The newly restored and, at long last, director-approved final cut of Blade Runner is playing in theaters in New York City and I had the chance to see it with an audience a couple of nights ago. My initial reaction was relief that the dreaded voice-over was completely absent, as it should be. Once I was able to settle into my seat without having to hear "the charmer's name was Gaff" I knew the rest would be gravy, and so it was. I'm happy to report that this restored print of the film looks completely amazing -- the restoration is as clean and clear as any I've ever seen.There have even been some touch-ups and a bit of re-shooting, although to what purpose I don't know. The new end credits give a big thank-you to Joanna Cassidy for agreeing to do some kind of re-shoot work, but if no one ever told me it had been done, I'd never know, so it must be some little thing that had been eating away at Ridley Scott.

This final cut isn't just a restoration of the visuals, though -- it's a plot restoration as well, and one that I find completely stupid and unnecessary. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I don't know where you've been for the last twenty years, so I have no compunction about spoiling it for you. Ridley Scott feels that Deckard, Harrison Ford's Philip Marlowe of the future, is a replicant, just like the replicants he's chasing. It was always his prerogative to think this, even though it doesn't fit into the framework of the story, but now he's made his interpretation of it the definitive one. Instead of the film ending with Deckard spiriting Sean Young to safety in the woodsy wherever, he now learns that a vision that had haunted his dreams, of a galloping unicorn, is known to his fellow Blade Runners. They know he's a replicant, and they'll be coming for him. As this realization dawns on Deckard at the end of the new cut, he grabs Sean Young and slams the door closed -- smash cut to end titles.