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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Can a movie be great if it’s boring?

Blade Runner Harrison Ford

One of Roger Ebert’s “far-flung correspondents,” Gerardo Valero in Mexico City, has declared that Blade Runner is “great, but a little dull.” After praising the film’s art design, Valero goes on to state:

I first saw “Blade Runner” when it came out in 1982 and I don’t think I’ve watched it more than a handful of times over these years. It’s odd that such a great looking film is not particularly re-watchable but the character and script development are nowhere near at the same level as the art design, making it a surprisingly dull experience overall. In his previous feature “Alien” (1979) Ridley Scott took a group of unappealing oil-exploration workers with very little loyalty to one another, and still managed to make us care deeply about their fates.

And later:

“Blade Runner” is a great example of several things. It shows us how even a fantastic visual experience can’t hold our attention for two hours if we are not made to care about the characters or the story. It is proof that the latter two aspects are of even more importance for a feature to work. “Runner” may very well be the best of the worst pictures ever made, or perhaps the worst of the best, but this places it in a spot of mediocrity that no work of such phenomenal qualities should ever approach. I feel grateful for its existence and I’m aware there are plenty of readers who believe that its visual virtues automatically make it deserving of cult-classic status, but I also can’t help but ultimately see this (one of the most influential films of the 80s) as a one-of-a-kind wasted opportunity for greatness.

I agree that “even a fantastic visual experience can’t hold our attention for two hours if we are not made to care about the characters or the story” (though I disgaree that this applies to Blade Runner). What baffles me is how Valero can nevertheless call a film “great” when, for him, it fails on this level.

Can a movie be great if it’s boring? I don’t see how. What do you think? If you feel a movie can be great even if it’s boring, which films fit into this category?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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