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De kat (1973)
8/10
Blast from the past for Belgian viewers
17 January 2007
Pretty interesting series from the early 70's about a superhero of sorts, called "The Cat". In his costume and mask he resembles Batman, but his foes are of a different kind. Our hero is what would later probably be called an ecoterrorist, infiltrating and sabotaging a company that clearly is polluting the environment.

His actions do not harm anyone - as a matter of fact he gains a lot of friends as the series proceeds - and eventually even gains sympathy from the unlikeliest of people.

A great series for its time, supposedly situated in Flanders, but in actuality filmed on location in the south of France, lending a kind of surreal quality to the series to those who saw and enjoyed it.
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The Video Game Revolution (2004 TV Movie)
9/10
Excellent look into the world and history of computer & video games
26 December 2006
An excellent look into the world and history of computer and video gaming! Going back to the earliest days of computing itself and moving on into the present, this 2-hour documentary, originally made for PBS, covers the enormous growth and importance of games in modern-day culture and society.

Hosted/narrated by Greg Palmer, we get an exciting and often humorous look into this fascinating world, featuring lots of talking-head style interviews with well-known game developers – such as Nolan "Atari" Bushnell, Shigeru "Mario/Zelda" Miyamoto and Peter "Populous" Molyneux - and common gamers alike.

It also addresses the dangers of people getting addicted to gaming, and the possible connections with real-life violence. To its credit, though, the makers don't jump on the all too common bandwagon of demonizing games and/or the Internet as the source of all evil; instead, people from all sides of the issues at hand get their chance to speak out.

This is recommended for anyone who likes games or is even remotely interested in them. Highly informative and entertaining.
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9/10
Excellent RTS game that captures the atmosphere of the movies
18 February 2006
"The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth" is a real-time strategy game for PC's that was made by the people who made such classics as "Dune 2" and the "Command & Conquer" games. The game is obviously based on J.R.R. Tolkien's famous' trilogy, but also very much by the Peter Jackson movie adaptations, in terms of design, voice acting, and original music.

The game presents two "campaign" modes, in which you basically conquer various territories of Middle Earth until there is nothing left to conquer, and a skirmish mode that let's you do single standalone battles either against the computer, or against other players over the Internet.

The "Good Campaign" lets you take control of the members of the Fellowship, as well as other important characters and various armies both of Rohan and Gondor. Most of the missions involve raising an army, building bases and conquering the map, while some focus on key events from the movies. Interestingly, this story mode deviates from both the books and the films, and in various ways. For example, Gandalf will face the Balrog, but in this game he can survive the fight and walk away from it perfectly fine. Same goes for Boromir whom you can save from the Uruk-Hai, allowing him to make it to the end of the story in one piece.

Interestingly you can also play an "Evil Campaign" that throws the original story out of the window entirely, allowing you to conquer Middle Earth while doing your very best to destroy those annoying goody two shoe fellowship heroes. In this campaign you get to control the armies of both Mordors orcs and Isengards Uruk-Hai soldiers, and characters such as Saruman, Lurtz, and even some of the fearsome Nazgul.

Well, what can I say? To me, both campaigns have proved to be a lot of fun. In fact I have finished both several times already, and I still can't get enough of this game. The gameplay is excellent, the controls are easy to learn, especially if you play a lot of RTS games.

The graphics are just beautiful to look at, highly detailed, and fully 3D, meaning you can rotate the view, and zoom in. Hero characters such as Frodo or Gandalf are instantly recognizable, as are the various "races" such as orcs, cave trolls, etc. You monitor your game progress from a gorgeous looking animated map, where you control the movement of your troops and decide which territory to attack next.

Now why is this game listed on the IMDb? Well, because it makes great use of voice actors. Both Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee resumed their roles as Gandalf and Saruman, respectively. Other voices were either sampled from the movie, or read by other voice actors; such is the case for Aragorn, where the replacement actor, Chris Edgerly, did a great job; he really sounds like Viggo Mortensens Aragorn. Also worthy of mentioning is Simon Templeman, who provides several voices for the game, such as the narrator who explains game concepts in the game's video tutorial. You may know him as the voice of Kain, the vampire anti-hero from the Legacy of Kain game series.

Great use is also made of Howard Shores monumental musical score for the LotR movies, with some additional music done is the same style.

All this greatly enhances the feeling of somehow being "in the movie".

The game does have a few flaws though.

The game limits how many units you can build. At the same time, you get to take existing armies with you as you progress through the game; all units gain experience and get better this way. As a result of this you often cannot build new, better units until you somehow get rid of some of your existing ones. The evil side can actually sacrifice units, but the good side does not have any options for disbanding units. This forces you to intentionally play badly and sending some units out to be slaughtered in order to be able to build the units you need.

Also, on occasion "bugs" happen, such as units moonwalking, or getting stuck on the map. For example, recently I had a mumakil (you know, the over-sized elephant-like creatures) get stuck on some bridge; it could be moved around on the bridge, there was plenty of room, but for some reason I couldn't get it off that bridge.

Still, these are minor issues. All in all this is a great game, both for RPG gamers and people who loved the movies.
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Top 10 Comic Book Heroes (2002 TV Movie)
8/10
Both informative and entertaining look at the world of comics
5 August 2005
Rather short (about 46 minutes running time) but still quite interesting look at "comics" from the U.S., the "manga" as they are called in Japan, and yes, even Belgian comic strips get a mention! Well, maybe deservedly so, as Belgium has had a definite tradition and a history of comic strips for quite some time.

Hosted by the one and only Tom "Dr. Who" Baker, and featuring among others, people like Stan Lee, John Byrne, and Frank Miller, all of whom helped shape and re-shape the world of comic books throughout past decades and beyond.

I recommend this to anyone with an interest in comics.
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8/10
Excellent reinvention of the classic series
3 July 2005
Being a fan of the original series (and yes, the toys as well) I was thrilled to see this new series.

It is brilliant! It reinvents the old characters and manages to stay true to its origins. Finally these "masters of the universe" deliver action living up to their title. Skeletor at last is the powerful menacing character he should be. He-Man is the good-hearted force of nature he always was, slightly updated for these times.

And then I hear about its cancellation. Say what?! The inmates are running the asylum, it would seem. Why cancel it?! This series has so much potential... What is wrong with people?!

Bring it back! It showed so much promise!
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8/10
A lot of fun! Some great performances as well...
3 July 2005
I first saw this movie way back in the 80's, and recently got hold of the DVD. I'm pleased to say I still enjoyed it as much as I did back then! While the decision to place part of the story in 1980's suburban America, planet Earth, was no doubt a way to keep the budget low, the end result is still a lot of fun, and the main characters manage to stay pretty close to their original characters. Naturally, though, I'd loved to have seen some more of Eternia instead. Unfortunately, the promised sequel never came to be.

Frank Langella is simply brilliant; his bigger-then-life portrayal of Skeletor may be different from what they did in the TV series, but it works great. He commands every scene he is in, and his performance is powerful yet subtle at certain moments. Wonderful! By the way, be sure to watch until the end credits are over...

Dolph Lundgren, while perhaps not quite the eloquent thespian Langella is, does make a formidable old-fashioned hero.
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Immortal (2004)
9/10
Beautiful science fiction fantasy
25 June 2005
Beautifully designed sci-fi fantasy, based on a series of French graphic novels, that owes a lot to previous films like "The Fifth Element" and of course the inevitable "Blade Runner" - with some "Stargate" thrown in.

This is by no means a bad thing. The falcon-headed Egyptian god Horus, who is at the center of the story, is a most interesting character. He is portrayed as a rebel amongst gods; it's a shame we do not learn what he is being punished for. He may be a god, with great powers, but he is also very human, with a sense of humor to boot! It also helps that he has a great voice actor doing his voice.

Voice actor, I say, since he - and most of the other characters - are CGI animated. So are most of the sets, for that matter. While some may not like this, I do! It feels appropriate, since it adds to the artificial nature of the world we see, and its inhabitants: cyborgs, mutants, artificial creatures, computers, robots, etc.

I like this movie. It looks and sounds great, has interesting characters, and there are nice touches of humor in it as well.
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7/10
Wacky fantasy action movie
10 April 2005
Live action movie based on Akira Toriyama's well-known Dragon Ball manga and anime.

While it's overall appreciation by many doesn't seem anything to write home about, I would like to note that, while some changes were obviously made, it is actually very close to the spirit of the original Dragon Ball manga as well as the original TV series, which itself often got quite silly indeed.

Sure, things got a bit more serious in the DBZ follow-up series, but most of the film's main characters are close to their manga origins, and some of the events in the film are close to the original as well.

That said, this film will probably never win any movie awards, but it is a lot of fun, and a curiosity for all the Dragon Ball fans out there.
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9/10
Impressive sequel to an anime cyberpunk classic
9 January 2005
A new Japanese cyberpunk masterpiece that makes the original GiTS look primitive by comparison. Mamoru Oshii and his crew did a masterful job creating a worthy successor to their 1995 adaptation of Masamune Shirow's original manga.

As in the original movie – as well as in that other quintessential proto-cyberpunk movie, Blade Runner – the movie explores human nature in a world that is becoming more technological all the time, to a point where people ARE technology, the boundaries are rapidly fading away. What does it mean to be human? If we join with technology, would we become something else? Should we welcome it, or fear it? Will humanity lose or gain from the changes?

After the events of the first movie, Major Motoko Kusanagi has seemingly disappeared; focus of the second movie has shifted to Bateau, who is still working for the secret government "Section 9". This is by no means a bad thing, since Bateau is at least as interesting a character as Kusanagi ever was. Going beyond your basic cyberpunk cyborg tough guy with attitude, he is very intelligent, and has some nice human touches (like the dog he loves taking care of). At various points he and other characters routinely indulge in philosophical debate, often quoting literature, from Milton to biblical psalm verses. Just to say this isn't your typical sci-fi action movie, although there is some action, and when it comes, it's fast, brutal & violent.

The actual plot involves an incident with a sophisticated robotic "pleasure model", if you will, gone berserk. The investigation leads us through the darker parts of near-future Japanese society, including yakuza, companies with questionable ethics, and mysterious hackers.

Visually, the movie is stunningly beautiful, using a combination of traditional cell animation and state of the art CGI. Many of the movie's backgrounds are gorgeous to just look at; even dark and dirty back alleys are shown so rich in color and detail, you could gaze at them all day. Like in the first movie, Oshii lets the movie halt at times, immersing the viewer in the richly detailed world he created. Many of the computer screen readouts resemble those seen in Oshii's "Avalon" a lot – which again is not a bad thing, as they look both high-tech and yet elegant & artistic.

Last but not least, the music by Kenji Kawai is hauntingly beautiful, adding more layers to the sophisticated richness of it all.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Anyone who likes science fiction, anyone who was blown away by movies such as Blade Runner and of course the first "Ghost in the Shell" (which you should see before watching this one) will enjoy this.
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8/10
Excellent movie, good fun
1 June 2004
I loved the first Prophecy movie. A whole new take on religion & mythology, dipped in post-Pulp Fiction action & entertainment.

Though a bit of a disappointment, I still liked the sequel.

And then came part 3. Great stuff! An intriguing story - though perhaps not entirely satisfactory in the end - providing a sense of closure to the series.

We see familiar faces from previous parts make a re-appearance, neatly tying things together. Gabriel himself, having lived as a human for many years since part 2, has come to see the world from an entirely different perspective, changing his role in the series, and making for some interesting and funny scenes and dialogue.

On an action level this does not disappoint either. The angels fight in interesting ways; their fights and jumping around seem kind of Matrix-inspired, but not as over-the-top CGI-ed as in Matrix.

All in all, this movie is great fun. If you liked the first movie, give the other parts a chance. Otherwise, you'll be missing out, IMHO.
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Little Buddha (1993)
9/10
Excellent & absolutely charming movie
11 October 2003
This movie seems to have gotten a lot of negative reviews. Having seen it at least a couple of times, and being the proud owner of a DVD, I have to wonder: why?

Maybe the trick is to watch this movie with an open mind... Both Chris Isaak & Keanu Reeves may seem like odd choices for their respective roles, but somehow it really works well, with both of them lending credibility, if not excellence, to their roles.

As for the story, it's very... charming (for lack of a better word). Again, mixing the two stories of a boy who might be the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk and the life story of Siddharta/Buddha might seem odd, but somehow it does work, and the two storylines complement each other nicely.

By the way, isn't it nice to have a movie with a great story (or even two at that) with absolutely no violence whatsoever in it? Kind of refreshing.

On another note (pun fully intended), note another magnificent musical score by Ryuichi Sakamoto.
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Appleseed (1988 Video)
7/10
Adequate adaptation of a manga classic
7 September 2003
Based on the manga (comic) of well-known artist Masamune Shirow, this animated feature was a slight disappointment to me.

The story is good, but the animation is merely "OK" while it could/should have been mindblowing. The movie is IMO adequate, but seems somehow flat & uninspired, if you know what I mean. A wasted opportunity, if you consider that another work by Shirow, "Ghost In The Shell", is considered a classic in many respects. It set new standards for Japanese animation, and spawned, among other things, a brilliant series called "GiTS: Stand Alone Complex".

I consider this worth a rental, unless you're a fan of Shirow and want it all. Do check out the original manga, which comes highly recommended.
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7/10
Interesting documentary
17 April 2003
Last year I bought a most interesting multimedia package called "Master of The Rings". The set contained a DVD containing the documentary of the same name about Tolkien and "Lord of The Rings", an audio DVD with music by Rick Wakeman, inspired by LoTR, and finally a booklet containing artwork by well-known illustrators, the Hildebrandt brothers.

The documentary is, as another user commented, surprisingly interesting, even after repeated viewing. Don't expect feature film production values here, but nevertheless this is a well-made documentary, featuring lots of people, ranging from literary critics and Tolkien historians over musicians and graphic artists to even military instructors - all discussing Tolkien and LoTR, and the influences his work has had.

Meanwhile, we are also given a summarized version of the whole LoTR story, the Fellowship's journey illustrated with a CGI 3D map of Middle Earth.

Also, there are a minutes of old footage showing an interview with the man himself. A nice addition indeed, although it's a pity he is virtually unintelligible (he tends to mumble a lot).

Apart from the main documentary (about 80 mins long, IIRC) there are a number of shorter extra bits, like talking-head interviews with people like Rick Wakeman and others, and a few videoclips by "Mostly Autumn", a folk-rock band making music often inspired by LoTR.

All in all, this is great stuff for anyone interested in Tolkien and his work. The audio CD and booklet are a nice bonus.
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8/10
Absolutely brilliant
15 February 2003
This animated series puts most live action drama films & TV series to shame. The animation is excellent; the stories are even better. Every episode is an absolute gem, much like a little techno-thriller feature film.

It's a real pity cyberpunk fiction never really made much impact in the film world - but this series makes it all work.

Apparently set in a world where Motoko Kusanagi never met the Puppet Master, this series involves complex political intrigue, cyber-crimes, people being hacked as one would hack a computer nowadays, etc.

If you even remotely liked the Ghost in The Shell feature film, check this out if you get the chance.
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10/10
The best fantasy movie ever
8 December 2002
You can tell this was made by people who cared, by people who know and love the books by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Everything about this movie radiates excellence. The awesome production design & SFX, the star cast, the noble & heroic themes as heard in the soundtrack...

Even if you do not care about the books, this is grand cinema. A bigger-than-life story featuring great characters, all this taking place in a beautiful pseudo-medieval earth that never existed...

As far as I am concerned, this is the best fantasy movie ever made. Well, until part two is released, that is. :-)
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Highlander (1986)
10/10
Powerful modern fantasy movie
19 November 2002
There is something about this movie. A certain "movie magic". I guess the Queen song was appropriate...

I don't claim to have seen all of Christopher Lambert's films, but this is how I will remember him. Connor Macleod. The immortal. The Highlander.

A fascinating movie that deals with what it is to be immortal. Is it all it's cracked up to be? Is it worth it?

Highly recommended.
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The Monkey King (2001– )
10/10
Prime entertainment
5 November 2002
This is like a post-modern take on the legend of the Monkey King, where a modern human gets involved with saving the book that contains the original story.

First of all, it is FUN!

There are lots of interesting characters, lots of action, heroic characters fighting the Good Fight... what more do you want?

Just keep in mind that this is NOT the original legend(s) - whatever those were about - and it doesn't even try to be, so don't criticize it for that.

This is good old-fashioned entertainment, with lots of imagination and heroics. Enjoy!
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Ulysses 31 (1981–1982)
10/10
Excellent animated series, well worth seeing!
20 October 2002
"Ulysse(s) 31" is a brilliant animated series from the early 1980's, a brilliant French-Japanese co-production. It is basically a science fiction re-telling of Homer's famous epic, with the noble & heroic titular character now lost in space, after having offended the Greek Gods, and looking for a way home.

Of course, adapting and updating such an old story would not work without some changes here and there, and so new characters and situations and setting were added. Even so, the series was, and is, a great way to introduce people to the great stories of ancient mythology.

The quality of animation is very good (for a product of its time, anyway) with a good musical score, catchy theme song included.

Highly recommended for fans of animation, SF fans, and anyone who is interested in mythology.
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8/10
Exciting follow-up series to Dominion Tank Police
10 October 2002
Dominion Tank Police (Parts 1-4) has always been among my favourite anime titles. Based on the SF/comedy manga series by well-known artist Masamune Shirow, it dealt with the titular Tank Police, patrolling in tanks instead of the usual patrol cars, and generally giving new meaning to the term `overkill'; the policemen themselves, while well-intentioned, are borderline psychopaths and almost as bad as the criminals they're after. None of this, however, is to be taken seriously. It's a lot funnier than it sounds, and the series doesn't take itself serious for a moment.

Later on, six additional episodes were made, and released in the West as `New Dominion'. This `new' series takes a more serious approach. It was made by a different animation team, resulting in a different look, slightly more realistic than before. Also, while still fairly funny at times, the wackiness & humour are toned down, with some pretty dark storylines, such as murders, terrorism and hints of large-scale conspiracies unfolding as the series goes on.

The Dominion series is highly recommended for all fans of anime.
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Dune 2000 (1998 Video Game)
9/10
Good remake of a computer game classic
25 August 2002
When Dune 2 was released it was a revolution in computer gaming, single-handedly creating the real-time strategy genre.

In 1998, Westwood studios decided to re-visit the spectacular world of Dune with this update/remake.

Game play is very good. The controls are intuitive, if a bit limited. The campaign missions are linked by full motion video scenes, where your advisor briefs or debriefs you.

All in all, this is plain old addictive good fun. ...

By the way, am I the only one commenting here who knows "Dune 2000" is actually the 1998 Westwood computer game, and *not* the mini series starring William Hurt?
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Emperor: Battle for Dune (2002 Video Game)
10/10
Excellent real time strategy game
23 July 2002
By the time this title was released - sometime late 2001 - RTS games had been done to death already, with RTS titles being a dime a dozen, but this offering by Westwood managed to release a game that rises above the competition. Only fitting, and well-deserved, since they practically invented the real time strategy genre with a game called "Dune 2" - the distant predecessor of "Emperor: Battle for Dune".

The game has excellent production values, featuring wonderful 3D graphics; you can rotate the view of the battlefield, and zoom in and out. It also has a great soundtrack that varies depending on which of the three Houses you play – House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Ordos (which was first introduced in `Dune 2').

Game play works very intuitively, and is close to flawless. Not surprising, perhaps, since Westwood have had many years of practice in the business...

Also worthy of mentioning are the many excellent cutscenes that flesh out the world of Dune, featuring a look based on the David Lynch movie, while adding new characters and settings, not to mention the original storylines for each House you happen to be playing.

If you like RTS games, check it out. If you like SF in general, and `Dune' in particular, you will no doubt be able to appreciate this game.
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Akira (1988)
10/10
Brilliant masterpiece of anime
7 July 2002
This is cyberpunk anime at its best - thought-provoking, with genuine visual grandeur.

Visually, it's *still* unsurpassed, looking a lot like an unofficial "Blade Runner: The Animated Movie". Even the great "Ghost in The Shell", made many years later, is no match for this one.

Also, check out the brilliant soundtrack by Shoji Yamashiro - a masterpiece in its own right.

Enough said. Check it out.
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7/10
Underrated post-modern take on action movies
29 June 2002
Highly underrated Arnie movie.

Is it a comedy? An action movie? A spoof of the entire action movie genre? Well, it might be all of them, and more.

This movie could be interpreted in several ways. In it, Arnold is spoofing himself (or his on-screen persona, anyway) and the genre of action movies in general.

What's more, it's a story within a story, making an audience member part of the story, giving the whole thing a post-modern twist. The movie is full of genre in-jokes and self-references, making fun of many of the clichés - while at the same time referring to other films, actors, and even other genres, making this sort of a celebration of the entire film business.

On the other hand - in case you don't care about all of this - as an action movie in itself, it's still very entertaining. If you like Schwarzenegger action movies, you'll like this one as well.

Don't let anyone tell you this is a "bad movie". See it for yourself, and make up your own mind.
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Vidocq (2001)
10/10
Beautiful, dark, atmospheric
19 June 2002
Spectacular supernatural thriller set in Paris in the year 1830. The movie looks and feels like "Se7en" meets "The City of Lost Children". The film stars well-known French actor Gerard Depardieu as Eugène Vidocq, a former criminal turned detective. Vidocq really existed, and may well have invented the private eye business as we know it. While the man was real, this story however, is fictional, involving a series of bizarre murders and a mysterious character who wears a mask that reflects like a mirror.

The movie is reportedly the first film recorded with a digital camera (the same equipment used in Star Wars Ep. II, reportedly) resulting in crystal-clear images. Not only that, but many of the scenes were digitally enhanced, giving the movie a surreal feel, not dissimilar to some other oddball French movies like the aforementioned "City of Lost Children" (at least some of the same people were involved in the production design of both, so that may not be surprising).

Some of the action scenes are quite spectacular; in a few scenes, we see Vidocq take on the masked/cloaked villain, and comparisons to both both "The Matrix" and SW Ep. I suddenly seem inevitable. This is not to say this movie is a rip-off - no, far from it. It's a joy to behold.

Also, the movie has a good soundtrack; dark & heavy, fitting the movie's subject matter, and reminding me of the soundtracks of movies like "Batman" & "Bram Stoker's Dracula".

This is one movie well worth checking out. Highly recommended.
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Blade Runner (1982)
10/10
Quite possibly the best movie ever
11 June 2002
One of the most influential films ever, Blade Runner, (very) loosely based on Philip K. Dick's novel `Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep', has become the standard by which SF movies nowadays, almost inevitably, are measured.

Virtually everything about this movie is excellent. The sets and SFX are mind-blowing, and still hold up, even after 20 years. The soundtrack by Vangelis is awesome, and is therefore the perfect complement to the great visuals. The cast is top-notch; the movie's dialogue is eminently quotable.

While the plot may seem (deceptively) simple & straightforward, upon close inspection it reveals hidden depths of meaning, dealing with some of the Big Questions in life. What does it mean to live, to be human? What are the consequences of creating life in our image? When the creation becomes indistinguishable from the creator, how should the creator treat it? Etc.

There are several versions of this movie around. Best known are the original 1982 release, and the 1992 `Director's Cut' (which wasn't a true DC, for several reasons), with a definitive version coming up sometime 2003. Personally, I prefer the 1992 DC over the original (which had a redundant `happy ending' and voice-over by Harrison Ford); my hopes are that the upcoming final version will be even better…

Whichever version you get to see, it is best to see it at least a couple of times before forming any opinion on it; this is one of those movies that only start to sink in, and get better, after repeated viewing.
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