to find out what happens next.
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Bridge of Spies isn't a legal drama in the usual sense; there are a few courtroom scenes in the first part of the film, but the trial of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (played in a quiet but captivating performance by Mark Rylance) is hardly shown. Rather, this is very much a film about Abel's lawyer, James Donovan (Tom Hanks), and his experiences both of representing - reluctantly at first - a very unpopular client, and then negotiating a swap of Abel for downed U-2 pilot Gary Powers.

I thought I'd like the film as someone interested in Cold War politics, but ended up enjoying it more as a lawyer. In particular, Bridge of Spies highlights two key aspects of being a lawyer: the fundamental ethical issues of duty to your client, and the importance of carefully planning, and resolutely adhering to, a negotiating strategy when seeking a compromise. We see the former as Donovan is subject to pressure from the CIA to divulge privileged discussions with Abel and to public and professional disdain for representing an enemy of the state, and the latter as Donovan seeks to broker a deal swapping Abel for both Powers and Frederic Pryor, an American student held by East Germany.

If I have a criticism it’s that Bridge of Spies rather compresses the timeline of events without really making this clear. From the film, you might think that Abel’s trial was followed not long after by the downing of Powers’ U-2, and that the idea of a swap of Powers for Abel arose very soon after that. In fact, Abel’s trial was in the latter part of 1957, Powers was shot down in May 1960, and the exchange on the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin took place in February 1962. That said, the film is apparently fairly accurate, although one scene that seemed unlikely to me (Donovan, against all legal protocol, lobbying a judge in private and without the other side being represented) turns out in fact to have been created for the film (Donovan did make the argument about the value of keeping Abel alive rather than executing him, but in open court, as part of his submissions on sentence.) All in all, highly recommended.
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(Warning: cut-text discussion contains spoilers up to the end of S4 of Person of Interest)

This was a Christmas present to myself, so S and I sat down to watch it last night. I've long been aware of C:TFP but had never actually seen it; my interest was reignited by seeing a comment from Jonathan Nolan that it had been one of his inspirations for Person of Interest, which we've very much enjoyed.

As S noted, C:TFP suffers a bit if you see it now by having been so influential that it's been endlessly imitated, and the plot was probably far more original and striking (at least to non-sf-readers) when it was made. War Games and The Terminator are just two films that followed in its footsteps, with Skynet's apocalyptic future arguably being a vision of what would have happened if Colossus/Guardian had followed through on its threat to offer, as an alternative to "the peace of plenty", "the peace of the unburied dead."

Some of the plot points are indeed surprisingly modern. Colossus' exponential self-development can now be seen as an early depiction of the Singularity, and it's interesting to note that this starts before Colossus is put into communication with its Soviet counterpart Guardian. The visual depiction on a map board of Colossus' attempts to re-route its blocked link to Guardian also feels surprisingly modern given the film's age, although early experiments with ARPANET had just begun. And once Colossus/Guardian begins its constant surveillance of Dr Forbin, its point-of-view shots are clear inspiration for those of The Machine in PoI.

So, given the influence of C:TFP on PoI, are there any pointers going forward for the latter?

SPOILERS for Seasons 3 and 4 of PoI )
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Yes, 2016. Strictly speaking, Bujold's new Vorkosigan novel, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, won't be published until February next year. However, Baen has made an e-book advanced reading copy available for $15 and other than the odd punctuation error I spotted it seems to be the final text.

Spoilers for previous books in the sequence and a plot point set out early on. )

I wouldn't recommend this as a good place to start reading the Vorkosigan series - it's very atypical and has far too many call-backs to earlier books - but it makes a pleasant if differently-styled continuation for those familiar with it. Not quite 'for completists only' but those who like Bujold for her characters rather than her plots will probably get most out of it.
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Doctor Who: City of Death, James Goss (2015)

City of Death is often picked as one of the better Classic Who stories, thanks to the (at the time unusual) location shooting in Paris, the quality of the script as heavily - and frantically - rewritten by Douglas Adams, and the performance of Julian Glover as Count Scarlioni, alias Scaroth, self-described last of the Jagaroth. Unusually, it never got a novelisation, because it was unthinkable that anyone but Adams could write it, but Adams felt obliged to hold out for something proportionate to his usual advance, which was far above what was usual for such a book, and so it never got written.

That's now been rectified via James Goss' novelisation, although 'novelisation' doesn't really do it justice; it's based on the original script, script notes, elements of earlier drafts and even the original story Adams heavily adapted, allowing Goss to explore or develop ideas that were jettisoned or abbreviated for time. Goss also interpolates some nice continuity touches and references to other Who stories (he ties in Pyramids of Mars to nicely explain something we see), and gives a very interesting take on Scarlioni/Scaroth. It's potentially a risk to go inside the head of a character only seen in the third person on screen, but Goss, building on Adams' script notes, succeeds quite well.

How well Goss succeeds in capturing Adams' writing style will be something for each reader to decide. He doesn't try to pastiche it, but rather to write in what one might call an Adamsesque style. Judge for yourself:

spoilers if you've not seen the serial )

For my part I felt Goss does a very good job of capturing the quite distinctive tone of City of Death and the result is very readable; I may even re-watch the serial in light of doing so.
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Meh.

This film really didn't grab me. Pacific Rim didn't take itself at all seriously, and had a huge sense of fun despite what was actually a very dark scenario. Godzilla is ponderously serious - or rather it tries to have a air of ponderous seriousness, without actually getting any gravitas or serious emotional investment out of its cast, despite having far more supposed human melodrama on screen than actual monster action.

There are some impressive scenes, although they tend not to be ones with the titular monster. The high-altitude parachute drop through a beautifully-rendered stormy sunset cloudscape, accompanied by the Ligati Ligeti chorus from 2001, is amazing, but in hindsight feels as if it was ripped from a much better movie (Monster Apocalypse Now?)

minor spoilers )

Frankly, I'd like an immediate re-release of Pacific Rim on the big screen so we can refresh our memories of what a cinema outing to a proper monster movie should be.
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Following Iain Banks's untimely death I resolved to push my unread book pile to one side and re-read (or in some cases read), in order of publication, his Culture books. For reference, these are:

Consider Phlebas (1987)
The Player of Games (1988)
Use of Weapons (1990)
The State of the Art (1991) - short stories, three Culture-related.
Excession (1996)
Look to Windward (2000)
Matter (2008)
Surface Detail (2010)
The Hydrogen Sonata (2012)

I am not counting Inversions because it is not strictly a Culture novel (although it is very clearly set in the Culture universe). I may re-read it later. I may also skip Surface Detail as I read it relatively recently. I have to confess that I rather bounced off Matter and so haven't read it yet, and I hadn't got round to reading The Hydrogen Sonata when Banks died.

So; Consider Phlebas. I remember reading this not long after it came out, but that was a quarter of a century ago so I actually had little to no memory of the plot when I re-read it. I found that some of Banks' memorable set-pieces had stuck in my mind: Horza's initial predicament, the cult of the Eater, and the fugitive Mind skulking in the tunnels of Schar's World. But the plot that hung them together was effectively fresh to me. I remembered that the book was about the Culture-Idiran War, but had forgotten about the Idirans themselves, who are much more interestingly imagined and depicted than I'd thought.

This was actually the third Culture book written by Banks, in that he'd been drafting The Player of Games and Use of Weapons since the early 1970s. (As an aside, I was at the FUTURA mini-con in Wolverhampton on Saturday, where Ken MacLeod devoted much of his GoH talk to reminiscences of Banks, including reading the early drafts of his novels as a student.) That shows in the way the Culture is depicted so fully-formed, but that it was an early Banks also shows in the plot. I couldn't help feel that Banks had come up with some spectacular set pieces and then wrote his plot so as to get Horza from one to the next. The plot only really gets into gear when Horza and his less-than-willing accomplices land on Schar's World and have to deal with both enemies who should be friends and friends who should be enemies.

I vaguely recall Banks saying that he wrote one particular scene in Consider Phlebas because it would be utterly impossible to film and worked far better in the imagination. (It's the one involving the rather unorthodox departure of the Clear Air Turbulence from the ex-GSV The Ends of Invention). I rather suspect that various CGI teams would consider themselves game for the challenge now, although it would probably break one of the standard Hollywood Film Models to put the biggest explosions in the middle. Mind you, Banks nearly makes up for it at the end, and the final battle - and its consequences - make for a memorable climax to the book.

It's perhaps very typical of Banks and what is to come in his Culture novels that the character you may find yourself identifying with most is the shanghaied and rather put-upon Drone Unaha-Closp.
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Is Skyfall the best Bond film ever? I wouldn't say that, as it's too dependent on what your definition of a really good Bond film is. But it's certainly one of the best, and completes the task begun by Casino Royale of both rebooting Bond and the same time coming full circle back towards the tone of the best of the Connery-era films.


Aspects I particularly liked )

Bits to quibble about )
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Non-spoiler summary: Having watched the trailers several dozen times, I fear I had assembled in my head a rather better movie from which they drew than the one I actually saw. Prometheus is visually stunning, intense, at times shocking (it must have scraped its '15' rating) and with excellent performances from Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender, but it also suffers from thin supporting characters, dubious plotting and, above all, a seeming confusion as to what sort of movie it wants to be. Worth seeing, but hardly the all-consuming behemoth of awesome that the buildup has led us to expect.

LOTS OF SPOILERS )

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[personal profile] darth_hamster and I are just back from a meal at the St John Restaurant. Unlike Archipelago, where we ate a few weeks ago and which specialises in conventional bits of unusual animals, St John specialises in making use of all bits of the animals on the menu. Mind you, there's a bit of unconventional stuff too; I've not seen cuttlefish offered up for a good while. There will probably be a more comprehensive review later, but I'll note that not only is the food excellent, but if you manage (as we did) to sit next to a large group who ordered in advance you get the entertainment of watching them tackle whole crab followed by suckling pig - including head. Not cheap, but highly recommended if you are emphatically carnivorous and don't mind the prospect of dinner looking at you.
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When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis got onto my reading list as the winner of the 2010 long-form Sidewise Award for alternate history. What-ifs about Cuba in 1962 are not exactly unknown (e.g. Stephen Baxter's H-Bomb Girl, although that's more than just a pure counterfactual) but Eric Swedin presents his as a history of the events of 1962 as written by a historian in the mid-1990s.

Spoilers, not that you can't guess what ends up happening )

I well recall the film Thirteen Days doing a remarkable job of depicting the politico-military manoeuvring during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and conveying the feeling that the leadership of both sides was desperate to avoid escalation but could not back down. When Angels Wept is a frighteningly believable depiction of how, in a world where matters unfolded only slightly differently from in our own, the balance could so easily have tipped into escalation beyond anyone's ability to control. Although not a novel in the usual sense, it was a worthy winner of the Sidewise Award, and I'd commend it to anyone interested in alternate history or the Cuba crisis.
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One of the odd side-effects of reading a Neal Stephenson novel whilst on the plane to Istanbul to take part in a conference on cloud computing is that you find yourself - at least, if you're me - feeling as if you're a character in a Neal Stephenson novel. At least, my inner narrative seems to fix on to Stephenson's sardonic-detached-observer writing style and adopt it for itself.

Reamde (the titular computer virus is indeed a misspelling of README) certainly passes a long trip. At 1050 pages, most of which are continuous action, even though I found it a compulsive page-turner it still took four flights, several departure lounges and a couple of hours on the sofa at home to get through it. It's fun and engaging, but is it thought-provoking in the same way that, say, Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon or Anathem were? On reflection, I'd say not: it' a postmodern and rather cerebral thriller, much more in the vein of Interface and The Cobweb, the novels he jointly authored in the 1990s with an uncle under the name Stephen Bury.

I also, despite enjoying Reamde very much, have some Issues with it.

Lots of spoilers )

Verdict: recommended, but be prepared to go '...hang on a minute' after you've recovered from the exuberance of the ride.

Paul

Feb. 20th, 2011 04:58 pm
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Very, very funny if you have any experience of fandom, and like most Pegg/Frost films you lose track of the in-jokes and references. Hardly highbrow, but it left [livejournal.com profile] darth_hamster and me in stitches.
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I'd not seen Blade Runner in years when I picked up the two-disc edition of the (for now) definitive version. Of course, I've read plenty enough about the film's protracted and complex history, so watching TFC was a little odd, with it feeling like I was intimately familiar with a film I'd last seen in a different version a dozen years ago.

TFC is certainly a very good version of Blade Runner. At the most mundane level, it has cleaned-up special effects, better video quality, and good sound. More importantly, it loses the tacked-on happy ending (undoubtedly an improvement) and Harrison Ford's voice-overs (opinion is more mixed on this). It also has a host of more minor but nonetheless significant changes, such as several continuity fixes and scenes that are either new to this cut or changed in emphasis. This version certainly leans much more towards the interpretation that Deckard is himself a replicant, not so much through the unicorn scene, but via numerous hints from Gaff, whose role vis-a-vis Deckard seems not so much colleague or superior as that of handler to a particularly autonomous dog. (By fixing one continuity error though, it is made evident that Deckard is not himself one of the escaped Nexus 6 replicants; he is presumably a separate model kept to hunt down his kin.)

Just as interesting as the recut film itself is the documentary on the second disc. I'm usually unimpressed with 'making of' supplementary materials, but in this instance the issuers have excelled themselves. Dangerous Days comprises three hours of recent interviews, documentary footage and unused sequences, with contributions from just about everyone still alive who appeared in Blade Runner or had anything to do with it. More impressively, it is refreshingly unsanitised, being quite frank about the creative differences that bedevilled the film during production. Harrison Ford comes across as not having enjoyed the production much but being grateful for having been involved, whilst Rutger Hauer clearly thinks it was the best thing he ever did. Daryl Hannah is evidently a lot smarter than some of her roles would have you believe, but for Sean Young one wonders if the reverse is true. And it's fascinating to see how much Edward James Olmos immersed himself in his role as Gaff, apparently putting in extensive language study to come up with the character's distinctive 'Cityspeak'.

Verdict: given that this set seems to be available for £5, it would be superb value for the revised film or the documentary alone. For both, it's an incredible deal.
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Laika, Nick Abadzis



Graphic novel, 208pp, £10.99.

A very good story, made only more poignant by knowing the ending.  )

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